There are many trends in cloud computing and in adjacent tech sectors that may be relevant. Consider the trends most relevant to the top services at Equinix and highlight them to the interviewer.
You can use sources such as Medium or Hackernoon to find unique trends. It's also always helpful to have some general trends/stats (global cloud spending, % of companies planning to migrate to the public cloud in the next 3 years, etc.) in your back pocket.
Equinix Interview Questions
What are the latest trends in cloud computing?
There are many trends in cloud computing and in adjacent tech sectors that may be relevant. Consider the trends most relevant to the top services at Equinix and highlight them to the interviewer.
"The industry itself is growing rapidly and cloud services become like a general purpose technology for businesses. It is used not only as the IT architecture to manage the back-end of their systems but as an operating structure to build comprehensive, efficient processes on across all business units with tools to connect groups online and offline in ways not feasible before. That's why we're seeing 22% CAGR in the public cloud market and why half of global IT spending is cloud-based. The ones I find most interesting are the rise of FaaS (Function as a Service) with serverless codes and cloud AIs (connecting with other Industry 4.0 technologies)."
"I believe one of the most critical trends is the rise of security vulnerabilities. We've hit the new record high of data breaches in the US in 2017 with the most famous example being Equifax. There are new and promising operating models being proposed by companies such as Lacework that I'd love to look further into. As IoT and edge computing become more popular additions to cloud computing, the issue of security will only be heightened."
Tell me about the deployment/business models we could offer to our clients.
There are business/deployment layers that are offered by most cloud service providers and/or IT vendors - Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and SaaS (Software as a Service).
There are less common ones such as Communication as a Service (CaaS), Database as a Service (DaaS), etc. that may be relevant to Equinix or its clients. Based on the role/group, do your research into more niche models which could or should be considered.
"The clients can obviously decide on using the private, public or hybrid cloud as a basis. We can offer IaaS, Infrastructure as a Service, which only manages the foundational infrastructure functionalities such as computing, networking and storage. PaaS, Platform as a Service, offers additional application-building layer on top of IaaS. Software as a Service offers off-the-shelf systems/solutions/software running on the cloud with the vendor being responsible for all aspects of deployment and implementation (and often even training). There are secondary services such as Database as a Service (DBaaS) where the vendor helps manage the types, quality and usage of data feeding into the clients' applications & distributed to users."
In your opinion, is data a true asset for a business. Why or why not?
Many companies still struggle with the idea that their data is a real asset when it comes to their business. The interviewer would like to know that, if a client asked you about the importance of their data, that you would give a well-thought-out and appropriate response. Share with the interviewer why data is indeed an asset.
"Since acquiring data comes with a significant cost, I believe it is fair to say then that data is an asset. Data can give precious insight into a company's operations, financial strength, future scalability, and more. By properly analyzing data, a company can open itself to millions in growth. For these reasons, I absolutely consider data to be a true business asset."
"It is interesting to me that this idea is still in question with some of the clients with which I work. I recently read a study claiming that 36% of businesses lack the tools needed to extract and analyze the information and data that they have. When a client asks me if their data is valuable, I always reply with a hearty 'yes!' It is expensive to gather data, but also more costly to never analyze your data."
How do you prioritize multiple projects when they all seem equally important?
When working for Equinix, you will need to take on multiple projects or clients at a time. They are a busy organization and need to know that you can keep up with their pace. Prioritizing is a skill that requires practice. There are many approaches you can take.
Here are some suggestions:
1) Make a list. By thinking through and writing down each item that needs completion, you can better visualize your approach.
2) Mark what is urgent or essential. Take into account deadlines and meetings. If a project management tool is available to you, like Trello or Asana, utilize its features to keep yourself organized.
3) Order each task based on effort and estimated value.
4) Consider due dates and how long it will take to do each item.
When answering this question, show the interviewer that you have a system in place that helps you to think through what needs to happen, and when. The better you can prioritize, the more productive you will be, making you an asset to Equinix!
"I aim to be as effective and efficient as possible and make sure I can use all minutes of a day for a project. I have a few things going at once most of the time. I am the lead on some, the delegator on others, and the reviewer on another, for instance. This way, by splitting up the work to the appropriate parties, both my team and I can be the most efficient with our time."
