Who are the Premier Field Engineer (Development) at Microsoft and what they eat

    For most Microsoft, this is “Giant from Redmond,” a company that produces windows / office, in which only programmers work. For more IT friends, Microsoft’s face is Microsoft’s former Evangelicals telling the world about the beautiful world. For some, this person is Microsoft Student Partners in their universities, which I once was for a long time. But among these persons there is one that sees a very limited circle.

    You can of course find an official job ad for Premier Field Enginee r with official requirements. Maybe even google something., but I will tell as I would explain to myself what I am doing. I worked for 4 years in the role of Premier Field Engineer for Development (Development) mostly from Moscow, since in my place are now looking for a replacement, I decided to tell you about the work of PFE.

    All who are interested, read below.

    We need to start with the fact that at Microsoft far from all employees are programmers and not all work at Redmond. There are many personnel who are responsible for field sales. And then there are a lot of people who are engaged in supporting those who have bought something from Microsoft. I worked in an organization at the top level called Enterprise Services . There are 3 big blocks in it: Consulting (guys who do projects), Reactive Support (those who receive requests for support and work out when things are already bad. Support Engineers) and we are Premier Field Engineers who were in the middle (in the middle - not it means a hedgehog mix with a snake.).

    PFE (like the others) are those people with whom 99% of companies in real life will never meet, because The company needs a contract Premier support (the highest level of support, which is very few people). When you call to activate windows - this is a completely different level of support. If you are not answered about blocking your Skype account - this is also not us. Even when you are a Microsoft Partner company, this is also most likely unrelated to PFE / Premier Support.

    What do PFE do

    They perform many different tasks in the range between large projects (which they do in consulting) and when everything is already burning and extinguishing it is necessary right now (what Support Engineers do), although sometimes they also participate in the above. In this case, PFE engineers, although tied to the country, but can be on a business trip in many other countries. I will tell about this below with examples from personal experience.

    Let's list what PFE usually does:

    • Assessment of the implementation of solutions based on Microsoft products. Those. The company has implemented a conditional SharePoint, but it often breaks something. Engineers come, look, collect data and tell what and how it was necessary to do differently, and then write a plan how to do it.
    • Work as a DSE (Designated Support Engineer - dedicated engineer ), i.e. the person goes to your office and does almost any work on Microsoft products that are in the company.
    • Repair-configuration, when the system is already bad, but not everything has died yet (if compared with medicine, this is a hospital room, and not urgent resuscitation)
    • Reading training courses that are included in the portfolio Premier Support.
    • Many different other tasks that are very dependent on Domain .

    PFE is a highly qualified engineer with many years of experience with its technology.

    Who are PFE Dev

    I just mentioned the word Domain . Domain is an organization within a service organization that brings together engineers for similar technologies and areas. A couple of examples: all the Windows Platform engineers are consolidated into the Secured Infrastructure domain; Skype for Business and Sharepoint / Exchange engineers are consolidated into the Business Productivity domain; SQL companions are summarized in the Data & AI domain.

    And there is also my Domain - it is Applications (at first it was called Modern Apps, but it was decided to rename it just Apps). Each domain has its own unique works that only they do in addition to assessments / reading trainings / DSE, etc.

    • Well, for example, Code Review . Of course, it can be done for Sharepoint and Dynamix CRM / Axapta, and this will be within the competence of other domains, but just code / architecture review applications on .net is all to PFE DEV.
    • You can do Proof Of Concept - this is when Microsoft forces a mini-pilot and, at the end, we get an example of code that shows how to do such a project in principle with Microsoft technologies (but not production ready code).
    • And, of course, the development for Microsoft Azure is also for us, although parts lie in other domains.

    Thus, PFE Dev are development engineers who can write code, read code, criticize code, speak as they should, debug applications, read trainings, etc.

    What do not PFE DEV

    • PFE DEV is not the cheapest resource, so they do not need to hammer nails. Write a simple business card website - this is for sure without PFE DEV.
    • VBS does not work well in Excel 2003 - also by.
    • Help with Java on Linux? Well, only if it's all in Azure;)
    • Development of large projects - if you do not know where to put the money, then you can try. But in general, PFE DEV do not do this, and you need to go to consulting or to someone simpler.

    What skills are important to PFE (PFE DEV)

    I would call Microsoft PFE - freelancers with Microsoft badges, because requirements for personal qualities are about the same as those of freelancers.

    • The most important thing is to be an expert in your business . An expert may not know something, but must understand where to dig.
    • A person must be self-organized and independent . It is necessary to tell about yourself inside the organization, to keep track of your working time (and rest too), to take care of your knowledge skills and their relevance, relevance, etc.

