听、读、译(122)Microsoft | Head in the cloud

西大外院翻译官 2021-04-03 10:48:18

Source: The Economist (2017. 03.18, Page 61, 1894 words)

首译by李心怡

修改by 军军

校对by 杆杆

Microsoft | Head in the cloud

微软:心在云端


REDMOND

雷德蒙德[译者注:美国华盛顿州城市]

 

The world’s biggest soft ware firm has overhauled its culture. But getting cloud computing right is hard

世界上最大的软件公司大力推动企业文化转变。但要成功实行云计算依然困难重重。

overhaul: v.大修,分解检查,彻底检修

 

1.    A DECADE ago, visiting Microsoft’s headquarters near Seattle was like a trip into enemy territory. Executives would not so much talk with visitors as fire words at them (one of this newspaper’s correspondents has yet to recover from two harrowing days spent in the company of a Microsoft “brand evangelist”). If challenged on the corporate message, their body language would betray what they were thinking and what Bill Gates, the firm’s founder, used often to say: “That’s the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard.”

十年前,参观位于西雅图的微软总部就像一次敌占区旅行。主管们不像是跟参观者们交流,更像是对着他们开火(一位本社的记者痛苦地经历了两天微软“品牌传教”之旅,到现在还没缓过来)。如果被问到关于微软的事情,主管们的身体语言就会暴露他们的真实想法,就像微软创始人比尔·盖茨以前常说的那句话:“这是我听过的最扯淡的事情。”

harrowingadj.痛苦的,悲惨的

evangelistn.福音传道者

 

2.    Today the mood at Microsoft’s campus, a sprawling collection of more than 100 buildings, is strikingly different. The word-count per minute is much lower. Questions, however ignorant or critical, are answered patiently. The firm’s boss, Satya Nadella, strikes a different and gentler tone from Mr Gates and Steve Ballmer, his immediate predecessor (although he, too, has a highly competitive side).

今天,微软总部放眼望去100多幢建筑,交流气氛大不相同。人们的说话速度慢了很多,问题不论多么愚蠢或刁钻,都会得到耐心的答复。跟前任总裁盖茨和史蒂夫·巴尔默相比,萨提亚·纳德拉总裁说话更特别、更温和(当然他也有充满野心的一面)。

sprawlingadj.蔓生的,不规则展开的

 

3.    Both these despanions are caricatures. But they point to an underlying truth: how radically the world’s biggest software firm has changed in the short time since Mr Nadella took charge in early 2014. Back then everything at Microsoft revolved around Windows, the operating system that powered most computers. It was a franchise the company believed needed to be extended and defended at almost any price.

用这两个词来描述略有点讽刺,却道出了一个隐藏的事实,那就是自从2014年初纳德拉接管微软以来,这个世界上最大的软件公司正发生着巨大变化。之前,微软的一切都是围绕着Windows操作系统,一款主流电脑操作系统。公司认为无论投资多少都要扩大和捍卫这一专利。

caricaturen.讽刺漫画

 

4.    Windows has since retreated into a supporting role; sometimes it is little more than a loss-leader to push other products. At the heart of the new Microsoft is Azure, a global computing cloud. It is formed of more than 100 data centres around the world, dishing up web-based applications, bringing mobile devices to life and crunching data for artificial-intelligence (AI) services. Along with this shift in strategy has come a less abrasive, more open culture.

自纳德拉以来,Windows系统就失去了主导地位,有时更像是一位失势的领导帮助推销其他产品。现在微软的核心是Azure蔚蓝全球云计算操作系统。Azure系统由遍布全球的100多个数据中心组成,可以提供网络应用,激活移动设备,为人工智能服务提供数据支撑。随着微软战略的转变,公司也少了一些粗俗,多了一些开放。

 

5.    Microsoft’s transformation is far from complete. Windows, Office—the once equally dominant package of applications for personal computers—and other PC-related products together still generate about two-fifths of its revenues and three-quarters of its profits. But even those who have watched Mr Nadella’s actions with a high degree of scepticism reckon the firm is moving on from its cash-cows.

