Getting to Know... Abdullah Katerji, DevOps Engineer
The IT professionals at GRM Digital are dedicated to making sure our clients can rest assured that their websites and software products are secure and fully operational. DevOps engineer Abdullah Katerji is one of the men who make this a reality. This week, we had a chance to speak with him and find out what he has to say about his role at a digital agency. Let’s have a look!
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us, Abdullah! Let’s start with an overview of what the DevOps role at GRM Digital entails.
Well, there are positions that involve very straightforward tasks and go from point A to point B, but that’s not the case with DevOps. A DevOps engineer has a variety of things to consider on a daily basis. The name itself is a fusion of “development” and “operations,” so that already reveals a bit of what my position means.
In terms of GRM Digital specifically, I’m actually the only DevOps engineer, so my role isn’t particularly similar to anyone else’s in the agency. However, for successful fulfilment of DevOps tasks, close collaboration with other departments is a must, so teamwork is nevertheless an essential part of my work.
Some of my everyday responsibilities are creating and maintaining client security systems, system improvements, assisting developers in the deployment process, ensuring product quality (in collaboration with QA engineers), and prompt elimination of any problems that may occur.
Thank you for this introduction to DevOps. Now, what would you point out as the most important aspects of your role? What are the specific steps you complete as part of your work?
The key aspect of my role is ensuring that every website, service and application is fully functional 24/7. I have to make sure that whatever we deliver to clients is online at any time of the day, and that any issues are dealt with immediately.
It’s worth pointing out that security is one of my top concerns as a DevOps engineer, since security issues can often have large-scale effects on businesses, especially in the case of big organisations, like our clients Danone and Ingersoll Rand, for example.
The specific tasks I complete are creating infrastructure of different sorts (for example cloud, hybrid or on-premise), setting up and monitoring log services and alerts for key services, processes such as CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous delivery – a set of coding operations which allows faster, more reliable code changes), and finally, securing apps, serves and networks.
But if we want to evade all the complex terminology, we can say that my responsibility is to analyse systems, perform regular maintenance, troubleshoot when necessary, test processes to minimise errors, and come up with improvements that’ll streamline our clients’ operations and IT solutions.
The ultimate goal of the entire GRM team is to provide products and services that our clients can fully trust and rely on. Aside from complete security, everything I do as a DevOps engineer is meant to give organisations the ability to be proactive, save time, cut operational costs and increase revenue as a result. Therefore, the focus of my work is providing high performance, full security, reduced risk of failure and an increased recovery rate.
You’ve been working at GRM Digital for about 11 months now. But how did you originally get into the world of web development and digital marketing?
As is the case with most of my co-workers, my interest for the IT industry dates back to my school days. It has always seemed like the right fit for me, and it was obvious that IT would be the most future-proof professional field to get into as well. I began researching web development, and in high school I had already begun building systems and testing them for security.
I have always loved being involved in the complete process of the task at hand. So, even when something isn’t technically part of my job, I still like to see and analyse how it works from start to finish. This does come in handy for my current role, because as a DevOps engineer, I have to maintain an overview of all processes in order to fulfil my responsibilities as effectively as possible.
When it comes to work experience, I started in administration and security positions, but then I decided to move further. I was looking for a company which could offer professional stability, but at the same time allow flexibility in the sense that there is enough space for self-development. As a member of Bit Alliance, GRM Digital seemed like a good place to approach, so I did, and I’ve been here ever since.
What does a typical career path for someone in DevOps look like? And what do you think are the essential skills a solid DevOps engineer should have?
The DevOps path is a lap of different types of technologies and procedures. At the beginning of my professional journey, I worked as a network administrator and made sure to gain as much practical knowledge as possible in that area.
Then I moved on to a sysadmin position where I worked with local clients. It was then that I was able to grasp how important thorough communication with clients really is. No matter your expertise, the delivery won’t be up to par unless you put clients first and really listen to them.
I’ve also worked as a security analyst, where my main task was working on infrastructure and application security. Each position I’ve held has been immensely valuable to my problem-solving competency, which is at the heart of any DevOps engineer’s skillset.
A solid DevOps engineer definitely needs to be able to break complex problems down into small bits, and enjoy doing so. It can get very complicated, so if one has no passion to do it, perhaps DevOps isn’t the right field for them. I’d also say that eagerness to learn about a wide array of tools, techniques, architecture and communication styles is an important characteristic, as well as the desire to be up to date with new technologies in the industry.
Have you completed any qualifications? If so, how has that improved your delivery to GRM clients?
Since security is my main concern, I have obtained several certificates precisely in that field. The training I’ve undergone has definitely contributed to the delivery to GRM clients, as it has helped me hone my skills and find the most effective way to look at each individual problem and find the best possible solution.
It’s worth pointing out that the GRM team members are actually able to access a variety of training programs and courses on an ongoing basis. The world of digital marketing and web development is a very dynamic one and it’s essential to keep up with it in order to reach a high level of customer satisfaction, which is our top priority.
Customers are the driving force behind any business, and the more we develop our knowledge and competencies, the better we are able to meet, and even exceed, the expectations and demands of our clients and establish long-standing partnerships with them.
Do you ever come across challenges with clients and with your team? If so, how do you successfully overcome these challenges?
Challenges are part of any job, but what matters is how you approach them. The essence of a job well done is communication, especially in the case of a DevOps engineer, as my tasks are closely tied to the work that other departments do. We attach importance to healthy and effective communication, and I can say we have a very strong sense of teamwork.
When it comes to clients, coming to a clear end vision is usually the biggest challenge, and I think most people in the business will tell you the same thing. Oftentimes clients aren’t quite sure what exactly they’re aiming for, so we put effort into thoroughly discussing with them so that we can see eye to eye on the expectations, possibilities, requirements and potential results.
We approach each project with the utmost patience and pay attention to all the details so that we can ensure pleasant cooperation and satisfaction on both ends.
Could you share with us what it is that you enjoy the most about being a DevOps engineer? And what motivates you to go above and beyond at work?
What I enjoy the most about my position is the ability to contribute to the big picture and delivery to clients. It’s very rewarding to be an indispensable part of the story, knowing that my share of the work really matters to the end goal.
At the same time, this is the main source of my motivation. As a DevOps engineer, you have to have a strong desire to achieve the best possible result, and the professional success that comes from that is what drives me to put maximum effort into my responsibilities towards my team and our clients.