Jan has developed and contributed many useful Talend custom components. He loves to learn, teach, innovate and… fly remote-control airplanes?!?
We’ll get to that part about the RC airplanes in a moment. First, let’s get to know Jan Lolling as a programmer and consultant. You’ll see that his work with Talend and the Community has actually helped make real airplanes safer.
10 years of Talend experience
Jan began his career as an engineer with Deutsche Telekom almost 30 years ago, working on radio transmitters. He switched to the IT field in 1999, and became a consultant in 2010, based in Berlin. He specializes in business intelligence data warehousing, object-oriented programming, and business process management. And he became a Talend fan a decade ago.
“I started learning Talend because the tools I was using were just not flexible enough,” he said. “If they didn’t fit your use case—phfffffttt—too bad, you’re out of luck. With Talend, that wasn’t the case. Talend was extensible to any use case, and I was very impressed by that. Of course, since Talend is open source you can also use it without a huge budget—and you can contribute and make it better.”
Great ideas should be shared
Jan started contributing and making Talend better right away, because he has always felt that the best ideas should be shared with a community.
One of his first successes as a consultant occurred when an automotive spin-off of (mobile.de) needed a better way to do data analytics. “They asked me to create something to get data into their data warehouse more efficiently so they could perform more effective analytics,” said Jan. He created the well-known tGoogle Analytics custom component on Talend and won the project. He then contributed the component to Talend so others could benefit from it. You can find it on the Talend Exchange at https://exchange.talend.com/.
“That experience taught me that Talend isn’t just another data integration tool,” he said. “You can do anything with it. It enables you to provide an architecture for complex systems to solve key business challenges. And it’s not just good for creating custom components; it’s also great for finding and fixing code problems that come up. With Open Studio, the core is open source and there’s a great collection of enterprise tools around it, so whatever you’re looking to fix, there’s a good tool to help you.”
Another advantage of Talend, Jan discovered, was the Java integration. “You can use your Java knowledge. You don’t have to learn another proprietary language,” he said. “It’s easier to fix whatever goes wrong. With Talend, if there’s an issue, you dig into the Java code and you can see exactly where the problem is. With proprietary tools, good luck.”
Another early success for Jan was a project for Groupon, the popular e-commerce marketplace. “They had put report files in multiple places, and they were struggling with data integration and management with their different systems,” he said. “We created a data warehouse with Talend, and now Groupon only has one application to provide all their departments with the information they need. We helped them overcome their orchestration and other technical problems, and now they have a lot of Talend fans as well.”
Working with the Talend Community: “Just plain fun.”
Jan has been one of the most active and prolific contributors to the Talend Community. In the past 10 years, he has posted more than 2,600 times! “The Community is just plain fun, and I love helping,” he said. “It’s also a way of staying in touch with people. I encourage my clients to continue to send me technical questions, because other members of the Community will benefit from the conversation as well.”
But he admits he doesn’t know everything. “I’m not Superman!” he said. “I can’t answer every question and I’m not an expert on every subject. Sometimes people ask me extremely detailed questions about big data and I just don’t know the answer. I’m more into classic data integration and enterprise service bus topics.” One of Jan’s favorite topics today is BPM (Business Process Management). “It’s interesting, I’m learning, and I’m passing along my knowledge as fast as I can,” he said. He recently published convinent Talend components to
integrate Talend and Camunda (an Open Source BPM engine).
While his custom components aren’t created specifically for the Community, he is always happy to share them. “If I see a use case where we can create something with Talend that benefits my client and will also benefit the Community, that’s a win for everyone,” he said.
Now about those airplanes…
One of Jan’s newer clients is Lufthansa, the largest airline in Europe and the largest company in Germany. “They had bought software for maintaining aircraft, and of course they needed to ensure that there were no errors in integrating maintenance-related information—there was zero tolerance for any mistakes that could impact safety,” Jan said. “And they decided to use Talend for data integration.”
Lufthansa now has 12-15 systems integrated into the software, which is called AMOS (Avionic Maintenance Operating System). “It’s not exactly an operating system; it’s a collection of services and a web app for tasks and reporting,” said Jan. “They use Talend to integrate the data from the old system into the new system, and more than 80% of data transfers are now done via Talend. It’s a good example of how you can solve unusual problems and take on any use case with Talend.”
Jan’s experience with real airplanes has nothing to do with his passion for remote-controlled airplanes, however.
“Before this, my only hobby was programming,” he said. “It’s all I did. And then a friend of mine became burned out with his job, and I saw how much it affected him. And I couldn’t help but think that could happen to me, too. So I decided I needed something else.”
Today Jan is surrounded in his office by more than a dozen remote-controlled airplanes. Every chance he gets, he “heads for the wild,” as he puts it, and flies his planes.
“Don’t you want to start programming the control systems?” Jan was asked kiddingly by Richard Hall, another Talend Community Champion. “Wouldn’t that make for a great hackathon?”
Jan was having none of it. “I think I’ll keep the programming out of this hobby,” he said. “Believe it or not, there are other ways to have fun in life.”
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