I work as a senior software engineer (5+ years of exp) at the moment at my company, developing some networked systems.
Since a year, I've noticed that I'm becoming increasingly interested in distributed/high-performance file systems (like apache hdfs, GFS) , cloud-scale databases (like azure table storage, hypertable) and that led me to start reading a lot about it. I've started buying books, playing with existing similar open-source software, reading their source code and modifying them as an exercise.
To sum up, I've read around 10 books on that topic (including topics that are somehow relate to DFS, like low-level high-performance IO optimization techniques, to minimize the hardware-related latency), spent approximately 15-25 hours per week hacking some code in that area, implementing some small proof-of-concept projects for a whole year. It was pretty fun.
But as it is said that the appetite grows with eating, and now I want to start spending all my days working on such systems - in short, change my job and start developing a commercial, widely used DFS.
Now, is there a way other than going back to school and doing a PhD on that topic, to find a job that would be related to an area that has not been on my resume (commercial experience) for the past five years?
How to convince an employer that I have managed to gain more knowledge than my resume is showing in that area? I am aware that I would be applying for a much less senior position that currently I'm holding.