Position spotlight: Staff DevOps Engineer, Developer Enablement
Alex Eftimie, Staff DevOps Engineer, Developer Enablement, joined us three years ago in our Zurich office. In today’s post, he shares how his role has changed since he started, his tasks as a Developer Enablement Engineer, and his advice for those wanting to join the team.
Can you please give us a brief summary of what your job entails?
As a Staff Devops Engineer, Developer Enablement, I’m responsible for empowering developers by providing them with the right tooling to boost productivity.
There are three main focus areas within my role: Operations (20%), Maintenance (20%), and Development (60%). Alongside my fellow Developer Enablement Engineers, we define standards for the way we work and integrate or implement tooling for local and testing environments.
Has your role changed since joining GetYourGuide? If yes, how?
When I joined GetYourGuide 3 years ago, the DevOps group was just one person. My joining actually doubled our capacity. Back then, my mentor Fabio and I were running the show, doing everything from infrastructure management to developer tooling and support.
Over 3 years, the team grew considerably in size and, by the time we reached 6 people, it became clear we could no longer be all-rounders. So, we decided to split the Devops team into two groups: Service Reliability Engineers (SRE) and Developer Enablement (DEN). While the first team continued to design and manage the production infrastructure to support our growth, the second focused on development and testing at scale. Picking the right team was a tough decision since both directions provided exciting challenges, but I happily ended up in DEN.
This year the Devops group (now 12 people) was renamed the Infrastructure group and another team was formed: DI (Data Infrastructure). The goal of this team is to support our Data Engineering group at scale.
How would you describe your team’s working style and dynamic?
We’re a group of three coincidentally all named “Alex” (Ioan Alexandru, Paul Alexandru, and Alexander). Our Slack handle, @den, is possibly the most used alias in our internal communication, so the team and its mission are well established and a true resource.
We enjoy working together; there’s a bunch of laughing during stand-ups and in our meetings in general. We know our strengths and weaknesses and share this up front when interacting with the rest of the organization. We’re blessed to have Mattias, an incredible manager, who gives us enough power and responsibility to self-manage and drive our own growth.
Since we’re all located in Zurich at the moment and most of our clients are in Berlin, we’re looking to grow our team there as soon as possible.
What does an average day as a DEN Engineer look like?
Every day (except Friday when we do planning) starts with a Stand-up. We keep it brief, pointing out blockers or larger-scope changes that might impact the rest of the group. During the first part of the day, we usually schedule meetings, have design discussions, chat with developers, and maintain an open and active community online. Recruiting is also part of the job, but we take turns so we can all share the workload.
In the second part of the day we focus on our OKR (Objectives and Key Results) work, so we keep a low profile on Slack or Bluejeans.
Every second week we share the @operator Slack channel with the rest of the Infrastructure group. Looking over the @operator channel involves handling incoming requests and questions, and we’re very good at it. While we do our best to provide support, our end goal is to empower teams to work and operate without necessarily depending on us.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
There is not one single top challenge that stands out, but rather several:
Understanding engineer needs - We’re all engineers and should speak the same language, but at times we have to ask for clarification. For example, we need to remember to ask, “what is the thing you are trying to achieve?” even when the request is just, “I need you to provide this,” so we can better support the engineers.
Keeping up with technology - Most of our tooling is open source, and we must stay up to date with new releases and trends.
Finding a balance between building stuff and adopting an off-the-shelf solution - It’s easy to fall into the trap of reinventing the wheel, so efforts always need to be evaluated.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
We’re at the heart of the engineering group and we get to shape the best internal practices and impact the way our engineers feel about their work.
For an organization our size, any increase in productivity has a huge impact. Imagine you bump productivity by 10% amongst 100 developers — boom, just like that you have 110 developers.
It’s also rewarding to receive positive feedback and to see our metrics, like the speed of development, the pace and speed of deployments, and overall engineer happiness, go up.
What advice would you have for someone who would like to work as a DEN Engineer at GetYourGuide?
Be prepared for a fun ride! The challenges of yesterday are not the challenges of tomorrow. Expect everyone to know your name (even if it’s something other than Alex) by the second week, and enjoy daily conversations with your stakeholders.
Why is now a good time to join the DEN team in Zurich or Berlin?
We’re tasked with designing and implementing a top class development environment and self-service CI/CD pipelines and testing environments. The ongoing migration from monolithic to microservices will keep you interested and busy, and the daily interaction with mission teams will make sure you’re engaged!
What is your favorite thing about working with GetYourGuide?
It never ever gets boring. I’m surrounded by smart people with whom I enjoy working, and I get to use state of the art technology, all while growing professionally and personally.