Peng Jian Zhang | Lead Software Engineer, Journey-to-Cloud, NEXT Architecture

Chasing the passion for coffee and cloud

Posted on Aug 04, 2021

Peng Jian Zhang is on a quest to make the perfect cappuccino. This is just one of the many pursuits he has taken on since his journey with coffee began more than six years ago, about the same time he started working with NCS.

After graduating from Singapore Management University with a degree in Information Systems, Jian Zhang joined NCS as an Application Engineer and was based at a customer site in the Chinatown area when colleagues introduced him to coffee from a traditional coffee shop.

“It became my daily go-to,” said Jian Zhang, who remembers the Chinatown coffee as being “very buttery and sugary, and on the sweeter side”.

Since then, his preferences in coffee have changed. Today, he likes to have his coffee on the darker side, and tones down on the sweetness.

He recently bought a coffee machine and spends weekends experimenting with different coffee beans. He is even contemplating sourcing for different types of beans from different parts of the world.

Not content with brewing coffee, Jian Zhang is also trying his hand at coffee art, teaching himself through Youtube videos. He is still working to get the right texture in the milk and yes, he is practicing hard to get the perfect cappuccino.

If weekends are spent experimenting with coffee, weekdays are spent innovating with cloud.

Constantly striving for new and innovative solutions

Jian Zhang’s current role is Lead Cloud Engineer for NCS’ NEXT. Specifically, he designs and creates cloud infrastructure for projects.

“NEXT places NCS at the forefront of technology,” he said. “We are pushing for new and innovative ways to implement systems and to rearchitect how the entire IT ecosystem works.”

In line with this, he is working to “productise” the IT environment by scripting it out to deliver infrastructure as code. With the code and a set of templates, the infrastructure for multiple environments such as production, testing or development can be implemented much more quickly and efficiently.

“If we put it in relative terms, it works out to three times faster because we just need to create just one set of code which we can use to set up three different environments.”

Running point on cloud infrastructure

Jian Zhang joined the cloud engineering team in September last year and while his area of specialisation is cloud infrastructure, he also needs to know about the other different aspects of cloud such as databases, microservices and application programming interfaces.

This is important because he is also the go-to person for application teams looking to migrate their systems to the cloud. “There is a lot of integration involved,” he said. “Sometimes when applications are deployed into the cloud, they are not able to communicate with each other. Or there may be errors that arise from misconfiguration when applications are installed on the virtual machines, so my role is to help them to troubleshoot.”

What the future of cloud holds

Looking back at how the IT landscape has changed in the past six years that he has been with the industry, Jian Zhang noted that many of the projects that he is working on today involve converting existing on-premise infrastructure to the cloud. “What we see is an outsourcing of the data centre model so that organisations can focus more on application-driven innovation,” he said.

This will be key to unlocking the potential of digital, for both NCS and its clients. “With the cloud infrastructure piece in place, we can focus less on backend implementation and free up more resources for design and innovation, and for adding value to the client experience,” he said. “This is where I believe the IT ecosystem will be moving towards.”

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