Introducing David Bills

Today we want to introduce you to David Bills, Microsoft’s Chief Reliability Strategist. In this profile series  we give an inside look at the Trustworthy Computing team by informally interviewing team members about what they do in and out of work. David is the fourth person we’ve interviewed in this series (previously: Adrienne Hall, Steve Lipner and Brendon Lynch).

– What do you do in TwC and how long have you been doing it?

I am the Chief Reliability Strategist in TwC, having joined Microsoft about 18 months ago.  I engage with engineering leaders from across Microsoft to promote the adoption of industry-leading engineering practices related to the delivery of reliable online services.

– What’s the first thing you do every day at work?

I scan incident reports from the past 24 hours for Microsoft’s major cloud services – it’s my “health check” to understand what types of issues we’re experiencing, to monitor for reliability-related trends and, of course, to keep a wary eye out for the occasional “Black Swan!”

– What’s the biggest reliability challenge facing the industry?

I think it’s figuring out how to balance a shortened innovation cycle against demands for “zero down time”, or “utility grade” cloud services.  Studies show introducing change will often cause an outage, so you can see the apparent conflict between introducing new functionality and ensuring the service is continuously available.  The challenge we face as an industry is how to reconcile these two equally-important demands without compromising either one – delivering customer-facing innovation in a shorter amount of time while preserving a dependable, predictable and reliable level of service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

– What’s the biggest contribution you or your team have delivered in the last 10 years?

If we’re looking back across the past decade, I’d say my biggest accomplishment was being part of the core team responsible for the deployment of a completely new advertising platform while I was at Yahoo!.  It really was a “…change the engines on the plane while it was in flight…” type of project.

In the past year and a half, I’d say it’s been ramping up engagements with a broad cross-section of business groups as we’ve built my team within the Trustworthy Computing group.  While reliability has always been an essential element of delivering a trustworthy computing experience in Microsoft’s products, the rapid expansion of Microsoft’s services offerings like Azure, Bing, Office 365, etc., meant we needed to expand the Trustworthy Computing outreach efforts to keep pace with the growth of these important online services.

– What do you do to unwind?

Spend time with my wife at our desert home in Scottsdale – at least during the cooler months of the year!

– Favorite band?

Steely Dan

– Your work in reliability – was that by accident or design?

I’d have to say a happy accident, but looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing!  I’m completely fascinated by the engineering challenges associated with operating public-facing cloud services at scale.

– You win the lottery. What’s the first thing you buy?

Champagne.  …and then engage a financial advisor.  😉

– Favorite film / TV show

PBS NewsHour


To find out more about David and his role at Microsoft, view his full profile.

About the Author

Director, Trustworthy Computing

Richard Saunders is a director in Trustworthy Computing (TwC) and is responsible for the group’s international public relations activities. A 30 year veteran of the communications industry, Saunders has spent his entire career as a journalist and PR man. Since Read more »