Tech Leader Spotlight // Travis Nelson

For Code Talent’s first Denver Tech Leader spotlight, Code Talent sat down with Travis Nelson who is currently igniting a new meetup: Denver Microservices. The group is all about networking and collaboration among a specialty, local microservices community. We asked about what he does, what he’s planning on doing, and why Denver is the right place.

Outside of Microservices, Travis is the Director of Engineering at Placeable as well as the Vice President of Java User Group.

What is your involvement in the tech community?

Five years ago I started helping out with the Denver Java User Group. I saw that there was a lot to be done, but  really only one guy doing all the work for the group, and I started helping out. I then moved up to a VP role for the organization. Contributing was mainly a selfish thing, I wanted to help out but I also wanted to learn more so I decided to immerse myself in all the latest and greatest technologies. I got speakers to come in to talk about the subjects I wanted to learn more about so I could really pick their brain and then have them as a resource later down the road.

Lately, though, I have been stepping back from java applications. I’m starting this new group and doing Microservices, which has been my main focus as of recently.

Why did you choose Denver?

I’ve been in Denver for 8 years now, I moved up here from Colorado Springs. I really love the Denver community as a whole. It’s a big city center, big community involvement with technology...just career wise it is nice to have a lot more options. Denver gets people coming in from other states, other areas that are coming here on consulting gigs. Them coming through town is a great way to tap that resource. Some of these people come from all over the world and they speak all over the world and it’s really neat to have Denver be a stop on their tour. So, getting that community involvement in Denver makes it a bigger area for those technologies to come together and collaborate.

What types of projects do you like working on in your free time?

Since I work with computers all day, and code, and I’m immersed in all that, it’s fun to do something with my hands when I go home. So I do a lot of remodel projects. I also like to see how things work, so I’m always taking something apart and putting it back together.

On the code side of things, my wife has an etsy shop, and I wrote a competitive analysis tool to see what her competitors were doing and which ones were succeeding. I tried to gather as many analytics as I could to see their elements of success and try to give her that visibility to try to replicate that or correct some of the stuff that she might not have known were issues.

What is your typical work space like, and why do you like it?

About a year and a half ago I moved to a standing desk, and I really like it. Just because sitting at a desk is not a good thing, it’s hard to maintain that good posture. So, by standing it’s forcing a proper posture.

In the office, I like to be with everyone. I don’t like isolation. I think the cube style of work is terrible, it’s a terrible environment. It’s not conducive for collaboration so being in an open space definitely leads to good team interaction and problem solving.

What is the coolest technology you are currently working with?

Microservices, the shift in the mindset of a monolithic application and breaking it up into these smaller pieces. More and more resources are now available for microservices architectures, so we're seeing a change in the way we build software. We're moving away from the mentality of applications that sits idle half the time and creating microservices that can automatically scale when needed. Also, by making small applications as abstract components that you can drop on any machine and let it run, you aren't relying on a customized server that you can't rebuild the exact same when it inevitably dies in the future.  It really enables you a lot more flexibility with your server usage, and allows for more exploration with new technologies since you're not bound to the application as a whole.

What entices you most about the Denver tech community?

Denver is such a big market that we have enough people here that we can have these smaller groups that focus on more specialty things like [microservices]. I want to create this microservices community, and there’s enough people in Denver that it’s gonna be a big thing. There are all these specialty groups that can thrive because there is such a big community involvement between Denver and Boulder. In smaller markets, you have to be more generalist because you don’t have enough people around you that are focusing on the same thing.

There’s only a couple different hubs in the world that can have this kind of thing happen and we are lucky to be in this big of a technology sector. We are the catalyst for all these neat things.

What will the most important technology be in 2017?

There’s just so many. Each industry is really making strides so it’s really hard to say on that. I think, just the ability to share resources, like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform...those are really enabling great technology advancements. 

If you could improve one thing about the tech community in Colorado right now, what would it be?

We’re doing great. I don’t think we need to improve anything. We have good beer, great tech community, great weather. I looked at moving away a few years ago. I think I’ll remain in Colorado my whole life but I just thought i’d want to move away just to kinda get a different perspective for awhile but why move? I love it here, I love everything about it.