I am the Tech Ops Lead at Snowplow and manage both our internal and client infrastructure, as well as growing and developing the Tech Ops team. My team focuses on managing the huge infrastructure estate that we have created for ourselves (which now spans across hundreds of AWS sub-accounts) and ensuring that our data pipelines keep running smoothly at whatever scale our clients need! This comes with a large focus on developing tools and applications to help us manage this estate programmatically - if we can automate something, we do.
I actually fell into Tech Ops a bit by accident! I started working at Snowplow as a Data Engineer back in 2014 and wrote and maintained a number of our trackers (Android, iOS, Java, Golang, C++) and open-source projects such as SQL Runner and Dataflow Runner. There was a gap that needed to be filled in Tech Ops and I jumped in. I love to automate processes, try new tools and technologies, and ensure the smooth running of our platform so it made perfect sense for me to pursue this further - and with the unique way Snowplow deploys infrastructure it was (and still is!) a very interesting problem to be involved with.
My job is constantly challenging and I’m learning something new every week! I get to play with new technology and tools on a weekly basis, be part of an innovative team and at the forefront of new developments. On top of this, being in a smaller team, we are also able to create lots of brand new projects - rather than just maintaining older tech stacks.
Managing the sheer amount of stuff going on. The landscape shifts a lot and you have to be on top of so much tech all the time - be it changes to cloud environments, security issues or changes in best practices. This, coupled with the size of the estate we manage, can be a hard balancing act to ensure everything keeps running smoothly and securely.
I wanted to be an architect actually. I always loved the the idea of designing and building things, and felt it was pretty awesome to actually have something you design come to life. Tech Ops is a bit like that - I am designing somewhat more abstract “structures” than buildings but it is still definitely architecture!
This is a really tough one but I think a big part of it is really around the marketing done for the industry. The industry is represented in large part as being filled with the “dungeon dwelling” geek type - this anti-social shut-in is a very inaccurate representation but is definitely what can be thought of when you mention you work or want to work in this field.
If you take me as an example I have a wife, a child, I travel, work remotely and have heaps of flexibility compared to a lot of other industries. When I tell friends and family what my work situation is like a lot of them would love it - but this lifestyle is not what is being advertised and feels like it is a big contributor to what is really a very leaky funnel for more diversity getting into tech.
It’s awesome! For me the ability to move around and work from different locations as well as never needing to commute to work are huge bonuses. The flexibility really is second to none. The diversity of ideas and cultures when you do have a company comprised of people from around the world is also a big positive - everyone brings their own localised perspectives and ideas to the table. I do miss the office culture at times (especially when it comes to Friday night drinks!) but we still make the effort to get together in person several times a year to rectify the physical distance between the team.
I love spending time with my family, going traveling, skateboarding and working on side projects (currently developing an RSS reader for Android).