#2 DDI, DHCP, IPAM,.. Wait! What!?
*translated from german
Welcome to "My typical Working Day @ siticom", a blog series by and with me, Amelie Weber, in which I interview a colleague from various areas of siticom in each episode about their typical working day. For example, I talk about professional background, responsibilities, opinions on home office or I learn a new foreign language here.
For my second contribution to this series, I have my colleague Lars Bruné, Tech Lead Network Transformation at siticom, as my guest today.
A: Hi Lars, glad it worked out! Please introduce yourself briefly: Who are you? Where are you from? How long have you been with siticom and what are your responsibilities?
L: Hi, I'm Lars and I'm also here. Since the middle of 2018 to be exact 😊. I studied informatics in Bonn, specializing in bioinformatics, and started as a working student at a partner company of siticom, in consulting engineering for voice networks, and then switched to siticom. Now I am mainly working in the area of Network Automation & Cloud. At the moment, my tasks can probably best be described as "Lead Architect & SRE DDI". DDI stands for DNS, DHCP & IPAM. Acronyms in acronyms... We develop and operate a platform for our customers, which on the one hand allows the automated operation and rollout of the DDI infrastructure and on the other hand gives the users the possibility to set the DNS records for their apps via self-service API. The "intent" concept plays a major role here. We try to abstract the "expert knowledge" as far as possible. To stay with the DNS example, a user should not have to explicitly make a request to have www.example.com (example domain) point to IP 1, but should instead be able to say www.example.com should point to all servers/load balancers that have the tag "app-example". We are not quite there yet but on a good way to get there.
Besides that I'm a home at siticom since a few days/weeks now and as such contact person for my "homies" in the everyday topics that arise besides the projects.
A: DDI, DHCP, IPAM,... Wait! What!? And now again for the people who don't know this "foreign language". [laughs] Could you briefly explain to me what exactly DDI, DHCP and IPAM mean?
L: DDI stands for DNS, DHCP & IPAM. DNS is the Domain Named System, so resolving a name into an IP address, for example facebook.com into just the IP address. DHCP is the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, which is also a network protocol that can be used to initially configure network devices. We use this a lot in a large project environment for these zero-touch provisioning things, so that someone screws a router into a rack, it is turned on, and it then configures itself without anyone having to log in manually for the configuration from the network. IPAM is simply IP address management, because IP addresses are a finite resource, you have to take care that they are assigned sensibly and that there is a bit of order in it. It's simply an address allocation tool.
A: Ah okay! Now I, who is not so much in the game, have understood what it's all about. [laughs] You always learn something new. And by "home" are you referring to our buddy program* for new employees, or are you the general contact person for any topic for all colleagues?
L: At siticom we have this "home concept", because we have this flat hierarchy and not these typical organization chart style things, and in the middle of a circle of employees there is the function as "home". The function of the home is, in addition to the usual project manager topics, to be available for the usual concerns and questions, for example, to release all the hours in the BCS and to see that the people also book sensibly or also release vacations and also to see to it that the people also do regular training. In classic corporate language, you could also call it department head, I guess. [laughs]
A: That's a lot of work for you. What does your typical workday look like?
L: I usually start my working day around 9 o'clock. Since I mainly work with a client in the UK, I usually use the first hour to coordinate with my siticom colleagues and prepare for the rest of the day. Then I spend most of the day in various meetings with clients and the project team. I think this is both a curse and a blessing. On the one hand, it leaves little time for longer focused work on specific topics, but collaboration is one of the big drivers in the "agile" world and many issues can be resolved quickly and well if the right people get together for a few minutes. Besides the meetings, I spend the day recording the results in architecture diagrams, maintaining the backlog in JIRA, doing code reviews and every now and then I even get to type a few lines of code myself.
A: I can hear that your day is really well organized!
L: Well, at the moment I think I have half an hour between calls, sometimes less, but yes, I spend a lot of time in meetings and calls.
A: Do you prefer to work in your home office to have some peace and quiet or do you also go to the office?
L: At the moment I'm back in the office a lot (long live the air conditioning!). We have a few new colleagues, so it's a good idea to be in the office to be able to clarify questions quickly and easily, to sit down together to go through a few technical things and to get to know each other better over a coffee. Of course, this is also possible via teams, but the "information bandwidth" is simply much higher face-to-face. I think on average I work 50% from home and 50% in the office.
A: Air conditioning is of course a must-have now with the hot temperatures! [laughs] So what are the pros and cons of home office for you personally?
L: The home office, or rather "mobile working", of course offers a lot of flexibility. I can work from wherever I want and even spend Friday or Monday working from a friend's or parents' place. I can set up my home office entirely according to my wishes and needs and have the opportunity to work without a lot of distractions from colleagues. In our open offices, it's easy for there to be a lot of hustle and bustle, which can be distracting when you're trying to concentrate on your work.
On the other hand, in the office I naturally have a direct line to my colleagues, there's a lot more exchange, even apart from the projects, and it's easier to create a "we" feeling. And the air conditioning. Definitely the air conditioning! [laughs]
A: I'm right there with you! Both in terms of the peace/flexibility in the home office, the "we" feeling in the office, and the air conditioning. [laughs] Do you have any other topics or challenges in your work that you would like to talk about that might interest readers?
L: I think all of the technical challenges that we have are water under the bridge as soon as I write them down, but for us as siticom I see a few challenges:
Knowledge management and transfer for example. We have a very "wide" project environment with some customers and are involved in many topics. How do we manage to share knowledge efficiently as siticom without all of us being stuck in "catchup" or "sync" meetings all the time? The challenge around personal development goes in the same direction. As a company, we are committed to making our people better, and I think we are very successful at that! But how do we create opportunities - and above all the time to take advantage of them - for employees while we are on the road in projects and with customers? I personally think that the freedom to try new things, be it a new programming language, a new tool, AWS service XYZ, or whatever the cool kids are using at the moment is the basis for further development and innovation.
In the end, we as siticom are also so successful because we manage to bridge the gap between the "old boring" (docker-compose on EC2 instances? So 2015!) world and the latest craze fresh out of the CNCF incubator.
A: I'm glad to hear that we share an impression: we at siticom are very much ahead of the game, both technically and with our culture! Thanks Lars for your time and this conversation. It was a pleasure to meet you.
*At siticom, all new employees have a buddy, who supports them during the onboarding process with technical questions and networking.
The interview was conducted by:
Marketing Manager, siticom GmbH