What next

First please let me explain where I stand and what I value in life at the moment and then you tell me if it’s matching what you are looking for..

I’ve been writing code professionally for a while now. 10 years, maybe more. A lot of PHP, recently node, a bit of ruby.. It’s been mostly fun process (and still is for some non-trivial cases), but a few years before reaching my 30th birthday I started to feel like it becomes a bit repetitive..

At the same time I was always curious about operational side of things and wanted to know how the whole application works, how requests travel from client to servers, what happens in between (CDNs, load balancing, queues, caches, databases). It seemed almost like a magic. Slowly and naturally I transitioned to the operations team where I felt like I get control over the whole process and see the whole product shaping up.

Initially we started with bare metal servers sitting in our server room (a story for another day) and eventually migrated to AWS, which I think was a great move and I enjoy working with it a lot. Before I would have to do a bunch of mundane tasks like maintaining different setups, replicas, custers, backups, configs, lvms, nfs. I had to dive deep into each technology to figure out appropriate setting to run. We utilized a bunch of different products over the time like Mongo, Cassandra, Riak, Mysql, Solrcloud, Elastic, Redis (with Twemproxy), Zeromq, RabbitMQ.. I had to figure out a lot of details to configure even initial state just to get going, create clusters, additional nodes..

AWS made me forget some of the things I don’t really need in most cases and let me focus on important and interesting tasks. I think Cloud Computing will change Systems and DevOps in the future and the process is already started.. Personally I like where it goes, I think it’s the right direction. As a professional you need to be familiar with more tools and which one to apply for particular problem, not spending endless hours trying to start and maintain the service.

I would say my main strength is creating the process so everyone on the team (and company as a whole) can provide value to end customers. I may not be the best coder in the world and I don’t write as much code as I used to, which is totally fine by the way, but I learned a thing or two over the years about different moving parts and that allows me to avoid common mistakes and build solid systems.

Not sure if you know but I’m also a CTO of the e-commerce clothing company in Belarus (www.mirtrik.by) which I started a while back. There are 4 full time web engineers now that I had to manage remotely for the past few years. It’s been fun and I enjoy being able to see why we do certain things and defining process around it.

Sorry for my rambling here, I’m just trying to answer “what would be my theoretical next move” question as I write.. maybe to explain it better myself as well as for you.. Hope you don’t mind 🙂

To summarize – I like to solve interesting real problems. It’s been a while since I joined FastCompany and I learned a lot of useful things here, but there is less and less new and interesting problems.. Sometimes I have to create those problems myself which is fine too, no complains. Overall it’s a great company!

Which brings us to why I stay here and what I value the most at the moment..

I like to have an option to work remotely when I need to and normally I do that at least 2 day a week. This became especially useful since we moved to Long Island (unnecessary waste of time to get to/from the city). To add to that I have a little son that I want to be able to spend time with and see him grow up.

Sometimes I work late at night, sometimes early in the morning.. I want to have control over that. 8 to 5 is not my thing, also not a fan of open offices and offices in general, very distracting most of the time.

I don’t want to relocate to another city or country either..

FastCompany gives me this freedom to schedule my work days and my life and I really appreciate and value it a lot. That’s probably number one reason why I stay here so long.

Now let’s dive into some specifics of what I do at the moment. We have ~60-80 aws ec2 instances that I oversee and maintain using chef, a bit of custom scripting, a bit of cloud formation.. On top of that we use a bunch of other AWS services (RDS, Cache, RedShift, SNS etc). Recently I’ve been playing around with EC2 Container service and docker containers in general and we run some of the apps there.

We are also in the process of big migration from Drupal (lots of customizations over time) to WordPress CMS + custom components/microservices.. Big transition, I had to create new environment, stress test it, provide a way to direct traffic for slow rollout. Fun stuff I tell you, can’t wait to launch it 🙂

For monitoring we use Newrelic, Datadog ( transitioned from Graphite ), Sematext (for java apps like Solr), Pingdom (considering Catchpoint), Vividcortex (for RDS). All of that gives us visibility into application internals in real time which is very important.

Our developers mostly use JavaScript and nodejs.

All our releases go through CI server. We use Jenkins (converted from Teamcity), some projects configured for autodeploy on push (if tests pass), some triggered manually or via Slack bots..

Not sure if I’m forgetting something here and probably I do, but who cares, you should get the idea.

As far as my career goes, words like operations, site reliability engineer or solution architect hit close to home. Possibly I would even be open to overseeing a small team that works on some specific projects. The idea of being able to assemble a team (possibly remote, as I’m from Belarus myself and there are a bunch of smart engineers there) is also interesting..

Anyways.. That’s that.. Let me know.


P.S. If for some strange reason you are like “hm, send me your updated version of the resume..” then well.. You can *probably* find something on LinkedIn ..

Here is my blog where I occasionally write http://distinctplace.com.

If you want to get in touch:

“Gmail at gansbrest”

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