Meet Anthony Hogg: Senior Enterprise Architect and Lifelong Learner
At Akamai and across the tech industry at large, best practices and tools are constantly evolving. To keep up with these changes, a passion for learning is key, especially among those who support and enable others. One Senior Enterprise Architect on Akamai’s Advanced Solutions team, Anthony Hogg, truly embodies this value.
Switching gears from philosophy to web development
Anthony’s foray into computers began while tinkering with his mom’s old Apple computers when he was a kid. One day, Anthony wanted to get around paywalls on shareware, so he found his way with the debugger. Back then, it didn’t occur to him that these skills could translate into a career. “It was way later that I discovered that this was actually a possibility for me,” he says.
Anthony went on to study philosophy and anthropology in college, and eventually pursued a master’s degree in information technology from the European Institute of Technology. While his IT degree helped him form a technical foundation for his career, his philosophy degree proved useful, too, giving him critical thinking skills and introducing him to logic and semantics.
“I tend to annoy people because I'm always asking, ‘What’s behind that acronym and abbreviation? What does it mean, and why are we using that word?’” he says. “It’s so important when you're designing a solution to actually have a very precise understanding of what it is that you're talking about, and what people understand it to be.”
Enhancing customers’ web performance
After working as a web developer, Anthony joined Akamai’s team in 2016 as an Enterprise Architect. In 2020, he transitioned to his current role as a Senior Enterprise Architect, in which he talks to customers and developers about how to get the most out of the Akamai platform and assesses their application’s web performance.
Anthony also spends his days pinpointing customer needs and determining which Akamai solutions best fit the situation. His process is methodical: First, he makes sure he understands customers’ assumptions about their application’s performance. Next, he gathers data, proves or disproves the initial assumptions, and proposes ways to solve the issues they’ve identified.
“Once you have the data … and you've made some proposals to address some low-hanging fruit, then it's a question of building an appetite for those changes,” he says. “Then the assessment becomes a real engagement over time.”
The importance of “learning to learn”
“Learning to learn is such a fundamental part of what we do,” says Anthony, and despite working in the field for more than a decade, he says he’s not done growing his skills. Upon arriving at Akamai, he expanded his knowledge during the onboarding process and training with regard to content delivery networks (CDNs).
“I was absolutely excited and terrified, and I thought I could never learn all of the stuff that clearly was required,” he reflects. “It's a very rich learning experience, understanding how such a big and distributed platform works, including how you can tweak it to do the cool things that we make it do. It was all a bit of a surprise, really.”
Sharing knowledge about CDNs
Just as he’s constantly teaching himself new ways of approaching problems, Anthony gets to assist other developers through his involvement in the Developer Champions program, an advocacy program that helps Akamai employees better meet customer needs. In one memorable encounter, Anthony had the chance to teach a group of front-end developers not only about what Akamai does but also how the Akamai platform and CDN work.
“I think that teaching moment was one of the most thrilling moments of transmission for me in a developer advocacy context,” says Anthony. “I helped people to understand that the CDN is more than just something that you tack on, and instead is something that you can fully use.”
Following his curiosity at Akamai
Anthony’s time at Akamai has continued to fuel his curiosity and his drive to solve problems. During one rainy vacation with his family, Anthony took out his computer and created a way to analyze traffic logs and process the properties of his customers’ web traffic.
“In those five days, I whipped up a way of writing Python-based queries against logs that would run against the Hadoop cluster we have, which hosts our log archive,” he says. “It was an elegant solution that people then picked up. … There was a lot of positive reception, and now we're still using it.”
Useful resources within and beyond the Akamai ecosystem
To keep up with changes in the field, Anthony has a few go-to resources:
GitHub, an open source code repository, has been a well of inspiration for Anthony. Akamai’s GitHub, in particular, has been a big help in connecting with developers, and Anthony is excited to see Akamai’s presence on the platform grow. “I'm looking forward to us really building a kind of community that we give to, and that gives back.”
When learning about a new tech topic, Anthony likes to do a deep dive into the underlying math concepts, definitions, and history. Wikipedia has been an invaluable resource for that type of information. In addition to being an avid user of the site, Anthony is also a proud contributor.
“I have such a debt of gratitude to that service,” he says. “It's really a good thing that we have that resource, even if it's not always 100% accurate and is sometimes opinionated. That's the real nature of collaborative content.”
When developers need additional resources, Anthony often finds himself directing them toward Akamai’s developer site, which he’s excited to see evolve in the future. He also receives direct requests from customers who come across information there, asking how they can go further with the topic.
On one occasion, a customer reached out to discuss a blog post Anthony wrote about using Jsonnet, a templating language, to build an end-to-end workflow for managing CDN configurations. “It was rewarding to see them just run with it.”
For web development news, Anthony frequently turns to platforms like Medium and Reddit. The blog dev.to has also helped him stay up to date on tech trends. “I spend maybe half an hour or an hour every week going through that content.”
Leveraging the power of the Akamai edge
Anthony and his colleagues are always “learning to learn,” and Akamai as an organization is similarly finding new outlets for improvement. Since Anthony joined the company, he’s seen a few technologies transform the way he and customers work, particularly Akamai Edge Cloud, which leverages the power of the our edge platform to streamline and secure data delivery.
“What it means for people like me is that there's much easier access to infrastructure for both experimentation and implementation of proof of concept things,” says Anthony. “I can also run add-on services that aren't directly part of the platform. That's been a massive boost, especially to my team.”
The growth of Akamai EdgeWorkers, which developers can use to deploy code and services within their Akamai platform, and Akamai EdgeKV, a distributed key-value store to accompany it, add to the excitement that Anthony is experiencing at Akamai. “I think the whole industry is really coming to grips with the fact that the future is the edge, right?” he laughs.
Learn more about Anthony Hogg’s story
Interested in watching the full interview? Find this episode of The Developer’s Edge on our YouTube channel.