Developer Spotlight – Vignesh Vellingiri
Our first-ever Developer Spotlight features Vignesh Vellingiri, an Enterprise Integration Developer with AOT, who has been working on an ambitious Workday implementation at the University of British Columbia (UBC). We spoke to Vignesh as the project nears its successful completion.
Can you tell me a bit about what you’ve been working on?
I have been working on a project to support UBC’s learning, research, and working environment. The university needed to renew its administrative process and replace systems. Their student, HR, and finance systems were aging, and they were no longer able to support a dynamic institution and modern workplace. Modernizing and simplifying processes and bringing them into an intuitive integrated system will free the UBC community to spend more time on strategic priorities.
UBC is embarking on a multi-year journey to transform its Student, HR, and Finance systems. They’ve chosen Workday as the new core administrative platform for these processes and services. The journey is large in scope and requires layers of collaboration across UBC. AOT’s team worked with the UBC integration team on integrating new Workday with legacy systems and multiple other vendors using Mulesoft services. We worked on the design and development of integrations to enable a seamless flow of data between different systems.
The project required developing high-volume system APIs which other teams use to talk with the down system. Also, there were a few legacy applications that could not complete the retrofit changes required to communicate with Workday, so we designed and developed an interim solution to enable these applications to talk with the new system without any changes during go-live giving them more time to complete the retrofit work. We have also developed custom Mulesoft connectors that facilitate easy integrations with core APIs used in the project.
What does the day-to-day look like, and what do you love about your job?
My role on the project is to co-ordinate with analysts to understand the requirement, design, build, and test integrations between Workday, Legacy, and external applications using Mulesoft services. A typical day starts with catching up with emails and organizing things for the day and then daily scrum meeting with Business Analysts (BA), System Analysts (SA), other system developers, QA’s and Project Manager, where we discuss the plan for the day and discuss any issues from previous day along with some snacks and nibbles.
The rest of my time is spent on any of the activities for that sprint; either design and preparation for architecture meeting or developing and unit testing the code. Of-course some tea break to enjoy the Vancouver UBC campus which is a must-see attraction of Vancouver. We end the day by providing quick updates to each other.
The most interesting thing about the project is that we work with cutting-edge technologies and the best enterprise architecture solutions. Not everyone gets the opportunity to work on this kind of project. It is one of the most successful large-scale Workday implementations.
Throughout this project what are some of the obstacles that you faced? How did you handle these challenges, and what did you learn from them?
There have been quite a few challenges on this project! The main obstacle we faced was the time limitation. For instance, we had to use a UBC custom solution for state management which was quite stable, but one of the features to replace JMS queues with a custom solution, with the capability to adjust priority and throttling over configuration which were not used by any other integrations before and we are the first to use them. We learned and stabilized the custom solution by working with the code owners and helped to improve the documentation in a limited time. To enable faster implementation, we created custom connectors that will drastically reduce the implementation time. The key takeaway is to create core components and templates well ahead of time which can then be readily used and allow developers to focus on the business solution.
Looking back on your time on the project, what are three key takeaways from the experience?
1. Learn to think ahead: It was one of the biggest go-lives I had ever been part of, and I learned how to plan in advance and to include time and back-off plan for all unexpected deviations, working with other teams. This will help me both personally and professionally, thanks to all the managers on the project who set a great example.
2. Outcome focused: I learned to balance and work towards overall outcome instead of just achieving quick and intermittent solutions due to time and other project limitations.
3. Teamwork: Teamwork defines the success of the project. I am grateful for the supportive team members, who were ready to offer help when needed.
What do you enjoy about working at AOT, and what advice would you give to people starting out in their career as an integration specialist?
I enjoy the work I do at AOT for multiple reasons. First and foremost, you don’t just work on one skill that you have mastered, instead, you get the opportunity to learn and work in different technologies in your area of interest. As an integration developer, I got a chance to work on different integration tools in a very short span of time and also had an opportunity to work on an open-source project for the first time.
Aside from that, the team is made up of people from different cultures and countries, making it a diverse workplace where you will learn from your colleagues and celebrate different occasions. Most importantly, the support, encouragement, and mentorship I received from the founders. They stand with the employees at the most difficult times.
I don’t have any specific career advice. Integration is the area for you if you want to learn about different systems in an organization, and to understand how the data flows between them to enable business objectives. To be more efficient as an integration specialist one has to learn about customers’ background systems and business processes. Learning new tools and constantly updating one’s skill set is also important.