It's Official: Microsoft Taps 17-Year Vet Guthrie To Head Cloud And Enterprise Unit

Microsoft on Monday tapped 17-year veteran Scott Guthrie to lead its Cloud and Enterprise unit, one of the company's biggest moneymakers with $20.3 billion in fiscal 2013 revenue.

Guthrie, who was named interim head of the Cloud and Enterprise unit in February, is now its executive vice president. The unit was known as the Server and Tools division until Microsoft's corporate reorganization last July.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made the appointment official in an email to employees on Monday, describing Guthrie as a "very public and passionate evangelist" for Microsoft's developer and infrastructure businesses.

[Related: Sources: Microsoft In Talks To Acquire Mobile App Development Startup Xamarin ]

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Guthrie is the second Microsoft longtimer to ascend to the executive ranks this month, joining 23-year veteran Chris Capossela, who was named executive vice president and chief marketing officer in early March.

Guthrie joined Microsoft as a program manager straight out of college in 1997, and his first big promotion came in 1999 when he was tapped to head the team that created ASP.NET. In that role, Guthrie "personally designed core parts of the .NET Framework," according to his LinkedIn profile.

Andrew Brust, CEO of Microsoft analyst firm Blue Badge Insights, based in New York, recalls meeting Guthrie around that time during a briefing on ASP.NET, which was still a fledgling web development platform.

Guthrie faced a skeptical audience in his demo of new features in ASP.NET 2.0. Some developers wanted more features, while others were concerned that the new release of ASP.NET would take a bite out of their consulting work because it automated some code-intensive tasks, Brust said.

But Guthrie handled the heat in impressive fashion, according to Brust. "He was intelligent and humble, yet held his own quite well with a tough audience," he said.

Over the years, Guthrie has been an advocate inside Microsoft for such important moves as including open source components in the ASP.NET stack, and eventually sharing the .NET Framework source code itself.

Guthrie has had a similarly positive effect in his previous role as head of Azure, Brust said. "I’ve seen him come into the Azure organization, whip it into shape, rationalize its product offerings and greatly accelerate the rate of innovation there," he told CRN.

NEXT: Guthrie's Azure Leadership Set The Stage

Azure has emerged as the epicenter of Microsoft's growing focus on cross-platform support, and Guthrie is seen in the channel as a big reason why Microsoft's cloud supports multiple programming languages and frameworks.

Guthrie is also a fan of Xamarin, a mobile startup whose tools make it possible to code iOS and Android apps using Microsoft development tools. In an interview with CRN last October, Guthrie described Xamarin's tools as a good fit for Microsoft developers.

"One nice thing about Xamarin is that it lets you use your C# and .NET skills to build native iOS and Android applications," Guthrie told CRN at the time. "It's a great way for customers that are familiar with Visual Studio and C# to use their same skills -- and in many cases, the same code -- and actually run it natively on different mobile form factors."

The following month, Microsoft and Xamarin unveiled a wide-ranging technical and marketing partnership. As first reported by CRN earlier this month, Microsoft has recently talked with Xamarin about an acquisition or major investment in the San Francisco-based startup.

It wasn't long ago that Microsoft would have viewed a technology like Xamarin as a threat that might enrich rival platforms. But under Nadella, Microsoft has begun articulating a shift to a new way of thinking that includes supporting non-Microsoft technologies. Evidence came last week in the form of Microsoft's first Office apps designed for iPads, and a new cloud-based mobile device management service that handles Android and iOS devices.

Guthrie, as head of Azure, also has been part of Microsoft's shift toward embracing outside technologies. For these and other reasons, Brust believes he's the right pick to lead the Cloud and Enterprise unit.

"Overall he’s a humble, good-natured person who, nonetheless, understands how to navigate company politics when he needs to," Brust said. "Putting him in a strong leadership position is an excellent, if somewhat obvious, move and should greatly help Microsoft going forward."