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I was hired some time ago to work in a consulting company in the AWS team (Amazon cloud). Now they want to expand to other cloud providers namely Azure (Microsoft Cloud) and want me to learn and get certified on that platform. They see it as the new big thing but I have no desire to embark on that career path.

I would rather broaden my skills on AWS and get more certifications there as I see AWS as more popular and more technologically advanced than Azure. I definitely don't want to become the company's Azure expert!

I would like to explain to my manager that I don't want to do that and I'm happy and would prefer working on AWS projects. I'm not keen to quit because of this, but neither I'm keen to shift my career to Azure and start in that field from scratch again.

How can I convince my employer that they should better pick someone else without creating unnecessary tensions?


Update: Thanks for all the feedback! Based on the comments I want to clarify a few things:

  1. It's not that I don't want to learn new things. It's more that I don't want to spend my time and effort on learning Azure in particular, because

    • Its market share is very small comparing to AWS
    • It's not looking like the next big thing
    • AWS skills are in a much higher demand than Azure skills (look at any job search website)
    • Because of higher demand the AWS architects and engineers are better paid than Azure, GCP, or similar (look at Glassdoor for example)
    • AWS is releasing heaps of new services every week - just keeping up with that would be a full time job. If I spend time away getting upskilled on Azure I will never catch up with AWS world again.

    I can still be useful for the company as an AWS engineer, very keen to learn new things and become an expert in that field.

  2. We are a consultancy company, i.e. we do work (design, implementation, support) for other companies. We are flooded with AWS work and we occasionally get request for some Azure, GCP or OpenStack work. Like 1 in 50 jobs would be for one of these platforms. I see very little use for the effort invested in learning a whole new platform.

Posting this question and all the feedback received helped me organise and structure my feelings about it into arguments that I can bring up with my managers and hopefully convince them to pick someone else without creating much tensions.

Thanks a lot everyone!

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Snow Dec 12 '18 at 7:37
  • Have you considered that the reason only 1/50 of the jobs you get being on Azure might be because your bosses are turning away Azure jobs they know you haven't (yet) got the skills to do? – Julia Hayward May 30 at 7:44
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It sounds to me like many devs who are "Java developers" and do not want to learn python because you can do everything with Java...

The way I see it, is that you have a good opportunity here! How many people have a good knowledge of AWS and Azure? Also what I have learn over the years is that knowing several technologies almost always plays to your advantage, when one has a hammer everything looks like a nail, and the same might happen when you use only one cloud provider, only one db and only one programming language.

I know this does not answer your question, but in reality, if you employer is willing to pay for your training and you do that at the office, I do not think you really have much more of an option :)

UPDATE

As per the OP question (ultimately I am not answering it). I think it comes down to two simple situations

  1. If you are right and Azure is not worth learning, then I would recommend to consider working for another company, as you said, there are tons of openings for AWS skills you should not be having too much trouble finding such a job.
  2. If you are wrong about Azure, and it is worth learning: In this situation, I guess you could consider my advice of learning it anyway.

The ultimate thing, however, is that if you employer asked specifically you to learn that is because probably they appreciate you as a smart devops (or whichever job title you have). If you still want to remain in the company, you could recommend some other coworker who might be willing to do so. But keep in mind that this also sends a message of "this is not the guy who would jump into the needs", and while you do not have to always be the go-to person, I really think you are still missing a great opportunity.

I do empathize with your situation more than it look like... but at the same time, I learned to code in PHP even though I think it is a terrible language, however it taught me a lot... there are a couple of valid use cases for it, and also it helped me to appreciate certain features of other languages that i simply took for granted. Fun fact however: there are a couple of nice features in PHP missing in Java (for example having a multi line string variable)

  • All of the effort the OP puts into skilling up on Azure, could be spent improving his skills in AWS. If the OP feels that Azure isn't a platform he wants to work with, then this is wasted effort. Becoming skilled in a platform you don't like is only going to lead to jobs doing what you don't want to do. – user1751825 Dec 10 '18 at 5:24
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    Azure and AWS isn’t that different. Just like Python and Java, isn’t that different, functions might just be different – Donald Dec 10 '18 at 5:34
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    @Ramhound I disagree with both of your assertions. Azure and AWS are very different, as is Python and Java. Azure and AWS are both cloud platforms, and Python and Java are both programming langues, that's about as far as the similarities go. – user1751825 Dec 10 '18 at 5:53
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    @user1751825 Python and Java are very different languages, but if you are a Java expert with no Python experience, then you can learn Python easily, and if you are a Python expert with no Java experience, then you can learn Java easily. It is the same with cloud platforms. Yes, you have to learn some new things, but pretending that you have to start from zero is disingenuous. It is more likely that you simply have a stronger preference Python (or Java) or that you feel more satisfaction or productivity when using Python (or Java). – Brandin Dec 10 '18 at 7:22
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    They cannot be that different, clearly I know there’s some major differences between Python and Java but how you approach problems are not that different, same is true for Azure and AWS. – Donald Dec 10 '18 at 12:37
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You say "I have no interest to learn". That is your right. On the other hand, your employer may no longer be interested in keeping you employed. That's their right.

You can talk with your manager. That is, usually, a good thing. In this particular case, however, there are two options:

  1. Company wants to have staff for both platforms. Probably there will be Azure specialists, AWS specialists and some of "two-traders", and you'll end up as AWS guy just like you want to.

