Hello, Cloud Newbies! Welcome “Hello, Cloud Newbies!” a blog interviewing Cloud Professionals from all around the world doing cool things to see what kinds of careers are available when you work with or in Cloud Computing!
Today, we talked to Ben Bridts, who is a “Principal AWS Technologist” at Cloudar, and works in Belgium!
If you’re considering a career in the Cloud, or looking for a place to study for certifications, talk to fellow cloud-nerds, and help Cloud Newbies get started in the Cloud, please come join us at Cloud Newbies Society! We’re a Cloud Platform Agnostic, which means everyone’s welcome, no matter what type of Cloud Computing platform they’re interested in! ☁️
Now, without further ado…. Let’s hear Ben‘s story!
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So, Ben, thanks for joining us today! What’s your job title?
According to Linkedin it’s “Principal AWS Technologist”, and I’m also an “AWS Partner Network (APN) Ambassador”. I believe it says “Cloud Engineer” in my contract. What I conclude from that naming things is still a difficult problem to solve.
Where do you work, and how long have you been doing that job?
I work at Cloudar. We’re an APN Premier Consulting Partner based in Belgium. This means that we help our clients in their journey to and in the cloud. This can be via on-off advice or via public blog posts and example code, over a whole range of different services, to a fully managed service where we take care of the whole AWS environment.
I just passed the 5 year mark at this company.
What do you do for your job? Can you describe it to me in a way my 85 year old grandma can understand?
My job has three big parts. The first one is “consulting”, providing companies with advice and helping hands. This can be over a whole range of topics, as long as they are AWS related. Sometimes this means diving deep in diagrams, other times it is providing a proof of concept or fully working implementation. A big part of it is talking to people to learn about their specific needs and challenges.
The second big part is collaborating with my colleagues on the services we provide to our clients. AWS is constantly bringing out new features and services, evaluating them and seeing how they fit in what we already do today is something that’s very rewarding, because it allows us to provide additional value to a lot of people at the same time.
The last part is the most public part, and the reason for the “APN Ambassador” title. I spend time on writing blog posts, presentations and more to show the things we’ve seen working to a broader audience. I’m also active on twitter and help with the organisation of the Belgian AWS User Group. I recently gave my first classes as an AWS Authorized Instructor too.
What’s your educational and career backgrounds?
I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree for “Applied Informatics: System & Network Administration”, I spent 4 years to get that 3 year degree, so I combined the last 7 months before my internship with work as a developer for a Software-as-a-Service company. After graduation I started at Cloudar, where I learned more about AWS and got both Professional and all three Associate Certifications.
Where are you based? Is your job remote or onsite?
I’m from Belgium, and I usually split my time between onsite at our clients, my desk in our office and working from home. For the time being this is now all shifted to work from home, for obvious reasons. This also means that I only have to share my workspace with stuffed animals.
Here are his office-mates:
What’s an interesting fact about yourself?
I have an (identical) twin brother. This is something that doesn’t come up very often in day to day conversations, and as a result I have been chastised by friends for not telling them before they met him. In my defence, the look of confusion the first time they see him is usually worth it.
Wow… I need to visit Belgium some day and see this Doppelgänger!!
Which Cloud Platform(s) do you work with? How many years?
I’ve been working professionally with AWS for 5 years. If we count experimentation as working, I did create an AWS account 12 years ago, and I created an S3 bucket that’s still in use by a website today 2 years after that.
Do you have any certifications?
- AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
- AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate
- AWS Certified Developer – Associate
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
- AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional
Wow. What a collection! Did the certifications help you get your current or past jobs?
Not directly, as I achieved them while working this job, but they are valuable for AWS partners and their customers. Having an AWS Certification is a requirement for being an APN Ambassador and being an AWS Authorized instructor. Having them already made both of those easier to achieve.
What got you into the Cloud?
A combination of willingness to learn and being at the right place at the right time. I had been building websites as a volunteer, and that was my first introduction to S3 and cloud. The real catalyst was joining Cloudar, which I did after I met one of the co-founders while doing my internship at another company.
How do you use Cloud Computing in your day to day?
There is a lot of variation. Some days I’m mostly looking at documentation and trying out things in the console, other days I’m composing architectures in CloudFormation, or writing scripts to get insights in the current state of an AWS account.
Although I get the most enjoyment when we can come up with a way to use Cloud Services to fix a real problem a client is facing, or to reduce complexity in how they manage their environment.
What do you think is the most exciting thing about Cloud Computing?
I’m a big fan of the idea behind the #ServerlessForEveryone hashtag. Cloud is a very democratic way of using IT. You do not need to be a big company with a large operations team to run applications that are highly available, you can use Cloud Computing for a few dollars each month, and still build similar things as companies with massive budgets.
I’m very interested in Braket, the new Quantum Computing Service that AWS announced recently for similar reasons. It makes technology that would only be affordable to build for a select few organizations available for a much larger population.
What do you think is the most frustrating thing about Cloud Computing?
I think the expansiveness of all the different Cloud Services can be overwhelming. Even if you try to be a sponge and spend all your time on absorbing all the information over all the services, you will still miss things and either run into surprises or forget that something exists. For example I recently re-discovered the “AWS Systems Manager Automation Documents” and was pleasantly surprised by their features.
Or services not supporting CloudFormation, that frustrates me too.
LOL. I’ll make sure to raise it to Jeff Barr 😆 What’s a cool problem you’ve solved with the Cloud?
I always enjoy setting up CloudFront in front of websites, it can be a huge reduction of stress on the backend resources and it’s a big enabler of other improvements like adding an S3 origin to serve static content, or manipulating requests with Lambda@Edge.
Hello, Cloud Newbies!
What are your favorite resources to learn about the Cloud?
- AWS Stash gives an easy to use interface to search for recordings of re:Invent sessions, and there are a lot of great sessions.
- The AWSome days (there are also virtual ones – with slides posted online) are also a great resource if you’re new to AWS.
- Searching for AWS services on SlideShare can be helpful too (if you check the year and uploader), and I frequently do that if I need a quick overview of a service.
- The FAQs on the AWS site are a good resource if you want to dive deeper into a particular service.
- More broadly, I recommend clicking through the public site of one service to know the general layout of the AWS website. Things like pricing, faqs, links to documentation and a short summary of every service are always in the same location.
- Knowing how to navigate the website for one service will make it easier to find information about other services.
What advice can you give to someone who is considering learning about Cloud Computing to begin a career in the Cloud?
Nobody knows everything, make sure you know how the basic stuff works and where you can find things if you do not know them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, there is a whole community out there who wants you to succeed.
Also, like Mary Schmich and Baz Luhrmann say: wear sunscreen.
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Wow! Thanks to Ben, we have our second European interview! This blog is going everywhere!
He posts periodically on Cloudar’s Blog, and if you really wanted to get close and personal, he can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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