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A day in the life of a Site Reliability Engineer at Optiver Amsterdam

The role of a Site Reliability Engineer, a type of Application Engineer is crucial to Trading. Our AE’s are close to the action. They are sitting right next to the Traders and maintain, monitor and improve the reliability, scalability and performance of our trading software. 

We checked with Chiel from our Amsterdam office to find out what a typical day is like for an Application Engineer on the early morning shift. 

Opening European markets

Being one of the first on the floor, my first priority is to ensure that the trading systems are up and running before European markets open. Our monitoring dashboards will show any abnormalities in the system that require attention. In general, no manual intervention is needed, but in case of serious technical issues, I must be ready to take immediate action. It’s quite satisfying to be able to resolve these issues before the opening bell! 

Daily morning meeting

It’s time to meet with trading. In our daily morning meeting, I share any outstanding technical problems and high impact changes in our systems with the team. The traders share their opinions on overnight news and discuss upcoming events for the day. In case we expect a lot of movement in the market (volatility), I might decide to focus my day on monitoring the trading system’s performance and keeping changes to the system to a minimum. If there are no outstanding issues, this would be a good moment to head to the plaza for some breakfast.

Crucial time on the trading floor

Most of the European exchanges open around this time; the system will get a burst of activity. This is a crucial time to be on the trading floor and keep a close eye on the monitoring dashboards, in case any production issues pop up. My role is to troubleshoot and mitigate the impact of an outage. 

Stand-up meeting with all Application Engineers

The AEs who support the late shift arrive in the office and we all join for a stand-up with representatives from our various technology teams. For any outstanding issues, this is the moment to make sure that relevant people are aware of any issues and working towards a solution. I also discuss the projects that I’m working on; all AEs are around in case there is a need for input.

No two days are the same

During the middle of the day, I have time to work on specific projects. No two days are the same, but this could be anything from improving our monitoring systems, writing scripts to automate day-to-day operations, or working closely with development to resolve technical problems. 

Later, I will discuss new ideas and technologies with Trading and Development. As the resident expert of the production trading system and its current performance, you can have significant impact on the design of our trading software and architecture.

US markets open

The US markets open, which increases the load on our systems as the majority of global trading happens on US exchanges. At least one Engineer is around to check the system performance and assist if tweaking to the system is required.

Final stand-up meeting

Towards the end of the day, I have a final stand-up meeting with all the AEs where we discuss all the changes we will apply overnight. Since we have multiple people working on the same system, this provides an opportunity to ensure everyone is on the same page and changes are not conflicting. Also, any enhancements that require additional attention from the morning AEs will be discussed during this time too. Most of the upgrades to our trading system are automatically staged for us, however, it’s crucial to run through some final checks before applying these changes to production. 

Time to head home

Similar to the open, a few colleagues will be the last on the floor to support trading until the close of the exchanges. 

People at Optiver

Created to give you a closer look at the people that drive our business. We bring together a multidisciplinary group of talented people from all over the world. Traders, Developers and Researchers who love constant intellectual stimulation – they thrive on challenges and they’re driven by the prospect of venturing into unexplored territory, advancing their own abilities in the process. With this initiative we share their stories with you. 

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