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James Staten
James Staten

James Staten, a veteran industry analyst who covered the cloud computing market for Forrester Research, is joining Microsoft as chief strategist for its Cloud & Enterprise group — helping the Redmond company in a highly competitive part of the industry.

Staten will report to Scott Guthrie, the executive vice president in charge of the Cloud & Enterprise group. His role will include working in collaboration with other Microsoft divisions and the corporate strategy team, helping to create connections between the cloud and other Microsoft products and services.

He will remain based in Silicon Valley, in part so that he can bring an “outsider’s perspective,” he said in an interview. That’s in line with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s focus on working across platforms, and partnering with rivals in some cases.

Staten’s role at Microsoft will include working with CIOs and other corporate tech leaders to help them understand which parts of their businesses should move to the cloud, and in some cases which shouldn’t move. That’s a different approach than many of Microsoft’s primary cloud computing rivals, including Amazon and Google.

“You don’t make a binary decision,” he said. “You figure out which parts of your architecture are best suited to the cloud and take the most advantage of the cloud economics, and you start there.”

Staten, who started his career as a journalist before becoming an analyst with Gartner in 1996, has worked at tech companies in the past, including Azul Systems and Sun Microsystems, where he was a director of marketing from 2001 to 2004. He has been with Forrester since 2007 as vice president and principal analyst.

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