If you have ever taken any training modules or learned something new by going through the official documentation, the material you used was probably written or co-authored by one or many contributors. These individuals often are volunteers who offer their time and expertise to cover knowledge gaps in our portfolio or to keep the existing content current.
In this series, we’ll interview repeat contributors to the Microsoft Learn platform to get to know them better and learn what motivates them to keep contributing.
Today, we're thrilled to introduce you to Callum Coffin, a technical leader in Microsoft's Innovation Acceleration Team (IAT). With a wealth of expertise in designing and building solutions for strategic customers across the globe, Callum is well-known and respected in the tech community. He is also a dedicated member of the community, regularly speaking at Azure-focused conferences.
Callum's contributions to the Microsoft Learn platform have been invaluable. He has led a team of experts to author and publish the Mission Critical content, showcasing his commitment to delivering high-quality and rigorously engineered solutions. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at Callum's background, experience, and motivations for keeping up his contributions to the Microsoft Learn platform. So, get ready to be inspired by this remarkable technical leader and learn what drives him to make such a significant impact on the tech community.
The Azure Architecture content team nominated Callum for leading the v-team and collaborating with our content developers to publish our mission-critical content. Some of his recent contributions to Microsoft Learn are:
Sherry: Welcome, Callum! It's great to have you with us today. Can you tell us a little bit about your current job at Microsoft?
Callum: Of course! While I consider myself primarily an application developer, my career has exposed me to a wide range of problem domains. I've worked on various enterprise migration scenarios. Through these experiences, I have gained a deep understanding of the value of guidance based on collective learnings from customer engagements and how it can be scaled to benefit those who are new to the field.
My team and I created the Virtual Data Center (VDC) guidance, which evolved into the Enterprise Scale Landing Zones (ESLZ), now called Azure Landing Zones(ALZ).
Currently, one of my focus areas is mission-critical workloads, and with C+E Skilling organization, we established the successful Mission-Critical architecture guidelines that have led to many technical efficiencies and Azure commitments. It's been an exciting journey, and I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had to work on such impactful projects.
Sherry: That's really interesting, Callum. It's great to hear about the inspiration behind the Mission-Critical architecture guidelines and how they help customers build and operate highly reliable applications on Azure.
You are one of the top contributors in Azure Architecture Center (AAC). I'm curious to know what inspired you to start contributing and what keeps you motivated to continue?
Callum: Thank you, Sherry. My motivation for contributing to the Azure Architecture Center (AAC) stems from a commonality of challenges that customers were facing while trying to design, build, and operate highly reliable applications on Azure. I noticed that traditional on-premises methods for achieving reliability were not translating well to the cloud, as it is a highly-distributed multi-tenant environment with many moving parts. This led me to research and develop best practices for resiliency, self-healing, robust operations, health modeling, and continuous validation, which I found to be fundamental to designing well-architected, highly reliable workloads.
We could have posted a series of blogs to share these recommended approaches with others! But we decided to use the Azure Well-Architected Framework, as it provides a great platform for publishing and disseminating this type of information. Additionally, the Learn publishing platform offers a range of capabilities and content types that are well-suited for mission-critical architecture.
Working with the C+E Skilling organization has also been a positive experience and an additional motivating factor. I hope that my contributions will continue to help others design and build highly reliable applications on Azure.
Sherry: This is a great insight, Callum. For individuals who are interested in contributing to open-source content, what advice would you give them?
Callum: Firstly, I would recommend that they gain a thorough understanding of the particular problem domain they are interested in contributing to. This will involve a lot of research, reading, and experimentation to become proficient in the technology before subsequently validating and evolving a proposed approach through real-world customer scenarios. Once a validated understanding exists, they can start contributing to the Learn platform by creating and publishing articles that provide guidance on how to use solve the problem effectively.
However, I would also encourage contributors to think beyond just the initial Proof of Concept (PoC) development stage. While there are many references available for technology scenarios that provide a great starting point for PoC development, the process of moving from PoC to production can be complex and challenging. This is where customers often require the most guidance, and this is where contributors can add the most value.
Therefore, my advice to those who want to contribute to open-source content is to focus on the "white space" between PoC and production. This will involve creating content that provides practical advice and guidance on how to move from PoC to production effectively. By doing so, contributors can make a real difference in the community and help to ensure that technologies are used effectively to solve real-world problems.
Sherry: That’s great advice. Thanks for sharing that. We know that you are a highly accomplished individual when it comes to your work, but we're also interested in getting to know you better outside of work. What do you like to do in your free time?
Callum: Well, I'm a proud father of two young children, with my youngest being only a few months old. I would describe a lot of my free time as simply surviving parenthood. When I do have some downtime, I enjoy playing video games on my Xbox. I've been a big video game nerd for as long as I can remember.
Sherry: Do you have a favorite video game?
Callum: It is pretty difficult to pick an all-up favourite game, but I am a big fan of all things Halo, which has a lot to do with what drew me to Microsoft for my career.
Sherry: That's great to hear, Callum. It's always interesting to learn about people's hobbies and interests outside of work. Before we wrap up, is there anything else you would like to share about your experience as a contributor?
Callum: Yes, absolutely. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the C+E Skilling organization at Microsoft, who have been instrumental in helping us to deliver impact at scale. Their expertise and support have been invaluable in our efforts to share our knowledge and contribute to the community.
Sherry: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today, Callum. It's been a pleasure learning more about your experiences as a contributor and the impact of your work. We greatly appreciate all the valuable contributions that you have made and the partnership you have with our organization. Your dedication and expertise are truly inspiring, and we are grateful to have you as a member of our community.
Callum’s recent top contributions
To keep up with Callum, follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/calcof
To learn more about contributing to Microsoft Learn, visit the Microsoft Learn documentation contributor guide.
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