I’m a Senior Dev Ops Engineer at the Analysis and Intelligence Hub in DWP Digital.
Prior to joining DWP, I spent eight years working as a Programmer and DevOps Engineer for a water utility firm outside of London. I chose to move to government because it has the largest technology infrastructure operation in the country. And, DWP is leading the government’s 2020 Digital Transformation vision.
DWP is an exciting place to be a DevOps engineer because it gives you the opportunity to work on a larger scale of critical data infrastructure than you would find elsewhere. I currently work in the Analysis and Intelligence Hub in the Cyber Resilience Centre and DWP Software Engineering Community. My work involves supporting very clever Data Scientists, Data Engineers and Business Analysts that investigate UK fraud.
The solutions that the government invests in are well researched with industry standard tools and are optimised to scale well with very big data sets. For example, consider maintaining a Hadoop database that contains about 60 million records!
Uptime and query performance are critical. I use Puppet to deploy administration changes to multiple servers at once, Ambari to monitor the running services and the Microsoft Windows Server Administration panel. Working on such a large operation requires a lot of responsibility, for example, on my first day I was given a list of 79 different IP addresses on seven separate VLANs for the whole building.
Working on a mature government infrastructure means that there is literally a process for everything. Every update to the computer network is documented (for official audit purposes). An audit trail is useful because it means that, if I need help with setting up new server architecture or need to look up how to access a particular GitLab repository, I can just refer to the relevant document and perform the routine.
Working for the government instils a security-focused, process-driven mentality where creating new documentation is not just encouraged, but is mandatory. It also means requesting authorisation for standard procedures like modifying user groups or exporting data for different departments. I like to push myself and I knew that the government would invest a lot of manpower into their Cyber Security.
The most valuable part of working for DWP is not just gaining exposure to large-scale infrastructure or the many training courses, but being mentored by experts at the top of their industry. Processes here are handed down to new colleagues, so being able to read through Technical Architecture Design Specifications, Python and Bash code, and ask questions to the original creators or consultants who work in government is the richest source of information. Since many of the projects and optimisation problems are just like a university case study, it’s like being paid to learn! The people in government really know their stuff. I’m also completing my postgraduate thesis in Software Engineering at the University of Oxford. The flexibility on working hours here is excellent and allows me the time to study.
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