Microsoft Big Brains: Brad Lovering

In this week's profile in my "Microsoft Big Brains" series profiling the company's technical fellows, meet Brad Lovering, a k a "Mr. Oslo."
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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': Brad Lovering Claim to Fame: As of two months ago, runs the entire Oslo team in the Connected System Division, and plans to do so through RTM of Version 1 in 2009. How Long You've Been With Microsoft: 20 years More About You: Straight out of college at the University of Washington, came to Microsoft and worked on a succession of developer-focused products, ranging from Visual Basic, to Visual J++, to Visual Studio .Net and the .Net Framework, to Windows Communication Foundation (WCF). For the past four years, been focused on Oslo tools and strategy Your Biggest Accomplishment (So Far) at Microsoft: "I've been able to ship every product I've worked on." Team(s) You Also Work With: Azure cloud team, System Center unit, Team Foundation System, Visio, Dynamics CRM/ERP units Why Stay at Microsoft? "I've been at Microsoft half my life. I have my family and I have software. I love making software. I want to do this another 20+ years, if I can."

Every three to four years during his 20-year career at Microsoft, Technical Fellow Brad Lovering has had a fireside chat with Chairman Bill  Gates, CEO Steve Ballmer and Senior Vice President/Chief Technology Officer David Vaskevitch.

"It's a balance. I say what I'm interested in. They talk about getting the right teams and assembling the right pieces," Lovering says.  And then Lovering goes off and works on whatever developer-focused project that he's interested in and needs him most.

It was four years ago when Lovering initially took on the assignment of working with Microsoft's then-fledgling Oslo  modeling tools and strategy team.

"The first year was a lot of customer stuff. Then it was a year of getting the team in place. There were various incubations in various places," he reminisces. "It will be five years total by the time (Version 1) ships" as part of Visual Studio 2010.

It's somewhat atypical for Lovering to be managing a team of a couple hundred people, as he is doing now.

"I spend most of my time on tech design,"  he says. "Half my job is typically talking to internal (Microsoft) partners. Now (with Oslo), we're also starting to talk to external partners" he says.

"I'm staying with the Oslo team through RTM and hopefully for another turn for Version 2. I'm excited to do a Version 2 for the first time," says the typically on-to-the-next-thing Lovering.

What's left to do after the first set of Oslo deliverables  (a shared repository, the M modeling language and the Quadrant visual-modeling tool) are completed? Lovering says there is a never-ending laundry list, especially around the cloud. Already, the Oslo team has started working with the Azure (Red Dog) cloud OS team to build a domain-specific language (DSL) using Oslo.

"You need a model-driven approach for these big systems," like Azure, Lovering says

There are potential synergies between Oslo and the System Center systems-management tools and technologies, the Dublin application server team, the Dynamics CRM and ERP wares, too, he says. Almost every big software-development project at Microsoft could benefit from Oslo, Lovering says. Meanwhile, don't be surprised to see many next-gen Microsoft tools and products include Oslo integration as a feature. Visio, for example, could benefit from tighter import/export integration with Quadrant, Lovering says.

"I spend so much of Microsoft's money doing crazy stuff," Lovering concludes. "But they keep saying, 'go,go, go.'"

So off goes Mr. Oslo to help build out more domains and find ways to get developers on board with Microsoft's modeling technologies.

For all of the “Microsoft Big Brains” profiles, check out the Big Brains page.

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