A day in the life of a Cloud Solution Architect in times of COVID-19

A read a blog post last week that explained the day in the life of a software developer at Slack. I really enjoyed reading about somebody else’s work schedule, and decided to share a day in my life.

I’m currently a Cloud Solution Architect at Microsoft in Silicon Valley. I work with a number of Microsoft customers to assist them in their Azure adoption. My technology area of focus is apps and infra. This encompasses everything from compute, networking, storage as well as Windows Virtual Desktops and Kubernetes.

So, let me walk you through my April 13 of 2020:

7.00 to 8.00: Waking up

I have a hybrid alarm setup: there’s a wake-up light that starts gradually increasing light at 6.30, and then there’s Alexa that wakes me up (the first time) at 6.50. I snooze Alexa once, and get out of bed by 7.00.

My breakfast is the same every morning: granola with plain Greek yogurt and blueberries. My wife and I listen to the latest news (again, on Alexa), we browse our social media and just take time to wake up.

Last stop before going to my desk is the bathroom to brush my teeth (hygiene matters!), and then we’re ready to get going by 8.00.

8.00 to 10.00: Productive without meetings

I get to my desk at about 8.00 AM. Today is a good day, where I have a limited amount of meetings. My morning is open all the way to 10.30, and my 10.30 meeting will eventually get postponed as well.

Let me start by sharing my work setup: I have a convertible sitting/standing desk from Ikea. This morning, I decide to start the day standing. Two 24″ inch monitors are connected using a Surface Dock to my Surface book 2. My keyboard is a relatively cheap wireless Logitech K360 and I use a Sharkoon Fireglider gaming mouse. The setup is completed by a Logitech C930E webcam and a set of Bose companion speakers.

My work setup.

I start the day with checking what I missed over the weekend. That means checking e-mail, Teams and Slack messages (I’m a guest in a couple of my customer’s Slack organizations). Today, there wasn’t I lot missed. I must admit, I cheated a little over the weekend by replying to some Slack messages and some e-mail 😊.

Next, I make my todo list for the week in the Microsoft To Do app. Tasks for today and this week include:

  • Prepare for meeting around Citrix/VMware integration in WVD with customer. <due tomorrow>
  • Prepare for webinar. <due tomorrow>
  • Prepare for LinkedIn Azure training next week
  • Review customer Azure pricing estimate
  • Continue blog on Azure limits
  • Continue AZ-400 training

By now, it’s roughly 8.30, and the actual work can start. I start by preparing for the webinar. I have a meeting with the customer tomorrow morning to go over the preparations, and I finish my talk track and accompanying slides. Since I will only have 10 minutes to cover my content in the webinar, I decide to use a Mind Map tool by Jenna Lange that I got as part of a training a couple years ago. The tool helps me map my key message and helps me build a better talk track and presentation.

Afterwards, I start with my next preparations for the meeting about the Citrix/VMware integration in WVD. This is mainly some research so I can speak about this with the customer. My research includes reading some internal documentation we have available, watching a session from Microsoft Ignite (at 1.5x speed) and chatting with a colleague who works with VMware.

Of course, some of this dedicated work time gets interrupted by some Teams or Slack messages and even with e-mail. Most of them are quickly handled in a couple minutes. For example, I booked a meeting with a customer for later this week after a Slack chat and I talked to my manager on how things are going.

10.00 to 10.30: Little walk outside

It’s 10h AM by now, and I decide to take a little break and go for a walk. I incredibly lucky to have a trail close by that takes me into nature. Since this virus has hit, I’ve been taking walks at least once a day, and frequently even twice a day.

Part of the trail close to my home.
Another view of the trail I have close by.

10.30 to 11.00: Final preperation

At 10.30 I’m back at my desk for the last 30 minutes before my first meeting. While snacking on an apple and a kiwifruit, I complete my research into WVD and Citrix/VMware.

11.00 to 12.00: Meeting to do team preparation for WVD meeting tomorrow

My first meeting of the day and the week. During this meeting we have the full account team together to strategize about tomorrow’s meeting with the customer. We discuss the agenda, the expected outcomes and how we want to present the different options available.

You know how some meetings could have just been an e-mail or a message on Teams or Slack? This one couldn’t. This was a valuable way to spend time, and to make sure the different members of the team were aligned. With this knowledge, I feel even better stepping into tomorrow’s meeting.

