DevOps is not just a term. It’s a culture. Ankit joined Zapr as the first member of DevOps team and for him, it has been a journey of a lifetime here. While DevOps team just bridges the development and operations teams in other companies, Ankit figured the most suitable technologies for Zapr and went ahead to find the best solutions and ways to automate work for other teams.
As the first person to join the DevOps team two years ago, I was in charge of deployment, automation and continuous monitoring of production systems. The challenge was to create a system that worked the same way with one million users as it did with just five! At Zapr, we have our own data center as well. I had never worked on a data center before and this was new to me.
Initial days at Zapr - a good start
What exactly did Zapr offer its clients? I don’t think I had a clue about it until my discussion with Agam on the first day. Our unique technology blew my mind as I had assumed that Zapr worked with set-top boxes! From the very next day I began working on my own; I learned, explored and tried to understand systems and the problems.
Ankit with his team that makes everything possible at Zapr
With two teams in place - Data Platform and Ad Tech, I started off my work with Data Platform team and that is how I began to work closely with Agam. While he was in charge of data platform and took care of building systems, I ensured everything was up and running. Back then, we did a lot of our work manually which I began automating one by one.
I was specifically looking for a product-based company when I found Zapr. I wanted the freedom to work in my domain. What gives me the kick at Zapr is that we have a product of our own. We decide on the additional features and how to improve the systems. There is no external factor involved!
Automating to scale: strong systems speak for themselves
While I was working on system automation, our data center indexed a hundred channels. Our intention was to scale in every aspect and with it, we wanted to scale our data center to three hundred channels. I worked closely with Tarun, Chhavi, Pinakin and Karthik while scaling up. Tarun was of great help as he had worked on these systems previously. With his expertise, he used to take decisions on highly technical issues while I executed them. We used to discuss on how everything had to be executed and narrow down the tasks.
Initially, everyone had access to everything in the system. How will we know if someone altered something? This distributed access leads to a lot of confusion. This was the first issue I wanted to solve. We narrowed down the access, built systems over systems and garnered stability.
Ankit on a fun offsite trip with his colleagues turned friends
Never “just another day” at Zapr
Following sprints to analysing production system failures, my day at Zapr is packed with expected and unexpected events. When we have production component failure, this becomes a priority wherein I provide inputs on possible errors whereas on other days, we may face issues with AWS Cloud. Its through constant interaction with the concerned person or team that I solve most of these issues.
Infrastructure to marketing, I interact with almost every team at Zapr and a day at office is incomplete without continuous discussions leading to technological revelations. Though I am not involved with raw data, I ensure that the Data Analytics team has precise pipelines for their requirements and if they want me to create systems over the existing ones, I do that for them.
The systems we have created cannot be found in many companies. Here, I work with generic systems right from scratch and improvise them every day. Once I create a system, I present it to Siddharth and then we put it to work. Post this stage, its daily improvisations - additional features, alterations and more. At Zapr, the technology is never stagnant; it is an ongoing process, just like how we developed our latest music matcher! There is always something new that we are working on.
Zapr strives - passion leads to strength
At Zapr, every day is a challenge and it is these challenges that drive me to work. I have always looked forward to working differently and learning more each day. With a team of two, I get ample chances to experiment with new systems. At the time I joined Zapr, there were days when I went to our data center at 2AM! It used to be hardware failures and a channel freezes which needs to be fixed immediately; we cannot lose our data. I believe this constant unpredictability keeps me interested in what I do here.
Everything in life excites me. At Zapr, it’s more about enjoying what you do and life at Zapr gets crazier year by year with the good people, fun and parties.
I moved to Bangalore, leaving my home to explore myself in a strange city, away from my comfort zone. I am constantly on the lookout for new, out of the box ideas and challenges that will grow me as an individual. I always look forward to more; anything exciting and I always seem to find it at Zapr.
Senior DevOps, Zapr Media Labs
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