Prowling Government's Back Office

Prowling Government's Back Office

Dianne Gregg

Dianne Gregg, vice president of sales and consulting for Microsoft Corp.'s eastern region, is ultimately responsible for more than $1 billion in sales to both commercial and federal customers.

Gregg, 42, speaks in staccato pulses, pausing only briefly between vision statements for the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant to catch her breath.

For Gregg, the federal arena is "a significant and growing market" offering a wealth of opportunities geared toward the back office and Internet-based technology.

Gregg has already spent half her life in information technology, including 17 years with IBM. Her expertise includes rapid application development pro-cesses, IT investment strategies and IT planning.

John Makulowich, Washington Technology's senior writer for technology, caught up with Gregg at last week's Microsoft Technology & Business Conference and Exposition in Washington.

WT: Where are the growth opportunities for Microsoft in its federal business?

Gregg: Today's opportunities and the future are increasingly toward the back office, to products based on NT Server and BackOffice, such as Exchange and its DMS [Defense Messaging System, a global system for transferring classified and nonclassified data] capabilities and SQL as it moves more to comply with federal requirements.

We also see movement to Internet-based technology with products like IIS, our proxy server. We see the future as more scaling to the enterprise type of applications that the federal government relies upon.

WT: How do you work with the disparate offices that make up the federal government?

Gregg: We really view the market as a number of distinct enterprises that are part of the overall federal government. Each one has its own business requirements, its own business needs.

We try to understand the nuances and the unique requirements of each agency. For example, our sales team is divided by different agencies and they treat each one of those agencies as their own customers. The same is true on the consulting side of our business.

WT: Are there any natural alignments among the different agencies?

Gregg: We look at technology adoption, that is, how the different agencies are adopting technology to see if we can derive some synergies. The commonality of the Microsoft platform actually helps this disparate set of entities communicate with each other and exchange information.

WT: How do you exploit different levels of technology requirements, for example, from federal researchers and scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Institutes of Health?

Gregg: We are moving to meet the more sophisti-
cated users' needs. If you look at NT today, and where we see it going, we see NT scaling to the glass house
environment.

We are doing work to make that happen, for example, with clustering NT Servers, initially to address failover and reliability, but ultimately to use clustering for performance and upward scalability.

We are building into NT transaction monitoring and transaction processing, message queuing and Web capabilities. In essence, we are taking NT Server and expanding it for high-end data processing applications.

WT: How does SQL fit in here?

Gregg: With our database, we are scaling SQL both on the high end and on the low end. SQL 7.0 is now in its second beta. On the high end, it will address data warehousing requirements; on the low end, mobile computing with personal SQL.

SQL today is meant more for data marts and intranet-based databases. The work now going on will take it to a new level and put us in a place where our competitors are today.

WT: What changes do you see ahead from the Internet?

Gregg: To live the Web lifestyle, work needs to happen in mega servers, for example, developing very large directories so you can locate users anywhere on the Web or allowing users to communicate in a broader fashion with others anywhere in the world.

WT: Explain what Microsoft means by the Digital Nervous System.

Gregg: DNS is really the heart of a company's system. It comprises four primary things: the people in your organization, your business processes, the data your business runs on and your technology. It is how those four things operate together that determines the competitiveness of an organization's Digital Nervous System.

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