2018: year in review

I had intended to write a yearly review for a few years now but have not managed so far – 2018 is going to be the year that I finally get down to it. Looking back at the year is an interesting exercise and if I manage to keep this up for a few years (fingers crossed) it might provide a few interesting insights — and if not, it will have been fun anyway.

Mini sabbatical

I started the year with a 3 months sabbatical, which is to say that I did not take client work for 3 months. This was a good exercise in saying no (“sorry, I’m not available”), which is something I’m still improving on and which is probably one of the most important skills to have when you’re working as an independent.

During that time, I’ve read a fair amount of papers on distributed systems fundamentals (failure detection, dissemination and consensus protocols). Reading papers is a recursive process as you always find interesting papers in the citations and so I find myself with a large pile of unread papers waiting for me.

Papers related to failure detection, one of my favourite topics

This has been an incredibly useful (and interesting) exercise which I’d recommend if you get the chance to do so. I definitively plan on taking another small sabbatical of the kind when the timing is right.

Work

In terms of work, I’ve had the chance to work with a few wonderful clients this year on a few very interesting projects:

  • with Metaco on their SILO platform, a secure crypto-asset storage solution for financial institutions built in part with Akka Cluster. I joined the project right after the requirements phase which allowed me to bring in my expertise at what I’d consider an optimal time, refining architecture, design and helping the team with the project setup and bootstrapping the implementation. I had planned on writing about this project in more detail, I suppose this will happen in 2019.
  • with one of the leading payment providers worldwide on a strategic modernization project that replaces the legacy core system with a stat-of-the art microservices-oriented system. The challenge here is to build a scalable payment platform with thousands of integration partners and globally distributed development teams. This has been an ongoing effort since 2017 when I started training the teams on Akka and Akka Cluster and continuously reviewed the architecture of the core platform.
  • with MOIA on building core system components. MOIA is a ride-sharing service that aims at uncluttering the cities and do so whilst being environmentally friendly (it uses electrical shuttles). This project is incredibly fun to work on and I also plan on writing more about it. In the meanwhile, they’re hiring, so if you are looking for a Scala job in Hamburg (and possibly Berlin), let me know!
  • with Delivery Hero on reviewing the architecture, design and implementation of one of their core production system through a Reactive Audit
  • with a few other clients on providing on-site training courses, Reactive Audits and consulting

Sadly I had no time to organize a public training this year (we had done so with OpenForce in Vienna last year) but will try again in 2019.

Conferences

I’ve talked at the following conferences this year:

  • Voxxed Days Vienna
  • Scalar Warsaw
  • Scala Days Berlin
  • Reactive Summit Montréal
  • Scala.io Lyon

I’ve also had the chance to be part of the program committee of this year’s Scala Days and Reactive Summit. The quality of abstracts submitted at both conferences is very high to say the least and the review takes time – I wish we had more slots for both conferences!

Here’s the recording of my talk on distributed systems fundamentals from Reactive Summit:

Writing

I attempted to write one article per month this year and the success rate has been 50% – which is to say that I’ve done so the first half of the year and have not written a single word in the second half (well, at least not on this site).

The highlights of the year are:

The rest of life

Life with two kids is challenging (read my initial and subsequent) thoughts on the subject here – when I find the time I’ll write more on the topic). And yet, it is also wonderful! Not much I can report in terms of hobbies such as scuba-diving for 2018 since that wasn’t quite possible but I’m looking forward to the kids being a bit older to plan the next trip.

Happy new year!

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