Microsoft VP Details Relief Initiatives - 2

As the technical impact of the attacks in New York and Washington continue to be felt, Microsoft Corp. - the largest software company in the world -- is making its technical and staffing resources across the country available to those clients affected by the disaster. Kevin Johnson, Microsofts senior vice president of U.S. sales, took time out to talk with eWEEK Senior Editor Peter Galli about its initiatives in this regard.

eWEEK: What has Microsoft been doing on the ground to help those customers who have been affected and whose systems have been severely disrupted by the events this week?

Johnson: We are trying to help all our customers and employees work through this situation in any way we can. As our clients deal with many issues, we are trying to help them make the technical response as easy as possible. Weve contributed $10 million to help the relief agencies and have also been working very hard to reach out to our customers affected by this tragedy and offer them our assistance. Weve proactively gone out and contacted 50 to 60 customers that we work closely with and have offered to help them in any way we can. In most cases they need technical assistance to help them, whether its rebuilding systems or getting their networks back up.

eWEEK: How many employees does Microsoft have in the greater New York area that are devoted to this?

Johnson: We have over 200 employees in the New York area, all of whom are very focused on engaging and helping our customers work through this terrible tragedy. Weve set up specific response teams to assist each of these customers. Yesterday [Thursday] a customer had over 100 laptops delivered, and we provided software, media and the people resources necessary to install it and get them configured and up and running. So essentially were providing the technical resources necessary as well as the media -- the software necessary to install and rebuild these systems. Some staff have been working throughout the night to create disks and things for customers.

Weve also established a response coordination team here in Redmond [Wash.] that our teams in the field send their requests to. This lets us marshal all the resources we have at Microsoft, not just the 200 or so staff we have in the New York City area.

eWEEK: How do you determine which customers have the greatest need at a time like this?

Johnson: We are focusing on all customers. Our New York teams have identified those customers that we have proactively reached out to, and in each case those customers identified what assistance they need from Microsoft, and we are engaging the resources to meet those needs.

eWEEK: What are you finding is the greatest need from customers at this point?

Johnson: Each customer situation is unique, and for the most part there are certain activities that customers have asked our help with. One of those is providing technical resources to help rebuild systems and get them back up and running. Others need us to work with their teams to get things back up on their network, and in other cases we are helping them rebuild their systems and providing the software necessary to help get things back up.

eWEEK: How are you dealing with the issue of payment for these services?

Johnson: This is not about selling or billing services; its about helping customers through a terrible tragedy. Our intense focus here is to do everything we can to help those customers in any way we can.

eWEEK: Are you working with your hardware partners to provide a unified service to customers?

Johnson: Certainly our hardware partners are engaged in supporting these efforts as well. They are at the table with us, and were working in a collaborative way to help fulfil the need.

eWEEK: The various financial exchanges are all Microsoft customers and are talking about rigorous testing this weekend ahead of a possible opening on Monday. Are you at all involved in that with them?

Johnson: I am not going into specifics on what were doing for each customer, but we are engaged with those affected by this and helping them get through this tragedy.