Featuring Chris Hanaoka from MSG

My name is Chris Hanaoka and I lead software development for the infrastructure organization that powers Microsoft’s online services. Talk about a dream job! I’m surrounded by really, really smart people that I get to learn from every day. I have the opportunity to contribute to cutting edge technology. Everything is at an insanely massive scale. And I get to build solutions that I’m proud of!


Our team is called Manageability Services Group (MSG) and we (Program Managers, Developers, Testers and Service Engineers) build and support a large portfolio of tools, platforms and services for Microsoft’s online services. Because we’re part of Global Foundation Services (GFS), responsible for all of Microsoft’s online services’ infrastructure (e.g., data centers, networks, servers, storage), we’re in an incredibly exciting position of supporting across all of Microsoft’s online services. The breadth and scale of the problem space is what excites me – and driving innovation and delivering against it is my passion.


I’ve been with Microsoft now for a little over a year. And although I have enough on my plate to keep me challenged for years, it’s exciting to be at a company where I see so many wonderful opportunities to make a difference – enterprise software, online services, gaming, cloud, etc. Having worked at several companies in Silicon Valley, this is probably what sets Microsoft apart from any other technology company, and it’s why I see myself with Microsoft for a long, long time. It’s a magical place!


Prior to joining Microsoft, I was responsible for Service Engineering for Yahoo’s Advertising systems. That’s where I learned what it means to support production for large-scale online services responsible for billions in annual revenue. Although operations was always a component of my development responsibilities, large-scale production engineering for Yahoo’s Advertising systems was an entirely new level. I was drinking out of the fire hose for years – but that’s because of the speed of innovation and execution in the online services space. It challenged me to constantly rethink how I thought about designing services (software), and forced me to incorporate physical infrastructure in all aspects of engineering.


Besides large-scale production engineering, my other passions (and background) are linguistic engineering and process engineering. I started my career in the Localization and Internationalization industry where I was lucky enough to lead very diverse software development. I developed tools to help localize software into multiple languages, including the first commercial localization tool called XL8. I spent years combining machine translation with (human) translation memory to pioneer a hybrid translation approach called MTM (machine translation – translation memory). As the company grew from less than 100 employees in one location, to more than 1000 employees in over a dozen locations, I had the opportunity to develop a global workflow system called FastTrak. We worked with premier software companies like Microsoft to leverage all these technologies so we could ship localized versions of software products at the same time as their US versions. It was called “sim-ship” (simultaneous shipping).


My experience and love of linguistic engineering then led me to Ask Jeeves, where I was the first employee at Ask Jeeves International. I wrote the first version of Ask.co.uk and worked on globalizing the Ask Jeeves technologies so that we were subsequently able to launch in Japanese- and Spanish-speaking markets. Developing a consumer-facing online service was a blast – and I really loved the fast pace of innovation and execution. Over time, my software development responsibilities were across Ask.com, and eventually across a much larger company that acquired Ask.com called InterActiveCorp (IAC). The last year with IAC, I was responsible for developing IAC’s advertiser/publisher platform, which is what led to Yahoo, which led to Microsoft.


That’s the last 20 years of my career in a nutshell. As I’ve said, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to be involved with such diverse engineering domains. But what I’m really excited about is what lies ahead … all here at Microsoft. If my journey is similar to one that you’re interested in, come take a look at Microsoft. It’s a magical place!