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Interview with Giacomo Gorgellino - Etiqa's Senior DevOps Engineer

May 9, 2024

Giacomo Gorgellino is our super Senior DevOps Engineer at Etiqa, whose passion for technology ignited at a young age.

With a love for the mountains and the great outdoors, Giacomo's journey into the world of IT began over two decades ago. "I have always been fascinated by computers, ever since I was little," he shares, reflecting on his early years.

Embracing Linux since 2002, Giacomo's expertise in IT blossomed as he pursued further education after obtaining his technical institute diploma in 2003.

Transitioning into the professional realm as a network system technician, he delved deeper into the intricacies of technology, laying the groundwork for his future endeavors.

Giacomo's career trajectory took a significant turn in 2004 when he embarked on the role of an IT System Administrator, marking the beginning of a journey characterized by continuous growth and evolution

However, it was in 2015 when Giacomo fully embraced the DevOps movement, finding inspiration and enthusiasm in its principles. "I discovered the joys and sorrows of the DevOps movement and immediately became a DevOps enthusiast," he recalls.

With over two decades of experience under his belt, Giacomo brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to his role at Etiqa, where he has been a valued member since 2022.

In this interview, we delve into Giacomo's role as Etiqa's Senior DevOps Engineer, exploring his insights, challenges, and the innovative solutions he brings to the table.

Could you describe your role as a Senior DevOps Engineer at Etiqa and how it fits into the software development process outlined by the company?

In Etiqa, we don't adhere to a rigid definition of the DevOps Engineer role, which, in my opinion, is actually beneficial. This flexibility allows me to adapt to various projects and client cultures. What I've noticed is that our company emphasizes collaboration as a fundamental aspect. This collaboration serves as a catalyst for enhancing the technical capabilities of our team members and driving us toward success. It fosters an environment of knowledge sharing and skill exchange. Working together on projects provides me with the opportunity to learn from the expertise and experiences of my colleagues.

That being said, what I strive to contribute to the team in support of the development process is not only my proficiency in Cloud and IT Operations but also my empathy and willingness to collaborate with QA professionals and the quirky tribe of software engineers.

What are some of the common challenges you face in your daily work as a DevOps professional, particularly within the context of Etiqa's projects?

Every project is a story of its own. When we start something from scratch, we have the possibility to experiment, and it’s very important for growing and learning new things, but doing that without compromising the project is, of course, challenging.

When you land in an already started project, it can happen that you see something legacy, something that probably made sense at the time it was implemented but is more of a technical debt in your eyes.

The challenging part here is not in the technical field; it’s mainly to put yourself in the shoes of the person who did that, listen without blaming, and make the changes be accepted by the whole team.

How do you prioritize and manage multiple internal projects simultaneously, ensuring smooth coordination between development, operations, and other teams?

Of course, clear communication and collaboration with all the stakeholders, PO, and team members are essential for ensuring smooth coordination and alignment of efforts, but in my experience, the most important thing that helps me to prioritize and manage multiple projects simultaneously is trying to avoid multitasking and minimize context switching.

In particular, to avoid context switching, I follow a breadth or depth approach. There are times, usually when the projects are well underway, that you can handle multiple of them together at a higher level, and other moments when you need to be very focused on a single project, paying attention to its particular characteristics.

Keeping this equilibrium demands a disciplined approach, yet it guarantees that I can commit my complete focus and assets to accomplishing objectives proficiently. Moreover, it acts as a vital shield against burnout, nurturing continuous productivity and well-being.

As a DevOps engineer, what methodologies and technologies do you rely on to streamline operations and development within Etiqa's environment?

As a DevOps engineer, I believe in adopting a combination of methodologies and technologies that promote collaboration, automation, and continuous improvement within Etiqa's environment.

Depending on the context, I rely on different Agile practices such as Scrum or Kanban to foster teamwork and ensure timely delivery of projects.

In terms of technologies, I leverage tools for containerization and orchestration, allowing for seamless deployment and scaling of applications. Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines are integral to our workflow to automate the build, test, and deployment processes.

