Cloud Computing: Where the Jobs Are

Microsoft teams up with IEEE to fill nearly 1500 positions

28 September 2012

With hiring still sluggish in many countries, the one bright spot may be in the cloud. Cloud computing could potentially create at least 14 million new jobs worldwide by 2015. That’s according to new research conducted by IDC and sponsored by Microsoft. Cloud computing services are becoming increasingly popular and affordable ways for companies to host their software applications and data off-site on servers “in the cloud.” The Institute ran a special report about the topic in June.

Microsoft is certainly one of the top job generators, having among the most comprehensive cloud computing product lines, including Windows Azure, Office 365, Microsoft Exchange Online, and Windows Intune, to name just a few. To help fill the nearly 1500 openings it has worldwide, Microsoft’s Server & Tools Business (STB) Division partnered with the IEEE Job Site to host a Virtual Career Fair from 1 to 21 October.

To find out more about the fair and what skills Microsoft is looking for, I interviewed Sandeep Sood, STB’s talent sourcing manager. Microsoft’s mission, according to Sood, is to “cloud optimize every business.”

“The cloud is the next generation of the Internet and it is expected to bring value to all,” Sood says. “Not only will it save money but also time and resources. It will transform the way IT is managed and how software is written.”

Microsoft’s STB division selected IEEE because it’s “a well-established organization with hundreds of thousands of technical members across the globe,” he says. “We think partnering with IEEE will provide us with a great online platform to bring in candidates who want a career in the cloud.”

Out of the nearly 1500 open positions, the STB group has more than 350 jobs to fill, with 280 of them in the United States including Boston; Redmond, Wash.; and Mountain View, Calif. Sood is looking to hire primarily for Windows Azure, which is a public cloud platform, meaning a customer’s entire application and data center can be in Microsoft’s public, private, or hybrid cloud. The line also includes Azure’s AppFabric, Active Directory, and Commerce

He ticked off a list of qualifications the company is looking for: great software engineering skills of course, plus a good customer focus, great communication skills, an understanding of issues with distributed computing in terms of external failures, the ability to diagnose without attaching a debugger, upgrading without bringing down the application, handling spikes in workload, and knowing how to deal with security intrusions.

“Attention to detail and being intentional about the design and implementation is key, given the high expectations of reliability, security, and scale,” he adds. “Also, understanding how to deal with the system as a whole—like the impact of a design on network communication, memory usage, processing power, and deployment.” 

Sood says he’s looking for other skills that are not traditionally associated with software engineering but are becoming increasingly important. These include a thorough understanding of statistics, variability in performance, and honoring service-level agreements. Another is the ability to design experiments and test hypothesis, “particularly given the rapid iteration cycle that is afforded by software running in the cloud, which will necessitate experimentation to evaluate user experience and design trade-offs.”

He summed up the type of candidate he’s interested in this way: “Think about someone pulling his car apart and then putting it back together, but bringing in more efficiency and making it work better. That’s the mindset I’m looking for. Because the services we are building are so large scale and interdependent, we need people who know things from the inside out.

“No longer will you be an expert in one particular area,” he continues. “You still will have to know the rules, but in the cloud you need to think deeper and from multiple angles so you need to be a generalist and multidimensional. Because your application and software will be used by more than one company, one location, and one person—all at the same time—you need to think totally differently.”

He adds: “The customer can’t afford to have this application go down or perform slowly because they are totally dependent on us. They no longer have any in-house support so having that customer focus is super critical in these roles.”

Learn more about what it takes to enter this hot field from Sood’s five-part JobsBlog.

If you think you’ve got what it takes, check out the fair. And good luck.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the bloggers and do not represent official positions of The Institute or IEEE.

Image: IEEE

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