Careers in Cloud Computing: Advice from an Expert
MAR 20, 2018 23:21 PM
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Careers in Cloud Computing: Advice from an Expert

by Lori Cameron
 
For this career article, we interviewed Michael Swift, associate professor in the Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  His research covers interaction of operating systems and hardware, including devices and new processor/memory technologies. One of his major research projects involves investigating security issues in cloud computing. He leads the Sonar research group—which studies the interaction of operating systems and hardware, including devices and new processor/memory technologies—and participates in the Wisconsin Multifacet Project, which seeks to improve the multiprocessor servers that form the computational infrastructure for Internet web servers, databases, and other demanding applications. He’s also part of the Wisconsin Institute on Software-defined Datacenters in Madison (WISDoM). He co-authored the article "Rethinking Security in the Era of Cloud Computing," which appears in the May/June 2017 issue of IEEE Security & Privacy. We asked Swift about careers related to cloud computing.
 
ComputingEdge: What types of tech advances in the field of cloud computing will see the most growth in the next several years?
 
Swift: Beyond the move to the cloud that really started with Amazon Web Services,  I think the move to server-less computing, such as Amazon Lambda Functions, Microsoft’s Azure Functions, and Google’s Cloud Functions represent a new way to design applications to scale seamlessly and quickly meet varied workload demands. 
 
Second, there has been interest in the notion of “cloud native” applications: a lot of code running in the cloud started off running on dedicated servers and their designs still reflect that origin, such as assuming a fixed size pool of resources. Apache Spark is like this — you start a cluster with a set of workers. In the cloud, you can quickly start or stop any number of workers, so it makes sense instead to figure out what the ideal number of workers for a given task is, and use that many.
 
ComputingEdge: What advice would you give college students to give them an advantage over the competition?
 
Swift: I would encourage students to get some experience with cloud computing — start writing applications that run in the cloud, take advantage of the huge variety of services out there. Start using the cloud for programming projects rather than running them on your laptop so you gain familiarity with the programming model.
 
ComputingEdge: Name one critical mistake for young graduates to avoid when starting their careers?
 
Swift: I see graduates overly focus on their first job and exactly what they will work on. In my experience, the people they work with can be as important if not more important than the specific technology. Furthermore, the computing field is so fast-moving, and talented people are in high demand so that if a graduate really does make a bad choice, it is not that hard to recover by finding a new job.
 
ComputingEdge’s Lori Cameron interviewed Swift for this article. Contact her at l.cameron@computer.org if you would like to contribute to a future article on computing careers. Contact Swift at swift@cs.wisc.edu.
 
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