It’s been a difficult year for many businesses, not discounting our own, however, we have been fortunate that we have been able to continue to grow. We anticipate that this will continue as we scale internationally, which puts us in a strong position to help even more small businesses! Our passion for collaborating and helping small businesses thrive has only increased as a result of the current crisis and our work is certainly becoming even more interesting.
As a result, it means we’re on the lookout for strong developers to join our team and help us on the incredible journey we have ahead of us. To give a great insight into what it’s like working in our dev team and the type of projects the team has worked on over the past year, I chatted with John, one of our talented DevOps Engineers. It’s always a pleasure speaking with John and I certainly learned a lot about the team’s achievements and the fun John has had along the way - I always thought recruitment was the role for me but maybe, just maybe I’ll see if Jamie (CTO) will have me in the team.
What were you doing before you joined Capital on Tap and how did you come about joining us?
Before Capital On Tap I was working as a DevOps Engineer in another FinTech Company. The company initially started with 20 employees including myself and a lot of responsibilities for managing the hybrid environment rested within the team I was in. However, the rapid expansion of the company over the years changed a lot of key aspects for me. It was at this point Capital On Tap then reached out to me. They had clear and ambitious objectives - grow, scale and revolutionize their current landscape, all while keeping to their principles.
What exciting projects have you been a part of during your time here?/How has the DevOps function changed since you joined?
Over the last year and a half, I have been involved in several high-priority projects that introduced the latest Azure technologies to the existing landscape. One of these promoted the re-architecting of the platform and development lifecycle around the CMS. This involved moving from a rigid server to a resilient, autoscaling web application with a robust content delivery network providing faster site load and response times to any and all customers.
From the very start, one of the main aims for the Engineering team at Capital On Tap and especially myself was to introduce and bolster the use of Infrastructure as Code (IaC). This involved focussing on the migration from PowerShell scripts with DSC code to a more concise and declarative combination of Terraform and Ansible. The ability to create reproducible infrastructure is a powerful tool in an environment where growth is a major objective in all aspects of the business. With the benefit of idempotent code managing our cloud infrastructure, the introduction of pipelines for infrastructure deployments was quickly and easily adopted. As a team, our ability now to deploy an identical environment to any new region, based on the business needs, has expedited our performance.
What do you enjoy most about working at Capital on Tap?
The Ability to approach a new project with its own set of defined requirements and investigate a solution that is only limited by your ingenuity is an enjoyable challenge. There is a range of projects that require, if not the consideration, the prioritisation of the DevOps team.
There is also a strong culture for asking questions. Advocacy for questioning the reasons behind the methods and process, not only for new projects but existing solutions. This open-mindedness pushes the company forward. Clear and transparent architecture-talks on a weekly basis attended by DevOps, Engineering and up to C-suite levels realigns goals and objectives across the board.
What have you found the most challenging?
With the company's goals and priorities, there are also those within the DevOps team At times it has been difficult to juggle the company’s goals and priorities with those of the DevOps’ team. This was at times difficult to manage as they can often be seen as independent from each other. However, with the help of our Mission Teams, we have been able to identify when both are mutually beneficial more and more often.
What does a typical day look like for you at Capital on Tap?
Within the DevOps team, we follow an Agile process for the most part. Starting the day with joining a couple of MT standups, providing a constructive update on the MT’s objectives that involve DevOps. We often have some time for a breakout conversation to discuss the potential solution for certain tasks with both Developers and the team.
Depending on the week, we rotate (within the DevOps team) the release cycle support to the wider Engineering and Product teams. The involvement can vary from assisting a failed deployment or QA testing issues, to more often enough no involvement. Allowing you to continue on the projects and prioritised work.
On average my focus is on investigating, testing and implementing the current priorities agreed either in the Mission Teams or those identified by myself and the DevOps team. This often involves me working with several DevOps CI/CD tools to manage and deploy my code, from Azure DevOps & Team City to Octopus Deploy. Working in an Agile environment, I aim to complete the solutions I provide within a sprint cycle, utilising all necessary CI/CD tools to provision from Development to Production.
With lockdown in full force, we often host DevOps team catchup to discuss queries and issues that any of us may be facing on a particular task. Often accompanied by bad internet. This would usually be supplemented by chats across the table within the office or trips to grab a coffee.
What are you excited about for 2021 at CoT?
Alongside the business objectives for growth to new horizons, there is also the desire to improve the current CoT landscape. One of which is to migrate the current infrastructure solutions on development tasks to advanced technologies. There is a huge range of potential solutions that can be used each with its own benefits and drawbacks. And with the hope of returning to the office, hopefully, sooner rather than later, I look forward to helping Capital On Tap’s advancement and migration from a predominantly server-based infrastructure to a serverless-architecture.
What else have you got involved with at Capital on Tap?
Prior to lockdown, I was a part of the CoT Football team, we played 5-a-side in a local league. With games on a weekly basis, and even internal CoT matches for players of all levels
As a DevOps team, we would also attend several meetups within the local area. After which we would often go over some of the talking points from them and their application to Capital On Tap.
I have also been involved in ‘Lunch and Learns’, progressing the adoption of a DevOps mindset within the Engineering team and wider business. As well as hosting internal ‘Ted Talks’ on Black History Month and my personal experience alongside others in the company, which I really enjoyed.
Tell us more about yourself - what do you like doing in your spare time?
Especially now in lockdown, I have taken it upon myself to gain some technical abilities; I am attempting to learn C# and further my knowledge in Go. On the other hand, I have also been making use of my one exercise a day allowance, often running, cycling or at the least walking the dog as a way to keep my fitness up. However, I must admit I’m looking forward to team sports especially football and rugby as they are my favourite.