A Cloud 9 State of Mind—Mentoring the Airflow Community
The first area of Polidea’s expertise, back in 2009, was mobile development. Through the years, with the evolution of the technological landscape, we broaden our skill set with UX/UI design, BLE and recently—cloud computing services. Our Principal Software Engineer, Google-certified Professional Cloud Architect, and Apache Airflow committer—Jarek—is a true testament to our commitment. Today he shares his views on being part of Apache community and the past and the future of the cloud.
It’s been 10 years since OpenStack and Microsoft Azure were first introduced. How much has cloud computing changed since then?
Actually, we should start with the open public beta of Amazon, almost 13 years ago. This is where it all started. There was simply no cloud computing then. Everybody used to build and manage their own servers and things would move at a snail’s pace.
Nowadays, with cloud computing, it takes minutes to start using services which in the past took weeks to set up and configure. You can now try your new idea instantly and if the experiment is successful—scale it up together with your traffic with very little effort. If it fails, just tear it down immediately without remorse and further costs. This is what truly enables businesses and development to grow.
JarekPrincipal Software EngineerApache Airflow is used by the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies. Decisions we make have an incredible impact on all those people and companies.
There were so many that it is hard to say which one was the most exciting and rewarding. Within Polidea, I had the opportunity to work on so many completely different projects. And in most cases, the excitement was coming not from the projects themselves but from the people that are working with you.
For me, this is the single most rewarding continuous project since my first day at Polidea—working together with people that are competent, sincere and friendly. People who you watch grow and you grow with them. With such people, no project is boring.
It’s, first of all, a huge responsibility towards the Community. The project I am the committer of—Apache Airflow—is, I believe, used by the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies. It has a vibrant and very active community, while decisions you make have an incredible impact on all those people and companies. Such decisions can, for example, impact the speed in which financial information of Bloomberg gets delivered to their customers.
You also have the responsibility to onboard new members of the community and tell them how to solve the biggest problems. This is especially important for the members that are struggling with the environment, development, and testing. This is one of the reasons I am leading the “Simplified Development Workflow” Airflow Improvement Proposal (also known as Airflow Breeze which aims to shorten the on-boarding path and set up the ready-to-use, convenient development environment in less than 10 minutes.
The fact that I have a long and versatile experience helps a lot when you mentor people. Through my career, I was doing very different things—while I never really ceased to be an engineer—I was involved in a lot of roles related to the software development job. I have experienced a number of successes and failures which were not purely engineering-driven and that thought me quite a few things which now prove to be super useful when you mentor others.
Mentoring in my case is more about human behaviour, understanding of others, empathy, and, most-of-all, trying to understand yourself rather than any technology, tool, or process. You can learn the latter by yourself but people and relations with them are the most important when it comes to mentoring.
In my opinion, you need to be mentored all the time as well. You can and should always learn from the people you work with. This is what I find the most rewarding in the mentoring aspect—it’s never a one-way street. Watching people grow and, at the same time, developing yourself by watching others is the best part of mentoring for sure.
As the famous saying goes “The Cloud Is Just Someone Else’s Computer.” Those servers, just run being managed by someone else (and you pay a little for that maintenance and management). The better question is—will there only be cloud providers in the future or will there be still servers on-premise?
I think the future is all about hybrid solutions. This is the current trend spear-headed by Google Cloud Platform and the recent Anthos announcements. There will always be cases where you will need local machines that have to be installed on-premises and, at best, can be loosely connected with cloud providers. Hybrid solutions are here to stay. Making it easier and more seamless to manage the whole infrastructure from a single place is going to be the trend that will definitely pick up the steam in the months to come.
Principal Software Engineer