CLOUD City

Riaz Kapadia

Riaz Kapadia

Enterprise Architect
Syntel
The Journey : Early Days to How I Got Here
I started my career as a C - UNIX developer. Spent close to 5 yrs as a developer and then scaled up to become a technical lead and then finally a technical architect. After that I played a role of a pre - sales cum consulting architect for a few years which gave me good exposure to business and finance angle to the technology. Today, I call myself Enterprise architect and I think the biggest asset of any EA is that he can communicate his solution to a CXO level in a company and also to a developer in a viewpoint they will understand.
Decisions That Mattered
The most important decision I made during my career is to stick to technology ladder and not move into people management. Initially it feels as if people in management track command lots of power and influence but as time goes on you realize there is more fulfillment in technology ladder.
The Turning Points
I would consider two:
  • First one, when I decided to join technical career path. This was more driven by passion then really any deep career thought but looking back I feel it was a very good decision.
  • Secondly, I moved to play a role of a Pre - Sales cum Consulting Architect. This was a reluctant decision as I never considered myself good in selling. Luckily this is when I realized that only being good at technology is of no use. You should be able to relate that technology to all the stakeholders in an organization.
Two Years Down the Line
I feel job of an EA remains the same, irrespective of which company you work for. He has to put his bets on which technology will be best for his organization, convince the same to the signing authorities and make sure it is implemented by the development team.
Work and Role: Then and now
I want to see myself as a technology thought leader in the industry. Not sure if it will happen in couple of years or it will take more time.
What I Learnt Along the Way
The most important lesson I have learnt in my professional life is that communication is very important and for a technologist it becomes the key to success as he has to get his work done without having any direct authority and believe me everyone interprets technology differently and very likely most of them interpret it wrongly.

Changing Days: Lessons Learnt
If I look at people playing my kind or role two decades back, I feel they had the same challenges and they played a similar kind of role. The only difference is that there are number of technologies available right now in the market are many fold but the base fundamentals still remain the same.
Trends to Watch Out For
Presently, I am focused on cloud computing technologies. I feel that finally these technologies will bring the efficiencies which Mainframes has always given us in computing but at the same time ability to leverage the plethora of open source technologies which have come up in last two decades. You should consider cloud as mainframe for masses. Also this will enable new business models and those who are able to create them and market them will make the riches.
My Advice If You are Starting Out
Cloud computing is rapidly evolving so it is possible that what you start working on today i.e. Microsoft Azure, Amazon Webservices, Google Appengine etc. might not be there in market two years down the line. So make sure that you understand the fundamentals behind any cloud technology you focus on as fundamentals will never get lost it will still remain. Also while you are trying to understanding the technology and think on how it can solve todays business problem more efficiently.
Must Focus Areas For the Future
I feel that IAAS market is matured and there is not more to add. So understanding IAAS fundamentals will definitely help. PAAS is something which will shape the near term future as that is the only way providers can differentiate themselves. I would strongly recommend understanding any one of these PAAS platforms i.e. Azure for Microsoft guys, Amazon Webservices or Google Appengine for Java guys.
Do We Need Certifications?
I feel certifications help more on marketability of your resume as compared to real value add. In cloud there are certifications which are tied up to a provider i.e. salesforce certification, Azure certified professional or IBM certified cloud advisor. The problem will all of them is they are biased toward that specific technology and dont always help.

My advice would be thanking to google for providing lots of data easily which is available on internet. Focus on learning the fundamentals as they never change. What I mean by fundamentals is if I say learn a PAAS platform dont just try and learn the APIs it offers but try to understand what different services it offers, what is the best scenarios to use them, what is financially cheaper and when should on use them in a solution.
Books/ Websites I Recommend
Understand services at following websites. I have till now found them to be the best for starters
http://aws.amazon.com/products/ - Go through all the products and understand how it helps, how costly it is and when you should use them?
http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/develop/overview/ - Go through the fundamentals i.e. Application Model, Deploying and Updating Apps, Understanding Cloud Storage, Building Hybrid solutions.
Now try and compare both these offerings. You will be surprised to see how similar they are and they are even similarly priced. This will give a good understanding of what is available in the cloud world. Once you have done this you are on your own to go further in the area of your sub-domain
Last But Not Least
Cloud is like a moving target now, so be prepared to live with ambiguity and half baked solutions. No one will be able to give you one right answer and that is where the fun is.
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