For the first time in Microsoft’s history a South Asian is heading up one of its major divisions. As the new president of its $15 billion Server and Tools Business (STB), desi Satya Nadella will arguably hold in his hands Microsoft’s best prospects for future growth as major corporations embrace cloud computing at the platform for connecting with customers and workers.
The 43-year-old Hyderabad native is also the youngest ever to head up a Microsoft business division. The trust is well earned. The most recent assignment of his 19-year Microsoft career was leading the launch of Bing, Microsoft’s bid at stopping Google from total dominance of the search space. In that role Nadella got plenty of hands-on experience with using large-scale server clouds to power web services for hundreds of millions of customers around the world. That kind of cutting-edge use of cloud computing is what Nadella will have to conceptualize, develop and sell to Microsoft’s corporate clients as president of STB.
“Today we are seeing our existing customers move to the cloud to address issues of cost and complexity,” Nadella emailed to the STB staff as their new leader. “Tomorrow, our work as leaders in innovation will result in new scenarios and workloads (some of them unimagined!) enabled in the cloud.”
Nadella’s new post was created when Ballmer decided a shakeup was needed to keep pace with rivals like IBM and Oracle. Both former STB head Bob Muglia and his protege Amithabh Srivastava are departing to make room for Nadella.
“In deciding who should take the business forward, we wanted someone with the right mix of leadership, vision and hard-core engineering chops,” Ballmer emailed all Microsoft employees on February 9. “We wanted someone who could define the future of business computing and further expand our ability to bring the cloud to business customers and developers in game-changing ways.”
Nadella left Sun Microsystems in 1992 to join Microsoft’s server group as an engineer. He earned a degree in electrical engineering from Mangalore University before coming to the U.S. for a masters in computer science at the University of Wisconsin. He also has an MBA from the University of Chicago. He lives in the Seattle area with his wife and three children.