Interview with Ameet Sarvaiya & Joaquim Rovira & Mihai Balaci
Meet Ameet Svaiya, Senior Product Manager, Joaquim Rovira, principal developer and Mihai Balai, Senior Engineering Manager at Booking.com at this year’s Swiss Testing Day and DevOps Fusion. In this interview they share their backgrounds and interests.
Ameet, you are a Senior Product Manager… What does a Senior Product Manager do?
Product managers are the glue of the company connecting the business requirements into roadmap, epic, story and action! As a senior product manager I have the opportunity to not only influence the products I am directly involved with but also influence that of others within the track / department and company. I also have the opportunity to work with product managers to help them define their vision as well as work towards a common vision / plan and roadmap. Being involved in reliability the scope of the product / programs are far reaching and I have the opportunity to be deeply involved in defining the policies, process and product to support these. My work also provides me the opportunity to work with everyone from engineers to leadership and advise / assist them in adopting devOps and reliability practices. Having a wide and far reaching role is deploy satisfying and interesting to be able to be in charge of the change management and seeing its success!
Mihai, you are a Sr. Engineering Manager at Booking.com… Can you tell us a bit about your path to becoming a Sr. Engineering Manager at Booking.com?
In 1992 my grandpa changed my life. He brought home an Amiga A600 computer. That was the moment when I became interested in learning computers and my journey started. During university, I decided to go into business: selling PC components and designing small structured networks (˜2005). After University, I interviewed for a german company in Munich and this is where I met the mighty Solaris (running on Sparc) and FreeBSD @ scale for that time. After a period of living in Munich and a lot of learning, I decided to come back in glory to my home town and open a consultancy company. Then the 2008 crisis came and I lost all my money. I then decided to move the Bucharest and accept a job for IBM where I spend 6.5 years working as a software engineer for the Tivoli software stack on Solaris/AIX/Linux. As I mostly worked from home I started to learn and finally teach VMware vSphere which lead my way to containers. Once I discover Doker I needed to make a change and I left the Big Blue and joined a video game company named Ubisoft. I was leading the OPS teams in EMEA for 1 year then Ii moved to Singapore to lead the OPS teams in APAC. In the need of bringing dev and ops closer, I experimented with the Spotify squad model. Learning about DevOps I discovered the Google SRE book. The book changed my view on how to support services in production in a more efficient way. I decided I need to try this so I pursue Adobe’s offer for SRE Manager in Bucharest. It was an amazing experience and an accelerated learning curve. After 3 years of an embedded SRE mode and Incident Response as a company-wide practice, I felt ready for a new challenge: leading the SRE organization and practices @ Booking.com. There are so many things I learn every day. I am grateful for such an amazing journey 🙂
Joaquim (principal engineer), what is the most interesting aspect of your job?
When I joined Booking.com many years ago, I was instantly seduced by many aspects of my job: the scale and growth was exciting, and so was the tiny gap between product people, development and production. That was over 8 years ago, and much has changed since then. We are a much more mature giant nowadays, with all the good and bad things: even more scale, more technologies, lots of smart colleagues, but also more responsibilities, a lot more complexity, and a whole new set of needs when it comes to orchestration of our production environment. The life of an SRE in the company is a constant arms race against ourselves, updating best practises, helping people and products, and changing the ways we deal with our toil. Who could seriously get bored with that?
How is SLO relevant to your role?
Over time, Booking.com has gone through transformations due to its growth in technology and the organization. When we were smaller, agreements were simple and cheap to maintain, and few formalities were required between production, development and the business.
Nowadays, we live in a much more diverse environment, as the number of services continues to grow exponentially and we have much more autonomous groups within the organization.
This is great, but comes with its own challenges. It became apparent that we needed a shift in our culture to accommodate new ways of collaboration. The first symptoms of this problem were around language. Different people would describe their service’s performance and reliability using a multitude of different metrics and terminology.
Adopting SLOs provided us with the common language on which we could build a culture shift towards SRE. It has become the framework through which expectations could be clearly set, and negotiated between teams, as well as a key tool for teams to prioritize their work and balance between toil and development.