Clarifying the Complex: Meet Ivan Velichko, Container Dude at Slim.AI

Ivan recently joined the team at Slim.AI, and we sat down with him to learn more about the path that led him here.
Ivan Velichko
Aug 18, 2022

Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

You may already know Ivan Velichko, because he has developed quite a following on his blog,, and on Twitter. Ivan’s writing is devoted to helping developers master containers. His talent for clarifying the complex with both prose and masterful technical diagrams has drawn the praise of Kelsey Hightower and many others. Ivan recently joined the team at Slim.AI, and we sat down with him to learn more about the path that led him here and what hopes he has for the future.

Editor: Ivan, welcome to Slim.AI! Tell us a little bit about your career path. How did you get started, and what led you to Slim.AI?

Ivan: It may be hard to believe, but I started writing code just about 12 years ago, during my last year in university! I had never considered a developer’s career even though I was enrolled in a tech college. But then one day I got so bored with my internship that I decided to buy a computer and figure out my own way to learn programming. And things finally clicked. Following this passion, I got a job at a tiny agency in the middle of nowhere in Russia doing web development. Fortunately, the projects were diverse and interesting. I quickly outgrew the place, and after a few hops, I found myself in the gaming industry, being an “Engineer #1” in a small startup in Moscow. This job gave me great experience not only in writing code but also in building platforms and infrastructure. That position was followed by a position in Germany with a Daimler-subsidized startup solving the problem of micro-mobility. Prior to joining Slim, I worked for in Amsterdam, first as a Canonical SRE and then on an intersection of the SRE and platform engineer roles.

Why did you start your blog?

For better or worse, things didn’t work out well for that German startup. It got acquired by another company and instead of going through a (rather emotional) reorganization, I started looking for a new job. I decided to try my luck with Google. After thorough preparation, I managed to pass all the rounds of the famous Google interviewing procedure. But despite my initial success with the interview, I didn’t get the position I really wanted there. I’d been looking for an infrastructure role, but I was offered a full-stack engineer position, which would have been a significant detour on my desired career path. I believe the key reason for that was that I hadn’t documented my skills well. I’m a passionate learner and am constantly exploring ways to expand my skill set. When I applied for the position at Google, my skills extended well beyond that conveyed by the job titles on my resume, but, unfortunately, I lacked any kind of public profile that attested to what I knew and could do, so I didn’t get the position I really wanted. That experience taught me the importance of documenting my journey and experience. That’s when I started the blog, mostly to tell the world what I’m up to. I’m also thankful to Booking for believing in me and offering me my first SRE position: The research I did for my articles and the day-to-day infrastructure job at Booking helped me become that container dude you know today. Only later did I discover how much I enjoy storytelling and how rewarding it is to make hard topics easy for others to understand.

Your blog has really taken off, and you have thousands of followers. Was that a surprise?

Yes, it’s been a pleasant surprise. For a couple of years, I’d been writing mostly for myself, and my blog would have only some tens of visitors a month. I think one of the first popularity triggers was an article I wrote in June of 2021 called “The Need for Slimmer Containers.” It went viral on HackerNews, and when things like that happen, your networking usually gets a growth leap. Then in December of last year, Kelsey Hightower gave me an incredible shoutout on Twitter, and my following doubled overnight. That was a great Christmas present! And after every such boost, the blog recognition has grown significantly.

Where do you get the ideas for the content of your blog?

My original motivation for starting the blog was to tell the world what I’m passionate about. But now the blog isn’t a goal in itself anymore. I want to learn as much as I can about Kubernetes and cloud-native, and I have a personal learning plan that I’m following to achieve that goal. I have found that explaining things to others, especially through writing, is just the most efficient way for me to learn. So, I’d say 80% of the blog comes from documenting my learning as I go. And the remainder comes from answering readers’ questions or addressing random topics that I wake up thinking about in the middle of the night.

What are your favorite articles on the blog so far?

There are a couple of articles I’m particularly proud of. The first one is on networking — ahighly-illustrated explanation of computer networking; it is the intro to networking I wish I had when I was starting to learn the topic as a developer. The second one is my container learning path;it’s the front page for my first few years of learning the basics of the containerization universe. I would recommend those two articles to any software engineer that is checking out the blog and looking for a good place to start.

It might sound odd, but your blog actually led you to Slim.AI, correct?

In a way, yes. After I wrote “The Need for Slimmer Containers,” Kylereached out to me, and we started an email conversation that lasted for several months. It wasn’t in any way job related—just a chat between two engineers interested in containers. Then later that year I discovered the Slim.AI portal, and I instantly fell in love with it. Its cross-registry search and image introspection capabilities turned out to be super handy for typical research activities I do for the blog. Slim.AI’s mission and product obviously align well with my professional interests, and the company and I also share the same passion for making the complex simple. So when the job board was updated with the new positions, applying was a no-brainer for me. _[ed.: Kyle Quest, Slim.AI co-founder, and CTO]_

How would you describe your role at Slim.AI?

That’s the beauty of it! What I do now for Slim.AI was what I was doing on my own for fun! We don’t really use titles, so I just refer to my role as “Container Dude,” and this is my dream job. My first project was adding support for Kubernetes runtime to DockerSlim. We demonstrated this work to some luminary folks at KubeCon EU and received a lot of great feedback to work on. Currently, I’m tapping into my SRE experience, improving the observability of the Slim.AI portal to speed up and simplify troubleshooting. Well, this is because I happened to have this expertise as well. But I’ll definitely get back to DockerSlim and other more container-ish projects in the near future.

What is Slim.AI working on that you find most exciting?

Actually, what I find most exciting is the culture of being here. I enjoy the empowerment I have in a smaller company to get real work done. It’s a place where I have the freedom to follow curiosities and solve problems and the only obstacles I face are the technical ones, not the bureaucratic ones. I feel alive here. And, of course, this job aligns with my innate interest in all things Cloud Native.

