7 Things To Know About Microsoft CEO Nadella's 'Intelligent Cloud, Intelligent Edge' Shakeup

The Cloud And Edge Era

In an email to Microsoft employees Thursday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella outlined a massive executive shake-up meant to help ramp up the company's pursuit of "intelligent cloud and intelligent edge" opportunities. The email, which Microsoft posted online, disclosed one departure of a prominent longtime Microsoft executive along with numerous other changes in the company's executive ranks. The moves ultimately aim to "accelerate our innovation and better serve the needs of our customers and partners long into the future" at Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, Nadella wrote in the email.

What follows are seven key things to know about Nadella's latest moves around PC, cloud and edge technologies.

Positioning Microsoft For The Future

In the email to employees, Nadella recalled that he'd spent the past year sharing "our vision for how the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge will shape the next phase of innovation."

For starters, he wrote, "computing is more powerful and ubiquitous from the cloud to the edge. Second, AI capabilities are rapidly advancing across perception and cognition fueled by data and knowledge of the world. Third, physical and virtual worlds are coming together to create richer experiences that understand the context surrounding people, the things they use, the places they go, and their activities and relationships."

The technological changes represent a "tremendous opportunity for our customers, our partners -- everyone," Nadella wrote. "With all this new technology and opportunity comes a responsibility to ensure technology’s benefits reach people more broadly across society. It also requires that the technologies we create are trusted by the individuals and organizations that use them. Today’s announcement enables us to step up to this opportunity and responsibility across all our solution areas."

M yerson Is Out As Windows Chief

Terry Myerson (pictured), executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group, is departing the company as part of the shake-up. A 21-year veteran of Microsoft, Myerson has led the Windows organization since 2013. Myerson "has been instrumental in helping me arrive at this new organizational structure," Nadella wrote in the email.

"With change comes transition, and one transition we have been planning for is for Terry Myerson to pursue his next chapter outside Microsoft," Nadella wrote. "Over the past several years, Terry and the WDG team transformed Windows to create a secure, always up-to-date, modern OS. His strong contributions to Microsoft over 21 years from leading Exchange to leading Windows 10 leave a real legacy."

Myerson will be part of working on the transition in coming months, Nadella wrote.

Rajesh Jha Will Succeed Myerson

Rajesh Jha (pictured), who has served as executive vice president of Microsoft’s Office Product Group, will now have an expanded role that involves heading an "Experiences and Devices" team, according to Nadella. "The purpose of this team is to instill a unifying product ethos across our end-user experiences and devices," Nadella wrote. "Computing experiences are evolving to include multiple senses and are no longer bound to one device at a time but increasingly spanning many as we move from home to work and on the go."

Microsoft 365 Is At The Heart Of The Changes

Launched last July, the Microsoft 365 suite brings together Office 365 productivity applications along with Windows 10, device management and security into a single comprehensive offering for businesses. In his email, Nadella wrote that "modern needs, habits and expectations of our customers are motivating us to bring Windows, Office, and third-party applications and devices into a more cohesive Microsoft 365 experience."

Reed Wiedower, CTO of New Signature, a Washington, D.C.-based Microsoft partner, told CRN in an email that there’s a "huge transition hinted at in the email which is important for all partners, customers and Microsoft itself – that the 'Microsoft 365' concept isn’t merely a marketing branding exercise, but a true differentiator that is focused on driving amazing customer experiences. Having Rajesh Jha leading that group is a huge win."

Panos Panay Will Gain A Larger Role In Devices

Microsoft is promoting Corporate Vice President Panos Panay (pictured), known for his prominent role in overseeing and unveiling new Surface devices, to chief product officer. Panay "will lead our devices vision and further our product ethos across hardware and software boundaries for our first-party devices, while creating new categories and opportunities for the entire ecosystem," Nadella wrote. "He will be the key leader ensuring end-to-end devices business execution excellence."

Wiedower said the promotion is "well-deserved," saying that Panay is "the best in the business as representing this experience focused effort in front of journalists, analysts, and customers."

Microsoft Is Pursuing More "Coherence" Around Cloud, Edge And AI

Nadella also announced an expansion of responsibilities for Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie, who will head up a new "Cloud and AI Platform" team at Microsoft. "The purpose of this team is to drive platform coherence and compelling value across all layers of the tech stack starting with the distributed computing fabric (cloud and edge) to AI (infrastructure, runtimes, frameworks, tools and higher-level services around perception, knowledge and cognition)," Nadella wrote.

Wiedower said that Guthrie "continues to drive positive change across the entire organization," and "by linking AI with the underlying Azure efforts, they’re making many of their transformational products work together under a single umbrella, from AI to mixed reality, to the new Business Applications group expansion."

Microsoft's Store Is Getting Some Attention

Another essential executive change announced by Microsoft, Wiedower said, is that Corporate Vice President Eric Lockard will join the Cloud and AI Platform team to help improve Microsoft’s store and commerce platforms. Lockard will "both help with our own digital transformation and add new capabilities to our business application efforts," Nadella wrote.

The move is "subtle, but key for partners," Wiedower said. "These back-end systems are currently a source of pain for partners, and as Microsoft consolidates on a single store and commerce platform partners will notice a huge decrease in friction, allowing customers and enterprise organizations alike to consume services from Microsoft and the partner community with much greater ease."