I am the Senior Platform Architect for Switch. I used to be a software engineer with a hardware focus, and I have extensive knowledge of how the products at Switch work. Therefore, it was natural for me to move into the platform architect role when the opportunity arose. I work with our CTO Dion Scher to help qualify emerging technologies and new services from cloud providers that will help us to make our products better. I have been with the company for the past 10 years and have seen to it that our systems continue to evolve so that we can stay at the forefront of the industry. That is what my role is: help the company map technologies that can improve and scale our products to their maximum potential.
In our space, we are dealing with huge sets of data. Billions of records on one portfolio! Just managing those billions of records, you need to have the technological capabilities that will allow you to configure them easily.
The traditional way of handling this data is using databases, but they are not enough. It is time consuming, and not geared toward analytics. Now, we have identified Databricks, a data lake in the analytical platform we are in.
If you ingest your data on the Databricks, you can now perform analytics that spans multiple years. Of course, it takes time, but it improves our efficiency. Databricks is our fast forward.
I was in the Philippines. 11 years ago, I was doing the same thing but on a smaller scale. We were working on projects for the government, and then on the side, working with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). The company that I was working for specialize in that, and that brought out my love for interfacing with hardware in general. Back then, we called it ‘machine to machine interfacing,’ but now it simply refers to IoT (internet of things).
I love interfacing with hardware, and in the Philippines, there are limited opportunities, and the IT infrastructure is quite different from Australia or the United States.
I contacted our Chief of R&D and Co-Founder John Darlington through Upwork, and he had a project for interfacing what they call a C-Bus. A C-Bus protocol is used to automate homes and buildings in Australia. At that time, the Switch platform focused on residential management and is quite different from what it is now.
I was able to work on that project and immediately understood that Switch’s technology had greater potential to grow towards various assets – though at the time was just interfacing with hardware support. You can imagine that there are lots of hardware that you can connect to in a home. For instance, controlling your pool, blinds, or the heating of floors. There are many devices, which I love to connect and control, so that is how I got hooked!
Over the past 10 years, I have seen many projects come and go, but one project still stands out today. I introduced the BACnet driver, which is still being used. At that time, Switch had not ventured towards commercial real estate yet. Seeing that as an opportunity, I suggested to our Co-Founders John and Deb to explore BACnet systems. It is quite a big project in terms of research and development, but fortunately, it worked. Whenever you connect to a new building, nine times out of 10, that building will have the BACnet protocol. As the main driver being used across buildings, I am proud of that finding and generous contribution to our current Switch technology!
Sydney is a very multicultural office, which is great! There are Australians, people with an Asian background, and then there is me, a Filipino who does not know anything about Australia. You get to meet many people and see how they work because, in the Philippines, it is different. With more diversity in Switch, there are multiple different approaches to doing things and greater opportunities in adopting that learning curve. To me, that is especially valuable. In a professional sense, the diverse culture allows me to improve how I deal with people, whether we collaborate virtually or in person.
Finally, the language. I have to convert my thoughts into English, unlike in the Philippines where you can speak without thinking. We call it Taglish – it is a mixture of Tagalog, our local language, and then English. That is how we usually talk there, it comes naturally. However, in Sydney, sometimes I have to pause and think about the word to properly articulate what I have in mind, which is another adjustment.
I would say it is our new product, Task Insights, which is our way of ingesting custom data.
This is revolutionary because previously, only developers like myself can ingest data on the platform. Now, Task Insights allows data scientists to write their own way of ingesting the data.
We have essentially expanded our team to continually aid our customers’ and partners’ development and deployment of smart building solutions. The result is that we are now able to ingest custom data much faster than before.
I would be a game developer because I like games that brings me joy, or if you are having a bad day, you can forget that and go into some fantasy world and you get to be relaxed for a few hours as a form of escapism.
Another one of my passions is AI, so I would be an AI developer. Software is very exact; you cannot tell it to do something if you have not programmed for it. It is the reverse with AI. You are programming the software for it to handle things that you have not programmed for. AI is very useful for our company. Part of what we work on at Switch is identifying anomalies, and an anomaly normally can only be detected by AI technology, at least efficiently. The traditional way is to set parameters, and if there is something outside of the parameters, that is an anomaly. But now, this is changing to training your software so that it can identify these anomalies without you setting the parameters. It is a paradigm shift. We are trying to achieve a generic way that works for all, which is difficult but can be done. So that is my passion – if I were not at Switch, I would be an AI developer.
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