I met Jen Tong at a game developer’s conference in San Francisco.
Jenny is a Developer Advocate on Cloud at Google. In this role, she helps developers build cool stuff on all sorts of platforms. Previously she worked in a wide variety of software roles from robotics at NASA, to developer advocacy for Google Glass. Jen Tong is passionate about education, especially on the subjects of technology and science.
Google fascinates many of us because they seem to do everything. They have changed the way many of us work, travel, play, and even think. Google appears to be taking an aggressive approach to their cloud program. Bloomberg reports that Google plans on opening some 12 new data centers in the next 18 months.
I put a few questions to Jen in an informal interview about some topics that should interest people interested in working in and around the cloud.
Jen, you are a Developer Advocate and that might mean a lot of different things to different people. Could you tell me how you interpret your role at Google?
The tag line I use, is that I help people cause trouble with code. In practical terms, this means that I help developers get the most out of cloud computing through conference talks, blog posts, workshops, and more.
Then, I take the lessons I learn from them back to Google to improve Google Cloud Platform. That way, developers can build even more awesome stuff.
What drew your interests to distributed computing in general and Google Cloud Platform in specific?
Cloud computing makes difficult tasks easier and brings some previously impossible things within reach. I get a lot of satisfaction out of people I work with accomplishing great things.
So, contributing to cloud computing seemed like a good fit.
Do you want to call out some features you believe differentiate Google Cloud Platform from other cloud services like AWS and Azure?
Everyone’s computing situation and challenges are different, so I always encourage people to take advantage of free trials and give several options a spin.
It’s worth investing a couple weeks to see who has the features and nonfunctional capabilities that will fit your needs best.
I spend a lot of time playing around with IoT and big data workloads. In that space people seem to get a lot of value out of BigQuery’s flexibility, Bigtable’s scalability, and the simple pricing of Preemptible VMs.
Can you speak about any coming features that will substantially change the way cloud developers think about their work?
I can’t speak much to the future, but I’ve already seen cloud computing change the way people think about their work.
Before cloud computing, dealing with inconsistent loads was a big challenge. If you didn’t buy enough hardware, you’d fail to absorb the spikes. If you bought too much, you’d waste money.
Cloud computing allows us all to share a larger pool of resources. This really hits home the first time you spin up a Hadoop cluster for 35 minutes to run a single map reduce job, and then tear it down when you’re done. Only paying for the resources you use makes it much easier to get answers quickly without letting a bunch of hardware sit idle most of the time.
Massive infrastructure investment and new features signal big growth. As this ecosystem expands, it sounds like there is growing opportunity for people with the right skills. Are there any skill-sets that particularly stand out as in-demand?
I haven’t seen any big shifts in the relative demand for skills that I can attribute to the rise in cloud computing. But, I have observed one interesting thing: small teams sure do seem productive these days.
I’ve witnessed a lot of smaller teams launch bigger things than would have been possible a few years ago. I’m very excited by this trend.
There are a lot of technical resources available for learning about Google Cloud Platform. Which ones do you employ most and why?
We do indeed live in a world with lots of options for technical resources. I have a pattern that I tend to follow for all new software, including cloud technologies.
I start by focusing on getting a simple use case working. For Google Cloud Platform, I’d start by looking for a quick start in the docs or simple sample app on GitHub.
Once I have that working, I’ll circle back and read some of the developer docs. I find that the quick start gives me the valuable context that makes the most of my reading time.
As I move on to solving real problems, I enviably use web search and stack overflow to find specific answers to specific questions.
Many IT professionals acquire the skills for their positions by sheer force of will, others enjoy organized training. Which camp are you in?
For me it’s a mix. If I’m learning something completely new, I might start from training or classes. Their structure helps me even my pace and forces me to cover the fundamentals before I get too deep in.
On the other hand, if I already have similar knowledge, I prefer to learn solo. I come up with a project I’d like to accomplish, and then fumble around until I get it working. I find that I learn a lot of interesting detail along the way.
Two New EC2 Instance Types Announced at AWS re:Invent 2018 – Monday Night Live
Let’s look at what benefits these two new EC2 instance types offer and how these two new instances could be of benefit to you. Both of the new instance types are built on the AWS Nitro System. The AWS Nitro System improves the performance of processing in virtualized environments by...
Google Cloud Certification: Preparation and Prerequisites
Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has evolved from being a niche player to a serious competitor to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. In 2018, research firm Gartner placed Google in the Leaders quadrant in its Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service for the first time. In t...
Understanding AWS VPC Egress Filtering Methods
Security in AWS is governed by a shared responsibility model where both vendor and subscriber have various operational responsibilities. AWS assumes responsibility for the underlying infrastructure, hardware, virtualization layer, facilities, and staff while the subscriber organization ...
S3 FTP: Build a Reliable and Inexpensive FTP Server Using Amazon’s S3
Is it possible to create an S3 FTP file backup/transfer solution, minimizing associated file storage and capacity planning administration headache?FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a fast and convenient way to transfer large files over the Internet. You might, at some point, have conf...
Microservices Architecture: Advantages and Drawbacks
Microservices are a way of breaking large software projects into loosely coupled modules, which communicate with each other through simple Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).Microservices have become increasingly popular over the past few years. The modular architectural style,...
What Are Best Practices for Tagging AWS Resources?
There are many use cases for tags, but what are the best practices for tagging AWS resources? In order for your organization to effectively manage resources (and your monthly AWS bill), you need to implement and adopt a thoughtful tagging strategy that makes sense for your business. The...
How to Optimize Amazon S3 Performance
Amazon S3 is the most common storage options for many organizations, being object storage it is used for a wide variety of data types, from the smallest objects to huge datasets. All in all, Amazon S3 is a great service to store a wide scope of data types in a highly available and resil...
How to Optimize Cloud Costs with Spot Instances: New on Cloud Academy
One of the main promises of cloud computing is access to nearly endless capacity. However, it doesn’t come cheap. With the introduction of Spot Instances for Amazon Web Services’ Elastic Compute Cloud (AWS EC2) in 2009, spot instances have been a way for major cloud providers to sell sp...
What are the Benefits of Machine Learning in the Cloud?
A Comparison of Machine Learning Services on AWS, Azure, and Google CloudArtificial intelligence and machine learning are steadily making their way into enterprise applications in areas such as customer support, fraud detection, and business intelligence. There is every reason to beli...
How to Use AWS CLI
The AWS Command Line Interface (CLI) is for managing your AWS services from a terminal session on your own client, allowing you to control and configure multiple AWS services.So you’ve been using AWS for awhile and finally feel comfortable clicking your way through all the services....
AWS Summit Chicago: New AWS Features Announced
Thousands of cloud practitioners descended on Chicago’s McCormick Place West last week to hear the latest updates around Amazon Web Services (AWS). While a typical hot and humid summer made its presence known outside, attendees inside basked in the comfort of air conditioning to hone th...
From Monolith to Serverless – The Evolving Cloudscape of Compute
Containers can help fragment monoliths into logical, easier to use workloads. The AWS Summit New York was held on July 17 and Cloud Academy sponsored my trip to the event. As someone who covers enterprise cloud technologies and services, the recent Amazon Web Services event was an insig...