Furthermore, infrastructure as code (IaC) principles using tools like Terraform and Terragrunt enable us to provision and manage infrastructure efficiently and consistently across different environments. Monitoring and logging are essential, and I utilize both open-source tools and proprietary solutions to gain insights into system performance and troubleshoot issues proactively.

Overall, my approach focuses on fostering collaboration, automating repetitive tasks, and implementing robust monitoring and feedback loops to streamline operations and development at Etiqa.

What are the DevOps tools you prefer, and which ones do you find most satisfactory and efficient to work with?

When it comes to DevOps tools, I have found that each tool has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the choice often depends on the specific requirements of the project. However, if I were to highlight a few tools that I prefer and find particularly satisfactory and efficient to work with, Terragrunt stands out.

Terragrunt is a powerful wrapper around Terraform that adds extra functionality and simplifies the management of Terraform configurations, especially in large and complex infrastructures. Its ability to manage Terraform configurations across multiple environments and projects, enforcing best practices through code reusability and configuration inheritance, makes it a valuable tool in any DevOps toolkit.

One of the key reasons I prefer Terragrunt is its seamless integration with Terraform and OpenTofu, allowing me to leverage the strengths of underlying tools while keeping my code DRY.

Moreover, Terragrunt’s support for automatic initialization and remote state locking mechanisms indeed plays a crucial role in ensuring consistency across teams and expediting adoption.

In my experience, Terragrunt has proven to be a reliable and efficient tool for infrastructure provisioning and management and streamlining workflows. Its rich feature set, active community support, and continuous improvement make it a top choice for DevOps practitioners looking to optimize their infrastructure automation workflows.

In your opinion, what are the key benefits that DevOps brings to the software development lifecycle, especially in the context of Etiqa's client-focused approach?

In my opinion, DevOps offers a multitude of benefits throughout the software development lifecycle, particularly within Etiqa's client-focused approach. Firstly, it fosters enhanced collaboration and communication among cross-functional teams, allowing for quicker feedback loops and improved alignment with client needs. This ensures that the final product meets or exceeds client expectations.

Secondly, DevOps emphasizes automation, enabling more efficient and consistent delivery of software updates and features. This agility is crucial in a client-focused approach, as it allows Etiqa to respond promptly to evolving client requirements and market demands.

Moreover, DevOps promotes continuous integration and deployment, reducing the time to market for new features and enhancements. This rapid delivery cycle enables Etiqa to stay ahead of the competition and deliver value to clients more frequently.

Additionally, the culture of shared responsibility and accountability in DevOps cultivates a mindset of continuous improvement. By encouraging experimentation and learning from failures, Etiqa can iteratively refine its products and services to better serve its clients' evolving needs.

Overall, DevOps aligns well with Etiqa's client-focused approach by enhancing collaboration, accelerating delivery, and promoting continuous improvement, ultimately resulting in greater client satisfaction and loyalty.

Why do you enjoy working at Etiqa?

Working at Etiqa is a source of genuine enjoyment for me due to several key factors. 

Firstly, the organization's commitment to fostering a healthy work-life balance resonates deeply with me. I greatly appreciate the flexibility afforded to adapt my daily schedule and the freedom to work from different locations throughout the year. This flexibility enables me to effectively manage my professional responsibilities while also prioritizing personal well-being.

The opportunity to explore and engage with new technologies is an aspect of my role that I find particularly rewarding. Etiqa actively encourages innovation and provides avenues for continuous learning, ensuring that I remain at the forefront of developments in my field. This dynamic environment keeps my work stimulating and allows me to continuously expand my skill set.

Lastly, what truly sets Etiqa apart is its diverse and talented workforce. Interacting with colleagues from various cultural backgrounds fosters a rich and inclusive work environment. This diversity not only enhances collaboration but also broadens my perspective and encourages creative thinking.

Overall, the combination of work-life balance, technological exploration, and a vibrant community of colleagues makes working at Etiqa a truly enjoyable and fulfilling experience for me.

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