Tejas Chopra: A Stalwart and an Innovative Tech Leader

Tejas Chopra | Senior Software Engineer | Netflix | Inc_
Tejas Chopra | Senior Software Engineer | Netflix | Inc_

Entertainment and technology influence and are influenced by each other. As technology is getting enriched with significant advancements, artists have been stretching the limits of their imagination to amuse in increasingly better and more innovative ways.

Tejas Chopra is a Senior Software Engineer at the worldwide famous entertainment company Netflix. He is an expert in building on-premise and cloud-native distributed systems at scale, software as a service (SaaS), API & micro-services. Tejas is working on cloud and distributive systems that are designed to help artists create content from any part of the world.

Tejas is also an International Keynote Speaker, and he periodically conducts sessions on Blockchain, Cloud Architecture, Software Development, Micro-services, Distributed Systems, etc.

Netflix provides internet entertainment services for watching movies and television shows. The company offers TV shows and movies such as original series, documentaries, and feature films through an internet subscription on TV, computer, and mobile devices.

In an exclusive interview with CIOLook, Tejas shares his journey in the tech industry, the challenges he faced in its dynamic landscape, and the impact that he is making on the entertainment industry by leveraging technology.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at your company. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?

I started my journey in the US in 2010 when I pursued my Masters in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. As an immigrant and a person of color, it took me some time to adjust to the lifestyle and culture of the east coast. While at CMU, I interned at Apple.

That gave me exposure to Silicon Valley, and I absolutely loved it. This is where my journey as a software engineer focused on distributed systems and storage commenced. Over my career, I have focused on writing software for scalable systems, starting from GNU Debuggers at Cadence, to a novel log-structured file system for Android devices at Samsung, followed by architecting metadata and data stores, and data management primitives at Datrium.

At Box, Inc. I used my skills to help build an optimized, scalable and performant cloud content management system. At Netflix, I initially focused on building a media-aware cloud file system called Netflix Drive, and currently, I am focused on building transfer and storage solutions for Netflix Studios.

Along with my work, I have also built my brand by participating as a speaker and a panelist at several conferences. I educate leaders on Cloud Computing, Blockchain, and Engineering Leadership. I also advise companies on leveraging both the Cloud and Blockchain to build futuristic privacy-preserving solutions.

Some of my biggest challenges have been applying my skills to adapt to both the nimbleness of a startup, as well as the scale of a large organization. As my career progressed, I learned that as technology is radically changing and evolving, there is a need to continuously stay abreast of the latest software and not be too attached to your design or implementation.

Tell us something more about your company and its mission and vision.

Netflix is an entertainment company. We provide our users with content that they value and enjoy and provide joy. Our mission is ‘To entertain the world,’ and our corporate vision is ‘To continue being one of the leading firms of the internet entertainment era.’

Enlighten us on how you have impacted your niche through your expertise in the market.

I have been working on Cloud Storage and Distributed systems for the past decade. I have been able to apply some of the optimizations and performance benefits of local storage to the cloud, thereby helping enterprises with scale and cost savings at petabyte and exabyte scales. My expertise has helped scale backend systems and save millions of dollars in infrastructure costs at Box & Netflix.

Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.

My organization is Content Infrastructure Solutions. We are the infrastructure layer for Netflix Studios’ content management. We provide point solutions for building performance and efficient infrastructure that is both cost-effective and turn-key for our partners. We strive to seek the right balance between futuristic initiatives and building non-complex pluggable architectural solutions for our partners.

Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?

We strongly leverage some of the cloud primitives exposed by AWS, such as S3, EC2, Kafka, etc., to build our infrastructure. We consciously evaluate our build v/s buy decision process and converge on what provides maximum value to the business and keeps us focused on our vision.

What change would you like to bring to your industry if given a chance?

I would like to explore how machine learning and AI can help with the infrastructure instead of just on the application layer. There is a lot of potential for exploring efficiency initiatives using these technologies. In the entertainment industry in general, there is a need to build better technological solutions to enable artists to work from any part of the globe on movie assets.

What, according to you, could be the next significant change in your sector? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?

Some of the partners and vendors in the movie-making industry have been using the same tools and techniques for the past few decades and have not completely embraced the power of the cloud. Netflix is pioneering the idea of a Studio in the Cloud where artists can work from any part of the world to make delightful content. I believe this is the future of movie-making.

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for your company?

As a Sr. Engineer at Netflix, I would be working on cutting-edge technology to make movie making as advanced as movie streaming. Netflix is a leader in the streaming segment, and some of our learnings can apply to movie-making as well, and we have a lot of potential to scale and optimize, which is where I can see myself providing value.

What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into your sector?

Keeping an open mind to technological innovations in all sectors and exploring ways to apply them to the cloud and distributed systems. Learning about your customer and the tools and techniques they use will provide you with a lot of insight and will help you design and architect better solutions. And finally, rolling up your sleeves and working on multiple layers of the software stack is a very beneficial and fulfilling skill to possess.