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 Tomasz, who is a Senior Frontend Engineer at OLX Group, and works Poland!
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 Tomasz‘s story!
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Hey, Tomasz! So, what’s your job title, and where do you work?
I work as a Senior Frontend Engineer at OLX Group.
How long have you been doing that job?
I’ve been with OLX Group for nearly 2 years but I’ve been a developer since mid-2012.
What do you do for your job? Can you describe it to me in a way my 85 year old grandma can understand?
We’re building online marketplaces – places online where you can buy and sell (almost) anything. Apart from that, we have a growing “Jobs” category where millions of people are searching for their next job.
I’m responsible for the frontend of our core business – OLX, which is one of the Top 10 websites in most of the countries we operate in Poland. In other words – if I break something, millions will notice and they usually aren’t too thrilled about it 😅
What’s your educational and career backgrounds?
I have a Master’s degree in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering from Poznań University of Technology with a speciality in Wireless Communication. I never considered a career in programming so I decided not to pursue a Computer Science degree when I was 19.
In other words – degree is nice to have but it hasn’t influenced my career very much, I’m mostly self taught
Where are you based? Is your job remote or onsite?
I’m based in Poznań, Poland and our office is 20 minutes commute from my apartment. I’ve never worked fully remote, I’d miss people too much.
What’s an interesting fact about yourself?
My second blogpost I’ve ever written got 70k views, ended up on homepage of reddit, hacker news and was translated to Chinese (I believe that’s a definition of a one hit wonder).
Wow… That’s called starting with a BANG! Dang!
Which Cloud Platform(s) do you work with? How many years?
“Only” with AWS for the last ~2 years, for as long as I’ve been with OLX Group.
Do you have any certifications?
I’d say that have 1.5 certifications – passed AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam last year and I’m getting my AWS Certified Solutions Developer – Associate in March.
What got you into the Cloud?
The company I work for – OLX Group – is betting heavily on AWS. We’ve migrated our entire infrastructure to AWS in 2018 and we continue to operate one of the biggest websites in Poland, Ukraine, Romania and other countries using AWS services.
The project I joined when I started is fully serverless – our stack is React, Go, GraphQL, Serverless framework, Lambda, DynamoDB, SQS and others! Sure, I could continue to deal mostly with frontend but since I wanted to be a part of the bigger picture – I decided to get more involved in the Cloud.
How do you use Cloud Computing in your day to day?
As I mentioned, our stack is fully serverless – we are not maintaining any servers or EC2 instances – everything is built on top of AWS Lambda, which are written in Go or Node.js.
Whenever we have a new problem to tackle, our team is figuring out how to solve it with AWS – what kind of combination of services will allow us not only to provide value to our users but also limit our expenses to minimum.
Apart from my day job, I’ve been also recording AWS lessons on egghead.io – for me it’s a great way of solidifying my own knowledge. That way I’m achieving two goals at the same time – not only do I get to explain an AWS-related topic to somebody else, I’m also ensuring that I understand it enough in order to be able to teach someone how to deploy an AWS Lambda function for instance.
What do you think is the most exciting thing about Cloud Computing?
The most exciting thing for me is being able to use solutions developed by somebody else to solve my own problems. If I need a reliable, durable and elastic storage for my static assets I no longer have to reinvent (hah!) the wheel – S3 is solving that problem for me.
Same goes to other services – by combining those highly managed services I get to focus on providing the value and writing the business logic, and not having to configure MySQL for the 100x time.
And the best part is that you start paying *once* you have some significant traffic. For instance, with AWS Lambda the first million requests per month are 100% free, and once you start paying, it’s $0.20 per next million requests. What that means that you need to have quite a lot of users to pay more for Lambda than you pay for your morning coffee.
What do you think is the most frustrating thing about Cloud Computing?
The fact that everything keeps changing and evolving is both frustrating and amazing, at the same time. Even the fact that my certificate will expire after 2 years is a testament to that – in order to be able to stay on top of the Cloud, you need to have the lifelong learner mentality. I personally enjoy it but I can imagine it can be annoying to a lot of folks.
What’s the most fun you’ve had with the Cloud?
I’m having A LOT of fun with AWS Cloud Development Kit (AWS CDK). It allows me to provision services on AWS using TypeScript. What that means is that I get to write my frontend, backend (with AWS Lambda) AND define my infrastructure using a single programming language – TypeScript.
This is such a badass power to have, deploying serverless functions, buckets, tables etc. is literally a couple of lines of code (the difference is even more visible when you compare CDK code with CloudFormation).
Hello, Cloud Newbies!
What’s one thing you wish you’d known when you started working with Cloud Computing?
It’s *NOT* expensive to learn how to use the Cloud.
In fact, once you set up a billing alarm (please do that right after you create an account on AWS) – you get to experiment quite a lot with various services and not have to pay for anything. There’s also a surprising amount of free resources and a vast range of paid courses (which are absolutely excellent).
What are your favorite resources to learn about the Cloud?
(and honestly – Twitter, provided you follow a lot of folks who are into Cloud/AWS)
Sooo, why would a frontend engineer get AWS Certified?
The lines are getting blurry.
Frontend, backend, infra, half-stack, full-stack – defining where one ends and another starts is getting surprisingly difficult sometimes.
Developers in 2020s will need to be able to expand their horizons, IMO programming is no longer a matter of writing CSS (frontend), creating a REST API (backend) or configuring a SQL database (infra). We need developers on the market who are able to focus on solving user problems, and having more tools in a toolkit is nearly always better.
Do you have any projects/apps you’ve worked on that you’d like to share?
I’m recording AWS lessons on egghead.io recently, currently I’ve completed two playlists I’m really happy with:
- Learn AWS Lambda from scratch
- Build serverless applications with AWS Serverless Application Model (AWS SAM)
I’m also working on a brand new AWS CDK course that will come out later this year!
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So we have our first Frontend Engineer AND a Technical Instructor! Thanks so much for chatting with us, Tomasz!
Now, if you want to learn more about Tomasz and potentially chat with him, you can find him on Twitter!
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