12/04/2023

Meet Neil, our Senior Cloud Engineer

Meet Neil Hewitt. He’s worked at Propel Tech as our Senior Cloud Engineer for almost two years, and has two decades of working across a variety of engineering, architecture and developer roles under his belt. 

Discover what Neil enjoys most about cloud development, how he’s witnessed three-week lead times become a thing of the past, and why he’s all too aware that hackers never sleep… 

What are your favourite aspects of Cloud Engineering

“Speed at which a solution can be designed and infrastructure provisioned. Prior to the emergence of Cloud Hyperscalers, the same outcome would have meant a three-month lead time and a half-day trip to the networking room to physically rack the server and cable it up.” 

Describe your journey to becoming a Cloud Engineer

“I’ve worked a variety of roles over the years since graduating in 1991. During this time, I have been a mainframe developer using assembly language, Oracle/Sybase DBA, C/C++/VB/.Net/Java/Go/Ruby/Javascript developer, platform lead, performance and scalability engineer and architect, technical consultant, ITDD, DevOps engineer. For me, cloud development is the natural convergence of all these disciplines.

I also helped run a large on-premise data centre (essentially a private cloud), pre-dating the launch of AWS, and rolled out applications using in-house designed automation tooling - even before Cloud/DevOps became a thing.”

Is there such a thing as a typical day? 

“Variety is one of the things I enjoy most about my job as there is no “typical day”. But it can often involve investigating and solving production issues, estimating new work and enhancements, developing automation scripts, systems integration, or supporting a production roll-out, for example.”

What about typical challenges? 

“These generally revolve around upgrading legacy applications, frameworks and security posture, whilst maintaining platform stability. This is a never-ending process, as hackers never sleep.”

What programmes and providers do you use? 

“Core infrastructure for most clients is based on AWS using multiple services, for example; Route 53, CloudFront, ALB, Beanstalk + Docker, Lambda, Fargate, ECS, Aurora MySQL Serverless, Aurora PostgreSQL clusters, Elasticsearch, Storage Gateway, S3), all driven by BitBucket CI/CD pipelines.

The principal automation system uses Terraform in conjunction with a stack-based configuration framework based on Ruby/YAML.”

 One thing you have developed during your time at Propel Tech. 

“Prioritising collaboration and communication between developers, operations teams, and other stakeholders. This approach aims to foster a culture of shared responsibility, trust, and continuous learning. 

A recent project I’m most proud of is Allsop's corporate website – due to the scale of infrastructural advancement and number of moving parts that relied on collaboration and communication.” 

What advice would you give to someone wishing to work in Cloud engineering? 

“Ensure you understand the fundamentals of networking, storage, and compute. Familiarise yourself with the main Cloud platforms; specifically their services, pricing models, and best practices. And, build something Cloud-native - this will help you to understand the unique challenges and opportunities presented by Cloud development.” 

Connect with Neil. 

Author: Neil Hewitt
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12/04/2023

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