This is an interview published by the Universidad de Lima in Peru, with original contents in spanish.
Here is an English translation of it.
Óscar Zamora has one of the most modern jobs of this era: helping companies migrate to the cloud. He has lived in the United States for 20 years and is currently working as an Azure solutions architect for Microsoft. He studied Systems Engineering at the University of Lima, pursued an MBA at Nova Southeastern University, and is a professor at the University of Phoenix.
What do you do at Microsoft?
I am an Azure solutions architect. This means that I help create processes to migrate the data centers of large companies to the cloud. Currently, many companies are in the process of reducing costs, automating their operations and outsourcing the field of systems, in order to concentrate on the core of their business. For this they require some help and find it interesting to give the opportunity to a company like Microsoft to dedicate itself to it.
How do you carry out this task?
We engage in a conversation with the customer before the sale, offer guidelines, verify their status and, based on this, create a roadmap to migrate to the cloud. The path includes procedures, processes, techniques, software ; in some cases, a proof of concept where we demonstrate that it is possible to migrate your current systems to the cloud. We can also convert from different non-Microsoft systems to Microsoft systems. Once the guidelines and proof of concept have been given, the client can choose to continue or terminate the procedure, although they normally continue.
What difficulties do you find in this process?
Customers have many very different platforms and the challenge is to get hooked, to understand everything that they run on their platform and their problems. Architects and systems engineers must work as a team to map the migration to the cloud. The challenge is to understand the complexities of each client, as it is very difficult to find two clients with the same needs and problems.
What security does the cloud offer?
Microsoft invests billions of dollars a year in security, not only in infrastructure, but also in software and mechanisms to detect intrusions and possible hacking . It also constantly monitors the connections going to the cloud. On the other hand, a company that creates a cloud solution has a segment of that cloud and that segmentation makes it impossible for the customer to access other parts of the cloud. In other words, if a client tried to carry out a malicious operation, it would always be contained within its segment in the cloud, without the possibility of harming other clients. Apart from that, the system has various mechanisms that can detect intrusions and abnormal connections.
Finally, in the event that someone managed to enter, they could not read the information, they would not have access to it. Customers are given the opportunity to use their own encryption keys for added protection, which means that even Microsoft could not reverse engineer the data. Now, the disadvantage of the customer having the keys is that, if he handles them improperly and loses that information, no one will be able to recover it, ever again. In any case, our clients know that the cloud offers a lot of protection and that we constantly implement new procedures to mitigate risks.
How about working with cutting edge technology and on a topic that is so useful today?
It’s fantastic. As is having the opportunity to work in a company as large as Microsoft. My work is in a process of permanent modernization, it involves the creation of new processes and software , learning new systems in the cloud, which are renewed and improved with great speed, both in big data and in machine learning and deep learning.. We see business intelligence and data analysis issues, so we need to permanently certify ourselves in these systems that the market demands. Architects provide information to engineers so that they can improve company systems, and we must always be at the forefront of the technology that we ourselves manage and provide to our clients. It is also interesting to be aware of changes in Microsoft and other companies, such as Amazon and Google, in case you need to improve the offerings of the competition.
Do you consider yourself lucky for all this?
Lucky and accomplished. In my career it is very important to stay ahead of the curve, to understand that some systems will not necessarily have a long life, as some services are not of great help to clients or are not in sufficient demand, then they are closed. I am very happy for this and for working at Microsoft, where I have relationships with multiple companies; many of them are among the largest in the world and that allows me to learn from the different solutions that run through their systems, understand the complexities and generate a heterogeneous experience.
Have you been able to see how we are going in Peru in migration to the cloud?
Today I see that customers have more confidence in the cloud than two or three years ago. Before, companies were afraid that the information would be in another place than their data center, many thought that their data center was more secure than the cloud; however, this perception has been changing and it has been confirmed that the cloud is secure. Also, companies want to focus on their business, not systems, so they outsource their systems and storage. The migration to the cloud is going to grow a lot in Peru, it has already started in Brazil and Mexico, which are the large magnets in Latin America, and the South American countries are expected to continue in the same line.
What other jobs have you had?
I have implemented data warehouse systems for business intelligence in several companies in South Florida; I have worked as a consultant for the Office Depot chain, I supported them in the migration of their data warehouse to the cloud; I have been a consultant in a pharmaceutical company in South Miami, where I was in charge of creating a business intelligence system; I was in a marketing company called Merco and I have managed databases on multiple platforms.
For what reason did you travel to the United States, 20 years ago?
I left the country in 98 or 99 and, at that time, I didn’t see many opportunities to develop in my career. I got a study visa to take a master’s degree and, while there, I realized that the market required systems engineers, so it was not difficult to get a work visa. That’s how I stayed, taking on different professional challenges, and today I feel very happy to live here and with my professional development.
You also work as a university teacher, right?
That’s right, I’ve been teaching at the University of Phoenix for five years. This house of studies previously had four physical locations in South Florida, but currently only maintains two, as it now offers online studies. I like teaching.
How was your experience at the University of Lima?
It was a very nice experience, I learned a lot and it was not easy, as some calculus courses were a bit complex. I studied very interesting and varied topics in the area of systems, starting with dynamic system programming, statistics, probabilities, computer networks, and so on. I made a lot of friends, and I keep in touch with several of them. I was a teaching assistant a couple of times, in two programming courses. I also had the opportunity to work for the Technical Support area, where I learned a lot about computers at that time, how they were disassembled, how memories, the hard disk, and so on were cleaned and changed. We even created the networks, in 1995.
I greatly appreciate the fact that the University fostered perseverance in its students, that it taught us that all success requires effort. I also value the investment in infrastructure: in my time the construction of Building W. In addition, the quality of the teachers was very good. I am grateful to the Ulima.