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Every time an ambulance passes by me with sirens ringing, the very next thing I do is say a quick prayer for the medics and families who are involved in whatever caused the 911 call. I have done this for as long as I can remember. Except for today.

Today, as I was walking down Massachusetts Avenue in Washington DC between sessions at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), an ambulance whizzed by me. I didn’t realize it was an ambulance, however, until it was right in front of me. I heard a loud noise for several seconds before noticing the ambulance, and I spent those several seconds trying to figure out what the noise was. I looked around to see if it was the man’s phone across the street from me turned on loud speaker mode, or if some kind of unique techno music blasting at the storefront around the corner. Then, by the time I realized it was actually coming from an ambulance, my thoughts shifted to questions. I wondered if ambulances around the country have different sounds. How many different sounds? Or were ambulance sirens just different in Washington DC? Or was it this ambulance in particular? Has anyone else ever noticed this? After quickly sifting through these questions with no answers, I said my prayer and went about my day.

This week I am in beautiful Washington DC at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) alongside something like 16,000 partners from over 140 countries. We come together annually to connect in person with a few thousand Microsoft leaders, visionaries, evangelists, and marketing folks. The week is spent hearing Microsoft’s vision and strategy for the upcoming 12 months and collaborating on how we can better serve our respective customers. It is bound to be a fun and full week!

Transformation Times

On day 1 of the conference, all of the partners funneled in to the Verizon Center after dumping out any Starbucks lattes on your way in since they weren’t allowed in the stadium (this would never happen in Seattle!). We heard several of the Microsoft leaders talk about the successes, strategies, and overall vision for this upcoming fiscal year. It was during this time that it hit me – we are in fact in the midst of transformation times. Conceptually I knew this. After all, we’ve been talking cloud, Microsoft Azure, software release cadence and DevTest / DevOps in the cloud, and Visual Studio Online for quite some time now. However, the impact of the changing times had not yet sunk in for me, until today.

For those who aren’t following the details of the Microsoft Executive team, Nadella is the current CEO of Microsoft. Nadella was formerly Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group, responsible for building and running the company’s Computing Platforms, Developer Tools and Cloud Computing Services. I recently heard a Nadella quote that encapsulates what WPC 2014 is all about: “Our job is to ensure Microsoft will thrive in a mobile and cloud-first world”. To expand on this given the context of this post, it’s about Microsoft, Microsoft partners, and most importantly customers thriving in our cloud-first world. We are living in new, transformative times where it’s and cloud-first. What is interesting about Nadella’s previous role at Microsoft is that he has vast experience around all things Cloud Computing. I like the “new Microsoft” that we are already seeing, and Nadella is most certainly the person to bring Microsoft into this time of transformation.

Ambulance siren gone techno

As we all know, a siren is a loud alarm used to alert people – typically of an emergency. During my first two days at WPC, the Conference has been just that for me. A siren. Like my story about the techno music siren, it’s sometimes hard to change perspective and habits, even when the siren is blaring. Change the sound of the siren, however, and you might just have that key transformation that will cause change. When I heard the siren sound that was unexpected and unique, it got my attention and changed my behavior.

Microsoft partners, the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) community, and the team at Northwest Cadence have been talking about the cloud, Microsoft Azure, and mobile for many, many months. We have worked with several clients on helping create great things that come from leveraging Microsoft Visual Studio Online (VSO), spinning up Dev and Test environments in the cloud, focusing on agility and DevOps, and transforming the overall way they think about software development in this cloud-first world. Yet with all of this work we have been doing around cloud and Azure, it didn’t strike me until this week that this is our new normal. This is our world’s new normal. The capabilities that come with cloud will transform the way we develop and consume software.

Like ambulance sirens around the world, every organization has a different take on how to deliver software effectively. At the end of the day, most organizations share a common purpose: to get value into the hands of their customers. In this time of transformation, it will continue to become ever-critical that organizations take a step back from habits and status quo. Look into the cloud and find a way to get the attention of your customers by bringing new and better value. Change the sound of your siren!

If you don’t already know us really well, Northwest Cadence is a Microsoft Gold Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) Partner with a Cloud Competency. [elevator pitch] We partner with software development teams to improve processes and business results. We help companies with end-to-end ALM, agile transformations, DevOps and cloud for a living. [end elevator pitch] And I have to say, we’re really good at what we do! (Yes, you may have heard – they call me “mom” at the office. So, I suppose I have a right to be really proud, just like a mom would be, of the brilliant work everyone on our team does each day.) What makes this all great is that we love our customers and they tell us we’re a lot of fun to work with!

I would love to hear your story about how you have been able to change the sound of your siren, or how you have found success in shifting your eyes to the clouds in your software development practices. I’m sure others would as well! Please share!

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