  2. Company is shifting from AWS to Azure, and you will be first on the list of people company will let go.

It's your call - only you know which option is it. And if you don't - only you can ask your manager that.

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    In my view, this is the right answer. Work is a voluntary process and it's not up to your employer to align with your professional goals. It's nice when that happens but at the end of the day you're hired to provide value to the company. Either you provide it or find another place to work. It's really that simple. – ShinEmperor Dec 11 '18 at 14:35
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You can certainly explain to your employer that you you're not keen to do anything Azure related but I don't expect it to go well for you.

Depending on the availability of other staff to pick up the Azure training and work you refuse and the supply of AWS work to keep you fully utilized they may not go as far as dropping you but even so I'd expect it to be severely career limiting for you at the organisation.

Which might not necessarily be as bad as you might think - if you're happy with what you're doing and earning then there's nothing wrong with that. Just make sure you know what you're getting yourself in to, if in a year's time you are going to find yourself frustrated when your colleagues are the ones getting raises, promotions, training etc then you might as well just save everyone some time and move on to a role where it's going to be purely AWS focused.

  • If the company pushes ahead with an Azure focus, because they think it's the next "big thing". It may well the be the CEO getting sacked in a years time. – user1751825 Dec 10 '18 at 20:44
  • CEO's sometimes make foolish decisions. In a company I worked for our CEO made a decision to switch over our applications to a completely new technology. It was an unmitigated disaster. The CEO was eventually sacked. Most of the dev's who had decided to focus on this new technology were eventually made redundant. – user1751825 Dec 10 '18 at 20:54
  • @user1751825 these comments resonate with my feelings about it. I have updated my question to provide some more background and explanations. – Bububu Dec 10 '18 at 22:16
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One thing that's a bit missing from the answers that I think deserves some more elaboration is this point:

I was hired some time ago to work in a consulting company in the AWS team

"Consulting" being the important word. You work for a company that helps other companies implement their cloud solutions. So it's entirely possible that this isn't someone in your upper management saying "We want to switch to Azure", but with incoming Clients wanting to implement Azure. And, well, if it is upper management trying to get Azure in the company's service list, chances are it's because they had potential clients that wanted Azure and had to choose another consulting firm because yours didn't know that platform.

So I'd take extra care on this issue. If your consulting company's labor pool isn't large, it might not be an option for the cloud experts to not know Azure.

EDIT: Okay, I was curious enough from some of the comments that I did some googling. Azure's market share is going up, and is now about a third of the size of AWS's. Which is small... but it's not exactly negligible. So, basically, comments about "Azure is small compared to AWS" are correct... but so is the idea that a consulting company might need to have a solid Azure team (since for every 3 customers wanting an AWS job, there's one wanting an Azure job.)

  • thanks, coincidentally I have just updated my answer to elaborate on exactly this point. – Bububu Dec 10 '18 at 22:08
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    I see your edits, and can understand you point. But... one small caution. The people higher up than you on the org chart might have a different set of data they're working with. Not saying this is the case, but... it's possible there are potential clients asking about Azure that aren't forwarded to your group (because management knows they're not going to be able to implement) or that there are potential clients asking about Azure Certification and then walking when they find out there isn't. Just make sure to consider that upper management might have a good reason for their request. – Kevin Dec 10 '18 at 22:17
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I would like to explain to my manager that I don't want to do that and I'm happy and would prefer working on AWS projects

So, explain that to your manager and move forwards from the reply. At this point there is nothing, if you have a problem you have to outline it first before it can begin to be addressed.

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Can employer require me learn a new technology

Certainly.

Usually your contract is broad enough that you can be asked to do very different tasks to what your primary scope of duties is.

In fact that's one of the reasons why many employers even pay for training.

Also, why wouldn't you want to broaden your professional horizon while getting paid?!

Of course, you may decline and they very well may respect that but they may also decide you're incooperative and a troublemaking diva.

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Perhaps you could point out to your manager that Azure isn't new. Azure has been around since 2010. Since then it has barely made a dent in Amazon's market share. I see nothing to indicate that this is likely to change.

I can completely understand your hesitation to learn a new cloud platform, when there will always be new things to learn in AWS.

To become truly proficient in a new cloud platform you would need to devote a lot of time and effort to it. If all of this effort will not yield better opportunities for you in the future, then I think it is mostly a waste.

Like they say, "Jack of all trades, master of none". You can be moderately knowledgeable about various cloud platforms, or you could be an AWS master. If you prefer the sound of the latter, I would suggest you either try to steer your company away from Azure, suggest they hire an additional person to be the Azure specialist, or you could look for another job.

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    "Since launch it has only lost market share to AWS." - What source is this claim based on? According to what I've seen, MS gained market share (see here for example) – Paul K Dec 10 '18 at 9:53
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    "Since launch it has only lost market share to AWS.", you do realize this isn't possible. At launch they had no market share, so they couldn't lose it. – cdkMoose Dec 10 '18 at 15:01
  • Point out to the manager... for what purpose? This is a consulting company. It doesn't matter what him or his manager think about Technology X and how it relates to Technology Y. If lots of companies want to hire consultants for Technology X, it might not be the best idea to say, "Nah, we don't do that, because we think Technology Y is better. Go find another consultant." – Kevin Dec 10 '18 at 22:07

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