LeaseWeb 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.
Perhaps 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.
LeaseWeb’s annual Amsterdam TechSummit took place on June 2 at the Pakhuis de Zwijger, an old warehouse converted to a high-tech multimedia event center. The summit was sold out with over 315 attendees who came to hear a variety of presentations from professionals focusing on this year’s theme: Designing for Scalability.
Those who attended were a diverse assortment of software developers, operations engineers, and managers from companies both large and small. Many of the attendees were local but a good percentage of them had traveled from other countries including Germany, Spain, and even as far as Liberia. All of them were looking to learn about ways to help them grow not only from a technology perspective but how to scale up their engineering teams and how to anticipate and deal with the issues that result from that growth. The summit also provided a good opportunity to network with peers and learn about the challenges they face and what they’ve learned from past mistakes.
Last year, we merged our existing operations and development departments into one Product Engineering department. Since then we have been focusing a lot on coaching all 13 teams and improving their effectiveness
In october last year, we attended an excellent talk by Bol.com at Velocity Amsterdam. In this talk they explained their ongoing transition towards DevOps. One of the concepts they introduced, was a maturity model to measure and incentivise continuous improvements within a team.
Inspired by the Bol.com talk, we have since developed and implemented a maturity model within our Product Engineering organization which consists of a matrix of four levels in four categories.
The theme of TechSummit 2016 Berlin and Amsterdam is “Designing for Scalability”. But what do we really mean by the word “scalability”?
Well, we’re all familiar with the standard definition along the lines of Wikipedia’s definition: “The capability of a system, network, or process to handle a growing amount of work… A system whose performance improves after adding hardware, proportionally to the capacity added, is said to be a scalable system.”
Our TechSummits have been going for a couple of years now. They started small – just a bunch of LeaseWeb guys getting together to talk tech – but last year’s TechSummit Amsterdam marked a turning point. With well over two hundred attendees and some 20 speakers we knew we were on to something big. That’s why we’re expanding the concept. This year there will be multiple TechSummits, in prime locations such as Berlin and Amsterdam, which gives us the opportunity to give something back to the tech community.
Sharing knowledge. Having fun.
LeaseWeb has a huge amount of talent in its ranks. The guys and girls in DevOps, Product Engineering and SysAdmin represent the real heartbeat of the company. Getting and sharing knowledge is a key part of their job and TechSummits provide the perfect forum for this.
Preparations are in full swing for the newest, freshest event on the tech calendar: TechSummit Berlin 2016. It’s a must-see happening for programmers, developers or anyone in DevOps, SysAdmin or IT management as top speakers from leading tech and retail companies share tips and secrets on designing systems for scalability.
Learn from expert speakers
All the invited speakers have years of hands-on experience developing powerful tech solutions in the real world. Taking the summit’s theme “Designing for Scalability” as a starting point, here are just some of the talks to look forward to:
At LeaseWeb, we have quite some experience using various tools to build infrastructure as code. This concept requires a very different way of thinking in order to design and build your infrastructure. Also, the gap between operational and development work is closing quickly, as managing infrastructure nowadays starts to look more and more like managing a software project.
For example, our operations and development teams all collaborate on a big repository of Chef recipes that we use to roll out our systems. Only two years ago their responsibilities, configuration and code would have been totally separated, and it was unthinkable that such an overlap would even exist.
Today, I’ll show two tools that are shaping the future of infrastructure as code. I’ll introduce them quickly and show you how to get up and running with them.
It’s no secret that LeaseWeb heavily relies on automation to manage the large network of services that we offer. Over the last five years, we have been investing a lot in our internal systems and our strategy has been to have them communicate via APIs (specifically web services).
“In computing, a mirror is an exact copy of a data set. On the Internet, a mirror site is an exact copy of another Internet site. Mirror sites are most commonly used to provide multiple sources of the same information, and are of particular value as a way of providing reliable access to large downloads.”