I remember the first time I used Vagrant…. I ran vagrant up and my developer environment was up and running in minutes!
That feeling of using a piece of software and it does exactly want you expected it to, does leave an impression on you. I never imagined that I would end up working for a company that creates software that makes people smile every day. I am super happy to announce that I am joining HashiCorp as a Developer Advocate. I would like to share my thoughts on the whole experience.
I have worked for Hootsuite for almost four years. Yes, that is a really long time in “tech” years nowadays. Over those years I saw the company transform from a startup to almost a mature enterprise. We all know the technical and people challenges that come with such a transformation. Interestingly enough, HashiCorp tools have helped us every step of the way. They complimented our ideas about scaling people, process and made a huge impact in transforming our organization. Vagrant changed the way we created and shared our development environments. Terraform changed the way we manage infrastructure with now 100+ developers and operators using it. I was also able to author my first “successful” open source project called Atlantis on top of the ideas like “Infrastructure as Code” that HashiCorp highlight in the Tao of HashiCorp. Packer changed the way we create server images across various environments. We went from a process that took hours to minutes using Packer. Consul has become the backbone of our service discovery and feature flag system. I remember deploying it in production years ago when there weren’t examples of upstart scripts or best practices about running it. I also remember emailing Armon Dadgar, asking about best practices to bootstrap Consul. His response couldn’t be more helpful and started a very awesome relationship between HashiCorp and Hootsuite. This relationship grew when our Director of Technology, Beier Cai, visited HashiCorp’s San Francisco offices and somehow convinced Mitchell Hashimoto to visit Hootsuite.
Mitchell visited Hootsuite to talk about HashiCorp’s open source tools. Then Armon Dadgar followed that up a couple of years later to talk about Nomad(after I spammed him with emails). They didn’t need to do this… it just showed how much both founders care about the community and the users that use their tools. This left a lasting impression on me and I aspire to engage with the community in the same way. I was always surprised by HashiCorp’s ability to scale, both as people and technology. They are able to reach a large group of people in the community and the enterprise space. Seth Vargo single-handedly did a lot of the developer advocacy with Armon and Mitchell sharing some of that workload. Later, Nic Jackson joined them as the first developer advocate and he continued to push the community and products forward. It almost felt they didn’t need help doing this 😃 They were too good! It was a bit intimidating for me back then.
The past few months have been stressful. And yes, you are about to hear #firstworldproblems. I was presented with an opportunity to start a new SaaS company with a group of awesome people. Opportunities like those were a dream of mine when I was in school. I always imagined starting a new company that would help push the consumer space to the next level. After a bit more of soul searching I found that I wanted to continue the SRE / operations engineering journey, so I interviewed with companies that I would want to be part of to help push technology forward. The more I talked to people in these companies the more I realized that they were experiencing problems similar to problems I had helped resolve at Hootsuite. I wanted to progress in this space, learn new things and help people along the way.
My role at Hootsuite has been helping developers and making them feel like rock stars. My KPI for a long time has been making developers smile. I loved my job. That has led me to share the cool things we did at Hootsuite with people in the community. Talking about community; I have learned so much from people like Kelsey Hightower, who I am privileged enough to call my mentor. He has taught me so many things in such a short period of time. Being part of the Kubernetes community has been such an amazing learning experience for me. I was able to experience how you can create a successful open source project with the community in mind. It became pretty clear that I wanted to talk to people and help them be awesome every step of the way.
There are way too many people focused on creating awesome software and only a few that are focused on helping those people succeed.
I wanted to be part of that small group of people and hopefully, help grow the group and help people along the way.
I went on to interview for advocate roles with a few other companies, some of them were giant enterprises. But these conversations didn’t satisfy me. The advocate roles weren’t really what I thought advocating should be. A Developer Advocate enables developers to do what they really love which is to code and to build amazing things. It’s about getting people interested and excited about technology and what they do every day. It’s about sharing ideas freely and your own unique way. I didn’t feel these companies looked it that way.
I come from a family of educators. My mom and dad were both professors at universities in India. My mom continues to lead the education movement in India. I saw my parents educate so many people and it taught me that the reward you get after teaching people to do a little bit better in life is priceless. This is the core value that is ingrained in me and I would be happy to carry that torch forward in the tech community.
After creating a list of companies that aligned with my core values, HashiCorp came out to be on the top (no surprise). So, I emailed Armon without any expectations of getting an interview. A week or two later he replied to my email and said that there was a head count open for a developer advocate! I then went on to interview with HashiCorp. The company I always looked up to. The interview process consisted of interviews with Armon Dadgar (CTO and CoFounder), Jay Fry (Head of Marketing), Nic Jackson (Developer Advocate) and finally Seth Vargo (Director of Technical Advocacy). The more I talked to them, the more I felt how welcoming everyone was. I realized that each and everyone at HashiCorp is so focused on application delivery and meeting customers where they are. They understand both sides of the story; people and technology. Not to mention that they do have six successful open source projects to show for it (Terraform, Vault, Consul, Vagrant, Packer, and Nomad). If you have used any one of these tools, you know that they were built for humans. Each tool at its core follows the principles laid out in the Tao of HashiCorp. My favorite one is “Pragmatism” that aligns with my approach towards engineering and technology.
Another important part of my life is Open Source. The way I like to look at Open Source is that it is defined by community and the ecosystem. HashiCorp started as an Open Source company so they understand that really well. I feel that both of these things have made HashiCorp so successful and this makes Developer Advocacy really important.
Now you might be thinking what went wrong at Hootsuite? The answer is nothing! Anyone reading this would be lucky to join Hootsuite. I have learned so much from the people there. The good thing is that I get to stay in Vancouver, BC and keep in touch with all my friends from Hootsuite. I also organize the HashiCorp User Group in Vancouver that calls Hootsuite one of its homes. I am excited to grow the HashiCorp community and ecosystem in Vancouver, BC.