This is the official announcement. After seven years of providing Enterprise Architecture services to my own company, Microsoft, I’ve decided to move into the Microsoft Consulting Services division and offer my Enterprise Architecture skills and experiences to other companies through Microsoft’s acclaimed world-wide consulting services division.
Nick Malik… Enterprise Architect for Hire.
I’ve been a consultant before. In fact, in the 26 years since I graduated from college, I’ve spent more time in consulting than as an employee. In some ways, I’m coming home. However, I’ve not consulted through Microsoft’s consulting division before. I expect that customers of Microsoft expect different things of their Microsoft consultants than they do from their management consultants or software development consultants (the roles I’ve played before). I have a transition to make, and in all honesty, I’m both excited and nervous about the change. After all, I’ve been working in one environment (Microsoft IT) for the past eight years. I expect that moving “outside the bubble” will be a move back into the real world… a world that has changed dramatically since I was last there.
Microsoft’s internal culture is all-encompassing. First off, not many people have the opportunity to work for such a large IT division. Microsoft IT has 4,000 full time employees and thousands more consultants and contractors. There are offices in 100 countries, six large scale redundant data centers, and massive deployments of bleeding edge technology. Microsoft IT is Microsoft “First and Best Customer,” which means that we get the first crack at new technology, whether it’s ready or not. For example: Thousands of Microsoft employees are using Windows 8 for their normal working environment, and yes, our helpdesk supports Windows 8. We have large teams, and many roles, and an IT budget in excess of $1B. No, Microsoft IT is not a typical IT shop.
For all the excitement of working inside the cauldron of Microsoft, the noise inside the bubble drowns out the sounds of reality from outside the bubble. To counteract this, I have always made an effort to reach out and speak directly to customers of Microsoft software and exchange practices. I am a member of a small minority of IT architects who are engaged in that way. Most of IT is focused on serving the large and needy community of companies known as Microsoft.
That doesn’t mean that Microsoft IT is sheltered. Far from it. We have strong relationships with key partners and each of the large OEMs. We work closely with some large customers as well. Microsoft IT folks are part of those partnerships and there is continuous contact. That said, the majority of contact between MSIT and the “outside” world is in direct support of our partners. Let’s not forget that it is also valuable to speak with people who are NOT involved in making Microsoft successful. To that end, I’ve been engaged to speak to folks from financial services, oil and gas, retail, government, and many more sectors. Each wanted to know about some aspect of Microsoft’s internal architectural activities. Each was willing to share with me their experiences, and their techniques, for developing Enterprise Architecture.
I always got a great deal of energy from these contacts. In some sense, they were the highlights of any week where I got a chance to present to, and listen to, and learn from, our myriad customers from all over the world. And that is why I’m making this move. I’m going after the thing that I enjoy doing the most: providing value directly to companies and organizations around the world.
What does that mean for me? It means that I will spend a good bit more time in airplanes and hotels. It also means that I will be working continuously in new situations, trying to add value as an EA in different companies, in different ways. It also means that I may get something started and not be around to see it come to full fruit. I’ll miss that part.
What does that mean for you? If you are a company or agency that needs an Enterprise Architect, and you’d like to have me visit and spend some time with you, please drop me a line through this website and I’ll see what I can do to arrange things.
I’m hanging out my shingle. Open for business.