Tom Keane, a former high-level Microsoft executive who recently left the company after 21 years of service, has been an important player in bringing many of the company’s most important products and business offerings to millions of users around the world. Tom Keane was, amongst many other things, responsible for the global infrastructure of Azure – Microsoft’s cloud computing platform – and was tasked with managing large engineering teams, entering new markets, and expanding the footprint of Azure around the globe for the better part of the last decade. Prior to his work with Azure, Tom Keane was a founding member of Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based communications and collaboration suite and one of the first large-scale cloud-based products built and shipped by Microsoft to a global user base.
Thanks to the meticulous focus of Tom Keane, Microsoft, and the Azure team on user needs within different market contexts, Azure has emerged as a global leader in the cloud computing space. The platform serves 34 countries, 65 regions, and territories and operates over 300 data centers around the world. This infrastructure provides data residency for over 80% of the world’s GDP. From building a hyper-scale cloud in China and rolling out cloud services in Africa to working with multinational corporations and complying with the myriad data security, data privacy, and data sovereignty laws and compliance requirements in their markets of operation, Tom Keane and the Azure team expanded from an in-house product to a significant driver of cloud-based offerings to businesses and industries of every type around the world in just a few short years.
Starting in 2012, Tom Keane led Azure’s regulatory compliance program – an important part of the job since meeting the compliance, security, privacy, and data residency needs and expectations of millions of users around the world required the cooperation and collaboration of hundreds of government, regulatory, cyber policy, and oversight bodies and organizations. Two years later, Tom Keane started Azure’s government cloud business. It was here that his technical response to the US Department of Defense's $10 billion cloud computing procurement project helped Microsoft win that important contract. That contract also set the stage for future Microsoft offerings tailored to the US Government, complete with the high-level access controls and sensitive data security requirements of the government’s many different operational branches.
Two years later, Tom Keane created Azure for financial services, and in 2017, he helped build new business lines for Azure in the areas of retail, gaming, media, entertainment, consumer goods, health, life sciences, and more. At this time, Tom Keane also created the data center exchange program, which was designed to help Microsoft’s biggest customers offload unused assets to accelerate the adoption of cloud computing. This program was an instrumental part of getting some of the biggest companies in the world to join the Azure platform, and Azure had truly arrived on the global stage – along with cloud computing as a new, proven way for companies to do business.
In 2017, Tom Keane also created Azure’s energy industry cloud, aimed at Microsoft’s oil, gas, mining, power, and utility clients. In 2017, Tom Keane also led the establishment of Microsoft’s Washington DC-area engineering presence, which grew from one employee that year to over 1,000 engineers by early 2021.
By 2020, Tom Keane launched Azure Space, which was built to provide Microsoft with satellite communications which it, in turn, offered to businesses and users around the world. Tom Keane’s announcement of the partnership between Azure Space and SpaceX for low earth orbit connectivity that would facilitate these satellite communications became one of Microsoft’s biggest announcements of 2020.
Tom Keane received numerous awards throughout his career, including 2021’s Cloud Industry Executive of the Year by WashingtonExec. Throughout his career, he has approached engineering, business development, and product delivery with a focus on results and client needs. As a leading figure who operated at the forefront of many new entrepreneurial activities at Microsoft, he was responsible for incubating new businesses from within the company and has extensive cloud computing product expertise, particularly in the areas of product creation, product architecture, cyber security, digital sovereignty, and AI.
Now that he has left Microsoft, Tom Keane has shifted his focus to applications of cloud computing, digital transformation, and AI. He says, “I'm incredibly excited about what digital technology is bringing to every industry right now, be it from a manufacturing company that's thinking about what they can do with a connected car to a financial services institution that's thinking about what they can do with abundant compute and automated and augmented intelligence. So there's no one single industry, but just rather the opportunity that the digital disruption that's occurring right now creates across every single industry.”
For the average user, what this means is that we may see a convergence between augmented intelligence and abundant computing power that will drive a significant amount of disruption in the future – all at the click of a few buttons. All that a user will have to do is tap into Azure’s resources and build highly performant products and services that can be provisioned to users around the world. While Tom Keane’s time at Microsoft has come to an end, the role of Azure and the impact of Tom Keane’s work at Microsoft over the last two decades will continue to impact industries as disparate as financial services, government, and defense, to healthcare, entertainment, and education, supply chain, and more.
Published by Tracey Maggio