Justin Merrill

Engineer | Cloud | DevSecOps | SRE | K8s | GitOps | IaC | Data | APIs | BS | MBA

Questions & Answers

Various “cherry picked” questions from general readers/followers, colleagues, potential employers and recruiters that I have answered; Including dates, for context of my career evolution and knowledgebase.

March of 2024

What is your main stack?

  • For over half of my career, I’ve used some form of the LAMP/LEMP Stack, with an emphasis on PHP, Perl and/or Python and SQL (MySQL, MariaDB, Percona, MSSQL and/or Oracle).
    But this question is somewhat challenging to answer in more recent years as I’ve been working with organizations that use a Stack more closely aligned to the MERN/MEVN/MEAN stacks with an emphasis on Node.js and various NoSQL + PostgreSQL data stores

How many years do you have on your main stack?

  • LAMP/LEMP = 17+ years
  • MERN/MEVN/MEAN = 8+ years
  • I have a significant amount of experience with Implementing and Architecting “custom tech stack solutions” as well (those that do not fit into any commonly used acronym)

How many years of experience as a DevSecOps Engineer?

  • Approximately 18 years, collectively; I first started managing software application deployments and infrastructure in the year 2000, but my first year of Enterprise Experience for managing Platform Infrastructure was in 2013. My first year of managing a team of 3 to 5 people to maintain infrastructure for software development was 2018.

How many years of experience with:

  • 20+ years of my career I’ve efficiently budgeted infrastructure needs for my employer, but in 2018 it was the first time I was responsible for architecting and designing “microservices” with containerization
  • About 9 years; I started using Docker/containerd in 2015, and I’ve since expanded to using Kubernetes since 2020
  • 3 years of extensive experience; I started managing the platform and infrastructure deployments for a company that used Terraform instead of Ansible for its IaC in 2021. I also learned “Terragrunt”, which expands on the functionality of TF and have now moved on to include “OpenTofu” in my skill set, given the licensing changes Hashicorp made to Terraform. Major contributions to the Open Source TF drop-in replacement “OpenTofu” were done by the developers I worked closely with at Gruntwork (the maintainers of the Terragrunt Project)
DynamoDB (AWS):
  • 6 years; I’ve been using NoSQL/MongoDB since 2016, but the first time I used DynamoDB from AWS was in 2018. In 2020, I taught a course to Federal Government employees that included DynamoDB in my lesson plans.
Computer & Network Security:
  • 20+ years; While I do not “specialize” in “Security”, I have been managing “OnPrem Infrastructure” since the year 2000, which includes security measures related to exposed network ports and internal web services / microservices and proper system file, Identity and user permissions management. These principles also extend to code management for common OOP designs used in Java, PHP, Node.js and other server-side languages I have development and managerial experience with. My first experience “Securing a Cloud Environment” for a multi-million dollar Enterprise came in 2018.
AWS (Amazon Web Services):
  • 10+ years; My first experience with AWS came in 2013 while working on the largest WordPress Multi-site deployment on Earth, at that time (Empower Networks). I later became the “root account holder” for the AWS/Cloud infra in 2018.
Cloud Engineering:
  • In 2018, I began “Designing cloud-based solutions” with AWS, Azure and some other “cloud vendors”, while working for different companies that were experiencing high-growth and investment. One note I will make about my experience with Cloud Engineering, is that a focus on “Cloud-native software applications” is often extremely expensive. Typically, an OnPrem/Cloud “Hybrid Cloud” platform will scale much better with the budget of a startup or new software application (particularly in the first 2 years of development).