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Sabin, Software Architect, on Connected Cars, Microservices and Continuous Learning

Sabin Chirila, one of our first colleagues in Oradea, has been a key person in Fortech’s local growth from 5 to 100+ people. His professional journey at Fortech brought him to a double-hat role as Software Architect and Team Leader.

Get a glimpse #BehindTheCode. Learn about the in-car connectivity platform Sabin is currently working on. Discover his passion for sports, reading, microservices architecture, and continuous learning together with his team.

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself? What are your studies, hobbies, passions?

Sabin Chirila - Software Architect

I started school when I was 4 years old, as my mother was a primary school teacher and took me to classes with her. I must admit I never liked school; I just liked the act of studying. I graduated in Computer Science at the University of Oradea. I spent the 4th year of college in Scotland, at Elgin Moray College, University of Highlands and Islands. There, I also prepared my BSc. Later, I got my master’s degree in Information Technology at the University of Oradea.

I can say that I have two stable loves in life: coding and sports. I am a competitive person, and no matter what the activity is, I must win. 😊 This is valid both in my professional life and in the leisure activities of which I have many.

After long periods of study, I always needed to do some physical activity. My choices are diverse, as I practiced martial arts, Judo and Karate for about 6 years and swimming for around 5 years. I also love to play tennis in the summer, skiing in the winter, and cycling in spring and autumn.

I like to read, mostly technical books. The other books I like are about the latest discoveries in physics and investment strategies on the stock market. I find the financial world a subject insufficiently studied in schools, even if it’s one of the most important topics adults should know about.

Apart from reading, I also enjoy watching documentaries. I like it so much that I even created a website about it. I write short, concise descriptions of the documentaries I watch to understand the subject better and share my view about it.

What do you do at Fortech? Please describe your career journey and your current role.

I joined Fortech Oradea in 2016, right before the official opening of the delivery center. I started as a Senior Java Developer and explored several #perspectives for my professional growth. As the company was new on the Oradea market and aimed to grow, I was involved in the recruitment process. I was also responsible for mentoring and coaching summer interns. In that period, my focus was split between the main monolithic project I was assigned and setting a learning path for the new colleagues.

Four years ago, I was promoted to the team leading role. This meant I had less time for internship programs and focused on my team members’ growth instead. In parallel, I gradually moved up on the technical path, to the Senior Software Architect role.

I am currently holding technical interviews not only for the Java vacancies but also for DevOps. I am closely working with other project leads and project managers to find the best-fitting candidates for Fortech.

I also like to make technical presentations from time to time. We recently formed an internal technical community focused on SRE (Site Reliability Engineering). I’m one of the community drivers and often host presentations for my colleagues. The last one was about containerization, mainly focusing on Docker.

Sabin holding a technical presentation

Sabin hosting a technical presentation on Spring Cloud.

Tell us a bit about the software project you are currently working on.

Since I joined Fortech, I’ve been working on a project for the automotive industry. Our client develops an in-car connectivity application for luxury car owners who want to have all details about their vehicle at their fingertips. The infrastructure connects millions of cars with external content providers in real-time and enables the control and authorization for car hardware programming (scheduling, geofencing, etc.). We are significantly contributing to turning the connected vehicle into an intelligent vehicle.

The project underwent two major phases in the last five years. The first two years were focused on splitting the monolithic architecture into microservices. We started with Spring Boot and then evolved towards Spring Cloud. To demonstrate the commitment to this “microservices religion”, we even went to Barcelona for a 4-days conference called SpringIO. Here’s the visual proof:

Sabin holding a technical presentation

Sabin and his team at SpringIO conference, Barcelona, 2016.

The last two years were about shifting from on-premises infrastructure into the cloud. This migration had been attempted before by another software partner of our client, with no results. Thus, our contribution to the project was highly appreciated. We completed this journey at the end of 2019, when all the 120+ microservices were shifted to Azure Cloud.

In parallel to these two major phases, we were also involved in developing new features. We added new services for the cars. Besides, we created or modified new implementation architecture inside the 7 microservices for which our team was responsible.

What’s the project’s tech stack like?

The applications and data we use are Java, Groovy, React, Node.js, MySQL. We work with Spring Boot, Spring Cloud, Maven, and Liquibase frameworks. For DevOps activities, we use GitHub, DataDog, Azure, Chef, Nginx, and Docker. Data Storage is done in PostgreSQL, Kafka, and ActiveMQ. The business tools we work with are Mattermost, Webex, and Jira.

What’s your favorite thing about this software project?

Throughout the five years, I did not get bored of the project. So, the fact that it is very dynamic and always offering learning opportunities is the most attractive part of the project.

What are the most challenging aspects of this software project?

The most challenging things on the project I also find most attractive. Keeping up with all the changes that happen inside the project and managing team members for the tasks required are probably the most difficult ones.

Tell us more about your team.

We are a distributed team. The Fortech team includes 7 members located in Oradea and Cluj, and the client’s team has 6 people, all in Germany. We work closely together, despite being many miles apart. It feels like a close community, a second family. Before the pandemic, we used to organize annual visits from one side to the other. We are looking forward to resuming the visits.

With my team in Oradea, we have some special traditions. We are going out once every two months, either for lunch or dinner or for a more dynamic activity, like racing car driving, or biking. Furthermore, we organize weekly meetings where we share knowledge on previously chosen topics. Currently, our weekly meeting is dedicated to collectively reading a book called „Kubernetes in action”. Each team member should present an assigned chapter, using hands-on exercises based on the content they read. We practice this in a quite similar way to the Azure cloud service, from Google. The activity is done just for the sake of learning new things together with the team.

Another activity we are involved in together is called MITIC – Monolith to Microservices Template to Intelligent Cloud. It is a small project aimed at helping other teams at Fortech by offering templates for microservices and clouding methodologies.

Sabin holding a technical presentation

Sabin and a part of the Fortech Oradea team biking.

What’s next in your career journey?

For the near future, I have two main focuses in my professional growth. The first one is becoming better at leading people, an area in which I try to improve daily. The second focus is on developing the MITIC towards what one day may become an open-source platform other programmers can use.

What advice would you give to someone interested in joining Fortech?

Fortech is really committed to its core values: Respect, Reliability, and Striving for Excellence. If you feel you resonate with them and are keen on being part of a young community of software crafters, passionate about technology, always curious and thirsty for knowledge, join us!