Leaving Office, Joining Bing, and Planting Asparagus

image Sometimes it’s good to get outside, get your hands in the dirt, and plant things, especially if you can do it with your children. Keeps you grounded, and yes that was an intentional pun.


Office 2010 is going to be great. For the past 3.5 years we’ve been working on an amazing set of features like Office Backstage, SharePoint Workspaces, the Office WebApps on SkyDrive, and even slipping in late breaking new features such as the Outlook Social Connector.


My first official day with the Office team was Nov. 1st 2006 and the ship party was later that same week. The weather wasn’t cooperating but that didn’t dampen the spirit of the revelers. Most of the action was happening in the open area between buildings 16 and 17 which some have dubbed the walk of fame because of the tiles embedded in the ground denoting all the products shipped by the Office organization. Walking around at that time I saw the joy and excitement of the Office 2007 team but that wasn’t my release, I was a newbie coming to hang out, I was signing up for the next wave, wave 14.



The next logical number for Office would have been 13 but I’m guessing a few managers suffered from triskaidekaphobia and so we called the project O14. It was meant to be a targeted two milestone 2.5 year release. Well I can’t really share all the internal tribulations that added a year to our plans but we’ll simply say much of the disruption came from external European pressures.


Triskaidekaphobia what?

During the development of Office 14 (that was our internal name for the project) I have had the great fortune of managing the Office Internet Platforms and Operations Team. The tool we developed to help with server diagnostics, the Unified Logging Service (ULS), is now the most popular logging tool for services with teams from OfficeLive, MS Online and potentially in the near future XBOX Live implementing it in their live services. Our work to improve enterprise monitoring with deep integration to Microsoft System Center Operations Manager has yielded significant positive feedback from early TAP partners and general surprise that we will be shipping our MOM Packs with the server products and in multiple languages. These items tend to ship months after the product. Thanks to Eric Wong for leading the dev team as we took on this project years ago.

Office service operations was the other major aspect to my job in office. I managed a great and dynamic operations team that supported services from CRM Online, to Dynamics Online, Office Live, the WebApps I already mentioned and http://Office.com. It is truly enjoyable to be involved in service operations because you get to see the end result of thousands of good and bad decisions. From the Ops perspective you suffer under all the bad decisions and are held to account for every production hiccup along the way.


Ops beware; unpleasant matter tends to roll downhill

and you are near the bottom


Fortunately I come from a testing background and am already jaded by the blame game. My attitude about a bug that is missed by testing is that if the developer didn’t write it in the first place or if the PM hadn’t created a flawed design I wouldn’t have had to find all the other bugs that kept me from finding this one that everyone seems to be quite up in arms about today. Operations tends to feel pretty much the same as test except they are further downstream with more unpleasant matter tends to float past them than any other discipline. About two years ago I created the below joke to help my operations team know that I understood their pain.


All kidding aside, developing and releasing a service on time and delighting customers is a joint proposition for all engineering disciplines. We can feel dumped on at times however we are all working toward the common goal of delighting customers and building successful businesses.

Given my role I spent a great deal of time connecting with and learning about service oriented architecture and services testing with colleagues from other teams. This wasn’t my first time working on server and services but I realized the world around me was pulling ahead and I needed to keep up. That drove me to dig deeper into the world of online services and cloud computing and develop strong professional connections to many individuals in the Bing and Azure product teams.

Office is laying down the plans for O15 and there are even more service experiences coming along. I am truly excited about the upcoming Office 2010 release and excited to start afresh on the next release. Over the past several years I was able to move from being that individual at the ship party that was more of an observer to becoming a real member of the Office management team.

When it came time to announce I was moving on my friends on twitter and linked in found out before most folks in Office got the news. 

That was why it was hard to choose to move on from Office but exciting to join Bing. I quite simply love services and well, Bing is pushing the envelope on all sorts of service design. That and I just can’t wait to turn the tide on GOOG.

So what’s up for me in Bing?

I’m a plumbing kind of engineer. One of my first services was the MSN Billing system and after it launched I really wanted to show my folks what I’d been working on so I got a copy of the past due account email template and forwarded it on to my mom. I was able to tell her that if she stopped paying her MSN dial up bill she’d get an email like this and it would be my service doing it to her J. Needless to say she was proud of her son if not a bit confused. Once you’ve gotten over the need to have the world see you elegant design it become easy to work on plumbing.

Testing Bing plumbing is what I’ll be up to. I’m not yet clear on how much we Bingers (I’ll have to check on what we call ourselves) share publicly before I go into any more details. In the short run though I’m back into learning mode reading The Search by John Battele (almost done), Agile Testing by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory, and re-reading The First 90 days by Michael Watkins. I discovered a cool feature on LinkedIn to share your reading list so all the books are posted to my page there.

While I’ll miss the Office team I am looking forward to our Office 2010 ship party in a few weeks and equally excited to be setting of on another great adventure.

I’ll be presenting at the Better Software and Agile Development Conference this June 10th and may have a few new stories to weave into my talk on Testing in Production and the demise of the traditional test lab. Stay tuned for more posts as I find time, now I have to go plant asparagus with the kids.