12.00 to 13.00: Lunch

Lunchtime! This means, laptop closed and enjoying lunch with my wife. Our lunch today consists of leftover pizza from last night. Not the healthiest of lunched, but it was delightful. During lunch, we watch an episode of 24 (the hit series with Jack Bauer from early 2000). After lunch, it’s back to work.

13.00 to 14.00: Module on MSLearn + an impromptu call

After lunch, I return to my desk and decide to dedicate some time to studying for my upcoming AZ-400 exam. I am following the learning plan for the AZ-400 on Microsoft Learn, and start the module on multi-stage pipelines.

A work day wouldn’t be work day if it did go completely to plan. At around 13.40 I joined an impromptu call to prepare for yet another meeting of tomorrow. We had initially planned a prep call for later in the day but schedules changed and everybody was available. This impromptu call went by rather quickly, as the context of the meeting was straightforward.

14.00-14.45: Call with Matt on his onboarding status

Two weeks ago we had a new team member join our team. Matt joined us from Cisco, and I’m his onboarding buddy. This means I help him during his first weeks and months at Microsoft. I’ve done this before, and I like to have a fixed time on the calendar to chat about how things are going. In these COVID-19 days it is rather hard to join a new company, and I want to make sure everything is going well.

We discuss a variety of topics during this call. We talked about the massive amount of training he has to do for his onboarding, about the Microsoft sales process and different tools and about how to do successful customer demos and POCs.

The call went over by 15 minutes, which was fine since I had the time available.

14.45-15.00: Finishing the MSLearn module

With only 15 minutes before the next meeting, I try to complete another step in my MSLearn module. During the module, I’m building a pipeline that releases to dev, test and staging. Each additional stage is another build that takes 3 minutes, so if I can write the YAML to integrate the next one now, I can let the pipeline run during my next call.

15.00-16.00: Bi-weekly customer call

Every other Monday, a colleague and I connect with one of our customers about the status of their adoption of HDinsight and Databricks. This is absolutely not my area of expertise, but I still join the call. It’s a great platform for me to learn about the technology, as well as a good way to stay up to date with what’s happening at this customer.

During the call we discussed a number of technical topics related to Spark and Azure storage. All in all this was a good and productive call, and the customer is able to make good progress.

Also, during the call I managed to get the last piece of my pipeline to work. I know I shouldn’t multitask, but I wanted to get that module over with.

16.00-17.30: Bike ride

Normally, at this time of the day I’d go out for a run. However, I am suffering from a little injury right now, so I need to change out the running for a bike ride.

I like doing a run/bike ride during ‘regular’ work hours. I sometimes even do one in the middle of the day. Since my job is pretty flexible with hours (I don’t have to do timesheets or the like), I can fill in my day as I like it. If I see a gap of 2 hours or more in my schedule and I don’t have immediate deadlines, more often than not I’ll be outside doing a work. Just need to make sure my work get done.

It’d been over a month since I had been on the bike, and early on I realized that my tires were low on air. This added another 5 minutes to my ride since I had to go back home to pump them. Always be prepared! But after that, I had fun on the ride.

17.30-19.00: Shower – cooking – dinner

After coming home from the ride, I do some stretching, have a quick snack and take a shower. After the shower, my wife and I prepare dinner. Well, she does the dishes from last night and I make dinner.

19.00-20.00: Finishing up the work day.

After dinner, I decide to spend another hour working a bit. I clean up my inbox, check my calendar for tomorrow and start a new module on MSLearn. I don’t finish it by 20.00, but that’s not too important. At least I got it started.

I take a last look at my calendar for tomorrow. I have a meeting marathon from 8.00 to 12.00, so my day tomorrow will be different from today. I have everything I need for tomorrow prepared, so I can start the day without much stress.

20.00-21.30: Relaxing with the wife and watching some TV

Time to end the close the laptop and relax. I join my wife in the sofa, and we watch two more episodes of 24.

21.30-22.00: Going to bed – read a little – go to sleep

By 21.30 we move from the sofa to the bedroom. The both of us love reading, and it’s the best thing to really relax the mind before going to sleep (and have some less screen time). I program my alarm for 6.50 tomorrow, and read another two chapters in The Blade Itself.

Lights out by 22.00. Good night!


That’s a day in the life of a cloud solution architect at Microsoft in times of COVID-19. I liked the format when I read it on another blog, and hope you enjoyed it as well.

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