DevOps Institute

Career Insights from a Solutions Architect with DevOps Institute Global Ambassador, BMK Lakshminarayanan

Culture and Human Skills, Humans of DevOps

May 13, 2020

DevOps Institute Ambassadors are volunteers from across the globe that want to help advance the career opportunities in IT and support emerging practices within the DevOps community based on a human-centered SKIL Framework, consisting of Skills, Knowledge, Ideas, and Learning.  

These individuals are advocates for the “Humans of DevOps” and are industry pioneers who are passionate about the DevOps movement, are recognized DevOps subject matter experts and who voluntarily contribute to the Collective Body of Knowledge (CBok) of DevOps. 

This week, we are proud to feature an Ambassador from New Zealand, BMK Lakshminarayanan, a solutions architect with the Bank of New Zealand.

Below, we asked BMK a few questions about how the solutions architect field has evolved, overcoming challenges, and important Humans of DevOps skills. 

BMK is an advocate for modern engineering and developer practices including cloud-native, microservices for enterprise agility, architecting for continuous delivery (CD), DevOps, observability, event-driven architecture with Kafka/NATS and open-source software. He is a polyglot and polymath. BMK is a CNCF Ambassador, DevOps enthusiast, leading DevOps and continuous delivery community of practices. He is one of the core organizers for

DevOpsDaysNZ conference and co-chair for Cloud-Native Summit – Wellington. BMK hosts the Wellington CNCF meetup for cloud-native enthusiasts and The Future of ICT meetup to help students, people returning to work or looking for career opportunities in ICT.

(You can connect with BMK directly via Twitter at @lbmkrishna or LinkedIn).

Q: How has your field of expertise evolved over the past several years?

The architecture and design role has changed considerably over the last few years due to modern engineering, architecture demands like DevOps, Continuous Delivery, Microservices/Distributed Architecture, the dominance of Opensource, and due to the entry of Cloud, platforms like Kubernetes and so on.

Every organization is a software organization; I mean driven by software to run their business. Further, to stay on top, they need:

  • Faster time to market to get the new features in customer’s hands at speed
  • Reliable systems that the customer can trust and use
  • Meet the customers’ and their business needs, like security, scalability, cost efficiency and operational efficiency 

The architecture role was disrupted as well, so we need to level up our game, acquire new skills including Cloud, DevOps, Distributed System, Resilience and bringing those skills to their architecture work.

In simple terms – old ways won’t open new doors.

Q: Tell us about a challenge you’ve encountered in your job or career and how you overcame that obstacle.

As a developer, an operation engineer and architect, I’ve encountered a number of issues and challenges. The important thing that happened to me – I was attracted to the DevOps movement even without realizing that it exists. In the year 2014, one of my production roll-outs went on for three days, which was an eye-opener for me and led me to finding answers for a number of questions. 

We were authoring word documents for production deployment instructions, using call bridges to discuss and walk through the preparation, and answering PMs every five minutes about the deployment status. In 2014, we introduced automated deployments, scripted, automated, faster and made deployment status available on dashboards – which means we no longer need to answer about the deployment status. The work is now visible, transparent and real time.

Q: In your opinion, what skills are most important in your line of work today and why?

Empathy –  We need to be a customer before we serve our customers, whether it is internal or customer. Understanding from their views, how they feel about the service that they receive will change the way you approach, listen, provide solutions, offer products and services.

Connected & Continuous Learning: We live in a connected world; it is like a spider web. Anything and everything is one-way or other connected. Learning from this perspective will help us to understand & appreciate the other things and provides us with an idea of why that exists.

Learn effectively and efficiently: This is, in general, applies to everyone, but specifically when it comes to us technology folks. Our space is increasing with new tools, new technologies, new programming, modern scripting languages and so on. The ability to learn things faster is going to be critical.

Q: Is there anything else you want to share about what you’re working on now, or any other advice you want to provide to the community?

At the moment, I am working on migrating some of our on-prem workloads to Azure. It’s an exciting time and lots of learning. I am thinking of writing my experience as a blog post to share what we learned, unlearned and how we got there.

Being a community ambassador for DOI, CNCF and CDF provides plenty of opportunities to connect, learn and share with great minds. 

Finally, the one thing that I want to re-iterate is “Continuous Learning.” We all need to be learning continuously – more micro-learning, just-in-time learning – by doing, reading, watching, listening, and sharing the area of interest that one might have. 

We need to work together and take the people with us on that journey. A famous Maori proverb – What is the most important thing in the world? He Tangata, he Tangata, he Tangata means it is people, it is people, it is people.

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