After spending 30 minutes pitching Microsoft Azure cloud computing service to 100 corporate titans at Microsoft’s CEO Summit in Redmond last week, Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said he still wasn’t successful at explaining what it was. Ballmer told a gathering of executives in Singapore on Wednesday, according to a transcript of his remarks:
“It’s kind of a funny thing. I tried to describe cloud computing to a group of 100 CEOs at our headquarters in Seattle last week, and I thought I had done a really fine job. And after I was done, a lady in the front raises her hand and says, I don’t mean to be slow, but I still don’t know what is cloud computing. Is it kind of like the Borg or something….” Ballmer didn’t say who asked the question.
The Borg are a fictional pseudo-race of cybernetic organisms depicted in the Star Trek universe. Aside from being the main threat in Star Trek: First Contact, the Borg also play major roles in The Next Generation and Voyager television series, primarily as an invasion threat to the United Federation of Planets and the means of return to the Alpha Quadrant for isolated Federation starship Voyager, respectively.
This is how Ballmer explained cloud computing in Singapore: “…It really relates to a fundamental change in the way we think about fusing the Internet, best of the Internet, with the best of what’s going on today in your datacenters, with the rest of what people love about the PC, and the best of what they love about mobile computing. It’s a redo of kind of the infrastructure on which IT is built. It should drive out capital expense. It should drive down operating expense. It’s an opportunity to do things more efficiently by having more of it done in a standard and industrialized way based upon so-called cloud services that are operated by companies like us and our partners.”
The list of attendee names Microsoft released were: Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Queen of Jordan Rania Al Abdullah, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, Walmart Chairman Rob Walton, JPMorgan Chase Chairman James Dimon, IAC CEO Barry Diller and Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger. The only female attendee whose name was made public was the Queen of Jordan, but we don’t know that she was the only woman in attendance or the person who asked the question. Microsoft is betting the company on the cloud as the next wave of computing, when software and data will be stored on the Internet, rather than a PC, and accessed by devices such as PCs, mobile phones, televisions and tablets.