Career Overview: What I Do As a Cloud Developer
“Cloud” is a common buzzword in computing with many uses; you can store your music in the cloud or maybe host a website. But this does not mean that your site is hosted on a single server – rather, individual servers of the past are being replaced by virtualized machines. This is a cloud.
To learn a little more about the work involved in building and maintaining such systems, we spoke with an experienced engineer who works for the cloud hosting company Atlantic.Net . And yes, these virtualized machines do run somewhere on physical hardware, but on a large scale, the gradual transition to cloud hosting means consumers never need to think about hardware.
Tell us a little about yourself and your experience.
My name is Jonathan Zuilkowski and I am a senior cloud developer. Ops. Engineer at Atlantic.Net , a cloud hosting company. I’ve been working on virtualized and cloud environments for several years now. I originally got acquainted with Linux virtual servers around 1997 in the financial industry. While this was not necessarily a cloud architecture, the tools and techniques were similar. In 2009, I started working on a large-scale inner cloud that hosted a scientific data analysis platform. From there, I continued building an internal cloud to support GPS (Global Positioning System) data processing, before joining Atlantic.Net in 2013 to perform cloud architecture and development.
What is cloud hosting and what is it commonly used for?
Cloud hosting is gradually replacing the old data center hosting model where the company bought or leased servers, and leased capacity, network bandwidth, and physical space in the data center. Cloud servers compress this into a virtual server running on the host. Customers no longer need to worry about hardware failures or hardware aging. In addition, provisioning a hardware server can take anywhere from one day to a week or more. We can provision a virtual cloud server in less than 30 seconds, without the overhead of shipping, rack, networking and power, and more. Time to market for cloud servers has been reduced to seconds in just a few minutes compared to weeks of planning and physical fieldwork. All this can now be done over the network from anywhere in the world.
What prompted you to choose your career path?
The pleasure that I get from systems management and automated programming has prompted me to choose this career path. I used to be in Network Administrator and Specialized Developer positions, but my preference is for systems management.
What kind of education and experience did you need?
People tend to disagree with me on this, but I think education is largely irrelevant beyond basic skills [in this industry]. Having a 25-year degree in Computer Science will not help you if you are not in the know about technology. I would like the industry to shift towards ability rather than educational pedigree. A person who is good at problem solving and can quickly master new technologies is much more valuable and will be more successful than a certain formal course of study in the long run. The experience required is a vast area of knowledge about systems, especially operating system subsystems, and how to manipulate them in interesting ways. Read, study, practice – all information is available for free.
What are you doing besides what people see? What do you actually spend most of your time on?
I spend most of my time looking for new, more efficient ways to deliver our product and automating our support systems so they don’t require operator intervention.
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
The same old chestnut that we all deal with – that it allows me to fix any problem with any electronic device.
What tools do you actually use day in and day out? People might imagine, for example, that you are staring out of a terminal window all day, but what software do you use while you work?
For my development I am coding in Python and mostly using JetBrains PyCharm . It’s a fantastic IDE that covers everything I need. We also use Git for version control and Atlassian Jira for project management and change control. We try to keep it as simple as possible so that the tools don’t get in the way. To be honest, I actually rely heavily on the terminal too.
What’s your average uptime?
Usually 9-12 hours, although there or there 18 hours a day as needed.
What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?
It’s much better to know where to find the information you need, when you need it, than trying to remember everything. Knowing how to prioritize is also extremely important.
What are you doing differently from your colleagues or colleagues in the same profession? What are they doing instead?
I believe there is a tendency in the industry to be rigid about problems, solutions and technologies in general. What is considered disgusting today may become standard practice tomorrow. What is common today will become obsolete over time. Try to keep a fresh and unbiased view of your IT landscape and not cling to a method, system, or brand with all your might. There are problems and technological solutions – try not to overcomplicate and avoid dogma.
What’s the worst part of a job and how do you deal with it?
You will inevitably be forced to deal with previously made decisions that you would not like to make. I prefer to use them as a feedback loop to design the future and avoid potential pain.
What is the most enjoyable part of the job?
Innovative cost effective and more efficient systems. They directly improve the customer experience and are a pleasure to support. However, the most enjoyable part of the job is the team I work with. For me, having a compatible team is the most important quality of the company.
What advice can you give to people who need to use your services?
Gather relevant facts. Until a problem or goal is identified, you cannot offer a solution.
How much money can you expect at your job?
This varies greatly depending on experience and skills.
How are you progressing in your field?
Innovation. Stay up to date with the latest technology and always ask yourself, “What are you missing?” There is always an opportunity to grow and create. Don’t be afraid to borrow old ideas or ideas from unrelated areas. Be a co-author and creator.
What advice would you give to those who want to become your profession?
Take the time to learn the intricacies of the different flavors of Linux. Spend more time exploring which direction it will take. Read about the goals and milestones of the various distributions. Use your imagination and don’t be afraid to come up with outlandish ideas, they often generate good discussion. Everything we do today would have been considered insane a hundred years ago.