Microsoft Partners: It Was Time For Ozzie To Go

Ray Ozzie's decision to step down as Microsoft chief software architect surprised many channel partners, but there are also VARs who've seen the handwriting on the wall for some time.

Ozzie joined Microsoft in 2005 when Microsoft bought his company Groove Networks. Although highly regarded for his visionary thinking, and for devising and implementing Microsoft's cloud computing strategy, Ozzie never mastered the art of breaking through the Microsoft bureaucracy, according to solution providers.

"Ozzie's initiatives were ground-breaking and may yet help Microsoft adapt to the new realities of this industry," said Andrew Brust, CTO at Tallan, a Microsoft Gold partner in Rocky Hill, Conn. "But his leadership in implementing those ideas seemed utterly lacking, and I never got the sense that Microsoft employees had Ozzie high in their consciousness as they went about their work."

Added Brust: "Ozzie barely seemed integrated into the company whose tech vision he was chartered to lead. Microsoft has had some significant departures of late that I am not happy about, but in this case the resolution seems best for both parties."

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Some partners believe the technical visionary role Ozzie is vacating would be better filled by an executive who's more visible to and in tune with channel partners.

Next: Where Ozzie Fell Short

"I've always been disappointed Ozzie wasn't a more prominent face of Microsoft. Due to his private role, partners didn't get much insight into his influence," said Dave Sobel, CEO of Evolve Technologies, a Fairfax, Va.-based solution provider. "I hope Microsoft will clearly position someone as the new technical visionary for the company, and give that person more exposure to the partner channel."

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has said he doesn't plan to replace Ozzie in the chief software architect role. Could the company look to an internal candidate to fill the void left by his departure? Perhaps, but the steady stream of high profile executives leaving Microsoft over the course of the past year doesn’t inspire confidence.

Jeff Middleton, a Microsoft Small Business Server MVP (Most Valuable Professional) based in Metairie, La., sees Ozzie's departure as another sign of the internal discord that's going on inside Microsoft.

"Overall, I think it probably means less to the Microsoft products than it does to Wall Street," Middleton said. "But the string of long-term and high-level execs moving out of Microsoft is certainly pointing out that the old culture and the current direction are not at all in harmony. But that's hardly news, it's the definition of the problem."