Explore the future trends in AI & Cloud Native Era with Damien Murray, Site Lead at Eclipse Technology.
In our latest Tech-Sperts feature, we have the pleasure of sitting down with Damien Murray, the Belfast site lead and senior data architect for Eclipse Technology.
Damien's journey through the tech industry is nothing short of inspiring, and his insights into the world of data architecture and cutting-edge tech trends are a must-read for anyone looking to make their mark in this field.
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Can you tell us about your journey in the tech industry and how you ended up as the Belfast site lead and senior data architect for Eclipse Technology?
"I graduated from the University of Ulster in 1998 with a BSc in Mathematics and Computing. After a year of traveling in Australia, I began my tech career in Dublin, working for Lexmark. I returned to Northern Ireland and joined Allstate NI, where I worked on eCommerce platforms using ASP and later .NET. Subsequently, I spent five years at Citigroup, where I worked on their foreign exchange platform, building datamarts and creating reports. In 2011, I returned to Allstate, where I held various roles, including SA, BA, and eventually tech lead, focusing on building DataMarts. At the beginning of 2021, I became the site lead for Eclipse Technology, which provides coding solutions for our parent company, Solstice Innovations."
Can you share some insights into the exciting work Solstice Innovations is doing with their SaaS, cloud-native P&C core platforms without disclosing proprietary details?
"Solstice Innovations has revolutionised the insurance industry with its fully SaaS, cloud-native P&C core platform. They offer a pricing model that provides an affordable digital escape from legacy technology. The platform encompasses everything, from customer data to custom reports, effectively reducing the capital expenditure for insurance companies by up to 70%."
What are the unique challenges and benefits of working with NoSQL databases like DynamoDB in your role as a data architect?
"NoSQL databases like DynamoDB offer advantages such as rapid development and the ability to easily add new features without restructuring the database. Nesting data is straightforward, which allows for flexibility in data management. DynamoDB also boasts lightning-fast read/write times, making it ideal for large-scale data platforms. The challenge I face as a reporting data architect is creating reports that utilise this data efficiently without complex joins that are hard to maintain and enhance, while ensuring reports return in a reasonable time frame."
In your role as a data architect, can you describe the process of working with data from DynamoDB and turning it into a Snowflake datamart in a way that highlights the importance of data transformation and analytics without delving too deep into proprietary details?
"To address the challenges posed by semi-structured data, we employ a two-step process. First, we push our data to a Postgres database. Then, we use an ETL process to extract and transform nested JSON data, preparing it for migration to a structured Snowflake schema. This approach simplifies report development and eliminates the need for complex and costly joins, streamlining the reporting process."
Can you share a memorable success story or a project that was particularly challenging but ultimately very rewarding in your career?
"I've had the privilege of working on projects in the US with Allstate, wearing multiple hats as a Solutions Architect and lead data architect. These projects often had tight deadlines and budget constraints, and I distinctly remember working through Christmas Eve and Boxing Day to meet a project deadline for the new year. On a more recent note, working for Eclipse has been equally exciting, as we've had the opportunity to create a new reporting platform from scratch, which has come with its own set of challenges."
How do you stay updated on the latest trends and technologies in the tech and data architecture field, and how do you incorporate them into your work?
"In the fiercely competitive insurance industry, staying current with the latest technologies is imperative to remain ahead of competitors. This requires a proactive approach to investigating and adopting new technologies. During my tenure at Allstate, we invested time in researching and implementing technologies like Hadoop and PySpark as they became mainstream. With Solstice, we work in an environment that's entirely new and cutting-edge, which allows us to build from the ground up, free from legacy constraints."
What are some upcoming trends in the tech industry that you believe will have a significant impact on the future of tech?
"I anticipate that Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will continue to evolve and become increasingly prevalent in the insurance industry. These technologies will have diverse applications, from overhead drones conducting home inspections to AI-driven chatbots answering customer queries and ML algorithms providing in-depth analysis for the health and insurance sectors."
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