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Microsoft names new CIO

Ron Markezich takes over as chief information officer, responsible for managing the software giant's internal information systems.

Microsoft on Friday named a new chief information officer, responsible for managing the software giant's internal information systems.

Ron Markezich, who previously managed Microsoft's call centers, help desks and other areas, will report to former CIO Rick Devenuti, who heads Microsoft's Worldwide Services unit.

Markezich will take over management for more than 300,000 connected devices among 55,000 employees. The company also maintains 7,000 servers and 1,800 business applications scattered between its Redmond, Wash., headquarters and seven data centers.

Markezich said one of his first challenges will be to reduce the cost of running Microsoft's information technology infrastructure by $100 million over the next three years, in part by using the company's software to consolidate systems. "Our goal is to take our budget down every year, take money out of our maintenance side, to free up money to build new systems," he said.

Microsoft has a long history of using its internal technology infrastructure as a test bed of sorts for new releases of its own products, such as the Windows operating system, the Exchange e-mail server and SQL Server database. "We're Microsoft's first and best customer," Markezich said.

Not all internal systems are on Microsoft's software: The company's core enterprise resource planning system is from German software maker SAP, Markezich said.

In the coming year, Markezich said Microsoft will begin using internally a new release of the company's Visual Basic tools, the "Yukon" release of SQL Server and Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative to manage resources.

The next major release of Windows, code-named Longhorn, is already being used within Microsoft, Markezich said. More than 3,000 client machines at Microsoft are running the new operating system. In the coming year, he said Microsoft will begin testing the server version of Longhorn internally as well.

A major part of Markezich's job, in addition to running the company's vast computing infrastructure, will be to serve as a link between Microsoft and its customers by working with other chief information officers and technology managers. "About one-third of my time will be spent with customers; the rest working on our technology infrastructure," he said.

Markezich joined Microsoft in 1998. He started with Microsoft as general manager of finance and administration IT, where he helped develop business systems for the company's finance and human resources organizations.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Markezich spent nine years as a consultant at Accenture, the technology services company formerly known as Andersen Consulting.

Devenuti, a 17-year Microsoft veteran, was appointed to run the company's services unit in addition to serving as CIO, following the departure of services chief Mike Sinneck last fall.