Marty joined Kainos as a technical consultant in 2009, Marty has been working in the IT industry for over 18 years holding a wide range of roles – developer, engineer, consultant and architect. Marty is currently working as a Cloud Migration Architect and is the Azure Tech Lead in Kainos. Read more about him and what an average week looks like below.
Getting started in the industry
I have been working for Kainos since 2009, starting as a Microsoft technical consultant. I have held several IT roles since finishing university in 2002 including web developer, systems engineer, consultant and technical architect. My current role is as a Cloud Migration Architect this is a role I really enjoy as it calls on my wide range of experience. I have been working with Azure since 2015 and I am the cloud technical lead for Azure within Kainos. It’s been tremendous helping our Azure capability grow from managing one VM to now being a leading Microsoft partner. Since starting Kainos I have worked closely with over 60 customers designing solutions from on-premises to pure PaaS solutions.
Working in systems and infrastructure, through the advancements in cloud and automation to where I am today has given me a strong sense of context. I firmly believe that to be a good cloud migration architect, you need to understand the legacy/heritage before even trying to help someone migrate to the new. This is a key part of the role and without it, you could lose sight of important functionality. We want to further build our team of people who have been on a real journey with cloud. We really value the context here at Kainos. There isn’t any such thing as a typical week here – take a look at my week just past for a taste of what I did!
On Monday, I took part in a capability building day with some of our Cloud and Infrastructure leadership. We had a day out of the office where we looked at the future of the organisation and the individuals within it. This allowed us to put together things like training plans and career development plans for people in the capability to ensure we have the right skills, take a look at where the future is taking us and hear some interesting presentations from other people in the Cloud capability. It was a great chance to take time out from customer engagements and really focus on the future, forward planning for the next generation, ensuring that we’re ready for it at scale. We’re really excited about the future that serverless will bring in terms of cost savings for us and our customers, and it’s a cool challenge to get to grips with.
Tuesday – Thursday
I spent the core part of my week with my customer on site. They’re currently in the middle of an engagement and we’re finalising the last parts of the design, we’ve now agreed the tooling and are working on the timelines.
As background to this, I should explain the structure of my customer engagements. The biggest piece of my role is working with a customer to understand and solve their business need. Therefore our ‘discovery phases’ are really important. In projects like mine, we have a different outlook than the traditional delivery definition of a ‘discovery’. It’s about understanding the existing estate. What we’ve found is that most customers have grown organically – often there isn’t much documentation, people know things, own things and sometimes leave the business taking their knowledge with them – it’s accepted that things just ‘run’. My team’s challenge is to understand and get to grips with these problems, what type of tooling is being used and what the real needs of the organisation are now, not just replacing a system as-is because it’s there. This includes detailed costing, the journey, and getting the right people in place with the customer. Because we take this so seriously and want to get it right up front, sometimes this learning, planning and design phase can take up to 60% of the time and the actual migration happens much quicker!
And what did that actually look like? Planning sessions, meeting with technology leaders and also people from across the business to understand the context in which we are operating to facilitate activities such as agreeing downtime and interruption to services so that our plans don’t affect the customer’s day to day business, and really ensuring that the team are ready to deliver. It’s an exciting time in the project but it’s very important for me to be there on site to ensure that I can work with the delivery teams and the stakeholders to ensure smooth kick off of the migration.
While I’m onsite I spend some time working alongside our engineering teams too, Cloud Engineers and Application Architects – the teams are small, but effective. Usually mentoring them and chatting through any problems or challenges. Typically, I’ll spend three days on-site and the other two days in Belfast in HQ or working from home. Working from home is so important to me and it’s great that Kainos can offer it so flexibly. It means I can see my kids off to nursery and spend some quality time together once I collect them while still doing a full day’s work and not getting stuck in traffic while I do it!
I work closely with our recruitment team at the moment as we are building out our Cloud capability. So we’re working on plans for ensuring our junior staff get the right development, as well as the right skill profiles for new staff at all levels. I also met the sales teams, to chat through a customer problem, and try to identify the right answer for them.
After my meetings on Friday, I went with a big group of Kainos colleagues down to Serverless Days Belfast. It’s the first Serverless conference to be held here so we were really excited to attend this sold out event. The talks were excellent and the networking with other cloud and infrastructure professionals was really brilliant. We learned a lot. There are a lot of these across the year – my favourites in terms of ‘fun’ would be Microsoft ignite, which I attended last year with a couple of others from the team. Ongoing learning and community engagement is encouraged for people at all levels here which is fantastic.
Interested in working as a Cloud Migration Architect?
My advice would be to spend the time to understand cloud platforms and their power. There are some really in-depth certifications with Microsoft and Amazon – if you’re able to bring this into the working day and look at a system from end to end, that separates the good from the great, that’s what we’re looking for – people who are really curious about what cloud can do and want to explore how to apply it for customers.
A broad exposure to tech is key; knowledge of networking and applications is also important, but experience is vital. To be a great migration architect you need to have your finger on the pulse of the latest tech. Stay hungry for learning and always make sure you’re ready to jump on opportunities to use something new and improve a product, service or system.
At Kainos we’re always looking into new tech, scoping things out and staying interested. It helps us inform our customers and help them. For me, it’s this tech agnostic culture and the level of autonomy that I think keeps me so engaged with Kainos, and that means I look forward to going to work. If you think you sound like our next Cloud Migration Architect, why not check out the current opportunities open around the UK?