In 2006, Amitabh Srivastava was a corporate vice president in Microsoft’s Windows division, working on redefining the organization’s engineering processes.  Ozzie had recently been named the company’s chief software architect and the two had their first meeting one late afternoon in Building 34 on Microsoft’s campus.

Srivastava has always had a rule: If he’s in town, he never misses dinner at home with his family – or if he needs to, he tells his family he’ll be late.  That evening, Srivastava lost track of time.  He missed dinner and never called home to say he’d be late.  The one-hour meeting began at 4 p.m. and went until 8 p.m.

“By the end of that meeting, I was convinced software wouldn’t be shipped as it had been.  My personal realization was, ‘I’m working on the wrong thing,’” Srivastava recalled.

At the time, Srivastava’s office was across from Cutler’s, and the two often got to the office early.  Soon after the meeting with Ozzie, Srivastava recalls telling Cutler, “I don’t know what needs to be done, but I know there’s something changing dramatically and we’ve got to rethink our approach.”

After a few more weeks of discussions, Srivastava knew Microsoft needed to build an operating system for the cloud, and he identified his first task: Recruit Cutler.

“So I go to Dave and he says ‘I think I’m ready to retire,’” Srivastava said. “I said, ‘Dave, not quite. This is different.  This could change the world.’”

Cutler didn’t say yes to Srivastava, but he also didn’t say no.  “I had worked with Dave long enough to know that when he didn’t say no right away, that was a good sign.”

Srivastava developed a plan for Cutler and him to visit every team at Microsoft running a cloud service, from MSN and Hotmail to Xbox Live and the company’s cloud data centers.

The due diligence process took a few months as Cutler and Srivastava listened to the pain points and band-aid approaches teams had taken to keep their cloud services running.  After the tour, Cutler and Srivastava never had a formal discussion about him joining the team. Cutler was on board.

Two years later, on Oct. 27, 2008, Ozzie stood on stage at the company’s Professional Developer’s Conference in Los Angeles and announced a technology preview of Windows Azure (now Microsoft Azure).

At PDC 2008, Ray Ozzie announced a technology preview of Windows Azure (now Microsoft Azure).

Amitabh Srivastava on stage at PDC 2008, wearing the “Project Red Dog” sneakers that Cutler designed.