"I love to keep running lists of everything that I need to do, big or small. Mostly because I love crossing things off of the to-do list, but also because it helps me keep track of everything. Lately, I've started utilizing a free project management software that I use to make those lists, categorize the tasks, and mark them by the level of urgency. I take care of the most time-sensitive issues first and then move along to the equally important, but perhaps less time-sensitive to-dos. I also estimate how long each task will take, so if I have a few minutes in between projects, I can tackle the quick to dos and use that time effectively, rather than use it to figure out 'what's next.'"
Explain to me the concept of hyper-converged infrastructure.
Hyper-converged infrastructure refers to the streamlining of data center resources, preparing information for the cloud, allowing businesses to more easily scale. The interviewer would like to see that you understand this concept. Give a brief overview of your HCI knowledge. If you are unsure, there are many resources online where you can gain a better understanding.
Some of the benefits of HCI are:
- Flexible structure, allowing companies to scale much easier
- Lower costs, due to being more efficient, amounting to less IT overhead
- Automation, simplification, and better support
- Increased data production
"Hyperconverged infrastructure, or HCI, differs greatly from traditional three-tier architecture. It allows a data center to move away from the conventional storage, server, networking silo to a more all-in-one option. The benefits include better automation, simplification, and a more flexible structure."
"Hyper-converged infrastructure is best explained as a method of streamlining a traditional data center setup. When a data center moves to HCI, as opposed to a traditional three-tier structure, they can ensure the integrity of data while maintaining high performance. Essentially, it's servers and storage compacted into one."
How does data drive a business' success?
Data-driven decision making is becoming a more significant topic every year. Companies can leverage data analytics to determine:
- Competitive analysis
- How, when, and where products are used
- Customer demographics
- Pattern analysis
- Business growth
Talk to the interviewer about the ways that you feel companies can best use data to drive the success of their business.
"When I take a hard look at the many uses of data, I see that data can be collected in a plethora of ways to determine the success of a new product launch, competitive analysis, or patterns that occur, which may not be seen by the human eye. In my career, I have the most experience using data to help drive employee productivity and onboarding solutions which can save a company thousands of dollars."
"Data can drive every aspect of a business' success if approached and utilized correctly. In my experience, I have seen that companies underutilize what a full data analysis approach can do for them. Analytics programs should be set up for marketing, sales, employee productivity, product efficiency, competitive analysis and more."
According to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), how many tiers of data centers are there?
Not all data centers are created equal. The interviewer would like to see that you have a solid understanding of data centers and the differences between them.
- Tier 1 which is usually for small business, guaranteeing 99.671% availability.
- Tier 2 is best for medium-sized business, with 99.749% availability.
- Tier 3 offers 99.982% availability, making it an excellent option for large companies. These data centers can also sustain up to 72 hours of power outage.
- Tier 4 has sustainability up to 96 hours of a power outage, offers 99.995% availability, making it the best choice for enterprise businesses.
Explain to the interviewer how many data center tiers there are, and how they differ. Depending on the position for which you are interviewing, you may want to dig deeper into the technical differences between each.
"As a data center engineer, I understand there to be four tiers of data centers, all with a range of capacity and capabilities. The bulk of my experience is with Tier 4 data centers where there is 99.995% availability, two independent utility paths, and significant power outage sustainability."
"There are four tiers of data centers, all offering different levels of service depending on the size and needs of a company. A tier one center would be best for small business, while tier four is best for multi-million dollar companies."
In your opinion, what is the most exciting collaboration between data analysis and artificial intelligence in the past year?
If you are up to date on the trends and happenings between data analysis and AI, you should have no problem answering this question. Discuss an exciting collaboration, project, or product release that you have heard of recently. Because this is an open-ended question, be careful not to ramble on.
"I have taken a keen interest in how artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms have been working together to optimize business workflows. The result appears to be better strategies for enterprises surrounding people management, effective operations, as well as culture and engagement."
"I recently read an article in Forbes on the top machine learning programs to watch. I was especially intrigued with a company called DataVisor which uses machine learning to uncover financial data issues, helping to protect against bank fraud, and other financial based criminal activity."
Tell me about the most challenging aspect of your current job. How did you overcome it?
