IT Life: James Markarian, SnapLogic CTO

What is your role and who do you work for?

CTO at SnapLogic, a leading provider of self-service application and data integration software.

I have been in the IT industry for 28 years now, ever since university. However, I was involved in a number of tech projects before and during university, so really it is about 32 years.

What is your most interesting project to date?

During my time as a student, I delivered various pieces of software. The first was when I was living in Boston, pre-internet, pre-graphical interfaces, looking for a place to live with my university friends and flipping through books of rental listings.

Boston has a very competitive real estate market for rentals due to the large number of students, so any place would be costly and on top of that we would have to pay the real estate agents a month’s rent for finding us a place. The whole process seemed archaic to me so I offered to build them a computer application to show their listings to potential renters in return for waiving the fee.

It was a really prescient software development experience that made me think ‘this is what people will be doing in the future’. It also spawned some initial theories about product strategy and where technology is set to go in the future, not to mention where my career would go.

What is your biggest challenge at the moment?

I think the biggest challenge at the moment has to do with the flux that we are seeing in the computing landscape. Several years ago everything ran on premise and there were only a few databases and ERP systems out there but now almost everything has changed.

With so much change and so many options in the landscape in which we play, it is challenging to provide solutions for the different, developing platforms while also trying to advise our customers on how to make intelligent decisions for their future.

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What technology were you working with ten years ago?

At that time scale out computing was a relatively new thing, so a big challenge was trying to build multi parallel processing (MPP) environments. This was before the introduction of Hadoop and common parallel frameworks that made the process simpler.

We were dealing with Linux boxes, HP Unix boxes, lots of different operating systems, lots of different processors and networks, and with all of this we were trying to solve a very complicated problem in a very heterogeneous environment in order to tackle massive data problems.

We were trying to move billions of records, which back then was a unique thing and seemed a daunting task. The problems we encountered back then would now been seen as very mundane but at the time it was pretty challenging.

What is your favourite technology of all time?

The bicycle. It is an incredibly old technology and while it is constantly improving, the fundamental framework hasn’t changed throughout the years.

We live in a world where modern technology such as autonomous vehicles aren’t far away from the mainstream, but you can still imagine a role for the bicycle 100 years from now. It is an amazingly enduring invention that plays so many different roles in society and will continue to provide entertainment and fitness, among other things, as it always has done.

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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