Why we organize Hackathons at LeaseWeb

PrivateNetwork_2_ScaleLeaseWeb kicked off its sixth quarterly Hackathon on Thursday, July 21st. The Hackathons are a chance for employees to step outside the usual routine and allow them to get creative, work together in new ways, and have fun. Participants are given two full days and nights to work on any kind of project whether it’s to solve a work problem, learn a new skill, or try out a personal project they’ve had in mind. Whatever it is, they have the complete freedom to try something new with the goal being to present a functional demo at the end of the second day.

Hackathons begin with a presentation where all of the participants gather to kick things off. Everyone receives a Hackathon t-shirt designed specifically for the event and then they hunker down to start work on their projects. Hackathon isn’t just for the engineering department and individuals from all parts of the company are encouraged to participate.
image3Perhaps someone in marketing has been thinking about a new tool that could help them do their job better. They might team up with an engineer to try and create that tool. New ideas and collaborations that might not have otherwise fit into the usual busy schedule are given the opportunity to be developed and tested. Several projects and tools that have been created during Hackathons have been integrated into day to day operations.

After working hard all day Thursday, participants took a break to have dinner and some fun. A barbecue spread was set out and there was plenty of chicken, burgers, salad, and beer to go around. A 45 meter inflatable obstacle course was set up in the parking lot and participants competed with each other to see who could get the best time. The winner completed the course in just over 30 seconds. After a bit more relaxation everyone was ready to get back to working on their projects. Some stayed late into the night and crashed at the office, others went home to grab some sleep before coming back in the next morning to finish up before the afternoon presentations.

Friday afternoon everyone gathered together to show off their hard work. We had 11 presentations from 35 participants. The projects covered a wide variety of ideas from a data gathering tool for interactions with customers to automated cloud scaling based on sets of parameters such as CPU load or memory usage. There were also new tools for tracking deployments, an API created to check the availability of available top-level domains, and an application to take info from Jira and print it onto sticky notes.

inflateOnce everyone presented their projects a vote was taken to decide the winner who receives a fancy trophy to display in their office until the next Hackathon. The winner of Hackathon built an API to query a centralized GEO IP database for location information and then convert it into JSON for readability and combined it with Kubernetes for scalability. This idea for this project was to try and find a solution to teams using multiple databases to obtain geographical IP data. Honorable mention: the runner-up was a collaboration between business intelligence and engineering team members who worked together to create a new way to generate concise invoices for customers with the option to request a more detailed version.

Overall, Hackathon 6.0 was a great success. Exciting projects with future potential were developed and everyone had a great time with the obstacle course, hanging with their coworkers while enjoying good food and beer. Anticipation is high for the next Hackathon which takes place in October. Would you like to join? We’re always on the lookout for new colleagues!

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