Speaker Interview: Rafael Barrero

Walt Disney's Rafael Barrero brings a decade-and-a-half of engineering experience to his SCALE 13x presentation, Cashing in on Varnish, which will be held on SCALE 13x Saturday at 11:30. Rafael spent some time talking with the SCALE Team about his presentation.
Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?
A: Hello there, I'm Rafael Barrero. I'm part of The Walt Disney Company, where I manage a team of Systems Engineers supporting ABC. My team is responsible for the system architecture, automation, application support and web operations for guest facing sites like WatchABC, WatchDisney, ABC, ABC News, ABC OTV, Family, and the Oscars.

In the mid-'90s I was exposed to Linux and it changed my view entirely on operating systems and technology, so I spent my formative years in Linux development startups which was a lot of fun!

I've been working in the Systems Engineering field for over 15 years and have experience in web operations, performance tuning, capacity management, technical documentation, software development, high-availability, architectural design, network and satellite communications.

Q: You're giving a talk on Cashing in on Varnish. Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: Yes, Caching or Cashing... both relevant, so whichever suits your fancy! This talk is will have something for everyone because it covers some granular technical aspects of Varnish, what purpose serves, why it's important, how it can save your hide and save you (infrastructure) money too. Not only that, but how to implement it! I'll tell a story about our life before and after our adoption of Varnish from an operations perspective, and also how ABC engineering teams has collaborated in the effort in a very DevOps fashion.

Q: Is this your first visit to SCALE? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: I've attended SCALE for the past few years and it continues to exceed my expectations year over year. I see a lot of learning happening which is a huge benefit the community overall.. each year the speakers, exhibitors are industry leaders who give great talks and make time to discuss technology at all levels. I enjoy making the rounds, chatting up the vendors and picking people's brain. It’s great that you will have small to large exhibits, which shows the commitment of SCALE to the community at large. With the technology boom that happening here on the SoCal, there's no doubt that SCALE will continue to grow.

Q: You mention DevOps and a few modern technologies in your talk. The Walt Disney Company is investing time here and leveraging these newer technologies?

A: Absolutely! The industry always thinks of us as just developing great feature films, but Disney is solving some very interesting and large scale problems given all the Disney owned companies that we support, like ABC. The Disney technology teams have really adopted a DevOps culture and it wasn't too long ago that we started making the rounds and presenting at conferences like ChefConf to spread the word about the work we're doing behind the scenes.
The ABC and ESPN engineering teams work very closely with our Systems Engineers to ensure that their guests online experience is always engaging.  Whether, it is the adoption of new trends, technologies or a combination we are fortunate to have and to hire the talent that makes this happen.
Everyone looks at the typical "big boys" of the internet, but from where I stand we're solving these large scale problems too, which is a fantastic incentive for our systems engineers. I think the only difference is that we are a bit more tight lipped.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

A: I'm excited about the talk and I'm looking forward to giving back to the community that has always been there for me. Hope everyone enjoys it!

[SCALE Team interview by Hannah Anderson]