From the time a young Kushan dismantled his cassette recorder, taking a month to put it back together and making it work again, his future journey was clear. It came as no surprise when Kushan chose Electrical Engineering as his degree subject and technology as his career.
Having graduated from Moratuwa University in 2003, Kushan had roles at Virtusa and Aepona, before joining Mitra Innovation as a Software Architect in 2017. His first project was helping Kraydel, a young tech company, based in Northern Ireland, who took on the challenge of building an assisted living service, enabling elderly people to live independently in their own homes. Kushan had worked with Paul Moorhead from Kraydel before and was instrumental in getting the product to market: “I had a keen interest in the Internet of Things (IoT) domain, and spent a year on the project. We helped Kraydel with prototyping, using AWS, WSO2 and the core technology, Java.” Kushan moved on to several more projects, among them CarerCard and VPBank, where he developed a microservices solution.
His work for VP bank contrasted with his next project, Travis Perkins Rocket Universe. Moving from microservices to a monolithic, legacy architecture, Kushan had to re-skill in the much older technology. Rocket Universe wouldn’t have been Kushan’s first choice, the legacy tech stack was complex and limited to Travis Perkins. But Mitra needed software architects willing to retrain and Kushan volunteered. He says: “Mitra supported me well, arranging a two week training course with Brian Leach, a key expert trainer in the Rocket Universe world. Brian is an amazing trainer and allowed us to split the training into two one week modules, with time in between for self study.” Brian trained 7 Mitra engineers in total on Rocket Universe to provide support for the legacy system during the lengthy upgrade process. Although Rocket Universe is an ageing, monolithic system, Kushan tells us that there are clear parallels with the leading edge technologies. “It’s a multi-value database and we can draw parallels with the No-SQL databases that we use today.” Kushan talks fondly about the team of 7 engineers who worked on the project, especially the Technical Lead Heshawa De Silva who provided guidance and support in the early days.
The biggest challenge with the project has been resourcing. New recruits didn’t want to work on the older technology. The pressure to fill engineering posts is immense and ongoing, and finding the right mix of skills and mindset can be a challenge.
With Kushan being the mainstay of the project, client escalation issues remained at zero for over 9 months, with only minor issues since. As engineers come and go, what is consistent is the delivery support from Mahasen Bandara and Rajinda Rathnapala, with Sanjeev Palihawadana and Chinthi Weerasinghe providing leadership to the project. Due to the nature of the resourcing challenges this project brought, Kushan worked with Head of Managed Services Janak Gunasekera, developing a highly efficient training program and a pool of trained in-house engineers to call on; resulting in better support and issue resolution.
But when asked what Kusan feels is his greatest achievement, it isn’t mastering a legacy system, or sticking with it long enough to provide invaluable support to Travis Perkins. His proudest moment was working on the MyCall project with cricketing star Peter George. The Australian International cricketer saw an opportunity to use technology to solve an age-old umpiring problem in Cricket, and the potential for enhancing that technology and making it accessible to top cricketers and juniors alike. Kushan says: “I’m most proud of my work on MyCall. We built a beautiful product to detect no balls in cricket, using Node-red. I was the architect and developer on the project. We built multiple dashboards providing complex analytics and it was a huge success.”
Living in a legacy world hasn’t been easy for Kushan, but he has done a brilliant job while hoping to return to projects using his favourite tech stacks in IoT and microservices, but he is quick to mention the fantastic support Mitra has offered and how much the onboarding of Managed Services has helped.
When asked if he would change anything about the last year, he asked for more company organised family-friendly events to which he can bring his 10 year old son. Hopefully with Covid restrictions easing, this is something we can all look forward to!