      • My managers for the last 2.5 years have been outside of Russia (Dubai, London, Ankara), they have a lot of people in submission and nobody will deal with babysitting with you.
      • You know technology A, but it is being decommissioned - it is your task to learn something new and in demand. Demand is more important than novelty. You are not in demand - the manager will not have a long head for you to hurt.
      • Although Microsoft organizes training of its engineers, and I, for example, went to Redmond to Jeffry Richter on the Azure Service Fabric, you should not expect that you will be taught 1.5 years before the first trip to the client (faces cleaned, because someone’s privacy must be respected) .

    • Knowledge of English - everything is clear

      • Although if you work only in Russia with a local manager, you can not talk, but only read-write.
      • But if you want to go on a business trip to read the training - it needs just a spoken language.

    On the other hand, I would compare the work of PFE with the work of such a computer character as Hitman. (Here you have a photo of the goal, approximate coordinates of the goal, here you have a week for work. The rest is up to you.) PFE has an approximate description of the task, there is an address of the client and his contacts, there is a week (sometimes more or less) for work and can be a little time to prepare. I didn’t have time in a week - it’s bad (there are a lot of options here, from finishing in emergency mode to transferring to the next visit), you don’t know how to do the task - it’s bad (but you can always refuse it).

    Personal experience

    I was called by a good friend who went to google himself. But do not think that this is a small game, because All processes such as background check, technical interview or interview in English will need to pass. Personally, I came a month before my 25th birthday, 2.5 years after the formal termination of the university (although I officially started working as a programmer from the 3rd year, having worked in well-known companies). I was one of the youngest PFEs in Russia (my colleagues in Russia were 5–15 years older) at that time, and even against the background of the average (50-year-olds) PFE from Italy, it seemed to be just a child, although in this case age correlated with experience is not linear.

    Business trips

    For my 4 years, I have been working in many countries and cities.

    • UK / Germany / France / USA to study
    • He has been working in Albania, Bulgaria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Denmark, Ukraine, Belarus, Cyprus (like nobody has forgotten).

      If you list by city, then a strong long list will turn out, but, of course, mainly in the capitals.

    Although, if you add distant work, then you can probably paint all of Europe and the entire rich Middle East.

    There were offers to go on a business trip to Afghanistan, Nigeria, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Egypt, Jordan, Algeria. But somewhere I did not want, somewhere did not work out. My colleagues were in Pakistan, and in Central Africa, and even in Malaysia, someone was. About a set of myths that may arise about travel, I will tell in a separate article.


    I have read a lot of Web development training on asp.net/asp.net core, on Azure development and infrastructure in it; spent some amount of debug session and even code review; wrote and finished writing material for trainings that other pfe then read all over the world; wrote prototypes with a dozen systems; helped build work processes in Azure; engaged in technically presale, etc. But it is important to understand that this is the experience of only one of the 4 engineers in our team. The experience of the other 3 is completely different, I almost didn’t overlap with them in technology, as well as in the types of activities (well, I don’t know how to read windows kernel debugging trainings)

    In general, there are a lot of interesting things, but now I don’t even remember 90% of projects because projects are usually weekly, and in 4 years they are 100+ different jobs.(I don’t know how to multiply it, it’s an amendment to projects that have been made for more than a week)

    At the same time I learned a lot during these 4 years. From the most understandable - before MS, debugging was associated with Visual Studio and browser dev tools, and I considered myself to be a good specialist, and after that, rather with windbg / perfview / perfmon / wireshark, and I think I don’t know about debug now .

    My conclusion is: if you feel sufficiently experienced in developing on the Microsoft platform, being disciplined, ready for self-study and for business trips - you can apply for the role of PFE DEV. This is the first position in 4 years in Russia in PFE DEV and when the next one opens - the question is non-trivial. For all questions, write stasus , he took upon himself this burden.

    I do not regret that I worked at PFE DEV for 4 years, although I will not say that it was a path studded with roses.

    PS Regarding the financial conditions - we all sign the NDA, which covers a lot of things.

    PPS The question “why did it go and where?” I would rephrase it like this: I didn’t leave Microsoft, but came to EPAM as a Solution Architect (Azure / Microsoft Stack). Why? The short answer is that EPAM offered good conditions and interesting tasks, and in Microsoft RUS I reached my ceiling. A detailed answer with an analysis of all the options I took 10 pages of text in Word. I do not think that it is worth publishing here.

    Finally, I want to talk about some common myths and misunderstandings that arise after the stories about the work of PFE.

    Marked in a separate article, because There are 2-3 times more text there.

    Also popular now: