Diary of a Google Associate Cloud Engineer
Set Location: Victoria Island, Lagos. Nigeria.
Ahmed, where are you? I told you to be in the office before 7:30 today and its 7:40. Deployment is 11am! Better be near…
Lanre James is fond of sending me text messages whenever I am running behind schedule. These messages in turns are fond of coming through whenever I am trying to argue with Lagos bus conductors on the price of transport fare. This explains why I wasn’t surprised to see the message by 7:57am. I read the message again to quantify the amount of trouble I was in, while I gave a waka freely to the conductor for charging me 200 naira from Sangotedo to Law School Bus Stop. Just across the road was Musa waving at me, he was probably wondering why I was cursing in the Yoruba language I didn’t know how to speak. Well, I would have wondered too, but I had to curse back at the conductor who said some words that had Iya e (my mother) in them — I don’t joke with my mother. Musa maintained his smile anyways.
When I resumed work three weeks earlier, I knew I had to make friends with few Okada[sic] men to help me cut cost on going from the bus stop to the office. Musa happened to be the only one I had successfully become friends with because I speak his language. And man, was I happy that I saw him? Yes. As a matter of fact, seeing him made me cross the road without checking if the traffic lights had given me clearance — and I didn’t die.
“Mutumina, yaya…” he tried greeting me in Hausa language but I jumped on the bike, telling him to ride fast and cutting him short in the process. He said a lot of things on the four minutes ride but I couldn’t place any of them. All I was thinking was the lie that I was going to tell Lanre to justify arriving forty minutes behind schedule. I considered telling him that I woke up by 5am but traffic at Chevron and Admiralty way held me up, and trust me, that would have been the truth — except that I stayed in bed till 5:45am. But then again, Lanre is someone that would choose to believe an interesting lie over a plain truth. He is the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of the company I work with but his LinkedIn account reads ‘Senior DevOps Engineer.’ He is actually more like a Senior Software Engineer with specialty in CD/CI development, but he believes he is king of operations anyways. He made it clear that his IT operations team was doing just fine without me on my first day onthe job. But I guess he was just acting tough to keep me on my toes. The company had resolved to launch some of its new products using infrastructures on Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and I entered as an intern and understudy cloud architect under Lanre. Lanre also has experience inAmazon Web Services and he has background in network administration, which explains why he calls himself a DevOps Engineer. However, I soon discovered in my first week that I was neither an intern nor an understudy as the HR personnel proposed; I was a cloud architect, and Lanre was the superhuman Boss that thinks everyone is as super as he is.
On my second day on the job, we kick started our plans to deploy a new application of the company’s new product line in the cloud for testing before full production. But it took the Ops team four days (Monday to Thursday) to decide the GCP services to use. Being the new kid on the block, I didn’t say anything in any of the meetings even though I had so much to say. This was because well, I thought I was an understudy. They eventually settled for having full control of the cloud infrastructure, so they opted to go with Google Compute Engine (GCE). And since then, I have not had a good sleep at home and at the office — especially at home. For a start, my task was to write configurations and templates to deploy Virtual Machines for testing stages, ensuring that all firewalls, application environment and ports are on check. This would have been an easy task, but Lanre didn’t give me administrative role to the project. He gave me the role of a viewer to some minor data and his excuse was that I was not to be trusted with company data — yet. I was to write my configurations using my local SDK and shift it to the company’s git for inspection. This however changed in my second week when the marketing department got hold of information that the closest competition to our company was planning to launch a product that is similar to ours. There and then, the group manager made some erratic decisions that made me reconsider a career path in tech. What did he do? He got the PR team to do their magic thing and voila, we were no longer working on testing the application, we were on full production. I thought it was a joke until Lanre called for a joint meeting between the Development and Operations department, telling us that we have 9 days (including Saturday and Sunday) to get everything up and running.
‘WE’ might sound so encouraging and motivating but the truth is the bigger part of the job was on the developers. Most of the developers weren’t familiar with cloud native app development, so the whole responsibility fell on Lanre to coordinate the two key departments. I was on my way to the office on the said Day 9, pretty sure that the developers, who spent their night in the office, would still be fighting bugs. And as much as I hated to say it, I was scared that I was about to do real life deployment, as in deployment outside Qwiklabs and Codelabs. So, when Musa finally dropped me in front of the office, I took a long breath and I proceeded to the gate like a ram waiting to be slaughtered — in the wilderness, or cloud.
“The Chief himself. This one wey you came late today. I think say you sleep for office oh.” Okada men weren’t the only people I made friends with. Mr. Akpan happened to be my favorite security personnel, always helping me to buy Ewa Agoyin and Bread. For the sake of clarity, he was surprised to see me at the gate as he thought I slept in the office. And yes, I had been sleeping in the office because I work under Lanre; a superhuman who doesn’t sleep and expects his understudy not to sleep. And if you are wondering why the superhuman needed me at the office by 7:30am, well… I had extra responsibilities assigned to me. One of which was to finish up with load balancing and DNS set up while we wait for Devs to finish up. And I think I had become Lanre’s favorite side guy that takes all the blame — proudly.
“If this deployment delays by one minute, you will have the board to face.” Lanre said to me at first sight; pushing the blame to me as expected. It felt funny but I couldn’t dare laugh. Poor guy… he hadn’t had a decent sleep for days and he was probably having a mental breakdown. If not, he would know that he will be the person facing the board. I thought the time was perfect to tell him why I came late but he wasn’t done talking;
“Go and look at the final layout designs. We need to peer those two VPCs of last night and we will need a bastion host to SSH into the test VM at no promote stage. Confirm the internal and external load balancer, the two health checks and for Christ sake Chinedu is yet to set up the Stackdriver monitoring chart. Also ensure that all APIs are confirmed. I need application layer network setup and I need you to reserve a static address. See, just go and use my account to check that everything is as presented. I am counting on you.” He concluded as he followed one of the senior developers out of the room. Lanre has a British accent; he speaks like he has hot beans in his mouth. And if you are wondering how on earth a human being like me would process all that he just said, allow me inform you that I always put my phone on voice recording mode at the point of entry into the office. After recording, I play at a reduced speed — sometimes I play it twice.
A lot of people think our job is easy because all we do is sit down and send commands to a data center somewhere I do not know. But really, they have no idea that we are the endpoints of the whole process, we are the ones that have to deploy applications and stay up to monitor error loggings and CPU utilizations. We are the one that have to troubleshoot even the codes written by Devs. It is far from easy, and as much as people in Devs look down on us, I really do not want to ever consider going into Devs — e get why.
Anyways, I found my way to the seat of the CTO of my company, headphones plugged in and thinking; “How on earth am I supposed to remember how to peer VPCs? What about bastion host? I can’t remember those steps…”
But then again, that is why we have search engines right?
To be continued… or not.
Before I forget, this is a work of fiction. The characters are fictional, except Musa who used to be my Okada plug at Law School Bus Stop.