Hi, I’m Mike de la Fuente – although most people call me Dela. I’m an American Hapa (Chinese/Filipino/Irish/German) technical leader and software developer living in Tempe, Arizona. I’ve been building websites and applications since 1995. On the weekends, I spend my time writing code, but at work, I have found that I get the most joy by mentoring and leading other software engineers.
Disasters will hit, data centers will go down, attacks will happen. If experience has taught me anything, it is that some projects and solutions are going to go sideways. But you don’t have to be unprepared for that moment. How your teams think about those scenarios from day one may save your organization countless hours and days from the initial detection of a problem through the process of patching the problem to understanding the actual root cause, its impact, and the appropriate next steps. The leadership of not only managers but your individual contributors can be the difference between scrambling during an all-nighter and feeling like you’re on top of the problem.
As a leader, 99% of the time, my hands don’t get to craft the solution. Instead, I leverage conversations, design sessions, and deep questioning to help teams see how to create a resilient system that meets the stakeholders’ needs. As I work with engineers, we discuss tradeoffs for the business/customer, the production cost of the solution, how to deploy to production the first time, how the team will maintain the project, failure points, possible blind spots, and a myriad of other production readiness guidelines. The end goal is always to leave the engineers thinking about building solutions that are much more holistic.
If you’re building hardware, you may need to take a more waterfall approach at some points. If you are building a software application, Scrum may make sense. However, early on in the project, it is plausible that running a time-boxed POC will get you the answers you need in a much more time-efficient manner. No matter what the process is, there are milestones and deliverables for every project. I help coach teams in requirements gathering, understand what meaningful milestones can be established, and set realistic timelines for deliverables.
My career has taken me from being a production artist at an advertising agency to building REST APIs that have processed billions of dollars worth of payments at scale. While I am still capable of doing full-stack work, my heart lies with the backend and helping backend teams build resilient solutions. I thoroughly enjoy .NET and the Microsoft stack – I even spent a year as a DevOps/Site Reliability Engineer supporting a payment processing solution running on Azure. I’ve also found myself managing Java teams running on Google Cloud. Whatever the need is, there are a few fundamentals that my teams have come to rely on – test automation, production readiness (monitoring, alerting, creating run books), and strong collaboration. For most projects, I also advocate for an approach I call “Deployment Driven Design,” – which starts with the fundamental question, “How are you going to deploy this to production with the desired amount of downtime?”