Microsoft layoffs hit Azure cloud division in latest round of cuts

The Microsoft logo is illuminated on a wall during a Microsoft launch event to introduce the new Microsoft Surface laptop and Windows 10 S operating system, May 2, 2017 in New York City
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Microsoft is set to lay off hundreds of staff in its latest round of job cuts, according to reports.

These layoffs, revealed by anonymous sources to Business Insider, will impact teams at Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing division, including Azure for Operators and Mission Engineering. One of the sources estimated that the extent of layoffs could be as high as 1,500 jobs.

Both the Azure for Operators and Azure Mission Engineering teams are part of a wider department known as Strategic Missions and Technologies, formed in 2021 and focused on space, telecommunications, and quantum. 

These cuts seem to be part of a continuing trend of layoffs at Microsoft, which the firm kicked off in early 2023. 

The tech giant originally announced that it would be cutting back on 10,000 roles in January 2023, with CEO Satya Nadella blaming “times of significant change” and the optimization of customer spending.  

At the time, Nadella said that Microsoft needed to align its cost structure with revenue and customer demand, continue to increase investment into strategic areas, and maintain a commitment to the dignified treatment of its workers.

Microsoft went on to cut its overall global workforce by about 5%, including those in both cloud and AI roles.

Microsoft justified its moves

According to a Microsoft spokesperson who provided comment to ITPro, the move comes as the result of a “necessary and regular” part of the firm's business management.

“Organizational and workforce adjustments are a necessary and regular part of managing our business. We will continue to prioritize and invest in strategic growth areas for our future and in support of our customers and partners" they said.

A leaked memo from the affected department’s head, Jason Zander, made similar points, according to Business Insider, though Zander also mentioned Microsoft’s wider pursuit of AI, describing the company’s desire to "define the AI wave” and empower its customers with the technology. 

"Along the way, we make decisions that align with our long-term vision and strategy while ensuring the sustainability and growth of Microsoft,” he said. 

As part of the email, Zander said that services in preview will be halted, including Azure Operator 5G Core and Azure Operator Call Protection, while members of the Azure Operator Nexus team will move to Azure edge and platform. 

Microsoft’s move reflects tech layoffs across the board 

Microsoft isn’t alone in making staff cutbacks, with both Google and AWS having gone into 2024 with a similar focus on reducing business size. 

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, for example, revealed his “ambitious goals” for the firm at the start of 2024 while also telling staff to expect more job cuts over the coming months. 

More recently, Google announced that it would be cutting roles for the entirety of its Python team, with speculation suggesting that this was done in a bid to save money on cheaper staff. 

AWS has been making similar moves, announcing in April that it would be cutting hundreds of jobs in what it described as an effort to cut costs and streamline overall operations. 

As experts told ITPro at the time, however, there were perhaps other factors at play in these layoffs, with AWS operating in difficult post-pandemic market conditions and looking to compete with rivals in the space. 

George Fitzmaurice
Staff Writer

George Fitzmaurice is a staff writer at ITPro, ChannelPro, and CloudPro, with a particular interest in AI regulation, data legislation, and market development. After graduating from the University of Oxford with a degree in English Language and Literature, he undertook an internship at the New Statesman before starting at ITPro. Outside of the office, George is both an aspiring musician and an avid reader.