Welcome to our Leaders in Tech editorial series. Speaking to leaders in the industry to capture their stories, career highs and lows, their trials and successes, their current company and their role, most recent projects, advice to others, and the individuals who they most look up to in the industry.
This week, we talked to Alan Rana, DevOps Engineer, to find out more about why he joined the tech industry, what his role entails, what are the challenges he faces as a tech leader, and his advice to aspiring engineers and developers.
Could you introduce yourself and your current role?
My name is Alan Rana. I am a DevOps engineer at Automation Logic. Automation logic is a consultancy company specialising in DevOps and cloud transformation and delivery. In my current role, I’m working with major public sector clients to help them adopt DevOps best practices in their cloud architecture and migration work. My current team is involved in migrating, supporting, and monitoring legacy applications onto the cloud.
Can you tell me about your journey and how you got where you are now?
I did my undergraduate and master’s in mechanical engineering. However, it was during my master’s when I realised mechanical engineering was not something I was interested in anymore. I started getting more interested in the IT industry, with coding, automation, and cloud computing. I knew the future would be very interesting in the IT industry so I wanted to get involved.
I wasn’t fully sure which part of IT I wanted to specialise in as I was fairly new to the IT world at this point and I was fascinated by pretty much everything! I wanted to learn a bit of everything in the IT industry and that’s when I found the perfect Graduate DevOps role at Automation Logic. Automation Logic has a DevOps academy program where they hold 3 months of intense training, which includes programming languages such as python, cloud computing, Kubernetes, and many more DevOps topics!
This was an amazing learning opportunity for me to get a taste of the technologies and sectors within IT. It was the perfect step into the IT and DevOps industry. And I haven’t regretted it and I have loved it ever since.
What inspired you to get involved in the IT industry?
As mentioned above, I realised I had lost my passion and interest in mechanical engineering during my master’s degree and started to look for an alternative route. Just like the majority of students, I decided to try to come up with a start-up business and wanted to create a car-sharing application. This is when my interest in the IT industry started. During my research into creating an application, it was fascinating to see how codes worked, how it was all automated, and how certain applications were hosted and maintained in a cloud platform.
Unfortunately, my car-sharing application didn’t work out (like many ideas), however, it made me realise I wanted to get into the IT industry. More specifically, it made me interested in cloud computing, writing infrastructure as code, and automating as much as possible. It was amazing to see how processes were getting automated. Hours of work were reduced to minutes, all because it was captured correctly and strategically in code which was triggered by a few commands rather than long manual steps.
Why did you decide to specialise in DevOps?
I wanted to specialise in DevOps as I was noticing how big cloud computing was getting. I was noticing the benefits of Companies migrating to the cloud; more efficiency, decreasing costs, scalability, etc. And I wanted to be involved in this exciting process. Also, I always liked the idea of being involved in the application lifecycle process. From the applications development to deployment in production.
Being in a “DevOps” role allowed me to have the flexibility to get involved in the different lifecycle phases of an application. From working with the developers in the development phase, migrating and deploying it to the cloud, working with the testing & security team all the way to monitoring & analytics of the application in production.
Do you have a favorite part of your job?
One of my favorite parts of my job is when I’ve been stuck with a code error for a long time or my team has received an alarm for fault with the application/infrastructure and after the debugging session we manage to fix it, that feeling of success and breakthrough is always amazing! I also enjoy being part of “show and tell” sessions where I can share my knowledge and experience on a certain task with the team.
What are some of the challenges you faced during your career?
So far, one of the most challenging works I’ve faced is trying to migrate legacy applications to the cloud whilst trying to implement the DevOps “working ways” for a client that is attached to certain technologies or concepts that they have stuck with for a while. It can be difficult to introduce new technologies or concepts. (Have to be prepared for the tough questions that may come your way). Also, as a consultant, it’s always difficult to switch and adapt to different technologies that different clients are using. Although this may be difficult, it is also rewarding to learn new technologies.
What are you the proudest of in your career so far?
A big proud moment for me so far is being part of a team involved in a full-scale migration of legacy applications and databases into the cloud, for a large government department. We have currently completed 90% of the migration. Since migrating to AWS, we have seen roughly 35% less spending in the first few months of migration, with even more to come once we’ve fully migrated and during the “improve phase” where we will continue to monitor the applications, and improve and reduce more unnecessary cost.
It’s also a proud feeling to see how much the client engineers have improved. Many of these engineers had never used AWS before my team arrived. So it’s a rewarding feeling to be part of the team to upskill these engineers and to see that they are starting to demonstrate the skills required to be fully-fledged Migration Engineers.
What have you learned from your experience so far?
I have learned a lot of things from my experience so far, one of the key ones is to become a good team player. Look after your team and they’ll look after you. A good team with a positive attitude and mentality can deliver great results that you may not be able to achieve alone or didn’t expect, all whilst having fun and jokes with your team!
Really listen to your team and clients. Try to understand the motives of your team or clients by spending a decent amount of time listening and asking questions. This will allow you to make the best possible plans to implement new concepts without leaving anyone behind on the transformation journey.
What are you aiming for in the future?
Currently, I am aiming to keep learning as much as I can. I want to stay up to date with the latest technologies and working ways. I am aiming to get more leadership experience and skills. I would also like to get involved in the teaching/upskilling side of things, where in the future I would share my knowledge and experience with engineers at the early stage of their careers. Maybe have my own academy/Bootcamp to help excel engineers in their technology careers.
Do you have any advice for aspiring engineers?
I think one of the most obvious pieces of advice for aspiring engineers is to keep learning and adapting to change. Technology transformation is growing so rapidly and it’ll continue to evolve. So it is very important to motivate yourself to keep on top of the new tech, this will benefit you enormously throughout your career from the beginning to the end. Knowledge is power.
And to keep yourself motivated to stay consistent with learning and growing is to have the right attitude. A positive attitude along with the right goal setting will help you progress through your career.
Be a team player from the start. It’s important to engage with the team, bounce ideas, collaborate, and see your colleagues’ thought processes and goals. You might pick up and learn things you hadn’t thought of before. Having a good network will benefit you.