Stephen Walli, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft - Ask Him Anything


Thanks, @JamesWTruher. I knew you would be more concise and cogent than I could be in the space. For context for other forum readers, Jim is a UNIX dev that worked with me at Softway on Interix, came into Msft and the SFU world, and transferred over to the PS team. There is a consistency to his view.


Thanks for the response!

I think I may need to spend some time trying to administer my *nix boxes with Powershell, because I’ll frankly admit that I’m used to doing administration in Powershell and manipulating things as objects, but for some reason I have an internal GNU-grey beard in my head telling me to get that Powershell off this ext4 lawn.

I can certainly relate to that cognitive switching though. It’s a sharp 90 degree turn at times.

Slight tangent: correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Invoke-RESTMethod a slightly better approach now, versus Invoke-WebRequest?


wrt: invoke-restmethod would indeed be better, recently I’ve been using a lot of invoke-webrequest so it was in my fingers rather than my head :slight_smile:


The only thing that XP has over Ubuntu Mate - is that it is easier to add wallpapers. Agree ?

& if the gap where XP was retired (think it was jan / feb) and if the Ubuntu LTS DVD for that year was brought forward a few months - and then put on every NewYork Intl. newspaper going - we would’ve won the battle for Linux long ago.

The fact that Ubuntu is wrapped up in a company that no longer brainstorms problems, but merely reacts to exploits, is frankly just about tread-watering.
Lets hope when they get the IPO, up and running, they’ll be more flexible about new adoption for gnew users.

Ubuntu never helped Africa - it just gave them a $150 barrier to get an Ubports phone.

@stephenrwalli How do you see Linux helping Africans - other than endlessOS ?


Late to the party, but I have a question: do you think we’ll see the corporate data centre move to the cloud, or the cloud move to the corporate data centre (and which would you prefer to see with/without your MS hat on? :wink:).

Where I’m going with this: our organisation is pretty substantially invested in Azure, including deploying things like ExpressRoutes. But we still have a lot of stuff internally. And IIRC there was a rumour doing the rounds a while back about Azure-in-a-box from someone like Dell or HPE.


I’d love to hear @stephenrwalli 's thoughts on this too but I’d hope not to see corporate data moving to the cloud but remaining firmly in the hands of someone directly responsible to the company. Company data is often sensitive and access to it needs to be carefully controlled. I can access my design data and customer details while working away from home via my VPN I would hate that to be available anyone outside my company. Admittedly at the moment my company consists of just me for now but may expand in the future.


Posit: Your main file server runs a RAID array. One of the disks dies. It’s under warranty. You organise an RMA collection from the vendor. You get a replacement drive, and you ship off the broken one. The vendor now has a potentially recoverable chunk of your data.

Consequence: You decide to enable full-disk encryption, so that if anyone gets a hold of some of your physical drives without they key, they’re useless hunks of metal and plastic.

Result: You have essentially isolated your data from your storage mechanism via encryption, and thus moving it to the cloud under similar circumstances (e.g. encrypted EBS volumes, S3 buckets with server side encryption enabled) shouldn’t be a major issue.

Alternate posit: Your main file server is hosted in a colocated datacentre facility. Someone manages to gain access to your rack and removes your file server’s disks.

Unless you host everything on-prem and never ever return hardware to a vendor or repair company, you’re essentially abrogating some part of the responsibility for your data’s security to someone else. At least with major cloud providers, this has been fully considered.


I work in the public sector. There’s a large push on to move stuff to The Cloud in one form or other. Arguably we deal with some pretty sensitive data at times (not my team specifically) and I believe these sorts of things are considered during the design. Encryption at rest etc. I know they definitely are in some cases - I remember a conversation with AWS reps once where they couldn’t guarantee physical destruction of the disk and that was apparently a problem for that particular project.

What I don’t know is if this level of security design is a systematic thing. It wouldn’t totally surprise me if it wasn’t which is a bit of a worry. But then as @neuro says you’re almost always abrogating some level of responsibility and possibly the people who don’t design correctly for The Cloud are also the same people who’d run some critical business system on an unpatched Wordpress install on shared hosting or whatever.

This whole should-we-trust-The-Cloud/how-to-secure-The-Cloud feels like it needs a more in-depth discussion :wink: Still interested in @stephenrwalli 's thoughts on on-premsie vs off though, and how MS thinks that might play out.


@TakeRollrWeak, sorry for the delay responding. I think Shuttleworth’s original vision still stands. I think having a powerful, well-supported, easy-to-install operating system makes access to technology easier. Not having to pirate software means a user can keep up with updates, fixes, and security patches. I appreciate a lot more people have mobile phones in Africa than laptops and PCs. I think Linux variants for phone hardware again help here.


@hillsy, @WarrenHill I believe companies will continue to move their data centers into the cloud. Good cloud providers need to ensure they meet the needs of customers on data sovereignty and security as much as they need to match the desire for uptime and other SLA activities.

In my personal life, I have data mostly in Dropbox (for which I happily pay), Evernote (also paid), some filing sharing via a Google Drive account, some small data syncing across devices in the Apple cloud. I have a machine that provides me access to all of those sites. I make mostly explicit decisions about where my data sits.

Google knows an enormous amount about my search habits, and Amazon about my buying habits, and cookies apparently share promiscuously because I see interesting sponsored content in Twitter and Instagram feeds. I’m not giving them access to the messy directory tree of my personal life and projects. I pay Dropbox and Evernote to keep that data safe and more importantly to keep it separate.

I don’t have a good solution for media. Books in Kindle. Music in iTunes bought from Amazon. A growing collection of iTunes movies (because I consume on an iPad) to replace the dusty boxes of DVDs. I look at the overstuffed bookcases behind me, and question whether I’ll really re-read most of it. But I can’t quite donate it yet.

Personal photos are a bit of a nightmare. Between old boxes needing scanning from a pre-digital life, and curating that never gets done on too many bad digital photos, and storage costs for GBs of photos, it’s … a problem.

But I think this is exactly the cloud problem facing companies. If you have data in the Oracle cloud (because of predatory licensing on Oracle licenses in their cloud versus everyone else’s cloud), you use Salesforce heavily, you have a mix of Azure services, as well as Linux and Windows VMs running on Azure, is that the real and better definition of multi-cloud? If I have some data in my data center for regulatory reasons, some old VMS machines running still relevant systems that will NEVER migrate, and a mix of RHEL systems on Azure, and CoreOS systems in Dev/Test under developer desks, am I any less hybrid today than I was yesterday?

I think the cloud providers that best understand actual customer IT needs will be the ones that do well, rather than simply offering up the next fad or cheaper cycles and storage in a race to the bottom.

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