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Moving up the Stack: The ACG & LA developer experience

Scott Pletcher
Scott Pletcher

The developer experience within enterprises is becoming more sophisticated, as organizations select tools that drive compelling experiences internally, as well as compelling results for their customers. 

In our webinar, Moving up the Stack with ACG and LA, Scott Pletcher sits down with Scott Travis, Team Lead of Software Engineering, and James Hoegerl, Principal Software Engineer, to find out what practices and tools ACG and LA are implementing, and what advice they have for those trying to get into cloud development. Let’s peek behind the curtain and see what life is like.


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What has the experience been like moving up the stack?

Well, to answer this question, we must first answer, what even is the “stack”

According to James, “My mind goes technical, obviously. And so, for me the stack is… what is your application technology stack? You know, what tools are you using to compute things, what tools you’re using to store your data, what tools are you using on the browser or the mobile application to display your front end?”

Ultimately though, the tech stack is important but it’s not as important as how you run that tech stack. It’s important to choose what fits your resources, and it’s important to choose a tech stack that fits the skills of your team.”


At the end of the day, it’s more about how you run your organization that attributes your success.


Before this roundtable, there was some back and forth, trying to understand what it really means to “move up the stack”. In some cases, it may mean starting with the fundamentals, the very basic stuff, and then adding all the other tool sets that augment your development process and resources.

But it can also take on a different meaning – your learning journey – as you build your confidence and mastery of whatever group of tools and software, SDKs, and libraries you happen to use regularly.

You get more sophisticated and build confidence, and that’s another meaning of “moving up the stack”. 


WATCH: Moving up the Stack with ACG and LA
Curious about the developer experience? Take a peak behind the curtain in this free, on-demand webinar as our devs discuss cloud career development and the tech stack that keeps the wheels spinning at ACG.


So, what stack does A Cloud Guru use?

The ACG platform has always been a serverless-first, AWS-first stack. There’s a Javascript service framework and cloud native tools like DynamoDB for data storage, Lambda functions that work in conjunction with the service framework, and React and Node.js on the front end. That’s just a snippet of what the ACG content platform looks like, but when ACG acquired Linux Academy, we basically added another separate stack of technology.

And originally the Linux Academy stack was “very old school,” says Scott T. “What we kind of grew into was running Ruby on Rails on Docker, and an ACS.” 

“It separates you from most of the traditional server technologies, but not all the way. It’s not all the way over till it’s like Lambda and things like that.”

“That’s what we run: it’s Ruby on Rails, Lambda sort of, Rest API, it’s pretty close to what you would expect from the past 10-15 years of development, but it’s the more mature version of all that.”

To find out more about what we’ve learned through multiple integrations, how we use Agile, and what a day in the life of a SaaS platform developer looks like, watch the full webinar here.



So what advice do we have for someone wanting to get into software development?

  1. You don’t need a degree to be successful, you just need drive

Between tools that Pluralsight and A Cloud Guru offer, you can really learn what you need to in order to be successful in this field – a college degree is not a requirement. You can start taking some of these pathways, like on Pluralsight for development, or on A Cloud Guru for cloud learning, operations, and DevOps. Follow these learning paths, create a really good foundation, and start learning how you can break into the space. Our whole goal at Linux Academy was to help over a million learners, and I think we achieved that.

  1. Get hands on and learn

The most important thing for development is to just go and make stuff. Go and program, write code for any purpose you can think of, make an app or a game, whatever floats your boat, but gain that experience. The most important thing in the world in development is experience. It doesn’t have to be experience at a company though, you can make your own experience, so when you go into that interview later down the line you can call out which tools got you excited, or which you found frustrating to work with. And if the person interviewing knows what they’re talking about, and they know what to look for, they’re going to pick up on the skills you’ve gained from getting hands on and understanding the software development ecosystem.

  1. Build a portfolio

Create your own things. Create your own repository for starters, and then start building your portfolio because that’s something very valuable – to be able to go into an interview and say, “here’s my resume, but also hey here’s my github repo, and all the cool stuff that I did,” and you can talk through that. When we talk about experience, I don’t necessarily think we’re always talking about just raw years of experience. We’re talking about a diversity of experience in different environments and solving different problems and challenges. Don’t be intimidated by roles that say you have to have at least 10 years of experience doing this one thing, because 10 years of doing one thing is different than two years of doing seven different things, and having that much richer depth to your knowledge.


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Start building your cloud skills with these 10 fun hands-on projects to learn AWS.


Dealing with imposter syndrome as a software developer (or in any other role)

If you’re going into an interview or if you’re changing careers, you’ll likely feel a little bit of self doubt, and that’s totally normal.

You might be thinking, maybe I shouldn’t really be here, or all these other people are so experienced and smart. I’m just here at the bottom of the learning curve staring up at an insurmountable wall. It’s kind of like the great wall on the American Ninja Warrior course, where you have to run up and try to grab it just right, and that can feel pretty disheartening.

So how do you get past that?

“I’ve dealt with that my entire life, and I will tell you one thing from my personal experience that’s gonna sound a little downer, but it’s going to become positive, so bear with me,” says Scott T. “You will never, ever stop feeling like someone knows this thing better in the room, better than you did. And it’s going to be true, especially if you’re in a good company that encourages a wide variety of experience.

“Someone is going to know something a lot better than you are, and the important thing is to realize that’s okay. In fact, that’s a good thing. That is healthy. That means that you have the opportunity to learn more. To get better. And learning to really embrace that as a positive, I think, is one of the most transformational things you can do to be honest.”

James says what has helped him the most is being comfortable with asking the question: “So many times you think [asking] will reveal that I don’t know this, I don’t understand this, and that I really shouldn’t be here. It’s so funny how so many times it has the opposite effect. You [instead] look like the person who is trying to get a better, holistic understanding of what’s happening.”


Let’s start your AWS journey

Ready to level up your AWS skills? Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned cloud pro, A Cloud Guru’s learn-by-doing approach will help you master the cloud and advance in your career.


Has this piqued your interest? Want to know more about the ACG and LA developer experience? Watch through the whole webinar, free and on-demand right now!

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