Equinix wants to know that you will dig in harder, when things are difficult, rather than give up. Sometimes the most significant workplace challenge is a difficult task that puts you outside of your comfort zone. It could be something that requires skills you haven't mastered yet or qualities where you are not the strongest. Explain to the interviewer why it was difficult but be sure to spend more time highlighting the actions you took to overcome the challenge.
"The most challenging aspect of my current job was mastering the different data models used when I first started with them. Before joining, I did not have a lot of exposure to object-oriented database modeling or hierarchical database models, and they are used a great deal in the organization. To overcome this, I took the lead in my learning and referred to online resources and tutorials. I ended up becoming very well versed in both types of data models, and am now the go-to resource for our new hires."
"The most challenging aspect of my previous job was the constant need to pivot our attention when it came to trends in the machine learning industry since our product offering relied so heavily on ML. We would gain footing, and then the next greatest update would arrive. Rather than master it all, I started to focus on a few company leaders in the industry and followed some influencers highly knowledgeable in machine learning trends. This targeted focus allowed us to remain zeroed in on what was important."
What is pervasive business intelligence, and what does it mean to you?
Pervasive business intelligence, or Pervasive BI as it's often referred to, is a business' practice of empowering employees by allowing open access to information, and essential responsibilities around decision making. This practice is known to generate beneficial results for companies and also supports a positive company culture. Equinix knows that by making it easy for you to find information, the better you will be able to do your job. Talk about the term Pervasive BI, and what it means to you.
"To me, pervasive business intelligence means that information is widely spread through a group of employees, allowing them to have access to business data and intelligence, freely. I believe that PBI is an excellent practice as it fosters a positive workplace culture and helps employees to feel empowered."
"I was recently reading an article on pervasive business intelligence, where a popular survey showed that over 80% of senior employees and leaders wanted data and business information to be more accessible to them, in the workplace. The concept may be a new conversation to many, but it's an important one."
Equinix fosters a collaborative working environment. When have you taken the time to teach an essential skill to a coworker?
The interviewers at Equinix want to hear that you have experience teaching or mentoring your coworkers. You may have taught a new hire all of your department's standard processes. Perhaps you explained new concepts related to AI and data migration to a more junior employee. You may have mentored an employee who was struggling to meet a project deadline. All of these scenarios are great examples to draw on.
Better yet, if you have personally seen someone struggling with workplace skills or knowledge, approached them, and offered to mentor them, it is a shining example of leadership! Whatever your scenario may be, tell the interviewer what you helped the person with, while highlighting the positive outcome of their skills improvement.
"Last week our company introduced a new module in our SAP system. I could see that our contracted HR assistant was having some troubles with the new module. I was familiar with it already, so I offered to help him learn the module. We spent his lunch hour for the next three days working on it. He perfected the module and our company was so impressed with his dedication to learning that they are now trying to find room to hire him on a full time, permanent basis."
"I'm proud to say that, even without any official management capacity, I often seize the opportunity to teach others at work. Not only have I helped contribute to the sales team's knowledge base of our software, but also I try to teach our clients on the added features of our software, at every opportunity. It's fun to share and teach others, especially since I am always seeking out learning opportunities for myself."
Tell me about a time where you had to analyze a set of data and then make a recommendation.
In the tech industry, you will often be looking at data, analyzing it, and making recommendations based on what you see. Equinix needs to hire those who can easily take on sets of data, large or small, and make educated recommendations based on what they see. You can talk about your attention to detail and sharp focus when it comes to data and analytics.
"When doing annual reviews with my clients, I analyze the past year's ROIs, trends, and overall data. I then make recommendations for improved efficiencies for the upcoming year. I will make recommendations based on resources and pricing, but also make suggestions on new ways in which we can be creative, like consolidating resources, to save cost when possible. I managed two of the most significant accounts in the office, so my recommendations were fundamental to our bottom line, and I'm happy to report that they were consistently adopted, resulting in more business."
"My current employer wanted to know the exact impact our social media campaigns were making. I gathered our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter data for him and created a short PowerPoint presentation from the data. My recommendation was to increase our keywords in the geographical areas where our ads received the highest click-through rates. My research and recommendations certainly helped as our social reach grew exponentially in the following months."
