Meet our @DevTalks speakers Teno Ahonen - Senior Staff Engineer II, Production Engineering at Liftoff+Vungle

For 3 days, the DevTalks conference provides an excellent platform to keep you up-to-date with the latest industry trends, bringing technical communities together, where the most important local and international key leaders share their knowledge and contribute to the future of the tech industry. At DevTalks 2022, you will have the chance to meet Tero Ahonen - Senior Staff Engineer II, Production Engineering at Liftoff+Vungle on DevOps Stage / 8th of June.

#Looking at your LinkedIn profile, I saw the introduction:

Promote open source wherever I can and help organizations to stop wasting money on bad IT projects and operations. Applications should be exploded to services and services should use containers not virtual machines or cloud instances.  

Can you elaborate on how to stop wasting money? Maybe you could give some examples.

The content in the LinkedIn profile is old but still valid, which is kind of sad. I have seen a lot of organizations wasting money on bad IT projects. There are so many ways to waste money. In my opinion, one of the biggest /dev/null for money is building something in-house that is already available for example, as Open Source Software. Organizations are sometimes afraid of OSS and instead build in-house than consume OSS. If and when OSS components have been used, all customizations and modifications are kept in-house in their own forks. Keeping the fork up-to-date with the upstream is hard, especially when software security is under constant stress. It is also hard to develop and maintain in-house code. 

 

Use OSS when you can and but understand licenses in use. If you need to change, try to contribute changes back to the upstream. Contributing is not easy, and it requires support from the organization, but it is always worth it.

 

One really important thing is to get serious from the beginning. What I mean is to think about proper CI/CD and operations from the beginning. Those are really important things since the majority of the workaround software project happens when the project is ready. When you have proper automation in place from the beginning it makes the project way more manageable in the future.

 

#How did your earlier career choices lead you to where you are now? Talking about fast and accurate delivery, by combining architectural skills, programming and project management skills.

I have always tried to pursue things that interest me. If not directly related to my work, then I have had to learn things on my own time. After learning new things, I utilize these learnings in my work. This method has kept me up-to-date in the fast-moving IT industry and I have managed to move from just Java coding to containers, cloud, and automation and finally utilize all that I have learned in DevOps and Production Engineering. 

It is too easy to stay where you are and get used to the situation. That can be dangerous since the industry moves so quickly and you might actually get bored. Look for challenges that are outside your comfort zone. One customer once said to me “When things don't go as planned, then you learn.”

#What is your current role and responsibilities at Vungle?

I work in the Production Engineering team our main focus is to help engineering teams to move faster and produce better quality. What does this include? Everything from automation tooling, CI/CD, scanning, building, monitoring, and of course metrics and feedback loop. Working in our team is really interesting and I would say dynamic. IT varies from data transfer planning in the public cloud to implementing CI/CD and to troubleshooting production incidents...BTW we are hiring ;)

#Was your formal education, for example, University of Eastern Finland, as important for where you are now, as is self-learning and the trainings provided by the companies you worked for? 

Education is really important, but not in the sense that it makes you ready for a job. You learn very important things like technical and academic writing and also learn to rely on valid sources. It also teaches you critical thinking and teamwork which are really important after you graduate. 

 

Actually, job in IT industry you only learn by working. I worked part-time when I was at the University. That helped me a lot in my studies since a was able to put some concrete context around the academic studies I was going through.

 

#Moving on to your keynote: Shifting left is the new black in DevOps (testing, security, costs), how will you align your speech to the company vision and strategy (tools and metrics)?

At Liftoff+Vungle core is business is based on code. To get better we have to write better and smarter code. To write good quality code engineering teams need to have more control over the software development process. Quality can be measured on so many levels. Good quality might mean a lot of things depending on the project and service. When the engineering team has control of the development process, team can tune the process so that it works best on the project at hand.

 

How we see shifting left in our organization is that engineering teams will have more control over what they do between new feature requests and releases. The goal is to remove as many dependencies external to the team as possible. Outside dependencies usually add extra noise and can cause bottlenecks. When the engineering team has been given certain boundaries like security requirements and SLO/SLA requirements, it should be up to the team what they will do to stay within those boundaries. Production Engineering team where I work the primary responsibility is to help teams with tooling and culture to stay within those boundaries.

 

#Three keys ideas that the participants can learn/ take from your talks.

A big part of every change is about culture and ways of working. You cannot force ways of working on engineering teams. You have to provide guidance and then let engineering teams learn their own team culture.

 

Culture is a big part of DevOps but not everything. You will also need tooling and tooling needs to suit your needs. Don’t just select tooling based on buzzwords or the number of Google searches. Evaluate, study and do proofs-of-concept so that you will select the best tool for your needs.

 

Monitoring and metrics are the key parts of the tooling because all top-performing teams know how they are performing. If there is no metering in place it is really hard to get better since you don’t know when you are better. Before changes try to do some measurements of how you are performing. Otherwise, change is really hard to measure.

 

#Who/ where do you look up to for inspiration? And what would you say to inspire a young talent that is just starting his/ her journey?

I look up for inspiration from everywhere but don’t have so-called idols. There are a lot of inspirational people in the IT industry and you can fill your whole day just listening to good quality industry podcasts. In my opinion, you will get a good idea of where the industry is going when you follow those who are visiting the shows. I try to follow those podcast guests and check what they are doing.

 

I have huge respect for the people who work in and contribute to Open Source projects. Most of the time those contributions are not backed up by enterprises but people are contributing because they can and they are willing to share. I encourage everyone to contribute to OSS, it is not as hard as it seems and there are also low-hanging fruits that are easy starting points for new contributors. You can always start for example contributing to documentation.

 

As a young talent be proud what you know and what you have done but don’t be afraid about things you don’t know. I learn every day new things I don’t know. The industry is moving so fast that it is virtually impossible to know everything. Be honest to yourself and acknowledge what you don’t know and ask for help if you need it. It is never a bad thing to search for help.

 

 

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