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Each quarter, the company gives out an Environmental Sustainability Action Award, along with a donation to an environmental charity of the winner’s choice. The award recognizes an employee or team who has shown leadership and provides an inspiring example of how Microsoft and its employees can have a positive impact and change not only on the way we run our business, but also the way our products and services can make a difference for our customers, our partners and for society.
For Q3, we are pleased to recognize Robert O’Brien, a Principal Architect in Microsoft IT, for his leadership in demonstrating how software engineers can shed their dependencies on traditional lab and desktop infrastructure. Based on his own successful experiences, Robert quantified and actively promoted the financial and environmental benefits of moving software development and testing environments to Microsoft’s Azure-based Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform. This cloud-based approach is a more energy efficient way to develop software that also makes engineers more productive through a more agile, flexible and reliable user experience.
The advantages of not needing equipment in the office are numerous. For starters, resource allocation can easily be scaled up and down in the cloud as and when it is needed, rather than having a fixed set of infrastructure that is underused for most of the time and may not be sufficient a few times a year. This cloud-based virtual infrastructure can be accessed anywhere, and can be easily configured to enable access to corporate resources when needed. As a result of not having the infrastructure in offices and labs, it not only makes employee office moves a lot less costly but also reduces the amount of energy needed to cool the building. This can be particularly impactful at scale because removing labs and always-on desktop infrastructure from the office allows the office HVAC system to be turned off at night, saving even more money on energy. By moving to a mobile development environment, engineers have the flexibility to work anywhere, anytime and dedicated office space can be reduced over time, creating a more collaborative work environment and better work-life balance for engineers.
Robert is helping pave the way for Microsoft to continue reducing its environmental footprint. His work shows how using cloud computing can be leveraged to improve IT efficiency, and provides a good reminder that the cloud is often an effective way to be more agile and save money as well.