Level 7 Technology Group

order from chaos


Siemens IT Services contract at Microsoft

In April, 2009, I sign on as a Systems Engineer at Microsoft in Redmond. This was supposed to be a 30 day contract through Insight Global working on Virtualization using Hyper-V. It turned s year long assignment as I was on-boarded with Siemens IT Services in July.

The assignment was in Global Foundation Services (GFS). GFS is the world-wide infrastructure that supports, Azure, Hotmail, Bing and the Windows Live Experience (WLX). WLX is a collection of properties that consists of MSN, Live and Hotmail. WLX is composed of such services as Family Safety, Malware, SkyDrive and many, many others. More on Family Safety later.

Let me digress for a moment... Microsoft has spawned an industry around Windows Update, the monthly release of security and functionality updates to Microsoft products. These updates are tested, packaged and deployed to servers in data centers around the world. I started out as a team member responsible for patching the production servers in various properties.

I was hired in to the team that supports an "Integration Test Cloud". This is an environment that exists for the product and feature teams to take "ready for prime time" code and test it in an environment that mirrors production by using live data feeds from in the actual customer-facing environment.

Once the code has passed integration testing, it is moved to the production cloud that is used by customers. You can think of the this environment as being similar to the Beta Arrow pointing right Release Candidate Arrow pointing right Community Technical Preview programs used by the Windows and Office teams in their development cycle.

The Integration Test Cloud uses Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V to generate a collection of virtual machines for the product testers. The virtual machines are configured as web servers, file/utility servers or SQL servers. Once the virtual machines are provisioned, the testers use automated tools to validate their product's functionality. As a team member, I provisioned these virtual machines using an internal Microsoft tool called Hercules which can be thought of as a customized System Center Virtual Machine Manager application. Needless to say, this was not a resume builder experience. It was a step in the direction of the exit. 

Another side note... I became impressed with Microsoft's ability to create "tools". Like most customers that create their own line of business applications, Microsoft's infrastructure is replete with "home grown" tools to manage such things as email distribution lists, request membership in security groups, create/monitor work request tickets, maintain assets. and many more.  

In early 2010, I was transferred to the previously mentioned Family Safety team. I spent a few months there. It wasn't a good fit for me and it was time to move on.