Luke Pezet is a software architect with over 10 years of experience in pioneering web analytic tools and complex data management projects. His expertise includes designing and implementing big data solutions to process millions of data inputs on a daily basis to monitor, assess, and improve performance.
Luke has worked for several different companies in a myriad of industries, including IgoUgo, Tripfilms, and The Achievement Network (ANet). Currently, Luke serves as the VP of Software Architecture and data security coordinator at Archway Health.
We recently sat down with Luke and discussed his dynamic career in technology, his experience with big data platforms and why he ultimately settled on HPCC Systems as his go-to framework.
You have a wide range of experience in a myriad of industries and leadership roles. Which position would you consider to be the most interesting, from a technology perspective?
It is hard for me to choose which position I found most interesting. For the past 15 years I worked for startups, and I was lucky enough to work in an environment where I was involved in technology to some degree. Fifteen years ago, during the last year of my master's degree program, I worked in mobile environments, which was pretty cutting-edge at the time. Then as a junior software engineer at IgoUgo, I worked in .NET and Microsoft technology. As a software architect and CTO for Tripfilms, I designed and implemented service architectures using JAVA technology, and as interim CTO at ANet, I implemented big data solutions to process assessments using a new technology. These days as a VP of software architecture at Archway Health, I describe and design efficient and secure processes and solve big data problems using HPCC Systems and other types of technology.
I enjoyed all of these positions and was genuinely interested in the technology that I was working with, but I have a passion for big data processing and analysis, which is what I am doing now.
Can you please tell us about The Achievement Network (ANet) and the value it provides to the education industry?
The Achievement Network or ANet, is essentially a non-profit coach that backs you or your organization with data and practices grounded in industry standards. ANet helps schools and educators assess their students, pinpoint gaps in their knowledge, and design selective action plans to address those potential gaps. ANet really succeeds when students exceed, so they truly have the students’ best interest at heart.
The technology team at ANet is in charge of processing answer sheets from students. This data is then reported to schools, teachers and other educators, which gives them an idea of where their students are, according to the objective. It’s processing every answer and question for each individual student multiple times a year. ANet grew rapidly, from 13 schools in one state to more than 500 schools across 10 states. Technology was crucial to scaling this massive data intake and analyzation.
What prompted you to look for a different technology platform when you started at Archway Health?
At Archway Health, we believe healthcare delivery isn't perfect, but it's not broken. Our organization promotes enhanced payment models that focus on better care for patients, which helps drive healthcare expenditure down. Archway needs to ingest and process vast amounts of data, which typically comes in pieces. Processing the data is very complex and, in some cases, we need to follow specific rules such as those defined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
After successfully implementing Hadoop at ANet, we looked at doing the same thing at Archway. However, we discovered a myriad of issues with the system. Hadoop lacked intuitiveness and was difficult to explain to existing and new employees. It was also hard to see two running processes and understand what was going on and even more difficult to troubleshoot unexpected results. Above all, it was difficult to maintain, especially when using it in combination with other technologies.
How do you use HPCC Systems at Archway Health? Was there a specific reason you chose to use HPCC Systems over other platforms?
We wrote a job description for the perfect system. We wanted one that was scalable, more intuitive, more developer friendly, and that helped us easily and efficiently process a massive amount of data.
We looked at other technologies and narrowed our search down to two candidates – SAS and HPCC Systems. SAS was considered the de facto standard at CMS – our claim data provider. However, it had licensing issues, its programming language was inefficient, and it lacked in scalability. We then looked at HPCC Systems and it turned out to be a perfect fit for us. Open source, developer friendly, intuitive, superior big data processing capabilities, useful built-in features – all of this running on a simple and efficient programming language. Not to mention, the learning curve was very low, which helped us pick the system up quickly.
At Archway, we use HPCC Systems Thor to process years of sensitive data that contains patient information and even information from older databases used to run claim analysis. We process the claim data provided by CMS as part of our main initiative. Some of these outputs are delivered to ROXIE and others are ingested and further processed by other technologies, such as mySQL, which are presented to our clients.
What advice would you give young technologists looking to get into web analytics and data management?
I know it’s not always possible, but when it is, I would recommend trying different technology and experimenting outside of what's trendy or famous at any given point in time. I think there's no better way to fully understand the capabilities of a piece of technology than actually using it, testing it, experimenting with it and even pushing its limits. Only then can you really find the perfect fit of technology to help provide a great solution to your problems. One day it might be Hadoop and the next day it might be HPCC Systems. Try to find the right fit for your situation.
Want to hear more from Luke’s interview with Flavio Villanustre, VP of technology, LexisNexis Risk Solutions? Listen to the webcast as Luke continues to discuss his work at Archway Health and his experiences throughout different industries.