What are the open-source cloud databases? Are these the best ones to use for our clients?
The interviewer is looking for your knowledge around cloud databases and your ability to understand and discuss the debates around how database model and service should be structured. There is never one right view in these debates so make sure you present more than one.
The goal here isn't to memorize all the databases in the market and compare. Focus on topics around the database that would be most relevant to Equinix's clients. Research the latest trends in the cloud database and throw one or two in your answer to demonstrate that you are up to date on this important topic.
"Most of the top cloud providers offer databases leveraging both structured and unstructured data. But the open-sourced ones in the market are MongoDB, CouchDB, and Lucid DB, the relational, NoSQL databases that are cloud-friendly. But the truth is more and more developers are turning to native cloud databases such as Amazon DynamoDB, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud because they're offering easy software procurement/access similar to that of the open-source vendors without the headache of the assembly. These cloud databases have superior analytics that open-source databases such as MongoDB cannot achieve due to the level of data types and volume cloud providers have access to. This convenience makes the native cloud databases more appealing to many. With the rise of IoT and edge computing, a distributed database might be something to pay attention to as well."
How do you react when your team misses a deadline?
Missed deadlines can be critical mistakes in the software and tech industry, and can reflect poorly on you, as a leader. The interviewer would like to understand better how you react to disappointment and plans not going your way. Give an example of a time when your team missed a deadline and walk the interviewer through the action that you took. Your response will help Equinix to better understand if your approach is the right fit for their team.
"My team is highly efficient, and we rarely miss a deadline. When we do, it's surprising. We had a very challenging client last year who made a significant amount of changes throughout the entire project and implementation. These changes caused us to miss our deadline. I took action after that to ensure a better client onboarding process. This new process made sure we dug deeper with each client at the start which has resulted in fewer mid-project changes. I would be happy to share this process with Equinix, should I be your successful candidate."
"Deadlines are reached as a team, and they are missed as a team. I truly believe that. When a deadline is missed, I look at how we could have moved better as a machine, to make the delivery happen on time. I do not react negatively to my team members, but I do use situations like this as learning and coaching opportunities. How does Equinix react with their leaders in the event of a missed deadline or target?"
Unexpected issues arise often in the technology industry, and you must be able to quickly adapt. In your opinion, what makes you a great problem solver?
Equinix wants to know that you have a systematic approach to problem-solving and that you do not panic when an unexpected issue arises. Consider the skills and qualities that help you successfully face and solve problems. Perhaps you have a keen eye for detail. Maybe you can see opportunity when others can only focus on the issue. Share your strengths as a problem solver, and your ability to come up with innovative solutions.
Strong problem solvers are:
- Systematic thinkers
- Open minded
- Okay with being wrong sometimes
- Always researching and exploring
- Able to identify the core problem
- Able to reverse engineer a challenge to avoid future issues
- Able to come up with multiple avenues that work well for all stakeholders
- Are do-ers and not worriers
"I consider myself a great problem solver and believe my skills are in my emotional intelligence, as well as the depth of my technical knowledge. I can be really in tune with the tone of the group I am working with, and how to best tap into their strengths to overcome a complicated situation. By being keenly aware of who can quickly fix what, I'm able to avoid a project landmine quickly."
"I have been told that I am an excellent problem solver and I believe this is because I have an excellent technical and engineering mind. I can take the issue, work backward to solve it, and then use that resolution as a basis for avoiding similar circumstances in the future. I am also a big-picture thinker which allows me to come up with various resolutions per problem."
What are your primary technical competencies?
Which tech blogs do you subscribe to?
Do you have any technical certifications?
How do you develop trust among your team in a virtual, or work-from-home, setting?
If Equinix hired you for this position, what are the first changes you would implement?
What steps do you take when you have to make an immediate decision without all the relevant information?
How would you convince your client to migrate over to true/public cloud from on-premise?
Tell me about a time you took charge of a project. Discuss one positive and one negative outcome from the experience.
In your opinion, what does the future bring for data centers?
What are the platforms used for cloud computing? How do they compare?
What are the benefits of leasing a private data center vs. building one from scratch?
Please list three Linux server monitoring commands.
Tell me how the Internet of Things (IoT), AI and blockchain will impact cloud computing.