Michael Levan Interview

Michael Levan is a tech enthusiast and engineer at heart. He is the founder and Chief Engineer at CloudDev.Engineering LLC. He is also employed as a Developer Advocate at Octopus Deploy.

Michael started his journey in IT working on the helpdesk and disliked coding. He believed that he was not good enough. He would do all he could do avoid writing a single line of code. But that mindset changed, thanks to his previous manager and friend Carlos. After a short time and hours of studying, Michael knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to write CODE for a living!

Today, Michael is a successful developer who enjoys coding at every opportunity he can grab hold of. I have posted a link to a great article on Michael’s journey from helpdesk to Developer in 7 years towards the end of this article. A must read!

As you will gather from the interview, his website and social media accounts, he has a massive passion for writing quality code. Michael was very keen to share his experiences with us. He is a great example for all those techies who want to get into coding but feel that they’re not good enough. Let’s continue to Michael’s interview to find out more.

Note: If you have any questions or feedback, please use the comment box towards the end of the interview. All comments are reviewed before we approve and notify the interviewee. Thanks

Michael Levan Interview

Tell us about yourself?  
Hey all! My name is Michael Levan. I’m a tech enthusiast and engineer at heart. Currently, I’m working in Dev Rel as a Developer Advocate at Octopus Deploy and I founded CloudDev.Engineering LLC, a content and consulting company. I’m a blogger, public speaker, author, all-around content developer, and utterly fascinated with DevOps and Cloud Engineering. When I’m not working, I love hanging out with my son (he’s almost 4) and our 16 week old puppy, Laney.

What is your greatest achievement whilst working in the world of Tech?
My biggest achievement is being able to move up the “tech ladder” so quickly. In under 7 years, I was able to go from desktop support to developer, with positions like cloud engineer and DevOps engineer in-between. It wasn’t an easy road, but I was able to achieve it because I love technology and I have a true passion for the field.

How did you get into IT?
Gaming, actually. I started playing PC games and I loved it, but the graphics were awful. I wanted to make them better, so I started researching how I could upgrade my Dell desktop. I ended up replacing the RAM and Graphics Card. One thing led to another and I found myself enrolled in school for IT.

What would you recommend for someone wanting to start a career in IT?
Only get into IT if you’re passionate. Here’s the thing about tech. You can only truly succeed if you put in the time and effort to progress. This involves sacrificing your free time to learn and progress. If it isn’t something you’re willing to do, or you want a standard job that you forget about it once you leave the office, IT may not be for you. Sure, there are positions that you can stay in and just do the standard 9-5, but if you get laid off or you’re looking for another job, it’ll be quite difficult without keeping yourself up to date. This doesn’t mean end your life and sit in front of the computer all day. An extra 30 minutes of studying 5-6 times per week goes a long way.

How did you get into the world of Microsoft Azure?
I actually started with Azure because of Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS). I was working a ton in AWS and I wasn’t really fond of the EKS solution they had for Kubernetes, so I wanted to check out Azure’s implementation. After that, I pretty much fell in-love.

What are your areas of expertise? Are you still working with other Microsoft products apart from Microsoft Azure?
I’m very focused on writing, building, and shipping quality code. I think there is a big gap in the field for that. A lot of organizations want to just “get a product feature out” and it’s typically rushed. Because of the rush, 9 times out of 10 there are a ton of bugs and best practices that weren’t followed. Because of that, I’ve found myself focusing on teaching the community how to implement quality in everything they do. Right now, I’m pretty passionate abut Golang, but I also love Python and PowerShell. In terms of other Microsoft products, I’m pretty much living in Azure at this point.

What would you recommend for those wanting to learn Azure?
Sign up for the free Azure subscription with the 30 days of free $200.00 dollars for any service. After that, start looking at the material for the AZ-900 (Azure Fundamentals Cert). You don’t have to get the cert, but having that outline to follow while you’re getting into Azure is key.

What would you recommend for someone working in IT, wanting to become a coder with the view of moving into automation within the Cloud and creating applications? Where should one start with zero experience in coding?
I would say there are two best places to start.

1) PowerShell in a month of lunches or Python Crash Course. You can’t really go wrong with PowerShell and/or Python when it comes to automation.
2) Start thinking about your current environment. For example, maybe you run a report daily for your manager to get a list of virtual machines that are currently running in the cloud. Right now, you’re maybe doing that through the UI in a manual fashion. Instead of that, try automating that list with PowerShell. Take what you’re currently doing and figure out how to automate it.

What are your thoughts about automating tasks within the cloud? Is coding and automation the future?
Coding is the future, whether it’s considered scripting, automation, or development, you need to know how to write code. I’m not saying you need to build the next Twitter, but you need to understand the fundamentals of coding. Coding and automation is absolutely the future for everyone in cloud engineering.

What is the key to writing quality code?
The key to writing quality code is to take a step back and figure out what the needs truly are. A lot of developers get caught up in the features and new implementations because, well, it’s fun. I do it ALL of the time. However, I force myself to take a step back, look at the features that are needed, and write for those features. Afterwards, I confirm the code I wrote actually works the way I expect it to. That’s where concepts like unit and mock testing come into play. Finally, documentation. People that are looking at or using the code you wrote need to understand what’s happening. Although this list is super short and only 1% of what’s needed, it’s a good place to start.

How do you keep up to date with the latest Microsoft Azure products?
Right now, primarily podcasts. I listen to a lot of podcasts and hear the new things coming. I also work in a very cloud and DevOps focused company that’s cutting edge, so we’re constantly seeing new features.

What’s your advice for someone who wants to become a public speaker but not confident, or not sure where to start?
The thing is this – People may have already spoken about or taught the topic you’re interested in talking about, but they didn’t do it from YOUR perspective. It’s very hard to talk about a topic that no one else is talking about, but remember, it’s not about finding a new topic to talk about. It’s about talking about the topic from YOUR perspective. The best place to start is to remember that, then, think about what you’re passionate about. After you’ve come up with a few topics, try speaking at a few local Meetups or on online events. Starting a YouTube channel is a great way to practice public speaking as well. Just remember, no one knows everything. I’ve been doing this for a while and I’m far from knowing everything, in fact, I know that I’ll never know everything. Don’t let the idea of “I’m not an expert” force you to not share your knowledge.

What’s next in your Microsoft Azure journey?
Next on my journey is continuing to share with everyone how to write, build, and ship quality code within the cloud. I’m also thinking about getting into a little Machine Learning 😊.

Do you have any final words of wisdom?
Your career is a marathon, not a sprint.

The most important question of all 😊
From a scale from 1 – 10 how crazy are you about Microsoft Azure?
15 😊

End of Interview

More info
You can read more about Michael’s journey from helpdesk to developer by clicking the following link: From Desktop to Developer in under Seven years

Michael also offers free Python and GoLang courses which can be located on his YouTube channel below.

Name: Michael Levan
Website: CloudDev.Engineering
Social media platforms:
@TheNJDevOpsGuy
YouTube: CloudDev.Engineering YouTube

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