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Igor Soroka for AWS Community Builders

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Story about my cloud journey and becoming an AWS Community Builder

More than a month passed after the news that I became an AWS Community Builder in Serverless Category. Today I would like to tell a story about my path to the cloud. I would also reflect on why it is essential to be a part of this community.

Public Cloud Start

My path to the cloud started with a stupid idea. It was to make a telegram bot that could show the menus of the restaurants on the university campus. There were approximately five places to eat with a very varied quality of food. Some days the choice was obvious - visit Restaurant X. Other days it was challenging to decide. My bot would have the ability to get the menu in the palm of my hand without going and checking the website.

The language was NodeJS, and the cloud provider was Heroku. It was my first trial to do something with server-side javascript. At the same time, I learned about this great tool called Cloud9. Now it is a part of AWS. Those times I was impressed that I could run my bot from any computer (my laptop or the school one). Also, I could prototype fast and check the solution in the Telegram messenger.

JS Conference and first Lambda

After my playground with the chatbot, I got a real programming job. The technology stack consisted of a Java monolith with an on-premise server. I took a challenge because my primary language was Java those times. However, secretly I was excited about NodeJS world with a lot of exciting things happening around it.

That is why I decided to visit a conference about JavaScript called HolyJS in Saint-Petersburg. There I chose almost randomly the session about AWS Lambda conducted by Slobodan Stojanović. It was a revelation. At this time, I have spent half a year deploying Java modules to a running app from the CLI.

How can it be possible? No patching, no infrastructure to manage. It blew my mind. I returned to Finland and started creating my first API with API Gateway backed by Lambdas. I made my first AWS account which was incredible and strange. There was an endless amount of unfamiliar services.

Corporate world and certificate

It has taken a while after I took a new position in an IT consulting company. Again it was a Java monolith but deployed to AWS with automatic deployments. I learned a lot about working in different locations with distributed teams.

There was a company-wide program for being certified with AWS. It was amazing that now I could have time to know all these tiles in the console. I started to study and experiment with various services. Then I was certified as a Developer Associate. It gave me confidence that now I could use AWS in all of my projects.

The next project in a corporation gave me a chance to deploy my lambdas to production. There I learned more about Terraform, CloudFormation, and Serverless framework. It felt so cool to write the infrastructure which could be re-created by one-line command. I learned more about CI/CD. Like in many cases, nobody wanted to set up deployments and connect all parts.

We deployed the ECS cluster with Docker containers. I learned that serverless is not only Lambdas. It is more like philosophy where one is not provisioning virtual machines but focusing on the application code and business logic.

Freelancing and community

I took a chance to jump into individual contracting in the middle of 2020 after an unexpected call from a recruiter. It was a 100% serverless project with a geographically distributed team. I learned so much from the people with whom I worked. It happened to be the exact match for the technology stack. We used SQS/SNS, S3, Lambdas, Kinesis, and CloudFormation/SAM. It became a standard for me to find such teams and work with them. I learned a lot about provisioning infrastructure with code.

In 2021 I spent time setting up cloud-native projects mainly using CDK. The stack that drives me is still serverless, but now I can write application code and infrastructure one with the same language, Typescript. I have started to write about this more and more. Blogging allows me to stop and reflect on the topics that re-ignite my passion for building new things.

In August, I applied to the AWS Community Builders program because I started to feel the idea of unity that technology gives us. Sharing knowledge and meeting new people online became important. In my application, I said honestly that this would motivate me to write more about my path in the cloud.

In October, the letter said that people from AWS accepted me. I got an invitation to the community in Slack. After the first days, I was astonished by the idea that there are program participants from worldwide. It was a revelation for me. People are writing blogs, shooting videos, sharing knowledge. I am learning every day about new features and things people experiment with at their time. Also, I resumed my path with achieving AWS certificates partly because of how many people are doing them inside the community.

My journey in the cloud is continuing. I am working with AWS every day as a consultant and engineer. Also, now I am speaking more often about my infrastructure-as-code findings with CDK and serverless. Thanks for reading this article. You can find me on Twitter and LinkedIn. Do not hesitate to write and ask questions about AWS, Serverless, and IaC. I will be happy to answer them.

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