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Microsoft Names New CIO

UPDATE: Microsoft Friday named Ron Markezich as its new chief information officer.

A Microsoft employee since 1998, Markezich will replace Rick Devenuti, who is now corporate vice president for Microsoft's World Wide Services division.

Previously Markezich was general manager of Global Technology Services for Microsoft IT. The division is made up of 3,500 employees who provide internal IT services at Microsoft. He was also charged with deploying and using pre-release versions of Microsoft products internally and providing feedback to the software development teams.

Because Microsoft often is an early adopter of its own products, the company said Markezich would be able to help it understand customers' needs. The former Accenture consultant will also help improve business operations and IT efficiency within the company.

Markezich came to Microsoft as general manager of finance & administration IT, managing and supporting the IT systems for the finance, HR and corporate services divisions.

Q: At the beginning of the year, you compiled a list of new years resolutions for IT managers. Within Microsoft, were you responsible for these things?

In my previous job, I ran global technology services; I was responsible for the core infrastructure -- the data center, networks and telephones. As CIO, I'll be responsible for all IT across company. Those recommendations apply to me as a CIO, as well.

Q: You suggested re-communicating your IT and security policies to all users. Is this something Microsoft does regularly? How?

We ensure that our sec policies are kept up to date on the intranet site, and employees understand where they are. We occasionally will do education and awareness campaigns scheduled for the beginning of the fiscal year. We have a breakfast series that employees come to hear what's happening in the company, and topics can range from Longhorn to security policies. We'll host video clips on our Web site and do some brown bags. Security is of interest to our employees, and everyone, especially these days, wants to make sure the company is a secure environment.

Q: Do you survey your internal customers? How?

Once a year, we send out our Annual Client Satisfaction Survey, to see how we're doing from the IT perspective with employees. We'll launch that in August. We've seen an increase in client satisfaction every four years and a decrease in dissatisfaction. They're a tough crowd, but we like that. They hold us accountable

Q: Will one of your priorities be to work with CIOs at other companies? Is that something that wasn't in the forefront before?

We've gained a lot of experience in how to run a world-class IT environment while decreasing costs and increasing service. We have a lot to share with customers and partners. We could do a lot better. That's one of the reasons Rick Devenuti took over services, and we brought services and IT together. We haven't been as effective in the past, and bringing these two groups together has improved things.

We've started hosting service employees as IT Fellows for three-week to three-month rotation. We also host them in the Exchange and Security Center of Excellence, where they come in for longer period of time. They have to pass a test, then they become Rangers, experts in their field for particular technologies, so they can bring that experience to customers.

Q: How paperless is Microsoft?

I can't think of any paper we still use in the US. In fact, my job before last, I ran finance and administered the line of business applications. We had a goal back in 1995 to eliminate paper. We went paper by paper and eliminated it through the intranet. Now, with InfoPath shipping with Office, in a matter of minutes you can design a form, integrate it with a backend system and eliminate a piece of paper. It drives savings and improves employee satisfaction. For example, you can get expenses reimbursed in two to three days.

Q: Do you have ideas of what to do about the rash of multi-level threats like the Sasser worm?

We call it "embody trustworthy computing" in everything we do. We use Microsoft technology to secure the environment. We look at protecting the exterior, for example, we require smart cards to get into the corporate network. Now, internally, we've deployed IPsec in require mode across the entire environment. And we continue ton take advances in Microsoft products and use them internally. We're running XP Service Pack 2 internally on thousands of machines.

Q: Talk about Longhorn. How are you going to help provide feedback? Is there a process in place already?

We have a few thousand client machines running Longhorn internally. We give feedback by sitting down with product groups to understand what kind of value we can get out of it. We decide on set of shared goals, such as reduce servers by X percent or get every employee on a product. We agree to those with the product group early on, and we don't allow them to ship until those goals are met. We're a sign-off on the process.

The later you are in the development cycle, the more they new applications will be on your own machine. Fir example, right now, thousands of people rely on XP 2 as their only machine. The IT organization has access to the bug database. If we find a bug in a product, we log the bug for the development team to fix. Also, we can provide design change requests, if we think there's something that could be done better.

Q: What's top of mind for you right now?

I'm most excited about the suite of products around our dynamic systems initiatives, the Yukon and Whidbey releases. Those will change the way in which we do application development. We'll have much stronger analytical decision support with Yukon. And we're seeing speedier development times with Whidbey.

The 2003 wave of products will change the way we do IT. They allow us to take a significant amount of money out of the infrastructure while we increase service level agreements. The large part of client satisfaction improvement we've seen is from features in that wave of products.