微软的转型远未完成。Windows系统、office办公软件(两款曾经势均力敌的个人电脑主要应用程序包)以及其他的个人电脑程序服务依旧占微软总收入的五分之二,总利润的四分之三。但即使是那些对纳德拉的行动持高度怀疑的人也认为微软正在从公司的摇钱树业务上转移。

cash-cow: n.摇钱树

 

6.    The firm’s transformation did not begin with Mr Nadella. It launched Azure and started to rewrite its software for the cloud under Mr Ballmer. But Mr Nadella has given Microsoft a new Gestalt, or personality, that investors appear to like. The firm’s share price has nearly doubled since he took over.

公司的转型并不是从纳德拉这里开始的。自巴尔默起就发布了蔚蓝系统并为了云计算重新编写软件。但纳德拉为微软的发展找到了新的模式,或者说为微软注入了个人气质,让投资人十分满意。从他接管开始,微软的股价几乎翻了一番。

Gestaltn.完全形态

share price:股价

 

7.    Dethroning Windows was the first task. Previously, new products were held back or shorn of certain features if these were thought to hurt the program (something known internally as the “strategy tax”). One of Mr Nadella’s early decisions was to allow Office to run on mobile devices that use competing operating systems. He went so far as to use a slide that read “Microsoft loves Linux”. Mr Ballmer had called the open-source operating system a “cancer”.

纳德拉上任的第一把火就是罢免Windows。在以前,如果有威胁到Windows系统地位的新产品,公司会暂缓发布或修改部分特征(公司内部称之为“战略优待”)。纳德拉早期的决策之一就是允许office软件在安装有其他操作系统的移动设备上运行。他甚至直接在幻灯片上写“微软爱Linux”。巴尔默曾把Linux这款开放源代码操作系统称作“癌症”。

dethrone: v.罢免,废黜

shear: v.修剪,剥夺

 

8.    The down grading of Windows made it easier for Mr Nadella to change the firm’s culture—which is so important, he believes (along with Peter Drucker), that it “eats strategy for breakfast”. Technologies come and go, he says, so “we need a culture that allows you to constantly renew yourself”. Whereas Mr Ballmer was known for running across the stage and yelling “I love this company”, Mr Nadella can often be seen sitting in the audience, listening. When, in 2016, internet trolls manipulated Tay, one of Microsoft’s AI-powered online bots, into spewing racist comments, people waited for heads to roll. Mr Nadella sent around an e-mail saying “Keep pushing, and know that I am with you… (the) key is to keep learning and improving.”

降级Windows使纳德拉更容易改变企业文化。他(以及现代管理学之父彼得·杜拉克)认为这是至关重要的,因为企业文化“把战略当早餐吃”。新技术层出不穷,所以“我们需要用企业文化来不断更新自己”他说。巴尔默在舞台上跑来跑去,大喊“我爱这个公司”,而纳德拉常常被发现坐在观众席里,耐心倾听。2016年,网络暴民操纵微软人工智能在线机器人Tay大量发表种族主义言论,人们期待微软做出反应。纳德拉给公司员工们发送了一封电子邮件,写着“继续努力,相信我和你们同在……。成功的关键是坚持学习和提升自我。”

 

9.    Employees are no longer assessed on a curve, with those ending up at the lower end often getting no bonus or promotion. For the firm’s annual executive retreat in 2015, Mr Nadella included the heads of companies Microsoft had recently acquired, such as Mojang, the maker of Minecraft, a video game, and Acompli, an e-mail app, breaking with the tradition that only longtime executives can attend.

公司不再依据曲线图评价员工。以前那些处于曲线最低点的员工通常就失去奖金和晋升机会。2015高管年度总结会上,纳德拉也邀请了微软近期收购的公司高层参加,如电脑游戏Minecraft开发商Mojang和电邮应用软件Acompli的高层,打破了只有资深高管才能参加的传统。

 

The book of Nadella

纳德拉之书

 

10.    Sending such signals matters more than ever in the tech industry. Well-regarded firms find it easier to recruit top-notch talent, which is highly mobile and has its pick of employers. A reputation for aggression can attract the attention of regulators and lead to a public backlash, as Microsoft itself knows from experience and Uber, a ride-hailing unicorn, is finding out.

