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What do program managers on the Cosmos team do anyway?

In previous articles (here and here) I have talked about what software program managers do. And in another previous article I talked about Cosmos. In this article I bring the two topics together and talk about what Cosmos program managers actually do. (For those just joining us Cosmos is Microsoft's internal platform for reliably storing and processing petabytes of information such as all of Microsoft's log data from its various websites.) The issue of what PMs on the Cosmos team do is near and dear to my heart because I'm the lead program manager for Cosmos and we are hiring!

I talk at length about Cosmos here but the general overview is that Cosmos provides a service for use by internal Microsoft groups to enable them to store and analyze petabytes worth of data. My team is looking for a few good technical program managers. Following the structure I used in my discussion about what PMs do (and make sure to also check out my article on how they do it) here is an outline of what a Cosmos technical PM does:

  • Dev & Test – As a Cosmos PM your job is to deeply understand the nitty gritty details of exactly how Cosmos works so that you can make sure we are building the product that our customers actually need. This means that you need to partner with Dev and Test in driving Cosmos's technical architecture to make sure that we architect our system so as to meet our customers needs without over investing. You need to be extremely comfortable debating technical architecture and holding your own against some of the smartest engineers around in discussing exactly how Cosmos should evolve. You also need to be very comfortable in writing the occasional bit of code. No, you won't be a programmer, but if we need to do some performance analysis to help us estimate customer needs we expect you to be happy to roll up your sleeves and write Scope code.

  • Customers – Our customers are internal so they are very smart and extremely demanding. You will need to use strong customer empathy to not just understand what customers want but also what they need and not just today but into the future. One of your most powerful tools in working with Dev and Test and driving Cosmos will be using the detailed information you have about our customers needs to drive Cosmos's design and direction.

  • Development Dependencies – We are blessed to be near the bottom of the technology dependency stack and really only have a single development dependency, autopilot. We have extremely good relations with them so this isn't likely to be a huge part of your job.

  • Operations – We are a service so we have lots of interactions with operations. Thankfully we have great relations with them and they know our service very well so we tend to partner with operations in driving solutions to our rather unique issues.

  • Business Development – This is the most technical of technical PM roles so you will find yourself doing basically no business development. Your focus will be on solving incredibly hard distributed system problems.

  • Marketing/Evangelism/PR – This is not a big focus for us. Not just because we are an internal only service but more because we already have more customers than we can handle. âÄúIf you build it, they will comeâÄù turns out to be true and we are drowning in requests to use Cosmos.

  • Legal/Privacy – Given the incredible sensitivity of the data we store privacy in particular is a huge issue. Our job is to make sure that Cosmos gives its users the tools they need to do the right thing in terms of protecting user privacy.

  • Vendors – We certainly do use vendors for certain ancillary tasks so depending on your seniority and particular area of focus it is quite possible that you might be asked to help us manage different kinds of vendors.

In terms of qualifications see the job postings but the real summary is that we are looking for technical people with strong computer science programmers who are extremely intelligent. We don't really care if you have previous experience with distributed systems. We are running on the cutting edge so we expect to train anyone we hire. Also don't particularly worry if you don't have previous PM experience. If you are a rock star developer or tester who has read my articles on what and how PMs do their jobs and think you would be a good fit then drop me a line.

The easiest way to apply is to send me your resume (and when writing your resume please review this article) to yarong@[insert the bloody obvious mega corporation name here].com. Or you can submit your resume through our job site. Just go to any of the Cosmos PM jobs ads ( 1, 2 & 3) and hit 'Submit Resume'.

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