Interview with Jen Tong

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.

Avatar

Written by

Paul Carlstroem

Paul loves narrative. He enjoys the satisfaction of telling simple, compelling stories about complex topics. He has worked for McGraw-Hill Education, Springer Business and Media, and other STM organization. He has enjoyed navigating the exciting changes in the computer, technical and educational publishing industry during periods of great disruption. It is Paul’s strong belief that solving a problem is only part of the story.


Related Posts

Avatar
Cloud Academy Team
— July 9, 2020

Which Certifications Should I Get?

As we mentioned in an earlier post, the old AWS slogan, “Cloud is the new normal” is indeed a reality today. Really, cloud has been the new normal for a while now and getting credentials has become an increasingly effective way to quickly showcase your abilities to recruiters and compan...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Computing
  • Google Cloud Platform
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— July 2, 2020

New Content: AWS, Azure, Typescript, Java, Docker, 13 New Labs, and Much More

This month, our Content Team released a whopping 13 new labs in real cloud environments! If you haven't tried out our labs, you might not understand why we think that number is so impressive. Our labs are not “simulated” experiences — they are real cloud environments using accounts on A...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— June 19, 2020

Kickstart Your Tech Training With a Free Week on Cloud Academy

Are you looking to make a jump in your technical career? Want to get trained or certified on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, DevOps, Kubernetes, Python, or another in-demand skill?Then you'll want to mark your calendar. Starting Monday, June 22 at 12:00 a.m. PDT (3:00 a.m. EDT), ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • cloud academy content
  • complimentary access
  • GCP
  • on the house
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— June 11, 2020

New Content: AZ-500 and AZ-400 Updates, 3 Google Professional Exam Preps, Practical ML Learning Path, C# Programming, and More

This month, our Content Team released tons of new content and labs in real cloud environments. Not only that, but we introduced our very first highly interactive "Office Hours" webinar. This webinar, Acing the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification, started with a quick overvie...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Rebecca Willis
Rebecca Willis
— June 3, 2020

Azure vs. AWS: Which Certification Provides the Brighter Future?

More and more companies are using cloud services, prompting more and more people to switch their current IT position to something cloud-related. The problem is most people only have that much time after work to learn new technologies, and there are plenty of cloud services that you can ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • certification
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— June 2, 2020

Blog Digest: 5 Reasons to Get AWS Certified, OWASP Top 10, Getting Started with VPCs, Top 10 Soft Skills, and More

Thank you for being a valued member of our community! We recently sent out a short survey to understand what type of content you would like us to add to Cloud Academy, and we want to thank everyone who gave us their input. If you would like to complete the survey, it's not too late. It ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • OWASP
  • OWASP Top 10
  • Security
  • VPCs
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— May 11, 2020

New Content: Alibaba, Azure Cert Prep: AI-100, AZ-104, AZ-204 & AZ-400, Amazon Athena Playground, Google Cloud Developer Challenge, and much more

This month, our Content Team released 8 new learning paths, 4 courses, 7 labs in real cloud environments, and 4 new knowledge check assessments. Not only that, but we introduced our very first course on Alibaba Cloud, and our expert instructors are working 'round the clock to create 6 n...

Read more
  • alibaba
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • gitops
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • lab playground
  • programming
Avatar
Rhonda Martinez
— May 4, 2020

Top 5 Reasons to Get AWS Certified Right Now

Cloud computing trends are on the rise and have been for some time already. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start learning cloud computing. Skills like AWS and others associated with cloud computing are in high demand because cloud technologies have become crucial for many businesse...

Read more
  • Amazon Elastic Book Store
  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
  • Glacier
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— May 1, 2020

Introducing Our Newest Lab Environments: Lab Playgrounds

Want to train in a real cloud environment, but feel slowed down by spinning up your own deployments? When you consider security or pricing costs, it can be costly and challenging to get up to speed quickly for self-training. To solve this problem, Cloud Academy created a new suite of la...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Docker
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Java
  • lab playgrounds
  • Python
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— April 30, 2020

Blog Digest: AWS Breaking News, Azure DevOps, AWS Study Guide, 8 Ways to Prevent a Ransomware Attack, and More

  New articles by topicAWS Azure Data Science Google Cloud  Cloud Adoption Platform Updates & New Content Security Women in TechAWSBreaking News: All AWS Certification Exams Now Available Online As an Advanced AWS Technology Partner, C...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • programming
  • Security
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— April 27, 2020

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate: A Study Guide

Want to take a really impactful step in your technical career? Explore the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certificate. Its new version (SAA-C02) was released on March 23, 2020, though you can still take SAA-C01 through July 1, 2020. This post will focus on version SAA-C02.The AWS...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— April 9, 2020

New on Cloud Academy: AWS Solutions Architect Exam Prep, Azure Courses, GCP Engineer Exam Prep, Programming, and More

Free content on Cloud Academy More and more customers are relying on our technology and content to keep upskilling their people in these months, and we are doing our best to keep supporting them. While the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to make a small contribution to he...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • programming