对于高科技企业来说,发出这样的信号比任何时候都要重要。广受好评的公司更容易招募到顶尖技术人才,他们除了跳槽几率大,还对老板有所要求。一家强势的公司不仅会引起监管部门的注意还会引发公众的强烈不满。微软有过这样的遭遇,租车业垄断公司Uber也将会明白这一点。

backlashn.强烈反对,抵制

 

11.    Mr Nadella has changed the firm’s organisation as well as its culture. It is now more of a vertically integrated technology firm—“full stack”, in the jargon. It not only writes all kinds of software, but builds its own data centres and designs its own hardware. Mr Nadella points out that it now even develops some of the chips for its data centres.

纳德拉改变了企业组织和文化。微软现在更像一个垂直整合的科技公司,行话里叫做“一站式”公司。微软不仅能开发各种软件,还建立了数据中心,设计自己的硬件。纳德拉指出现在的微软甚至还能为其数据中心开发芯片。

 

12.    His imprint can be seen on three businesses in particular: the cloud, hardware and AI. Microsoft does not break out by how much it has increased investment in the cloud, but building data centres is expensive and its capital expenditure is soon expected nearly to double, to $9bn a year, from when Mr Nadella took over. If you take only basic services, such as data storage and computing, Microsoft’s cloud is much smaller than Amazon Web Services, the leader in cloud computing, which is owned by Amazon, an e-commerce giant. But if you add Microsoft’s web-based services, such as Office 365 and other business applications, which are only a negligible part of AWS’s portfolio, the two firms are of comparable size. Both AWS’s and Microsoft’s cloud businesses boast an annual run rate (the latest quarterly revenues multiplied by four) of $14bn. Microsoft hopes to reach $20bn by its 2018 financial year, a fifth of total expected revenues.

他的变革主要集中在三个领域:云计算,硬件和人工智能。微软还没有公布云端的投资额,但是搭建数据中心非常昂贵,预期支出很快就会比纳德拉接管的那年翻倍,达到90亿美元一年。如果只是做基础服务,如数据存储和计算,微软的云端要远远小于云计算行业领头羊亚马逊网络服务,电商巨头亚马逊旗下的一家公司。但如果增加微软的网络服务,例如office 365和其他业务应用(这些在亚马逊网络服务的投资组合中只占微不足道的份额),那么两个公司就规模相当了。无论是亚马逊网络服务还是微软云计算都在夸耀自己的年收入,最近一季度收入翻了四倍,达到了140亿美元。微软希望在2018财年达到200亿美元,预期占总收入的五分之一。

 

13.    In terms of scale, then, there has been much progress. Yet in stark contrast to AWS, which supplies the bulk of Amazon’s profits, Azure is still loss-making. Some analysts are optimistic that this could change. Mark Moerdler of Sanford C. Bernstein, a research firm, thinks that once Microsoft tapers its investments in data centres and their utilisation goes up, it could approach the margins enjoyed by AWS, which reached more than 30% in the last quarter.

从规模上看,微软的确扩大了。但还是与亚马逊网络服务有明显的差距。亚马逊网络服务是亚马逊的主要收入来源,而蔚蓝系统还是处于亏损状态。但是一些分析师十分乐观,认为这种情形肯定会扭转。Sanford C. Bernstein调研公司分析师马克·莫德勒认为,随着微软逐渐降低在数据中心上的投资,同时用户使用量不断增加,就有可能达到亚马逊网络服务的利润,亚马逊上个季度的利润占总利润的30%

stark: adj.荒凉的,完全的,明显的

taper: v.逐渐减少

 

14.    Scott Guthrie, who heads Azure, admits that the margins for cloud-based services will probably be lower than for conventional software. But when applications are delivered online, he points out, Microsoft can capture a bigger slice of the overall pie. As well as offering its existing software as services in the cloud, it also takes care of components of IT systems, such as storage and networking, that used to be provided by other vendors. The firm’s addressable market is far bigger, he says.

