Crossing Boundaries

Were you
in Las Vegas last week? If you attended the SharePoint conference in the
Mandalay Bay resort, you probably thought you were. But Las Vegas is famously a
city of facades, illusions and well-kept secrets. Caesars Palace isn't really
Rome, nor the Venetian, Venice. My favourite illusion is that much of what we
think of as Las Vegas is actually not in the city at all, but in unincorporated
Winchester and Paradise, NV. The city of Las Vegas itself starts just north of
Sahara Avenue. So all you folks attending the SharePoint conference at the
Mandalay Bay - you weren't even in Vegas, baby!

I was
really in Vegas, for a couple of days. We stayed downtown on Fremont Street,
visiting with Alison's vacationing parents, just before the conference, then
shuffled up the strip to ritzier lodgings for the main event. It's not much of
a boundary to cross, perhaps a formality in some ways, but nevertheless
significant. Fremont street has its colourful fun, but it isn't the Strip: and
The Four Seasons is surely not the Lady Luck.

I have
recently been crossing other boundaries too. For one thing, I have a new role
within Microsoft. Just like driving up from Las Vegas to the Strip, to the
casual observer you may not notice much difference, but difference there is.
Here's the change ...

I have
always enjoyed being very close with customers, partners and the wider Business
Intelligence community. Since I first joined Microsoft, back in 2001, I have
been working in engineering teams, striving sometimes to keep up with the
deeply technical side, but still trying to keep in touch with what our
customers and partners needed in the real world. It has been a great role, but
a difficult one to balance. So now, rather than being in a single vertical
product team - Analysis Services, or Integration Services, for example - I'll
be working in a cross-team role. My focus will be to help Microsoft articulate
a vision for business intelligence, and to improving our technical engagement
with analysts, partners and other teams. As part of this role, I'll still need
to keep technically close to the development teams: still contributing to
engineering execution and vision as I can. (I still have some patents up my
sleeve!) Nevertheless, the role does change. I'll miss leading my group of
Program Managers - but I'll still be working with them daily. Maybe I'll even
miss the hassle of integrating trees of code, fighting bug fires, and juggling
development and test resources. However, I have much to look forward to,
especially as we enter a whole new area with our "managed self-service"
approach to business intelligence.

If you
want to keep up with my new role, and the various technical and community
initiatives in which I'll be involved, please do read my blog here. It's a Microsoft
blog, for sure: in the sense that it is focused on our products, and our
issues. For example, my next post will cover our new PowerPivot product,
explaining some of the thinking behind our direction, and behind the name. You
can also read my other blog 
where I'll be rather more expansive on issues of broader interest in the BI
community. And you can follow me on Twitter: donalddotfarmer.

going to be fun. For me, better than Vegas