The Future Is Now: Dmitry Semenov Of Saritasa On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech Scene

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Learn to delegate quickly. You’ll save yourself a ton of time in the long run, and build up a team of competent people. Delegation is often the hardest part of leadership. It’s easy to do things yourself. It’s hard to ask for help.

As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dmitry Semenov, CTO.

Dmitry Semenov has over 20 years of experience building and managing technology projects. He is proficient in full software lifecycle development, with deep knowledge in PHP, .Net, iOS and Android. He is skilled in the architecture of high demand, high traffic systems and has worked extensively with complex databases and integrating diverse software environments.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Back in the 80s, I used to dream about having a computer at home. My mom worked in the software industry. Occasionally I got the opportunity to visit her workspace, meet with her colleagues, and play various games.

Through that, I met some extremely talented developers. Remember, back in those days there was no internet, no People had to store a massive amount of information in their minds. They had no opportunity to find a quick solution and therefore they were required to understand the technology or the language at a very serious and deep level. So they were true masters of their craft.

I remember monochrome displays, IBM XT, then IBM XT286, IBM Keyboards, Magnetic disks, and 64 Kb memory. It is crazy how quickly technology evolved in 30 years. Then Quake, Doom, and Duke Nukem 3D. I got the 33.6 kb modem and spent hours of gaming with my best friend (and occupying the phone line). I got my first computer at home when I was in university studying computer science.

I loved programming. When the internet became somewhat available (very expensive back then, when you had to pay per MB). I learned PHP3 language and developed the first web reporting solution for the bank I was working in. Then I got a side gig and developed a full dating site using PHP language. That became my hobby — the internet and web apps. This hobby turned into a passion for me. I kept programming more and more. I was then hired as director of web development in a local ISP. Eventually, I formed my own development company.

In 2007 I met with my future partner in the USA by responding to his ad about development needs. We started working on several projects and eventually met in the USA and decided to join our companies. That is how I became CTO and concentrated on the technology side of things in Saritasa. I was always following the path of the “interest” — because I can only do great things if I love doing these great things. All these years — I still **LOVE** what I’m doing despite the stress, risk, weekend, and nightly work.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The most interesting stories are the stories of people I’ve worked with for many many years, shoulder-to-shoulder, that are growing, improving, maturing, and changing. Watching them change is very rewarding for me, as I know I’ve helped them, influenced them, or put a different perspective on things that were important to them. At the same time, these people changed me as well. They helped me become a better person, a better professional.

Can you tell us about the cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Over the years we developed many interesting, complex, and rewarding projects — “Mobile Medic” which helps paramedics on-scene, “Trivver” which changed how VR/AR advertisement can be done, and many many many more. We’ve built thousands of projects over the years. When you work on serious projects — the stability and the quality of the infrastructure solution becomes a key element. That element requires special skills, special people, and special culture. It is possible to create a great solution at the code level, but have the project fail because the infrastructure keeps failing or not performing under load. This is where the importance of DevOps comes in. DevOps, Cloud, Security, and Kubernetes have become a hot topic in the development world. The companies who get it done right will have a much better journey than the ones who don’t care where their code/apps are living.

How do you think this might change the world?

The Cloud, Security, Containers, Scalability, Observability, Continuous integration, Continuous deployment, and Kubernetes / nomad / terraform are very complex topics. Multiply each by nuances of their technology stacks (Go, Python, PHP, .NET, Java, etc), and it gets even more complicated. Developers don’t want to focus on them. It’s too complex. They want to use them. Just like you want to use your car without really worrying about how the gas is injected into the motor. You just want it to work whenever you need it.

The same is true for code. It’s said that development is a “black box” for non-technical folks. DevOps is an even blacker black box, but people still want it to work 24/7. DevOps helps hide these complexities from “consumers” — developers, end-users, managers, etc. DevOps are the “blood and heart” of the entire system. They’re in most cases hidden from their consumers but are critically important for any business/project/SaaS.

DevOps either allows consumers to show and do their best or renders them inefficient.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

DevOps (and the tools behind it) is the culture. If we are going with the “Black Mirror” analogy, you could refer to it as a “cult”. Invest into it with care. Imagine you created your own “cult” and the primary spokesperson you relied on left. Now you have unmanaged followers and a power vacuum. An internal struggle is guaranteed. You may end up worse off than where you started.

So invest in DevOps only if you understand that this is a long-long-term investment. And ensure you have a team of people you can truly trust. You will get results in the future, but not in 3–4 months. The biggest risk is retention. If you hire someone who quits on you in a year just to find out that nobody can support what they have “crafted”. You’ll waste time and money.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

The efficiency of the development team. If the team is not efficient you may lose 40 cents on the dollar. Which is huge, especially in the case of bigger and distributed teams. A proper process can save businesses an enormous amount of money and headaches each year. The wrong process can generate an enormous amount of expense and headache every day. The quality of your culture within the organization is the key point. A formal approach to DevOps is never a success. It is unique for each organization as each has different requirements, nuances, and usage of the technology.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption

Commitment. As I’ve said, DevOps is a culture, not a single technology or process. To implement and maintain a culture, you need to commit to it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

The people I work alongside every single day. One of them is my partner — Nik Froehlich. I used to be a black/white mentality person. The answer was either YES or NO. There was no in-between. He taught me to realize there are a lot of shades between black and white. This helped me in many areas — not just in technology, but with people and life in general. I rarely saw him being emotional through many years and many stressful scenarios. You get in the boat with him and you pull and pull. And then pull more. We pull and push every single day. This is fun and very rewarding. My best Vegas experience was with my partner and I remember it fondly. I hope to repeat it one day!

Back in 2008, I distinctly remember we were working in the office in Corona Del Mar. It was a sunny evening. We heard a loud noise outside and went onto the veranda just to see that his car was smashed by a drunk driver. His car at the time was an expensive convertible. The driver destroyed it. Nik was very calm, not angry at all, not a single thread of panic. When the police arrived, we told them we had a client meeting and left the scene. He never seemed to be upset and handled the situation with grace. I was very surprised because I would’ve reacted differently back then.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

To teach people to become better people and better professionals.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.

Don’t start a business with friends or you will have no friends. Adding business and money complications into an existing friendship can lead to issues down the line. It’s better to focus on finding partners who you trust and growing those relationships based in a business mindset.

Learn to delegate quickly. You’ll save yourself a ton of time in the long run, and build up a team of competent people. Delegation is often the hardest part of leadership. It’s easy to do things yourself. It’s hard to ask for help.

You can’t change toxic people, regardless of how hard you try. Don’t waste your energy on people who you can’t help. It’ll be a drain of time and resources better spent elsewhere. Focus on the people you can help and you’ll be better off in the long run.

You can’t expect others to be like you or share and value the same ideas as you (but you should still keep trying to do that every day). Everyone has different life experiences which shape how they interact with the world. You should still try to help people, but understand not everyone has the same background as you do.

Other people have their own opinion, you don’t win if you overwrite their opinion. You win if both of you take something new from the conversation.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Clean your own street/community/city. Just go out and do it once a day — meet other people doing the same thing. That way people unite as they live in the place they value and love.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

You will regret that you didn’t do more than what you did.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I don’t feed my brain from social media. I don’t post on Linkedin, FB, Instagram, etc. Why? I just don’t need to share my thoughts and life with the internet. There’s enough “noise” out there already.

You can follow Saritasa on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter though.

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!

The Future Is Now: Dmitry Semenov Of Saritasa On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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