蔚蓝负责人Scott Guthrie承认,微软的云服务利润比传统软件的利润要低。但他也指出,当应用程序网上交付的时候,微软就能从中分得更大的一块蛋糕。微软在云中提供现有软件服务的同时还能管理信息技术中的各种组件,如存储和网络。而这些组件以前都是由其他供应商提供的。Scott Guthrie说,公司的潜在市场非常大。

 

15.    Perhaps. But however well Microsoft performs, life in the cloud will always be far tougher than it was in the realm of personal computers, argues David Mitchell Smith of Gartner, a consultancy. Microsoft will not only have to compete with Amazon, but with Google, which intends to go after business customers.

也许真的如此。但不管微软怎么说,高德纳咨询公司的大卫·米歇尔·史密斯认为,微软的云端之路要比在个人电脑领域的发展艰难得多。微软未来所面对的不仅是亚马逊,而且还有谷歌,因为谷歌也打算追随客户的需求。

 

16.    Although the cloud is the core of the new Microsoft, hardware is another important bet. The firm has shed its ailing mobile-phone division, which it had bought from Nokia, but on its campus in Redmond hundreds of employees are busy developing new devices. Its prototyping lab offers all that a designer of mobile gadgets could want, such as 3D printers to churn out overnight new models of a hinge, for example, or machines to cut the housing of a new laptop from a block of aluminium.

云服务是微软的核心,硬件也是微软的另一重要目标。公司已经放弃从诺基亚收购的状况不佳的移动手机部门,但在雷德蒙德总部,数以百计的员工正在忙碌地开发新设备。样品设计实验室提供了移动设备开发人员所需的一切,例如能在一夜之间大量炮制新模型铰链的3D打印机,或者是能从铝块中切割出新电脑防护外壳的机器。

ailing adj.生病的,衰弱的

churn out:大量炮制

 

17.    “Failing faster” is the purpose of the new equipment, says Panos Panay, who is in charge of Microsoft’s hardware business. Designers can test ideas more quickly in pursuit of the firm’s goal to develop new categories of product. Hardware, software and online services are meant to be bundled into a single product to create what the firm gratingly calls an “experience”.

微软硬件服务的主管帕诺斯·帕奈说,安装这些新设备的目的就是“快点失败”。开发人员能更快地利用这些设备发现设计是否合理,从而实现开发新产品的目标。硬件、软件和在线服务集成在一个产品上实现公司急急忙忙提出的“体验”目标。

 

18.    One example is the Surface Book, a high-end laptop. It features a detachable screen which doubles as a computing tablet—a combination that has already found a following, and according to some, offers better value than comparable laptops from Apple. More daring still is HoloLens, an augmented-reality device in the form of a wireless head-mounted display. It is capable of mixing “real” and virtual reality for business purposes—for example, by projecting new parts on a motorcycle frame so a designer can easily see what works. (It is currently only available for developers.)

产品之一就是高端笔记本电脑Surface Book,装备有可拆式屏幕,也可用作平板电脑。这种二合一技术已经出现大批跟随者。根据一部分的回馈,Surface Book比同类型苹果电脑价值更高。更大胆的产品是微软全息眼镜HoloLens,一款通过无线头戴显示器来增强现实感的设备。这款设备能用于商业领域实现现实和虚拟现实的混合,例如把一个新部件投影在摩托车架上,开发人员就能清楚地看到其运行状态。(目前这一技术只对开发者开放。)

 

19.    HoloLens, its designers hope, will also be a device where people use artificial-intelligence services—Mr Nadella’s third big bet. In September Microsoft formed a new AI unit, combining all its efforts in the field, including its basic-research group of more than 1,000 people and the engineering team behind Bing, its search engine.

