Jens is the Chief Architect & Director of DevOps at LLamasoft.
With over two decades of advanced software development and architecture experience Jens has helped customers at LLamasoft overcome supply chain challenges through research, software and technical solutions.
Jens architectural specialties occur around cloud migration, best architectural practices, the overlap between architecture and DevOps, the role of architecture in production support and mentoring architectural talent.
Thanks for joining us here @Vintage for this interview, Jens. I would like to start by asking you to provide insight into your current role as Chief Architect & Director of DevOps?
Currently I am the Chief Architect and the Director of DevOps for LLamasoft, a technology company in the supply-chain space serving customers like Boeing, IKEA, Walmart and GM. My architectural specialties are around cloud migration and the overlap between Architecture and DevOps. An area of focus is also around the role of architecture in production support and mentoring architectural talent based around best architectural practices. We create functional and scalable systems. An important part of doing that is evaluating the functional role DevOps plays in successful development projects and production systems.
What would you say were your key achievements to date in your current role?
In general, across all the customers we support we look to change the way the platform delivers from web browser to API based systems. Customers needs are at the heart of our architecture decisions, creating multi hybrid solutions to the cloud. The role of an architect is to consider our software systemically. Success is not about singular customer, but how well our entire user-base is supported by our software. If we focus too much on individual customer, we can lose the forest for the trees.
We also look to encourage best practices around architecture and mentoring architectural talent to grow within the organisation.
Great insight into your current achievements. What about previous roles and what are you most proud of?
In my previous role I worked on the largest software project that extended over 2 years and we managed to be successful on time and within budget which is very rare for a project of that scale.
Also I have redeveloped culture within cloud engineering and how to develop software effectively.
Can you provide insight into how you redeveloped the culture within the cloud engineering?
Cloud engineering and architecture are still new fields in our business and the role they play is still strongly debated in the industry. Not everyone agrees on the role they play in production support and how much responsibility they take for deployed systems. Some organization (Netflix in particular) want their developers to manage the entire vertical from creating the software through deployment and on to supporting the running software (Full Cycle Development). Even with Full Cycle Development, Netflix still has groups creating shared tools for managing cloud infrastructure (e.g. Titus, Spinnaker). Despite the lack of clarity, some truths are becoming evident. Architecting for resilience and security, continuous monitoring and alerting and transparency are all new and/or much different in the cloud and are all critical areas. Refocusing engineering organizations around these non-functional requirements in a way that makes them second nature is essential for Architects to succeed in building effective engineering teams.
In terms of research and personal development, do you review sites, whitepapers, articles?
There are different platforms to review articles and insights on new functionality for cloud platforms.
I look at it with the mindset of â€œcan my current company take advantage of new functionalities for continuous improvementâ€.
I would add that Iâ€™ve seen many engineers and architects get in trouble when doing this type of professional research. Every solution you see was to address a very specific problem. It is essential to understand the problems you need to solve rather than finding a solution looking for a problem. I have read many fantastic pieces from the likes of Netflix, Google, and GitLab, but very few companies are solving problems of their scale and even among them, they are quite different. I would be surprised if Netflix solutions routinely worked for Google and vice versaâ€”why would you expect them to work for your organization. Stefan Tilkof referred to this as â€œConference Driven Architecture.â€
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us today, Jens. Hope the shared insights were useful to our audience.