Interested in knowing more about the tech behind one of the world's largest online retailers? You've come to the right place. Delivering more than 50 million items annually and with over 1.8 million daily website visits, The Very Group is passionate about helping families get more out of life.
What tech keeps such smooth operations running daily and how could you join their mission? Keep reading to hear first-hand from Kyle, Principal Platform Engineer, about his experiences and what it's like to work in his tribe. Let's get started!
Hi Kyle, what do you do at The Very Group?
As a Principal Platform Engineer at The Very Group, I'm responsible for helping to run the show in our Platform Engineering Tribe. I started my career as a Data Analyst working on call centre analytics, and I've gradually moved up – first to backend development with Python, and now to specialising in AWS Infrastructure.
When I joined The Very Group back in 2017, the company was already on the brink of a technological revolution - and I knew it was the perfect place for me. Not only was the office close enough for me to cycle home, but the trust, ambition, innovation, and team spirit the company lived by made me feel right at home. These values are reflected in the way the company operates, and it's what has kept me here since.
How are the engineering tribes set up and how does this enable you to follow best practices?
At Very, we've got five tribes that are all experts in their fields. Whether it's retail, customer care, logistics, digital customer experience or financial services, each tribe has a unique role to play in delivering the best customer experience.
When it comes to staying flexible and scalable, AWS cloud platforms are the way to go. And we have our Platform Engineering tribe to help us stay secure. With Terraform modules, our teams don't have to worry about the pesky details – like securing buckets or connecting container services – so they can work faster and with more peace of mind.
What have been the highlights and challenges of your time at The Very Group?
Just three years ago, a small team and I banded together for a six-week pilot to dream up a microservices architecture and seamlessly integrate it into our monolithic website. Little did we know, it would be the beginning of a transformation and eventually lead to the tribe model we have today. It's been a highlight of my career and continues to shape our company's service development in a major way.
In terms of challenges, creating an environment where security and performance are well established has helped me to hone my skills. The cloud can make things appear secure but often requires some extra effort to make that happen. Finding creative solutions to make disparate technologies work together without ready-made solutions can be challenging but it's one that I'm always up for. After all, who doesn't love a good puzzle? The key is to make the most of the resources available to us and see how far we can take them. Of course, our move to a micro-services, API-based and cloud-first architecture over the coming years will reduce complexity even further. Our current tech transformation programme is one of the most exciting tech developments in our business’ history.
What advice would you give to engineers wanting to progress? What is one thing they should do differently?
If you want to take your career to the next level and experience growth then my best advice is to say "yes"! Take a chance and step out of your comfort zone to try something new. It can be intimidating but trust me, it's worth it.
We've got a fantastic culture of innovation here - there are tons of exciting opportunities to get involved in projects, work groups, and experimentation.
What trends do you foresee for 2023?
We've been using AWS as the default cloud provider for ages now, but a few stubborn monolithic apps are stuck on-prem. To help us move along, we've been jamming with containers like ECS and Lambda for all the serverless, cloud-native elements. Internally, we're in the process of formalising the standards around how the different tribes work together.
This year, we're expecting a wild ride for API practices with the organisation standardising its approach and embracing cloud-native technology.
What types of benefits can engineers looking for their next role expect when joining?
Working at The Very Group is nothing short of brilliant. Our values and mission are incredibly strong, and they're put into practice in everything we do. Plus, you get to work with a diverse range of disciplines and be part of something that values engineering excellence.
Interested in a technology career at The Very Group? Visit our careers website to learn more.