开发人员希望HoloLens这款设备能用于人工智能服务。这是纳德拉的第三大目标。9月,微软新组建了人工智能部门,集合了该领域的所有人才,包括1000多人的基础研究团队和必应搜索引擎的工程团队。

 

20.    Every single business application is going to be disrupted by AI, says Harry Shum, who is in charge of the new unit. Algorithms trained by reams of data could tell sales staff which leads to spend most time on, and help identify risky deals where, for instance, the customer might not fulfil contract terms. This, he explains, is also a big reason why Microsoft spent a whopping $26bn to buy LinkedIn, a professional social network that has 467m users. The deal adds to the data the firm needs to train its new AI applications.

新部门主管哈里·舒姆认为,未来任何独立的商业行为都会被人工智能瓦解。由大数据支撑的算法可以告诉销售人员应该在哪个领域花费最多时间,并帮助他们确定交易风险,例如消费者也许不满足合同条款。他解释到,这也是微软花260亿美元收购有着4亿多用户的商务社交网站领英的一大重要原因。这次交易为公司提供了培训新的人工智能应用所需的数据。

algorithm: n.运算法则,算法

 

21.    AI is a growing part of Azure, too. In recent months Microsoft has introduced two dozen “cognitive services” to Azure. Some understand language and can identify individual speakers, others recognise faces and can tap into academic knowledge. The idea is for other firms to be able to use these offerings to make their own products smarter, thus “democratising AI”. Schneider Electric, which makes gear to manage energy systems, for instance, uses some of Microsoft’s AI services to monitor its equipment.

人工智能也是蔚蓝系统越来越重要的一部分。最近几个月,微软向蔚蓝系统引进了24个“认知服务”。有些服务可以理解语言,识别说话人,还有些服务可以识别人脸,发掘学术知识。基本理念是让其他公司使用这些服务使他们开发的产品更加智能,这就是“人工智能民主化”。例如,施耐德电气公司想提升能源管理系统就利用微软人工智能服务来监管设备。

 

22.    It is easy to be impressed by what Mr Nadella has achieved in only three years. But it is far from certain that his technology bets will play out as planned. To run a computing cloud profitably you need hyper-efficient operations; something that Amazon, in contrast to Microsoft, has grown up with. Although Microsoft has expertise in AI, others, such as Google and IBM, got a far earlier start. Nor is designing integrated devices part of Microsoft’s DNA in the way it is for Apple. Augmented reality is an extremely promising field but HoloLens may turn out to be no more than an expensive toy for developers.

很难不为纳德拉在短短三年内取得的成就感到震惊。但他定下的技术目标能否按计划实施还远不能确定。让云计算盈利需要高效率的操作。与微软相比,亚马逊与生俱来就具有这样的能力。即使微软擅长人工智能,其他公司如谷歌和IBM也很早就已经开始研究了。设计集成设备也不是微软的特长,而是属于苹果公司的。增强现实是一个非常有前景的行业,但是HoloLens更像是为开发者准备的一个昂贵玩具。

augment: V.增大

 

23.    Successor failure in the new areas will of course continue to be cushioned for some time by the revenues and profits from Windows and Office. Yet there, too, lie risks. If the PC market, whose secular decline has slowed since last year, take another turn for the worse, the company’s finances would suffer badly, warns John DiFucci of Jefferies, an investment bank.

继任者在新领域的失败当然会继续由WindowsOffice软件创造的利润来弥补。但是这里也有风险。杰富瑞投资银行John DiFucci警告说,去年开始个人电脑市场盈利下滑,如果下一年度变得更糟,微软的财政状况就会遭受很大压力。

 

24.    Mr Nadella doesn’t seem to be worried by such unknowns, which are to be expected in a fast-changing industry. Instead, he frets about too much success. “When you have a core that’s growing at more than 20%, that is when the rot really sets in,” he says. It remains to be seen whether or not the firm can ever again achieve such velocity. For now, though, its share price is showing plenty of speed.

纳德拉好像一点儿也不为这个快速变化的行业里的未知担心,反而常常因为成功而焦虑。他说,“当你拥有增长超过20%的核心产品时,这个核心产品才是公司真正开始腐烂的地方”。微软是否还能再达到这样的增长速度还有待观察。不管怎样,微软现在的股价展现出增长的势头了。