Rick Rashid, leader of Microsoft's R&D operation, said he could foresee cloud computing some years back. The challenge as a technologist, though, has been in anticipating the finer details of how the cloud and its related technologies - the data center, replication, and synchronization - will be adopted by people and organizations. Sure, Microsoft was heading in that direction in the labs, but Amazon, eBay, and Google got there first in their businesses, and Microsoft is now fast trying to catch up.
Rashid helped in the creation of the Mach kernel. That early work speaks to the challenge. Mach was intended as replacement for BSD and Unix but has snuck into Apple's orgasmically successful iPhone.