REAL STARTUPS, NOT UNICORNS
Curve is one such startup and an example of these revolutions, hence why
I joined. We are creating the “gateway
to everything money” in which the core
service is a pre-paid card linked to a mobile app. In the app you can load your
existing credit cards and use the Curve
card as a “passe-partout.” Such a company was unthinkable only five years
ago because the upfront investment in
infrastructure would simply have been
prohibitive. Today, we can provision everything in the cloud, and the resources
scale with the number of users every
Traditionally, people believed working for a big company would allow them
to work on more difficult problems, but
this is far from reality today. For example, in the credit-card world, every live
transaction must be processed in a few
seconds, usually only five. At Curve we
process two transactions in that time-frame. This poses a very interesting
performance challenge, but the infrastructure and the code are in every way
designed toward that.
What is the most notable change
in the computing panorama in the
past 20 years? What is the most marketable computing skill? According
to LinkedIn, Forbes, and others, it is
cloud computing. And it is depth, true
immersive depth, in this kind of engineering challenge that only a startup
can offer a graduate.
Federico Fregosi ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is lead
site reliability engineer/Dev Ops at Curve (https://www.
imaginecurve.com/), a London, U. K.-based fintech
startup. He was previously a soft ware delivery engineer
at Funambol, Inc., and a freelance contractor. He holds
an undergraduate degree in computer engineering from
the University of Pavia, Italy, and a master’s in soft ware
engineering from the City University of London.
Afledgling venture need not invest in expensive, physical infrastructure, since it can “rent”—for a fraction of the
price—resources on a public datacenter
and scale them according to its need.
This enables business models that were
unthinkable five years ago. But deploying on the cloud and scaling virtual
resources is a complicated problem.
A person with the requisite skills and
mindset is called a “DevOps” engineer,
a term encapsulating both a culture
and a role. Such engineers are usually
highly motivated people not put off
by code complexity or the configuration nuance of an operating system.
Instead they are attracted by the blurring line between development and operations, with strong fundamentals in
Using “continuous integration and
delivery” and other practices, they allow code to be pipelined from a developer’s laptop to the cloud where it automatically becomes an application
available to users. The pipeline automates and hides most infrastructure
complexity. The real value of a DevOps
engineer is not in code or configuration, but in the culture of sharing and
collaboration DevOps carry with them.
This role removes information silos
across engineering teams and creates
an environment of trust. Old practices like “handovers” and “sign-offs”
are replaced by teams working closely
and building products they are fully in
charge of, from a single laptop to hundreds of machines in the cloud.
A JOURNE Y
Every revolution comes at a price, and
here the price is the shifts an already
structured company needs to incorpo-
rate, possibly taking years to accom-
plish. For this reason, the best place
for new graduates to flex their DevOps
muscles today is in a startup, where
one can embrace this culture from the
first day. In a startup, you can be the
culture you want to create, and want
the rest to follow.
As a DevOps engineer at a startup,
you can be responsible for a whole product, not just for a tiny bit of it. You can
simultaneously be a developer creating
tools and procedures for automated
deployment and code monitoring, and
an IT operations engineer configuring
the infrastructure at scales the industry
has never seen before.
Additionally, with your team, you can
end up managing a production environment. Being put in charge of the very
service users interact with allows you to
grow that much quicker as an engineer.
You will have the burden traditionally
assigned to operations, but will use
your development skills to overcome it.
You will go to work knowing the company can provide its services only if your
job is done right, and you will learn, in
time, that the reliability of the service
is a direct consequence of your actions.
Being this close to the coalface has the
potential to motivate you to your best
work early in your career.
Flexing DevOps Talent in a Startup
The perfect place for a budding engineer.
Among startups around the world, 52% have
a female executive on their management team in the U.S.
Elsewhere that figure is 34%.