GCN INTERVIEW | Peter B. Hayes, Microsoft advocate for federal standards
|Peter B. Hayes, Microsoft advocate for federal standards
Under Hayes direction, the federal systems unit has
reorganized and started to promote use of more government requirements and standards
inside Microsoft productsone of Hayes priorities.
He joined Microsoft in 1991 and held sales and marketing positions before becoming
general manager of federal business operations. Before that, he worked for 12 years in
sales and management positions at IBM Corp.
Theres an amazing difference between the two companies
cultures, he said. A 1980 graduate of the University of South Alabama, Hayes majored in
GCN senior editor Florence Olsen interviewed Hayes at his Washington office.
GCN: What impact
would a Justice Department verdict against Microsoft Corp. have on the Defense Department,
your biggest customer?
HAYES: Im not going to speculate on that because Im not sure where
its going. If you ask whether I have run this scenario through my head, I have. Any
good businessperson would. But whatever the outcome might be, I dont think it would
have much impact on the way we do business here.
I dont see the antitrust case as much of a distraction for us or even for
Justice, which is a customer of ours.
GCN: What effect has the
antitrust trial had on productivity and product development?
HAYES: The trial was interesting, but were focused on what were trying to
do. One thing you find out about Microsoft folkswere very focused. Everything
that goes on around us is almost secondary. The trial made for interesting conversation,
but thats really about all.
GCN: Whats the story behind Defense Secretary William
Cohens recent visit to Redmond, Wash., to meet with Microsoft officials?
Hayes: It was part of a West Coast trip the secretary was making, and he had an
opportunity to speak privately with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates for a while and also to
address the Microsoft folks.
We had an Army conference out there that coincided with the secretarys visit, so
Secretary Cohen got a chance to address the Army customers, too.
Then we had an opportunity to talk with the secretary in a much smaller group about
some of our training initiatives, such as Skills 2000. Security was an area the secretary
was interested in, as was speech recognition.
GCN: Is it true that the
Army is pretty much running its operations from camp to headquarters on Microsoft Exchange
Server and Windows NT Server networks?
Hayes: The Army is a very good customer, one of the largest. Actually, the Army and Air
Force are two of Microsofts largest customers. In general, Id say the Army has
been a great customer for both NT and Exchange.
Weve seen much faster adoption of Exchange inside the federal government than we
have in the commercial sector. That might surprise some people. The implementation and
rollout of Exchange for enterprise messaging has been greater in the federal government. I
would say the same is true for NT.
GCN: What does the
enterprise systems group at Microsoft Federal do?
Hayes: One thing is to make sure that our Windows NT systems interoperate with Unix
systems and Oracle Corp. databases. We know our customers arent going to get rid of
things they have out there, so we have to try to interoperate with them.
The people in that organization come from Oracle, Sybase Inc., Informix Corp. and Sun
Microsystems Inc. We hired them to ensure that our applications can interoperate with
other companies products and so we can present a good case to the government as to
why we have the better, longer-term solution, once the government gets the value out of
its existing products.
On the command and control side, where the government is still using Unix and Oracle
systems, theres a lot of interest in NT. Weve stepped up development work on
some federal-specific requirements and needs, and we set up an organization to feed those
requirements faster into development.
The government has a big initiative related to medium-assurance messaging with certain
security requirements. We need to make sure we have robust security inside Outlook
Express, for example.
Right now were working through certification for Federal Information Processing
Standard 140-1 on security. We want to try to be in a leadership position. The government
has become very aggressive in implementing new technologies for public-key infrastructure
security. Id say the government is moving fast.
The other thing the enterprise group works on is scalable NT solutions and databases.
Were going to be an enterprise player. Were staffing up and changing our
organization to do that.
We have a consulting organization in Microsoft Federal Systems which is relatively
small compared with our competitors and the systems integrators. But
weve tripled the consulting organization over the last three years.
Our competitors have done a pretty good job of labeling Microsoft a desktop [PC]
company. The bottom line is that SQL Server and NT can handle about 98 percent of scalable
observers are skeptical that the next release of Windows NT can ever be fully debugged
because its so big50 million lines of codeand complex. Are they right?
Hayes: No, we dont see that as a problem. A lot of features in Windows 2000
actually will make implementation easier.
Sometimes you have lots of code in products because youre trying to make the
products more reliable, easier to install, easier to support, easier for enterprise
networks. That takes code. One thing Microsoft knows how to do is code, and were
used to complex products.
concerned is Microsoft about open-source software?
Hayes: It will be interesting to see how well open-source is adopted in the enterprise.
Are we worried about it? We want to make sure NT is a great product. Our customers will be
the ones who decide which is the better product over the course of time.
But our customers are doing the right thing. Theyre doing due diligence.
Theyre looking at all the alternatives.
GCN: Are you seeing any
requests for proposals that make Linux appear competitive?
Hayes: No. But there are lots of discussions about Linux inside the government and
inside commercial accounts. You have to think about the way everything is getting
connected today and about how you pull all the parts together and make them work.
Todays Web server could be tomorrows hub for electronic commerce.
Todays application server could be what you need to build your knowledge management
system. The government is looking at itself more and more at an enterprise level.
GCN: What areas of
investigation within Microsoft research would be interesting to government managers?
Hayes: The area that piques peoples interest most is voice recognitionthe
idea of being able someday to speak to your computer. What will computers look like three
to five years from now? Will you wear them on your wrist? How will you interact with them?
How will we make it easier to hook up computer systems and to install systems and
Its Star Trek technology, and its fascinating. Were
looking at different ways to communicate with computers and to make software easier to
GCN: What are your federal
users doing to prepare their PC networks to operate smoothly after Jan. 1?
Hayes: Everybody is doing something a little bit different because everybody has a bit
of a different problem. Some people are replacing the PCs but leaving the software the
same. Some are upgrading the software. Many of them have to upgrade with software patches.
Everybody is very focused on it.
GCN: You worked for IBM
Corp. before you came to Microsoft. What makes Microsoft unique as a company?
Hayes: This is the most dynamic companyits an amazing difference. IBM was
and still is a very good company. The experience IBM gives you is great, but Microsoft
pushes it 10 levels further. People get a chance to do some fantastic things. Its
very fast-paced, very entrepreneurial. We try to keep the entrepreneurial spirit inside
the product organization and outside in the field organization.
Theres no doubt that its a large company. But it still has a small company
feel. The people are smart. Everybodys hard-working. And it uses leading-edge