Azure not a slam dunk for Ray Ozzie’s next venture


Ray Ozzie, the former Microsoft executive charged with driving the development of Windows Azure, may not choose the product he helped build for his own stealth startup. Ozzie told attendees of the Geekwire Summit Wednesday in Seattle that he is evaluating Azure, along with Amazon Web Services and OpenStack, for use by his mysterious startup.

That startup, Cocomo, remains in stealth mode, but will focus on mobility, Ozzie said.

He reiterated several times that startups in this new era have to be agile, flexible and creative in their choice of tools.

“I believe in Azure an awful lot. I’m close to those folks, I know the capabilities of Azure and Amazon and OpenStack, and we’re playing with that. The best thing for any entrepreneur is to understand the solution and be very agile about the languages and hosting technologies and to use what works,” he said.

To build a startup today, “you have to return to zero, assess the technologies that are out there, the processes for development which are much different … assess what technology you have to build. Today it’s much more about the assembly process than in the past. There are so many components in Github, etc.,” Ozzie said.

As for Cocomo,  he gave a few hints.  It will involve “cloud-based backends, phones, pads and so on on the front end,” he said. And it will be all about communications. “Today that’s what we’d call social productivity, but in the past was called groupware or cooperative work. I like envisioning tools for new environments that let people do things in ways that are more fun, more productivity.”

Cocomo has a handful of employees in the Boston and Seattle areas, including Microsoft vets Eric Patey, Matt Pope and Ransom Richardson.

Cocomo will be closely watched because of Ozzie, who was the force behind Lotus Notes, the pioneering collaboration product from Lotus, and his work at Microsoft, where Bill Gates designated him as chief software architect. In that role, Ozzie had to drive the tricky — and contentious — transition from on-premises software that made a ton of money, to the new world of cloud computing as embodied in Azure.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Jeff Sandquist.

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