Looking forward, what are your hopes for Slim.AI?

I truly embrace the mission of helping developers get their container images production ready. I hope that through Slim we will be able to provide a turn-key solution, which is not a simple thing to do. I also hope we will also solve other problems along the way—like finding the right image, for example—and do everything we can to improve the lives of developers.

Related Articles

5 Most Commonly Asked SlimToolkit Questions

We enlisted SlimToolkit expert and Slim.AI Developer Experience Engineer to dive into how container slimming works.

Primož Ajdišek

Technical Staff

5 Ways Slim Containers Save You Money

Do slim containers really save you money on your cloud bill? Are there cost advantages to smaller containers? Find out here.

Chris Tozzi

Automating SlimToolkit in Your CICD Pipeline

Using GitHub Actions, you can refine container images automatically making them smaller, faster to load, and more secure by default – all without sacrificing any capabilities.

Nicolas Bohorquez


Building Apps Using Cloud Native Buildpacks

Getting started with this innovative technique

Vince Power


Building SlimToolkit into a Jenkins Pipeline

A step by step tutorial on building SlimToolkit into your CI/CD pipeline.

Container Insights: Dissecting the World's Most Popular Containers

Join Ayse Kaya in this series, as she creates her 2022 Container Report Chalk Full of Important Security Findings for Developers.

Ayse Kaya

Analytics & Strategy

Container of the Week: Python & Flask

Our weekly breakdown of a popular container

What We Discovered Analyzing the Top 100 Public Container Images

Complexity abounds in modern development

Ayse Kaya

Analytics & Strategy

2022 Public Container Report

Vulnerabilities continue to increase and developers are struggling to keep up.

Ayse Kaya

Analytics & Strategy

Containerizing Python Apps for Lambda

A tutorial on deploying AWS Lambda using containers, Python edition.

Docker Containers for Your Raspberry Pi

Compact PCs need compact apps

Martin Wimpress


Explore and Analyze a Docker container with SlimToolkit's X-Ray

Understanding container composition

Martin Wimpress


Five Things You Should Never Ship to Production in a Container

Here is our take on five things to avoid when creating a container or shipping it to production.

Chris Tozzi

Five Proven Ways to Debug a Container

When Things Just Are Not Working

Theofanis Despoudis


Increasing Your CI/CD Velocity with Slim Containers

We’ll explain what Slim Containers are, how they speed up the build process, and how they can improve the efficiency of your testing.

Mike Mackrory


Integrate Testing into Your Container Pipeline

A closer look at testing within container pipelines, CI/CD, software delivery, and containerization.

Faith Kilonzi

Software Engineer

Reducing Docker Image Size - Slimming vs Compressing

Know the difference

Pieter van Noordennen


Serverless Applications and Docker

How to Scale the Latest Trend in Infrastructure

Pieter van Noordennen


Slim.AI Docker Extension for Docker Desktop

How to access our Docker Extension and try it for yourself.

Josh Viney


Slimming a Rails Application with SlimToolkit

Dissect a simple Rails application container using SlimToolkit to analyze, optimize, and deploy your product more quickly.

Theofanis Despoudis


Where Do You Store Your Container Images?

Container Registry Options are Growing in Number and Complexity

Pieter van Noordennen


Using AppArmor and SecComp Profiles for Security Audits

Conduct better container security audits using tools like SecComp, NGINX, and Docker.

What’s in your container?

Why Docker Layers matter for container optimization

Pieter van Noordennen


Why Developers Shouldn't Have to Be Infrastructure Experts, Too

Simplifying processes required to containerize and deploy cloud-native apps.

Chris Tozzi

A New Workflow for Cloud Development

Leverage the benefits of containerization without the headaches & hassle

John Amaral


Why Don’t We Practice Container Best Practices?

Container best practices are easy to understand, hard to do

John Amaral


5 Best Practices Production-Ready Containers

Knowing what’s in a container is critical to securing your software supply chain.

Martin Wimpress


Better Security Audits with AppArmor and SecComp via SlimToolkit

Combine the power of tools like SecComp, NGINX, and Docker.

Meet Martin Wimpress, Head of Community at Slim.AI

Martin talks developer experience, community development and personal projects

The Squeak Interview

CEO John Amaral joins Chris on his livestream

Q&A With Priceline CTO Marty Brodbeck

We talk container workflows, DevX, and cloud-native at scale

In the Media: SlimToolkit and Slim.AI

Latest Mentions

In the Media: The Latest Slim.AI Updates

Latest Mentions in the News on our Docker Extension, Early Access Program and Software Supply Chain Security Solution.

In the Media: Slim.AI Series A of $31M

Latest Mentions

Join Us At Open Source Summit `21

Virtual or in Seattle, we'll be there

Slim.AI is featured in TechCrunch

Stealth No More!

Slim.AI Announces KubeCon+CloudNativeCon `21 Schedule

Hybrid schedule focus on Twitch

What We’re Building at Slim.AI

A DevX Platform for Container Management

Josh Viney


Growth and Gratitude: Series A Announcement

Sincere thanks to our community of developers and early adopters.

John Amaral


Slim.AI and OSI: Why We Advocate for Open Source

Slim.AI continues its support of OSI and sponsors the OSI licensing API as a part of its ongoing advocacy for open source

Pieter van Noordennen


The DockerSlim Origin Story

How DockerSlim got its start at Docker's Global Hack Day, and the creation of Slim.AI.

Kyle Quest


Unpacking Culture That Works

Building Culture and Growth in Teams

Why We Founded Slim.AI

Developers Just Want to Write Code. How Slim.AI is Helping.

John Amaral