Meet Hazel Cha, Senior Cloud Operations Engineer
Hazel Cha from Team Vancouver shares her experience working as a Senior Cloud Operations Engineer and gives us some pretty awesome quarantine recs.
Tell us a bit about your background - what brought you to Cloudreach?
When I started my cloud journey just over 3 years ago there weren't many companies advertising for jobs related to the Cloud. Cloudreach had a really great partnership with my Cloud Computing instructor at BCIT so I knew about Cloudreach before I even graduated. I was a fairly green hire but the Cloudreachers I interviewed with made me feel like it was a place that I could grow and be supported, so I happily joined.
When would you say Tech grew from an interest to a career?
To be honest my interest in tech started later in life. I was always into science and math as a student but never had much interest in computers. Then I had to take an intro C++ course and it hit me...this is how an application is built?! I push this button on the screen and this code is making it work?! I had an epiphany, switched gears to IT and the rest is history.
How would you describe Cloud Operations to someone unfamiliar?
It’s not your traditional IT environment that’s for sure. In addition to being a systems guru, you have to know what works best in a Cloud environment. The Cloud is all about scaling quickly and retaining the highest uptimes as possible. In addition to maintenance and monitoring, we also have to be able to assess and make those recommendations that will help our clients operate at optimal levels.
What does your typical day as an Ops Engineer look like?
It really varies. I can plan what I want to get done for the next day but it usually never happens that way. Typically my day consists of:
Supporting my team: Cloud Ops is very much a team-oriented environment. Everyday I’ll answer questions about tools like Chef and automation pipelines. I’ll work on some of the client requests that are more involved or require more time to solve.
Achieving business requirements: As a senior engineer it's less about the nitty gritty and more about long-term solutions that will reduce toil for the rest of the team. It includes things like contributing to the hiring process, identifying technical debt and coming up with solutions for those.
How has your role evolved over the years?
I started at Cloudreach as an Analyst when the company was still considered a small start up. Back then we had a smaller portfolio of clients and we could have nuanced ways of doing things for certain clients. Now as the size of our enterprise clients have grown, we have to be smarter about how we are providing our services by automating repetitive tasks and codifying manual steps. In order to achieve this we’ve started working in an agile approach, delivering results within dedicated sprints.
What is an engineering or ops challenge you recently had to overcome?
I’m a detail-oriented person so it’s easy to go down the rabbithole and keep poking at things. Much like when devs get trapped by code optimization and refactoring the same can happen in Ops. I constantly find my brain drifting and asking “Why is this set up like this? What about like this instead? Why are we doing it like that? This would be better”. It’s a struggle that I have everyday but I take it as a sign that I care and I really enjoy my job. I overcome this by utilizing the project management tools available to me and turning these thoughts into actionable items.
What part about your role do you find most exciting?
I’m a problem solver at heart so I love the whole process of identifying a problem, getting that lightbulb moment when you’ve thought of a solution and then being able to create it. Right now I’m working on a project that involves using a REST API with python and building a workflow through CI/CD pipeline. It’s fun.
What’s your favorite tech tool / software?
I’m known round these parts as the “Chef Queen”. Chef is such an integral part of our daily workflow and it has some difficult concepts to grasp as a newbie. I took it upon myself to upskill on it as soon as I joined and I found that I really enjoy working with it.
I really enjoy using IaC tools as well. I first started off writing CloudFormation templates and now Terraform.
What would you say are your technical super skills?
I would say it’s my ability to assess a system/application and I am able to figure out how it works by intuition. I’ve always been good at just looking at something whether it be a broken toy or machine and using logic to know how to fix it. I apply this skill to my job everyday.
What is your favorite Cloudreach Slack channel?
#chat-wednesday! Inspired by the “it is Wednesday my dudes” meme, I love this channel because:
- It’s so random
- The teamwork it takes to spell WEDNESDAY in gifs every week - beautiful
- The cute reminders of where in the world it’s Wednesday
What are you passionate about outside of work?
Don’t knock it ‘til you try it but..I love Lego! It’s not just for kids folks 😛
At home I have 2 bookcases full of Legos which include mostly cars (Bugatti Chiron, Porsche 911, Aston Martin DB5, Ferrari..the list goes on) and various other ones like a rocket, dinosaurs, Marvel characters, etc.
I’ve also been learning how to drive manual. I just think it’s cool.
Tell us about your life living and working in Vancouver.
The best part of working in the Vancouver office is the people. They are truly the most supportive, and friendly people at Cloudreach and many have become lifelong friends.
On top of that, Vancouver is beautiful! We have beaches, mountains and forests. What other city can boast that? In the summer I love going to a patio and having some drinks with friends. Last summer the Vancouver office went on the most amazing white water rafting trip. I highly recommend! (Yes, that’s us 😎)
And of course in the winter it’s all about the snowboarding! Going up to any of our 3 local mountains after work is so convenient. Vancouver👏is👏everything👏
Do you have any quarantine tv/music/book/podcast/media recs?
If you’re not tired of Netflix yet I would recommend a movie called The Gentlemen. It has an all-star cast and the plot is full of twists with a bit of funny charm thrown in.
I May Destroy You written and starring the amazing Michaela Coel, explores some heavier themes of trauma, consent, and exploitation. Based on her own life experience, but an amazing series and definitely relevant as it pertains to our current world events. Anything by Michaela Coel is bound to be great - Chewing Gum is hilarious too!
What advice do you have for people hoping to pursue a career in Cloud Operations?
In Ops you have to be a jack of all trades. Get comfortable learning continuously and adapting to the moment. Of course get familiar with the major CSPs (AWS, Azure, GCP). If you don’t want to be upskilling and improving all the time then it’s not for you.
What industry trends are you most excited about?
It’s not a new trend but something I’ve noticed is the shift of companies trying to move away from monolithic in-house architectures to microservices and the cloud. It’s a big commitment but I think they are starting to realize the advantages of the cloud and decoupling their applications far outweigh the pain it would take to migrate.
As an industry professional I’m excited to be able to work with such customers and dig deep into containerization technologies.
What crazy futuristic technology do you think we will see realized in our lifetime?
🤖🤖🤖 The robots are coming! AI and machine learning are big spaces in the tech industry and I’ve been following companies like Boston Dynamics for a few years now. They’ve recently made their robot dog ‘Spot’ available to purchase and I think that’s a big indicator that we could see robot helpers in our homes and workplaces sooner than we think.