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Dev of the Week: Willie Wheeler

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Dev of the Week: Willie Wheeler

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Every week, we check in with a new developer/blogger from the  DZone community to find out what they're working on now and what's coming next. This week we're talking to  Willie Wheeler, Principal Applications Engineer with Expedia and author of Spring in Practice. You can check out more of his work at his DevOps blog Zykbase.

Some of Willie's most recent DZone posts include: 

Hi Willie! Thanks for talking to us. What have you been working on lately?

It's been exciting times for me. A few months back I joined Expedia, where I'm working on continuous delivery and operations automation. It's been good so far. Everybody from the leadership down "gets it" with respect to those things, so the focus is on engineering rather than selling. 

On the continuous delivery side I've been more high-level lately, looking more at organizational and architectural issues. 

 With ops automation I've been more hands-on, working a lot with Splunk. I had no Splunk experience when I joined, so it's been trial by fire. I'm getting pretty comfortable with it by now and am sold on its awesomeness.

What do you think were some of the most exciting developments in the world of DevOps last year?

I think 2012 was mostly evolutionary. Cloud, config management, continuous delivery, etc. were big a year ago and they're still big. It's healthy--people are focusing more on making these things really work than on just hyping things up.

What does 2013 hold for DevOps?

I think we'll continue to see larger companies exploring devops concepts and practices, driven primarily by interest in cloud infrastructure and configuration management. Private/hybrid clouds will grow in popularity as companies try to balance the desire for cloud capabilities/efficiencies with the desire to keep data secure. Through all of this there will be an interesting and constructive interplay between the devops and ITIL crowds.

I expect to see more devops tools, vendors and consultants in 2013. Integration in various forms--process, tool and data--will become more and more important. Web services and messaging will be key enablers.

Right now devops seems to focus more on configuration management, but over the next couple years people will put that CM data to more operational use. For example, ops automation will know about recent changes and system dependencies, and that will help with automating diagnostics. Ops automation will be able to call web services to increase or decrease capacity to keep a system operating within performance and cost bounds. There will be a growing intersection with big data as tools like Splunk make it easier to integrate and understand operational data across a large number of feeder systems.

Could you tell us a little bit about how you got your kids started coding? Have you found any tools, books, or languages particularly useful?

I don't want to oversell what my kids have done so far with respect to coding, because most of it has been more like proto-coding--working in an IDE on content files, working with source control, making simple configuration tweaks, etc. But there's an interest now where before there was absolutely none.

For my kids it was about presenting programming not as an end in itself, but as a means to the one end they care about in this life, which is Minecraft.

(Incidentally, if somebody with deep pockets wants to solve this generation's educational/STEM woes, here's the answer. Buy Mojang, open source Minecraft and offer classes with names like "Create the Diamond Tank Mod" at the schools. It may sound like I'm joking but I'm not.)

Regarding tools, languages, etc.: I think that game scripts are probably a great way to learn--e.g., scripts that control the behavior of sprites, say. They can tweak these and get immediate feedback, which helps to maintain interest.

My kids goofed around with Unity, which is a 3D game engine. But it was a bit tricky to manipulate the 3D objects in the IDE (we were tweaking a Lode Runner game that uses 3D to simulate 2D). I need to find something like that but for 2D. I started writing my own game engine but I don't think that's the right approach, just because I don't have enough time, and I don't want to be a blocker. If anybody has some suggestions I'd be interested to hear them.

Thanks, Willie!

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