Admin Code Deploy Collaborate

5 | Written on Fri 03 January 2020. Posted in Posts | Richard Walker

I started 2019 with a new endeavor to revamp my web presence. Using a new domain name, I wanted to quietly polish and build up some new content before publicly promoting the site. The year turned out to be quite a discover mission, re-evaluating my core skills.

One year later, here it is with a new theme and as essential as can be. Today I set out into another new year with much clearer career goals in sight. This post explores my journey in 2019 and concludes with what now lies ahead for me in 2020.


Linux System Administration is my bread and butter. I've done the RHCSA and RHCE certifications twice before. First time round back in 2011 with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6 and second time round in 2016 with RHEL 7. However, my role throughout 2017 became more hands-off, developing leadership and management skills. Joining Red Hat in 2018 was both a career dream come true and a realignment to remain technical, and hopefully leveling-up too.

The IT industry has always been a moving target, but I have to admit it can be challenging to maintain the pace consistently. I put off re-certification knowing the demand it can take. However, as with both times previously, it's hard for me to ignore the boost in confidence it gave me.


The realization has come that I can't say "been there, done that". Its time once again to rediscover my love for the foundations. Linux System Administration is at the core of everything I do. So 2020, and RHEL 8 certification here I come. What's interesting is that the new RHCE exam is Ansible focused, which is more fitting to current times and means I can kill two birds with one stone.

It does seem that "Cloud" is truly here, and here to stay. So in addition to system administration itself, from an infrastructure perspective, I believe specializing in one of "The Big Three" cloud providers is also wise. I've worked a lot with Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and had recent exposure with Azure, but Amazon Web Services (AWS) is still the most prevalent. Therefore, I've also decided to focus on AWS certification.


I had a bee in my bonnet regarding "really" learning how to code and wrote a blog post back in April, waving the flag for Java. Then for reasons, I can't fully recall, I pivoted to learning Go. A real-world coding opportunity then presented itself, and I pivoted a third time.

Django's tag line is "The web framework for perfectionists with deadlines". I had a deadline, and when it came down to doing a real job, it's where I put my trust.

The truth is, it doesn't matter what language you choose for a project. Known sites built on Node.js include PayPal and LinkedIn, built with Spring MVC is Netflix, GitHub with Ruby on Rails, Instagram and Pinterest built with Django.


Sure there can be specific languages suited for certain areas, but when it comes to web development, the critical thing is, what do you know? What language can you be most productive? Which do you enjoy using the most?

For me, after exploring all the aforementioned popular web frameworks, I've decided to stick with what I'm most productive. I may need to dabble from time to time in other languages, but from now on, I'll primarily focus and specialize in Python and Django.


One of the key attractions for working at Red Hat was (and still is) the exposure to OpenShift. I've worked as SysAdmin, nailed configuration management and worked closely with developers, automating environments and deployments. Moving to containers and container orchestration platforms are the ultimate goal for streamlined operations.


However, container adoption is not a trivial exercise. There are learning curves and an evolution process. Starting with Docker or Podman is enough in itself, with OpenShift being the next evolutionary step. Deploying and maintaining OpenShift presents a whole plethora of know-how. And with a developer cap on, consuming the platform presents yet another learning perspective.

I've made good progress with gaining understanding all of this but still feel like there is so much more to master.

Herding the cats

Imagine then, working with teams made up of system administrators, cloud experts, developers, and container platform specialists. All of which are under pressure to implement grand cloud architectures. Companies with big ideas tagged "Digital Transformation". Or in other words, "Time to get our shit together". Today businesses with legacy systems managed prehistorically are panicking. It's more and more challenging for them to deliver competitive change quickly, and they know things need to change.


Therefore, it's even more critical to understand that technology is only half the battle and helping change culture and practice is equally important.


So I begin this new year with clarity. Today working in IT demands more breadth but spread yourself too thin, is there is the risk of becoming "Trick of all trades, master of none"? I know I need to refresh and re-energize in my foundations. I think knowing all the popular cloud providers is necessary but specializing in one is probably a good idea. I know I need to concentrate and belong to one development community. I know I need to master OpenShift. And I know it's culture, collaboration and delivery practices that make it all happen. It was unexpected and it's taken quite some time of self-reflections and rediscovery to arrive at this point. Putting the past behind me, I'm ready to hit the reset button and recalibrate. Build me, my self-confidence and skills back up with the right balance of focus and breadth and even stronger than ever before.


Admin, Code, Deploy and Collaborate.