Microsoft is exploring the possibility of automating datacenter operations. The company recently advertised a job vacancy for a Hardware Automation Team Manager on its website, signaling a push towards autonomous datacenters. According to the job listing, the ideal candidate would have a minimum of three years' professional experience in automation and robotics for hardware equipment.
The new employee is expected to help shape the future of datacenter operations and lead a dedicated automation team. Sean James, Microsoft's Senior Director of Datacenter Research, announced on LinkedIn that the company is developing this dedicated team to improve the efficiency and safety of its datacenters. James said, “Where are my automation people? I am creating a team dedicated to the automation of datacenter operations. We want our DCs to be safe and efficient!”
Job Requirements and Compensation
The job listing emphasizes that this role requires not just automation and robotics knowledge but also leadership qualities, exceptional organization and communication skills and technical program management expertise. The role may be based at the Redmond site but offers up to 100% work from home flexibility.
The advertised salary range lies between $133,600 and $256,800, although higher wages may be offered in places like San Francisco and New York, where the pay grade could range from $173,200 to $282,200 per year.
A Result of August's Azure Outage?
This move towards automation could be a response to an incident at the end of August at the company's Australia East Azure cloud region which experienced an extended outage. The incident was traced back to power supply issues, but critical infrastructure like storage and chiller units did not restart automatically. Microsoft acknowledged the outage was partly due to inadequate staff on site on the night of the incident.
According to Vlad Galabov, head of Cloud and Data Center Research Practice at Omdia, datacenter operators have experimented with using robots for site management. Microsoft isn't the only company pushing for robotic automation in datacenters. Attendees at the Open Compute Summit were presented with a prototype robotic server cart designed to move datacenter racks while still full.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is also seeking to fill other unique roles, such as a Principal Program Manager for Nuclear Technology, reflecting an ambitious strategy to power datacenters with small nuclear reactors.