Just before retiring from day-to-day responsibilities at Microsoft, Chairman Bill Gates said that he expected Microsoft's 22 Technical Fellows to get a lot more publicly visible -- now that they wouldn't be living in his shadow. While some of the Microsoft fellows already have been active on the public-speaking circuit, many of them are not widely known outside the company.
I've launched this series -- "Microsoft Big Brains" -- to help remedy that shortcoming. In the coming weeks, I am hoping to profile as many of the company's tech fellows as to whom I can get access.
Microsoft's Technical Fellows came to the company via a variety of different routes. Some of them run divisions inside the company; some focus on particularly thorny technical issues that may span a variety of product units. Regardless of where they sit in the organization, the fellows all have been charged with helping Microsoft craft its next-gen products and strategies, much the way that Gates used his regular "Think Weeks" to prioritize what Microsoft needed to do next.
This Week's 'Big Brain': Dave Campbell
Claim to Fame: Leader of the technical strategy and architecture teams for SQL Services (the service formerly known as SQL Data Services) -- which is Microsoft's "data platform for the cloud"
How Long You've Been With Microsoft: 14 years
More About You: Joined Microsoft from Digital Equipment Corp., where he worked on the DEC Rdb and DEC DBMS dev teams. Worked as an architect on the SQL Server Storage Engine team and held a variety of roles in the SQL Server division. Chairs an Advisory Council for a company-wide storage experts community, which focuses on storage related challenges and opportunities.
Your Biggest Accomplishment (So Far) at Microsoft: "Being part of the team that created Microsoft SQL Server 7.0"
(SQL Server 2005) because of the way "we redefined 'ease of use' and made the system self-managing"
Team(s) You Also Work With: Other units in Microsoft's Server and Tools business; the various teams working on modeling "across data management, application development and management"; Technical Fellow John Shewchuck's team, which is extending .Net to the cloud.
Why Stay at Microsoft? "Database and storage technology ... is having an incredible impact on communications, entertainment, collaboration, line of business applications, and internet-scale services. Microsoft is the only company where a database guy can make a difference across all of these domains."
You've heard of Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and maybe even Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). But Microsoft Technical Fellow Dave Campbell wants to make sure you know about his pet project, Database as a Service (DaaS), too.
Campbell works in Microsoft's Data Storage Platform division. He is focused on the hows and whys of extending the current client-server database paradigm in a way as to offer customers DaaS, he says.
"DaaS will expose relational queries, search, reporting, analytics, integration and synchronization of data with mobile users, remote offices and business partners," Campbell explains. "I think this will be as transformational as client/server was."
Microsoft's implementation of DaaS is SQL Services. SQL Services, code-named "Sitka," is part of Microsoft's Azure cloud services platform. Microsoft's goal is to have SQL Services built on top of the Azure operating system -- one component of which is an underlying Azure storage layer (which is different from SQL Services). (Currently SQL Services, like most of Microsoft's hosted services, is not yet running on top of the Azure OS in Microsoft's datacenters.)
Campbell is a database guy's dabase guy. He worked on the SQL Server team during the tumultous and heady SQL Server 7.0 period.
"I tell people that the Microsoft SQL Services project feels a lot like the SQL Server 7.0 days since we once again have a great team focused on building something new, which will redefine how developers can use database technology to build incredible new solutions," Campbell says.
In the longer term, Campbell says he's interested in the broader topic of data patterns in modern applications.
"Twenty to thirty years ago, most applications were written to solve a particular problem and were bound to a single database. The application was the only way data got into and out of the database. Today, data is much more distributed and data consistency, particularly in the face of extreme scale, poses some very interesting challenges," he says. "The SQL Services team has learned a tremendous amount during the last couple of years in this space and I plan on spending a fair bit of time on this topic next year."
For all of the “Microsoft Big Brains” profiles, check out the Big Brains page.