Ray Ozzie, who took over the role of Chief Software Architect at Microsoft when from Bill Gates retired about five years ago, announced recently that he will be retiring soon. When Ozzie first became Chief Software Architect, he wrote a famous 5000-word internal memorandum titled, The Internet Services Disruption. The memo outlined the transformative and disruptive potential of web services.

Ozzie wrote, "The ubiquity of broadband and wireless networking has changed the nature of how people interact, and they’re increasingly drawn toward the simplicity of services and service-enabled software that ‘just works’. Businesses are increasingly considering what services-based economics of scale might do to help them reduce infrastructure costs or deploy solutions as-needed and on subscription basis.". Ozzie was spot on as this is what today's Software as a Service (SaaS) and Cloud Computer are all about.

Now, five years later, just before he is about to retire, Ozzie wrote another 5000-word memo entitled Dawn of a New Day. In this memo, Ozzie reflects on how Microsoft has been transformed over the past five years with regards to so-called 'services'. Despite many successes, Ozzie acknowledges that for the most part, Microsoft missed the boat on mobile and social software.

More importantly, he also lays out his vision of where things are going in a post-PC world: "To cope with the inherent complexity of a world of devices, a world of websites, and a world of apps and personal data that is spread across myriad devices and websites, a simple conceptual model is taking shape that brings it all together. We’re moving toward a world of 1) cloud-based continuous services that connect us all and do our bidding, and 2) appliance-like connected devices enabling us to interact with those cloud-based services."

I spent most of my evening reading both memos. It provides some unique insight about what it means to be Chief Software Architect at one of the largest software companies in the world, as well as how they see the future. In general, I agree with Ozzie's vision of the future as he explains it in his latest memo. The part on complexity also resonated with me. I think the points he makes are very relevant for most of us that make a living with Drupal. Like Ozzie, I think development of this new service-connected world will be neither fast nor easy. However, I think Drupal is uniquely qualified to play a prominent role in such a world. It requires us to make the right decisions, to manage complexity, and to stay on top of our game. Whether you like Microsoft or not, the memo is worth reading.


yoroy (not verified):

I'm going to give it a try reading these. :) It'd be interesting to hear what you think the challenges are, and what the right decisions need to be made on?

Jon Patell (not verified):

Fantastic read, very open, I particularly enjoyed reaching this point "...the power and responsibility to truly effect transformation exists in no small part at the edge. Within those who, led or inspired, feel personally and collectively motivated to make; to act; to do."

Jonathan Lambert (not verified):

It's funny, I was reading the same documents on the same night Dries. I came across this quote when I was googlin' for more:

"Complexity kills. It sucks the life out of developers, it makes products difficult to plan, build and test, it introduces security challenges, and it causes end-user and administrator frustration."

Yep, it was Ray. Good thing so much work has gone on in the d7 UX project, eh?

Anonymous (not verified):

Drupal is based on content management.
While this "new dawn" is based on managment of person. The new web is person-centric. Drupal has not been built that way and Drupal 7, with all its stress on overlay, missed the boat. Compare the user interface, user to user relationship, and easy posting-sharing of media between individuals in Facebook. Drupal with all its might should have those functionalities long before. This is not to say that Drupal would have mimicked FB or by installing Drupal I will have beaten FB. Neither its a question of FB clone. But the functionalities available to the end-user, the way users can rediscover known persons, meet new persons, and share stuffs. Surely you can do lot of those with Drupal but thats not exactly as easy. Like Microsoft after few years, after no more White House is left that will have its "CMS", Drupal will be posting similarly how it missed the bus of social stuff.