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Business

Sam Ramji has his head in the clouds

Ramji has gone from Microsoft, where everything is defined and the fight is continuous, to Sonoa Systems, where nothing is defined and contention is nebulous. It's more wide-open and, he says, more fun.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

Sam Ramji, formerly the face of open source at Microsoft (cue the Star Wars music) is settling into a new life as vice president for strategy at Sonoa Systems, a cloud start-up.

He told me it suits him.

"Instead of pushing boulders up the hill I'm going down the hill. Sonoa has 65 employees. I talk to customers directly, daily, instead of monthly. There's less operational overhead. So I'm getting out more, talking at events more, talking to journalists and analysts more.

"At Microsoft there is no such thing as a staff job. You have to always be driving strategy, be a subject matter expert, and get into detail as much as necessary. I had a 120 person team in a 90,000 person organization.

"As Vice President for Strategy at Sonoa Systems I'm a one man show." He also gets more family time -- he describes himself on his personal blog as an "avid husband and father of two."

That blog (now part of the blogroll here) is also now a great place to get Ramji's honest views on cloud computing, CodePlex, and open source in general, as in this piece "free is not the opposite of commercial."

Ramji describes

Sonoa as being among the many start-ups working to define what will become the LAMP stack of cloud computing. (That's a close-up of its home page, describing its offerings, to the left.)

This means competitors are often collaborators. "We're all trying to figure out how our technologies connect" with the primary competition coming from clients' in-house development.

He described one Sonoa solution, for MTV, involving RightScale, Amazon, Sonoa and Xen, all working together. "It seems like we do the same thing, but when we get deployed you realize that managing the virtual infrastructure is different from managing cloud service traffic. Stacks are just starting to emerge and each component is important."

So Ramji has gone from a world where everything is defined and the fight is continuous to one where nothing is defined and contention is nebulous. It's more wide-open and, he says, more fun.

So there is life after Microsoft, in the clouds.

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