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FD.io Intern Spotlight: Javier Fernandez Valles

By February 8, 2019 No Comments

About Javier (in his own words):
I’m a passionate engineer, and person. I put my best effort in all of my commitments and really cherish learning experiences. I’ve grown up in two different worlds, in my hometown Madrid in Spain, and later on in my teenage years in Arizona. English was my second language which I learned at the age of 10. I have a great love for learning languages and cultures. Currently, speak Mandarin Chinese and Japanese as well as Spanish and English.

How did you hear about FD.io and what got you interested in this internship?
I learned about FD.io through my friend Jim St. Ledger who introduced me to Ed Warnicke. After a great phone conversation with Ed, he explained VPP and the exciting projects I could get involved in with the open source FD.io community. It sounded really interesting to learn about Packer Processing and getting experience writing documentation, so I decided the best next step in my career was to join FD.io.

Can you talk about your experience working on an open source project? Any aha moments? Key learnings?
Working on an open source project is quite amazing because you are able to share knowledge and collaborate with brilliant people from multiple organizations. Everyone has a different point of view and even though each company has different standards, each team member can provide unique benefits to the project. My greatest Aha moment was when I got to experience FD.io VPP (Vector Packet Processing) in action on my virtual machine and realize just how revolutionary the performance is. It motivated me to pursue a deeper understanding of packet processing. As we wrote the documentation, I got to study the source code and the algorithms utilized for L2 switching and L3 routing. Being able to do this, I gained a deeper grasp of the architecture behind FD.io VPP and began to look for ways to provide my own code contributions to FD.io VPP. After the internship I was invited to attend Kubernetes Conference 2018 in Seattle, Washington. While I was there I got to meet many of the engineers I had worked with remotely during FD.io. In addition, I gained exposure to a multitude of other interesting open source projects which furthered my interests in seeking a career in Computer Networking.

What is the coolest thing you’ve learned from your internship?
During my internship I have learned the power of the open source community and the flexibility to be able to contribute to different kinds of projects, and collaborate with engineers worldwide. This avenue is one I will want to pursue for the rest of my career and I hope I can contribute to many networking or cloud based open source projects in the near future.

Who is your mentor and what’s the experience been like?
My mentor is John DeNisco, someone who I’m in touch with regularly and who I look up to. He provided me with wonderful advice and taught me everything I know about networking. John is a true expert in this field, with over thirty years of experience, and showed a great passion for open source and packet processing. During the internship, I would meet with John two or three times per week and we would split the conversations in two parts, between composing documentation, and dedicating the other half to learning and gaining exposure of configuring, building, and using FD.io VPP. I had access to a powerful Intel Skylake Server through SSH commands allowing higher capacity tests of FD.io VPP, by providing more cores and NICs to assign to VPP and partitioning larger and more potent Virtual Machines than I could out of my home laptop.

What is your advice to others that are interested in open source?
My biggest piece of advice is to contribute quality over quantity. Build strong relationships with your teammates and other open source contributors, who you will most likely meet in person someday in conferences or during your next job. These people will connect you to further projects and ideas, which can shape you to have a fulfilling career. Open source is all about working on projects you are most passionate about, and your co-contributors will also share that passion. I believe that in open source your skills grow at a rapid rate that keep you on the cutting edge of technology. This enables one to work on the most exciting projects in the industry, as you will have invaluable skills to provide to any team or company that you are a part of.

What gets you jazzed to work with open source? (e.g. listening to music, drinking coffee, chatting in IRC.)
For me, the most exciting part of open source is the flexibility and freedom that one has. The feeling that I am working on a project that will innovate entire industries and that every contribution is adding a part of you to the project. This causes a greater motivation and appreciation for doing what one does. I also love attending conferences and having the chance to travel worldwide.  Open source completely fills me with energy to keep contributing.

Being in open source allows you to work from anywhere in the world and interact with lots of different people. What have you found most surprising about the open source developer community?
I have found that the people that work in open source have a unique sort of spark and motivation to do what they do. Everyone is an extremely talented and brilliant engineer and it is an absolute honor and privilege to work alongside other open source developers. The people who contribute to open source are working on projects that could and will change the world. It’s almost as if I am collaborating alongside super heroes, who all come together for a greater good, kind of like The Avengers of the engineering world. The global aspect of working on open source is something I embrace, as I have always been a lover of cultures and learning from new perspectives.

What do you want to do next? What is your dream job?
My current goal is to become a data plane developer in an outstanding company, and work on exciting projects.  I also look forward to continuing to collaborate with the open source community and The Linux Foundation, which I will hopefully always be a part of. I dream to move onto developing, ideating, or spearheading 5G and then 6G technologies. As of now, I have a Bachelor’s in Computer Science, and I plan to pursue a Master’s Degree in Computer Networking in the upcoming years from a great program, which will lead me to the next steps to following my dreams and passions in my career and lifestyle.