Everyone must play nice in XML

Peter Hayes bio

Age: 44

Family: Married to Mary Edwards Hayes; one daughter, 6

Pets: Three giant schnauzers, including a three-time Westminster Kennel Club champion

Home network: 6-year-old Compaq PC, 3-year-old Dell PC, two Empower servers, Cisco Systems wireless network, three printers, Compaq iPaq handheld computer, Ultimate TV with WebTV access, two Motorola cell phones for domestic and international calls

Last book read: Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris

Last movie seen: 'Black Hawk Down'

Worst job: Railroad track repair worker

Peter B. 'Pete' Hayes, Microsoft's government guy

Henrik G. DeGyor

Peter B. 'Pete' Hayes calls himself a technology maniac and boasts that on his extensive home network he 'can get to any machine from any device and via wireless ... anywhere.'

Hayes joined Microsoft Corp. in 1991 and is now industry vice president and general manager for the software giant's government operations. He directs three business units: federal systems, state and local government sales, and public-sector consulting services. Federal business produces about 15 percent of Microsoft's U.S. revenue.

Other jobs Hayes has held at Microsoft include director of worldwide enterprise field strategy for enterprise customers and southeast district manager for Microsoft's Atlanta office. Hayes also spent 12 years in sales, technical and managerial positions at IBM Corp.

He is on committees for the Metropolitan Washington United Service Organization, the Washington Opera and the Virginia campus of George Washington University.

Hayes graduated from the University of South Alabama in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in business and management studies.

GCN staff members Susan M. Menke and Patricia Daukantas interviewed Hayes.

GCN: How has your job changed at Microsoft Corp.?

HAYES: I ran the federal business for three years. Now I'm in charge of government business in the United States. I've also started to pick up responsibility for strategy for government globally and to build on some of the best practices that we've developed here.

At the same time we want to take advantage of some of the best practices that have developed in other countries.

Today we have about 1,000 people who focus on government globally. It's a substantial piece of money for Microsoft, very strategic and important for us.

GCN: Is .Net a perceptible fraction of that business yet?

HAYES: It depends on what you mean. When you talk about .Net, it's Web services, it's Visual Studio .Net. So if you talk about .Net as a product being a perceptible piece, no. But as a force, as a direction, absolutely. You really can't compare the amount of revenue for those particular tools with the influence that it has.

.Net is about Web services tools to enable our customers to connect their environment. We're starting to find that many customers think it's really useful for a lot of the government's objectives, like connecting disparate systems.

GCN: What security concerns are you hearing from government?

HAYES: They have a lot of the same concerns that the private individual has. How can I keep my information protected? How can I not be hacked?

Our trustworthy computing program is making security enhancements to the products. This is not something that's going to be over within a year, it's a long-term thing. Massive changes need to occur in the industry around privacy and regulations and the way systems are secured.
Without a doubt, the No. 1 focus area for us'and Bill Gates'is security. You want to be able to trust technology the way you can trust a light switch in your house.

GCN: Have security concerns speeded up the retirement of earlier Windows operating systems?

HAYES: Maybe a little bit. I don't know that that's been a driving force. Sept. 11 really did change a lot of priorities and what our customers thought was important.

A few years ago, electronic software distribution was very important, and everybody had to figure out a way to be more efficient. Do you ever hear about it now?

Now it's all about security and interoperability. That's what everybody's talking about.

GCN: The Office of Management and Budget is endorsing both .Net and Java 2 Enterprise Edition for Web services in a government enterprise architecture. How closely have you been working with OMB?

HAYES: They work with us and our partners. We provided them with a lot of information on our technology and our future direction.

GCN: The high-level architectures for both .Net and J2EE look basically the same. What do you say makes .Net more suitable than J2EE?

HAYES: What we to try to do with .Net is enable the vision of computing anytime, anywhere and on any device. You need not only Microsoft tools but also third-party tools.

Our goal is to make sure we can provide the right set of tools, and that's what .Net is all about. It's making sure that we can connect systems, whether they're ours or someone else's, through the basic Internet standard of Extensible Markup Language.

GCN: Does the .Net vision extend to wireless communications?

HAYES: Yes. If you want people to get the information they need anytime, any place, on any device, you're going to have to get it to the pager, the cell phone or the personal digital assistant. We don't want to be hampered by the specific platform. If it's wireless, we want to support it.

GCN: How realistic is it that Microsoft applications will connect with other platforms?

HAYES: The key is XML. You've seen a lot of effort from all the vendors to support XML. And once they support XML, it's simply a matter of technology to connect it all together.

All the vendors realize that we have to cooperate with one another and that no one is going to try to kick anybody out. Everybody has their place. It's all about what the customer wants. With the government, it's all about supporting the citizen.

It's not good for anybody if we have these wars among ourselves. We're going to compete very hard to win business, but in the end, it is all about the standards and the ability to connect well.

GCN: Do enough people know how to code XML? Lots of people know what it is but don't work with it.

HAYES: You have to look at it over a range of time. More and more people have a high-level concept of what XML is, certainly more than a broad group of people did three years ago.
The next three years are going to be the same. Pretty soon, everybody's going to know how to use it. They're going to realize that it helps you be more vendor-independent.

GCN: Is SQL Server gaining market share in the government?

HAYES: This is the first year that shipments of SQL Server into the federal government surpassed those of Exchange Server. The government is a big user of Exchange, and SQL Server is doing as well or slightly better, actually.

We're focusing not on selling a database for the sake of a database. We're focusing on selling solutions to the customers, and many of those solutions happen to use SQL Server because it's a high-performing database product.

GCN: Where is the PC heading?

HAYES: We feel very bullish about the PC market. The evolution is toward putting the power in the hands of the end users and letting them do the kind of computing they want.

I don't think any one particular platform will win. It's not like people are going to throw out their laptops and go with handheld personal digital assistants. And it's not like somebody's going to want to lug a laptop to a meeting. They're going to want to be able to do computing and be connected the way they want to be.

I'm kind of a technology maniac, so I get e-mail on my cell phone. I've got a handheld device. I've got five computers in my house and a wireless network. When I go home, I put my card in my laptop, and it connects to a high-speed line.

I can sit in my study downstairs instead of being in my office upstairs with my 6-year-old daughter'I share my office with my daughter and her toys and my servers, and I don't want to sit there all the time. I want to be down in my study, on my laptop, virtual-private-networking into my server out into my network. And before I go to sleep, I put a wireless card into my handheld PC and check my e-mail just one more time.

Sometimes I want to get a file off my PC at work. When I'm traveling on the road, I want a VPN into my server at home where maybe I have some photographs that my wife wants me to print out on a printer at home because she doesn't want to use the PC. So I do that for her. She uses WebTV in the family room to do her e-mail.

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