I am at day 2 of the Gartner ITxpo 2014. As I mentioned in my first post in this series, I am blogging some of the show highlights and insights from the keynotes and some of the session tracks. Just how big is this show? According to Gartner there are over 3,000 CIOs at the show, and total attendance including senior IT executives is over 8,500. That is a pretty impressive gathering, and that size and scope allows Gartner to pull in a large number of their analysts to talk at the individual session tracks as well as influential IT leaders to speak in the keynote sessions. Today’s first keynote was with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. We ended the day with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. Both conversations were very good, very engaging, and very different. I’ve outlined some of the points that were discussed with both keynotes below.

Steve Wozniak Keynote

I’ll start with the keynote that ended the day first. Steve Wozniak sat down with two Gartner analysts for a Q&A. Typically what happened was a question was asked, and then a rapid fire stream of consciousness followed meandering throughout all kinds of interesting topics and often ending with “What was the question again?”. Gartner aptly described Woz as a founder of the Digital Humanist movement (see the Day 1 blog for more on what that is). I think that definitely fits, especially when shown a trash can on stage he commented that they picked an image of a trash can for the first Macintosh because humans would know by looking at it that is where you throw stuff away. A short sampling of some of the other questions:

  • What gadgets does Woz like? He likes phones, not impressed yet with smart watches, he does like Google Glass and people wearing it reminds him of people with strange tattoos and piercings (and that is a good thing).
  • What advice would he give young engineers? Get excited about something, because when you are excited you will extend your knowledge. Everything you do in work, try to find a way to make if fun.
  • What advice for businesses? Try to find the next Steve Jobs, but don’t ask him for help because he has looked for the next Steve Jobs and has not found him. Stay close to colleges and get young builders into your organization.  And when you build something, deal with things the human way.

There was far more said than could be captured here, so in short I will just summarize the rest of the conversation by just saying it was fun, chaotic and cool. Hopefully there is room in the Digital Humanist club for a lot more people like Steve Wozniak.

Satya Nadella Keynote

Satya Nadella sat down for a much more serious Q&A session with two Gartner analysts and answered a wide range of questions. When asked how he wanted to make his mark at Microsoft, he responded that he was more interested in Microsoft making its mark, and that he wanted Microsoft to make its mark with a mobile first and cloud first philosophy.

Mobile First

Satya defined Mobile First differently than perhaps a similar definition would have yielded a year ago. While he acknowledged that he is glad to have Nokia as part of the Microsoft family, mobility for Microsoft now means the mobility of the individual, and all of the compute power the individual will interact with throughout the today.  When asked if Microsoft was in it to win it in regards to mobility, Satya responded yes, but you have to look at it through the right lens. Mobile is about how apps will connect to the cloud, how you manage devices and identity for all platforms and how you build apps for all devices.  Microsoft expects to lead all of these areas, and this includes Windows 10, which they view as a unifying platform for all devices: PCs, phones, tablets and perhaps even sensors.

Cloud First

With Cloud first, Satya responded to a question that clouds are commoditizing, perhaps leading to a ‘race to the bottom’. He disagreed, saying that Microsoft will differentiate in the cloud because of all of the different pieces they own and excel at. Because they can offer Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, and they can offer public and hybrid clouds. No one can offer such a complete package. Things like AzureAD and Office365 will be platform pieces to help glue things together, provide a comprehensive solution . He also said that Microsoft’s  most important APIs are not built into Azure, but Office365, and Office365 will be everywhere, the most ubiquitous productivity platform out there.

Gartner also asked about Microsoft and the Internet-of-Things (IoT), and that Microsoft seemed conspicuously absent here.  Satya responded that IoT has a very open definition, and for Microsoft IoT is about end points that have an operating system that is manageable and can have security policies defined for them. He mentioned Windows 10 can very much become a platform for IoT. Then there is also machine learning, predictive analytics, that can manage and monitor all of the end points. This is a big part of Azure.

I found the conversation with Satya to be very open and honest. He acknowledged mistakes and pressed very clearly where he thinks Microsoft can lead. In many ways the vision he expressed is similar to how Citrix is innovations around Mobile Workspaces, which share a mobile first, cloud first theme and is centered around employee productivity. We have always been a close partner to Microsoft, and we expect that close relationship to continue even as we both tweak our business models in a mobile first, cloud first world. The good news is that in his keynote Satya reiterated that partners will still be a key to how Microsoft succeeds now and going forward.

Oh and there was one last question. Does he prefer the Trailblazers (referring to the Portland Trailblazers owned by Paul Allen) or the Clippers (referring to the Los Angeles Clippers owned by Steve Ballmer). His response: “Seahawks!”

If you are at Gartner ITxpo this week, make sure you stop by the Citrix booth and learn more about Mobile Workspaces.

Chris Witeck is a Principal Technology Strategist with Citrix Labs. Citrix Labs is an applied research organization within Citrix. To get updates on what the Citrix Labs team is following as well as projects the Labs team is working on, you can subscribe to the Citrix Labs LinkedIn group