Damon Tavangar, a Kickboxing & Mixed Martial Arts fighter by passion, is one of the most technically sound Magento Expert as well. He is currently the Sr. Project Manager at Silk Software Corp., where he is directly responsible for all IT development relating to Ecommerce. Damon is an ideal team member, his application specific experience, especially as it relates to Magento, is unparalleled. He is an extremely dedicated person who works smartly to get his job done at any cost. Besides possessing technical skills, he also loves to fight. He is also the Medal winner where he represented OCKMMA Team at SMAA Internationals.
Damon has been a part of the ecommerce industry since the early 2000’s and has never looked back since then. In this talk with Cloudways, Damon puts forward his career in Magento and how he got acquainted with eco-system surrounding the ecommerce industry. It was one of the most entertaining interviews I have ever taken and I am sure you are going to enjoy reading it.
Cloudways: Damon, you have vast experience of PHP & Web Development since 2000, coupled with years of experience with E-commerce. What made you choose Magento? Kindly share your words regarding your career history.
Damon: I initially started Ecommerce in the early 2000s working with multiple open source shopping carts. I realized that many had performance or security issues. I was hired for a larger project and I needed to find a more secure site with a good foundation for development and growth opportunities. When I first came across Magento, I was able to look past some of the performance issues it had on low-end servers, but the infrastructure and architecture were there to simply develop and push the limits of customizations.
Cloudways: You have the great experience with Magento, what challenges did you face initially? How did you tackle your problems and difficulties? If Magento was not developed, what would have been your preference for E-commerce?
Damon: Some of the bigger issues with Magento has been performance, indexing, and managing database with larger products. For instance, one of my current clients has over 800,000 configurable products and nearly 2 million simple products. To overcome some of the issues, we analyzed the Crons and ensured they were being fired during the correct times, re-architected the server structure to support the site, and used data from New Relic to identify problem areas. If Magento was not developed then, maybe ATG, Demandware or Hyrbis would have been the preferred choice. But who knows who would have taken Magento’s space in the open source Ecommerce.
Cloudways: Magento 2 has been launched and it is now available for all. How is it different from Magento 1? Do you think that Magento 2 is efficiently better for merchants nowadays?
Damon: Magento 2 is a big change for Magento. This is not simply an upgrade but more of a re-platforming from Magento 1. Some of the key features that are going to play a huge role for many retailers are:
1. Reduced page load times because of a more proactive caching mechanism. As a result of which, the queries are no longer being executed on page generations and instead, a static page is being generated.
2. All-new DB caching mechanism that minimizes the risk of table locking.
Overall, I think Magento 2 is much more scalable with huge core improvements over M1.
Cloudways: Would you suggest people implement Magento 2 instead of Magento 1? In your opinion, does it make a sense of urgency in developing and updating stores with Magento 2?
Damon: M2 is inevitable since Magento will only be supporting M1 for a few years. So while there is still time, it would be wise to start analysis and planning for the migration.
Cloudways: Do you think that Magento 2 is moving towards better computing techniques and principles? Magento 2 took a long time to come about and still it has many bugs to fix, what sort of features are you expecting in future?
Damon: I think the improvements are huge for M2, but as you mentioned, there are still a lot of issues being reported and Magento developers seem to be on the ball with quick patches. In the future, I would like to see Magento have a built-in version control and enforce stricter coding standards.
Cloudways: Magento 2 came up with a full testing suite, Magento Testing Framework (MTF). Why do you think there was a need for developing frameworks like MTF? In what ways it can help developers in Magento 2 developments?
Damon: I think one of the issues most developers are facing is testing, both acceptance and regression testing, especially with user interactions. Too many times we build some extensions, and once the code is released, it either behaves differently or some other piece of the site is no longer working properly.
I think MTF can help facilitate the testing and help point out issues before hitting production server.
Cloudways: What is the biggest opportunity for Magento 2? Do you prefer Magento 2 should adopt new technologies like newer versions of PHP, MySQL etc?
Damon: I could see Magento turning into a cloud-based service, where the business owners would pick a plan based on revenue and SKU count.
Cloudways: Name your first project on Magento. Currently, you are working as a Sr. Project Manager at Silk Software Corp. Share your work experience with our readers. On which projects you are working right now and what they are related to?
Damon: Wow, my first project! I think it was a publication company who had thousands of static .html pages where each had a hard link to a system called Cart32. Everything was managed manually and too much manpower was spent just to go through the site to update the prices and products. Magento was ideal because it gave us the flexibility to carry over many valuable aspects of the company. We were able to integrate Magento with many 3rd party vendors, and with Magento being PCI compliant, helped the company with the ease of mind of re-platforming.
At Silk, I manage all sort of projects, from simple one site to sophisticated multiple server environments. We have helped many business owners not only with issues on their sites, but also with speed optimizations, A/B testing, and CRO. We have also worked on many integrations with big names ERPs as well as we have built our own SAP B1 integration module for Magento. I think you can expect to see great things come out of SILK’s workshop in the near future as we are working on many exciting projects.
Cloudways: You love to fight. You have also represented OCKMMA Team in different events and are a Medal Winner at SMAA Internationals. How would you connect your Kickboxing and Martial Arts fight with your Professional Work? Is that something you do for fun or you have the passion for it just like Magento Development?
Damon: Well, as a Martial Artist you face issues that you don’t always encounter in normal days. So it’s important to maintain composure, remember your technique and work on what you have been training. I think same goes for development. You deploy some code to production and the site crashes, so it’s important that you stay calm, follow your training, and find the best solution. I think my martial arts background have helped me think quickly on my feet and always stay fixated on the task at hand.
Cloudways: For a developer, free time is a rarity but necessary. How do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies? Do you like sports and entertainment? What new activity would you like to try rather than repeating your daily routine?
Damon: Yes, free time is a rare item for us developers. I train and compete as a martial artist as well as I enjoy running and doing yoga—or anything else that would release the mind from everyday routine and get you ready for a new week. I also spend a lot of time learning about new technologies and keep myself updated on what’s new. These days, I spend a lot of time learning about Magento 2. I am very excited with the direction Magento is going.
Cloudways: Everyone has some people behind their success in their life. Name some people who inspired you the most and kept you going when the going got tough.
Damon: You know, inspirations can come in many colors and shapes whether it was a co-worker who had to take over his brothers work during the night so his one-year-old niece could have an open heart surgery or a personal friend who struggled through hardship to finish her education. The recipe for success and an improved life is no secret, the only question is how badly do you want to achieve it.
Cloudways: Cloudways provides 1-click Magento installation with awesome speed & famous cloud infrastructures embedded within the platform. Have you ever had a chance to try it on your own? I would highly appreciate if you can provide some suggestions or feedback about the platform. Also, do not hesitate to share your opinions of Cloudways for Magento hosting.
Damon: I think this is a great solution for those who want to get a Magento site working fast and quickly without the hassle and cost of major competitors. The site owners won’t have to deal with the typical issues many would face otherwise.
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Fayyaz, a passionate Motorbike tourist, works as a Team Lead — Magento Community at Cloudways - A Managed Magento Hosting Platform. His objective is to learn & share about PHP & Magento Development in Community. You can contact him at [email protected]