Microsoft: IT Still Has Strategic Role

In his TechEd keynote, Microsoft VP Paul Flessner will be pushing the message that IT remains a core strategic asset for businesses.

DALLAS—When Paul Flessner, senior vice president of Microsoft Corp.s Windows Server division, takes the stage Monday morning to give the keynote address to the 9,000-plus attendees at the Microsoft TechEd conference here, he will be pushing the message that IT remains a core strategic asset for businesses.

In an interview before his address, Flessner said there has been some concern about whether IT has come to the end of its cycle of innovation and questions were being asked as to whether it should simply be managed as a cost.

"We plan to continue to move the industry forward with the help of IT professionals from around the world. The blanket statement that IT is commoditized and no longer offers a strategic or competitive advantage is simply nonsense," he said.

IT remains about providing services, information, business process, connectivity and a range of other things that used together provide a competitive advantage for companies of all sizes. IT professionals remain core to that value proposition, whether they are managing or developing for that infrastructure, he said.

"But our perspective is that just because there is a lot of complexity in the world today, both in IT and business, we shouldnt throw up our hands and say its too hard and think about outsourcing or say its now a commodity."

Microsoft has been pushing the theme of IT as a business asset, with Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates recently telling more than 100 business leaders from around the world that IT departments are having a hard time determining how much they should invest in new technologies to help their information workers do their jobs effectively.

"High volume commodity hardware has hit its stride in terms of putting the proprietary vendors on the defensive now, and people want to get more leverage out of their technologies. One way to do that is to reduce the cost structure and reinvest that back in the business," he said.

Microsoft is telling customers that Web services are the way to get hooked up, both inside the firewall to all the different systems and platforms and to customers and partners through the platform—a message Flessner is going to stress in his keynote.

Microsoft believes that it has the best platform for Web services, .Net, while the Windows Server System is a great implementation as a platform for Web services and .Net.