The five-minute CIO: Jamie Monserrate, Pivotal Cloud Foundry

4 Nov 2016

Jamie Monserrate, director of engineering at Pivotal Cloud Foundry. Image: Pivotal

“Focus on paradigms, be comfortable with not knowing everything and be prepared to learn consistently as you go,” said Jamie Monserrate, head of engineering at Pivotal Cloud Foundry in Dublin.

Silicon Valley-headquartered Pivotal is partially owned by Cisco, EMC and VMware, with General Electric becoming an investor in May 2013.

Pivotal Labs, a business unit of Pivotal, has been credited with shaping the development culture of Silicon Valley’s most influential and valuable brands. Its Agile software development approach brings start-up speeds, predictable software methodology, and iterative product development culture to Ireland’s largest enterprises.

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Last year, it emerged that Pivotal Labs was creating 130 new jobs in Dublin and Cork.

The move will see Pivotal expand its presence across EMEA and create a software innovation hub to help transform its traditional enterprise customers into modern software companies that can compete in the digital era.

Cloud Foundry is an open-source cloud-computing platform originally developed in-house at VMware.

The Cloud Foundry team in Dublin will be headed by director of engineering, Jamie Monserrate.

Monserrate is a software developer with more than 10 years of quality experience in designing and developing high-quality software with agile methodologies.

Can you describe the work of the Cloud Foundry?

Cloud Foundry revolutionises the way people deploy and operate their software. What that really means is you don’t have to worry about deploying code onto your servers – that’s already taken care of for you.

All you have to worry about is focusing on writing application code. Cloud Foundry will focus on deploying it and running it for you.

The advantage is that operators have very little time and yet they have to manage and run these servers. Cloud Foundry takes care of a lot of the responsibilities that they used to do.

For example, if there is a new security vulnerability that has come out, there was previously a big scramble for operators and devs trying to figure out how to update and patch servers.

Now you don’t have to worry about that. Cloud Foundry will ship a patch, you click a button and it automatically updates and reboots all of your servers, and you are up to date on the latest patch.

It makes it easier to run business-critical software, rather than worrying about having to manage servers and infrastructure.

Can you explain the focus of the Pivotal/Cloud Foundry operations in Dublin?

I can speak for the Cloud Foundry section. Cloud Foundry customers are building high quality, enterprise-grade data services. Cloud Foundry is great for running applications in a seamless way and we are now focused on making sure that we have enterprise-grade data services so that applications can wind onto those services.

Some of it involves orchestrating data services; it also means doing complex CI/CD pipeline services. We are big fans of automation and we automate everything.

It means that we have services around creating pipelines, deploying, and [we] make sure we are testing for real failure-case scenarios.

What tools and technologies does your team use?

A lot of the work is done through Bosh, an open-source tool, and it is very powerful. Concourse and other open-source CI server tools are [also] used.

One trend I can definitely mention is that a lot of the code that people used to write and manually handcraft is all going away. With the advent of platforms like Cloud Foundry, the amount of boilerplate code that you have to worry about is going away.

Pivotal is seen as one of the hottest cloud companies in the world to work with. What attributes are you looking for in potential hires?

Knowing how to write good code, and test drive it, is paramount. The rest of the skills can be picked up very easily because technologies come and go. As long as you have an aptitude for learning, we are happy to work with you.

I am a firm believer in [being] comfortable with not knowing everything, and you have to be comfortable with learning paradigms. You can’t know every technology out there, but what is important is to know what are your options and what are the patterns that these different technologies follow. What is the advantage of using one technology over the other?

Pattern and pitfalls: my advice to all developers is always look at the technologies [and] the patterns they are applying, and focus on learning the paradigms because once you know them, you can deploy them on multiple platforms.

Focus on paradigms, be comfortable with not knowing everything and be prepared to learn consistently as you go.

What projects have you lined up for the year ahead?

From Dublin’s perspective, the main features we are working on [are] the data services and RabbitMQ services that we are looking to enhance the platform with.

It is about giving developers more fluid tools to do their jobs. A lot of the main applications need better communications between them. We are working on enhancing that at the moment.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years