Microsoft has frozen hiring except for strategic services according to recent reports (paywalled link). It is important to note that during Satya Nadella’s six-year reign as Microsoft’s CEO, Microsoft has become a cloud company. While Azure is Microsoft’s public cloud service, Microsoft delivers its core revenue-driving applications as cloud services. Cloud permeates most of Microsoft’s lines of business.
Microsoft employs almost 150,000 people as of 2019. As of today, April 8, Microsoft still has over 7,000 jobs postings listed on LinkedIn’s job portal. Microsoft owns LinkedIn, so it is unlikely the job portal is significantly out-of-date. Over 4,000 of the open jobs mention “Azure.” Eleven of those open positions are related to quantum computing.
LinkedIn is also reported to have frozen hiring except for key areas. However, unlike its parent company, LinkedIn has only three job postings remaining in its own job portal.
On March 4, Microsoft asked its staff in the Seattle area and in Silicon Valley to work from home (WFH) until March 25 (link). That date was later extended to April 7 and applied to all US employees. It is now stated as “until further notice.”
Microsoft Azure said on March 21 (via its blog) that it would specifically focus on prioritizing and optimizing its cloud services for responder organizations and critical government agencies worldwide. Azure promised to “ensure our local datacenters have on-site staffing and all functions are running properly.”
Microsoft also called out mobilizing remote workforces for:
- Large-scale organizations, i.e., paying customers
- Schools, many of which already paying customers, but also there is a future customer development aimed toward making Microsoft 365 tools available to as many students as possible
- Governments, making sure employees who don’t have to be onsite stay home
Quoting directly from the blog entry,
“As demand continues to grow, if we are faced with any capacity constraints in any region during this time, we have established clear criteria for the priority of new cloud capacity.”
On March 28, Microsoft re-committed to scaling to meet growing Azure cloud capacity demands stating,
“We are expediting the addition of significant new capacity that will be available in the weeks ahead.”
Microsoft further stated,
“We’ve been in regular communication with [Internet Service Providers] across the globe and are actively working with them to augment capacity as needed.”
One way to look at Microsoft’s potential growth is to examine Azure’s public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) growth.
Over the past six months, Azure’s IaaS grew in terms of service complexity (types and number of services offered across every cloud region) with a compound monthly growth rate of 2.4% to 3.6%.
However, sequential month-over-month growth slowed significantly in Q1, from a range of 4.6% to 9.0% growth August through December to 0.4% January to February. Preliminary data shows 0.7% growth February to March, a slight uptick. Low growth in Q1 is a seasonal effect not linked to COVID-19.
Liftr Insights expects that Azure’s growth will increase in Q2, returning to previous CMGR levels.
Many have focused on the 775% increase in Microsoft Teams collaboration application usage. More importantly, Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop usage more than tripled (3x) its usage. Windows Virtual Desktops are cloud-based Windows-based PCs that enable employees to run their employer’s Microsoft 365 and other productivity apps in any web browser. This enables WFH employees to have a fast, up-to-date PC experience on older PCs and Macs without having to rush out and buy a new PC during a pandemic. Licensing Windows Virtual Desktops is a smart move for employers with WFH employees.
Microsoft knows it must do more than keep the lights on at Azure data centers during the coronavirus pandemic. It must scale to meet customer demand so that customers can keep their lights on. That is good for both Microsoft’s business and worldwide economies. For Microsoft that means continuing to hire to meet growth in demand.
The author is an employee of Liftr Insights. The author and Liftr Insights may, from time to time, engage in business transactions involving the companies and/or the products mentioned in this post. The author has not made an investment in any company mentioned in this post. The views expressed in this post are solely those of the author and do not represent the views or opinions of any entity with which the author may be affiliated.