In July 2017, I joined as DevOps engineer. It’s my first role that wasn’t straight-up software development, so you might be forgiven for thinking it’s a totally new direction for me.

But you’d be wrong. Here’s why:

Introduction to Stelligent

Stelligent is a consulting company, in fact, an Amazon Advanced Consulting Partner. Our speciality is Continuous Development and Continuous Integration Pipelines, meaning we are tops at setting up build/test/deploy automation, especially on AWS. Go check out our blog, github and DevOps in AWS Podcasts on SoundCloud to see just HOW DEEP the river of knowledge runs.

My long path leading to Stelligent

Without realizing it, I turned out that I have been training myself for this position since about 2010. At that time, I joined a newly-formed greenfield development team at a major player in the wireless/telcom space. I jumped at the opportunity to get the codebase migrated to Subversion (which was light-years ahead of what they were using before). I created Jenkins instances to automatically poll the new Subversion repositories for changes, and immediately execute builds for them.
I hadn’t read anything about modern CI/CD, didn’t have any knowledgable mentors or peers in this area.

But I have always possessed a deep-seated passion for everything Linux and automation,

Within that wireless/telcom company, I was the first to advocate the use of Jenkins, the first to introduce Subversion in a development setting, and the first to script the deployment and startup of development artifacts to a test environment. My coworkers loved it, and so did the QA-testers. Of course they did: I had simplified their lives.

Managers outside of development (especially SCM and Operations/Support), not so much.

Because I had discovered Jenkins, I was starting to become aware of the new CI/CD practices outside the company. I voraciously read their blog posts and support forums. Deploying to production was a concept that just totally blew my mind, but the growing drumbeat of success stories everywhere else was intoxicating. I wanted to do those things too!
I became a subject matter expert on automation throughout the company, shared my knowledge, and saw these practices become standard on most new projects throughout the company.

But never all the way to production. Never. Because releasing is hard and terrifying when you only do it every 6 to 12 months, and it’s 25 pages of untested copy-pasted instructions in a Word document, with “helpful” smart-quote bombs thrown in by Office.

Fast forward.

I left that company in 2016, found another development role at a small single-product shop who had been doing CI automation for years (but no CD), based on the Atlassian Bamboo. Like the first company I mentioned, they were also a Subversion shop, but itching to migrate to Git. I volunteered, and by the end of my third month, we had migrated from a locally-hosted SVN repo to cloud-hosted Git in the form of BitBucket, which is also a solid Atlassian product.

Then in January 2017, the small shop started work on a new native-cloud product to make it easier to deploy their flagship product to new customers. Very quickly, we all trained up on Node, Express, Typescript/Angular 2.x, docker, kubernetes and AWS, splitting our time 50/50 between this new world and the legacy Java/Tomcat/Spring-on-CentOS5 stack. We built upon our Atlassian Bamboo platform to achieve CI and CD all the way into production into Amazon Web Services. Woohoo! I finally seen CD/CI all the way to production!

I unexpectedly lost this new job to cost-cutting pressures at the end of March 2017, but instead of taking the first crappy job that came along, I was inspired to finish learning Docker and Kubernetes and AWS and BitBucket on my own dime, until a truly great opportunity came along. After seeing the Holy Grail, I wasn’t about to be distracted by ordinary work every again.

I became aware of Stelligent through one of their own engineers who hangs out on Suncoast Developers’ Guild. Six weeks, five interviews, one coding project, and one presentation later, I accepted a new role as a Stelligent DevOps Engineer. This position is completely remote, with a new MacBook Pro, and no MS-Windows in sight! In fact, I already have my first AWS Certification (Developer Associate), earned just 4 weeks in.

What's next?

The best is yet to come. My new colleagues are real rockstars in the AWS CI/CD world. They speak at conferences, talk on podcasts, write blog articles, contribute to open-source, train up developers at customer sites, and still somehow manage to keep up with the giant firehose of new stuff from AWS, which is well over one thousand services.

By the way, Stelligent is hiring. If you think you’d like to join us doing CI/CD on AWS, we’d love to have you. Make sure to mention this article!