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Vlad on Architecting Customized Experiences in Telecom

Vlad Bura, one of our first colleagues in Oradea, has been instrumental in the growth of Fortech Oradea from 5 to over 100 people. His achievements in projects carried out for well-known global brands led to high customer satisfaction, being an important driver of our success.

We sat down with him (virtually) to talk about one of the most exciting and challenging projects he has worked on since joining Fortech.

Get a glimpse behind the code, read about his involvement in the project, his Fortech career, and about Vlad as a person.
 

Vlad Bura - Software Architect Fortech

 

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself? Your studies, hobbies, passions.

I’m an avid clean coder, Java Engineer, and Technical Team Lead with over twelve years of experience in software development. My expertise ranges from blockchain development, cloud solutions, and continuous delivery to microservices.

I studied Computer Science at the University of Oradea and lived in Spain for a year of studies at the Polytechnic University of Valencia.

When I’m not working, I love to spend time with my family, instilling my passion for football, and hopefully for travel in my 2-year-old son.

 

What’s your role in the team?

I’ve been working at Fortech Oradea for the past five years as a Senior Java Software Architect. It feels like I’ve been here for ages but in the right way. My focus is on designing the infrastructure setup and backend architecture of our projects. I spend 50% of my time on development, since I firmly believe you need to code first to understand the architecture.

My job also includes defining the appropriate technologies, workflows, and coding standards that we use daily. I’m involved in project deployments, oversee the team’s progress, and offer technical guidance and coaching. We recently formed an SRE team (site reliability engineering) in Oradea, which means I’m involved in weekly presentations on guidelines, best practices, and software blueprints that we can easily replicate in different projects.

 

Tell us about the project you’ve been working on.

The product is a complex order management system used by a major telecom company in Europe to handle requests, communication, and collaboration internally and on the customer side.

The part of the product that I was involved in runs everything from configuration to creating contracts and subscriptions, agreements, invoices, planning, hardware production (phones, etc.) for the end customer, a.k.a. people like you and me who sign up for telecom service. The user can fully customize the type of services and products they want to pay for. It’s a special project due to the volume of data and the complexity of the infrastructure needed to run all these requests and customizations.

I started working on this project three years ago when we took over the development, and the team was made up of 4 people. I handed over my responsibilities last month, when I switched to a new project, proud that I left behind a team of 60 people in charge with several development milestones and leading some of the client’s teams.

 

Wow, 60 people. That’s a big team. How would you describe the vibe in your team?

The team works in squads, with the crew tuning in from Oradea, Cluj, Bucharest, Zurich, and Bern. We’ve adopted the SAFe-Spotify scaling model and work in small DevOps teams of up to 10 members with subject matter expertise in specific domains.

My squad is called 42. If you’ve read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you’re familiar with Douglas Adam’s joke: “The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is 42”. So, we have quite some meaning attached to our squad’s name.

Our guide is the DevOps Charta and our regular PI planning and beer evening combos (or apéros how we like to call them).
 

What’s the project’s tech stack like?

We use Spring Boot, Spring Framework, Spring Cloud (microservices), Java EE, Bash, and Groovy for programming languages. The data storage is built in Oracle, MySQL, Elastic Search. We use Kafka message queues, and do the DevOps side is done in Kubernetes, CloudFoundry, Glassfish, Elasticsearch cluster, Kafka cluster. We implemented full CI&CD container based.

 

What was your favorite part of the project?

Hands down, it was the project’s level of complexity. The “elephant task” itself was to break down a monolithic architecture into a microservices infrastructure. We did that by slicing and dicing our elephant and defining boundaries in the business capabilities, modernizing the system one piece at a time.

After three years of work, we transitioned from legacy to a full CI/CD project; we placed 30 microservices in production and automated code quality, leading to 0 blocker issues in 2019 and 2020.

 

What were the most challenging aspects of this project?

The project takeover alone was an adventure. Understanding the business logic, stabilizing the app, and breaking down the monolith were all challenging aspects. Add to that growing the team from 4 to 60 people and you’ll get a feel of the hurdles we faced. We put in place processes that allowed us to scale the team and lead some of the client’s teams.

I remember traveling to the client for a short handover, which turned into a 3-week stay. I’m not complaining; we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. After that, the team traveled to the client every three months for project planning. From juniors to seniors, everyone had the chance to interact with the client’s teams. (This could be you. Think about a Fortech career.)

Vlad and his team during an onsite planning.

 

What’s next in your career journey at Fortech?

I look forward to taking on other projects to help our clients migrate their complex apps to the Cloud. I want to continue coaching the team towards a clean code mindset. On the technical side, I want to invest more time and effort in automating our project processes and improving monitoring and metrics to have zero downtime in production.

 

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

Get ready to be exposed to a lot of different technical challenges. If that’s your thing and you wish to seek them out, you’ll see various perspectives. Our projects range from apps developed from scratch to enterprise-size monoliths that we migrate to a new infrastructure and into the Cloud.

You’ll enjoy it here if you’re a software craftsman who loves to try out different things and work on personal projects as well to fuel your knowledge. As Uncle Bob would say: Never stop learning and improving your craft.

What’s Your Story?

Browse the Fortech Careers section on our website and check out our opportunities. #CodeWithUS

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