By Gaurav Gahlot | May 15, 2021
If you ask me “How’s life at InfraCloud?” I would say it’s challenging yet fun. We like what we do, and we do what we love. Be it tech, memes, or team activities. In this post, after spending about ~1.5 years here I would like to reflect on my experience working with InfraCloud. Let’s begin from the beginning!
Docker B’day, 2019
It was Docker B’day 2019 when I first met a few folks from InfraCloud. They were passionate about what they were doing. These folks were working on some very interesting technical problems in infrastructure and working with early adopters of technologies in cloud-native space. It may sound silly and theatrical, but I knew that day that I wanted to work with InfraCloud!
After a month or so, I saw a post from InfraCloud on LinkedIn that they were looking for Go developers and I applied for it. The whole process was explained over a call and they ensured I’m comfortable when I walk in. The process had three rounds - one general programming round, the second one was a design and discussion of my work & the last one was with Vishal (CTO, InfraCloud) again going deeper into my experience and some design discussions. To be honest, all of it was much like a discussion and not a one-sided interview. We discussed what they know/didn’t know as much as they understood about me and my work.
Thankfully I made it through and joined InfraCloud as a Software Engineer. One of the best decisions I could ever make for my career.
While I joined for technologies and to get experience on working with early adopters of technologies like Kubernetes, I think what I truly realized was how candid and humble the people were and what “culture” really means. I am going to attempt to explain the same in this post.
Before you join InfraCloud the people team keeps in touch with you. Primarily to ensure that you feel comfortable from day one. They are always there to help you, be it during onboarding or later. Girish and Vishal also connect with individuals directly to better understand one’s career and professional goals. As I understand, it’s them trying to break the ice and give you the confidence to connect with anyone you want as and when required.
When one joins InfraCloud, you join the company workspace over Slack. They introduce themselves with brief work details and a fun fact (or more). As everyone welcomes you, this small introduction works as a nice icebreaker. Many folks reach out personally - which was a nice way to get to know and be comfortable in a new environment.
By the time one joins InfraCloud, the plan is already in place for you. They have worked through the post-interview process to understand your experience, aspirations, and professional goals in detail. This pre-work helps in choosing the right area of work and partners you work with. Before you are assigned on a partner project, your reporting manager or lead will ensure that you get sufficient training on technologies but also on areas specific to work.
The internal portal called Citadel is a GitHub repo that has modules for various courses you can do. But more than just understanding technology through theory it has hands-on labs. The graduation assignments give you real-world exposure and work with a few open Source projects.
A Typical Day in Life
At InfraCloud you are responsible to manage your workday to ensure you can take care of things beyond work too. The goal is to get work done and own the responsibility and not be nitpicky about time or other such vanity metrics. In a lot of places, this could mean the other extreme - which is working way longer than a typical day. At InfraCloud - we think balance is truly important. Now and then the lead in 1:1 ensures that we are taking sufficient vacations and time away from work. Vishal talked about this on a Twitter thread and the leadership leads by example so you don’t have to feel uncomfortable taking vacations.
One thing I truly like is we are expected to NOT work on weekends. According to Girish, InfraCloud CEO, if we have to work on the weekend, we have failed as a team. We either did not plan it the right way or underestimated the effort. Only in a few cases, we do work on the weekend but that is pre-planned and compensated for. This could include supporting our partners with their release and critical activities. Over a year and a half, I have not worked on a single weekend. And I am fairly sure it will continue to stay the same except for the occasional needs of our partners.
We are a distributed company. Before COVID-19 happened, we could still work from home as and when required. However, we were not fully distributed, and most of the team would work from the office. As COVID-19 made our lives difficult and forced us to stay home, InfraCloud decided to go fully distributed.
Distributed has its own set of challenges. If you don’t do it right, it can lead to burnout - especially if you are in calls the entire day. We had a small internal team making adjustments to follow more of a written approach and reduce calls only to decision making and catching up. While we were new to this model of 100% distribution, we were learning from giants such as Gitlab. On the positive side, it enabled everyone to stay with their family and loved ones or wherever they wanted to. During these difficult times, this means a lot.
All work and no play makes a day tedious especially when the entire team is distributed in times of Covid. Every day at 5 PM, we have a virtual coffee break, just like we used to have when we were in the office and chit-chat with each other. While this won’t be a 100% replacement of the face to face interactions, this is the best we can do with the pandemic
I believe everyone waits for it now. We snack, talk and laugh together. It helps us connect well with new joiners and old friends. I mean, just look at these smiling faces. :)
Friday has to be extraordinary. We play games, welcome new joiners, and informally introduce ourselves. Believe it or not, we even jam together. A few (including me) play the guitar, flute, and sing together to make the weekend special. Coordination is a bit difficult, but hey, challenges are fun, right.
Sharing is Caring
At InfraCloud, we truly believe that sharing is caring. And the more you share your knowledge, the more you learn.
Every alternate Wednesday, we have Infranaut Meetup. Everyone is free to present what they learned, tools they found handy, or anything tech in general. If you are hacking your own thing, we would love to know about it too.
Have an idea, but not sure if you should pursue it? We all have been there. At InfraCloud, the forum is always open. We have an internal Github repo “Inception” where you can present your idea, no matter how basic or raw it is. We get feedback from other folks in the company and everyone’s experience is valuable in shaping and validating the idea. And, do not worry, no one is going to steal your idea. :D Some of the ideas have resulted in full-blown Open Source projects like BotKube and wait for it, we have something more coming this year pretty soon!
This section will be incomplete if I don’t talk about the Pen-and-Paper group. It’s a special interest group (we have many more SIGs) that puts in a lot of effort sharing the knowledge through InfraCloud blogs. You can check out the amazing posts on our website. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed.
On a lighter note, here is a “sweet” gift I received from InfraCloud last year:
Transparency was one of the primary reasons why I love InfraCloud. The management ensures that every Infranaut is part of the company’s decision. Here, every opinion matters.
Be it company growth, new partners, challenges, or plans. Girish ensures that everyone is aware of what is happening in the company through the All Hands Meeting. An open forum where any Infranaut can ask questions without any hesitation.
Just to give another example of transparency, all the leads and sales activities are also visible to all the employees.
You can read the full thread here.
The Feedback Loop
Feedback is critical. Not only for an individual but a company as well. To cater to it, we have a one-to-one meeting with a reporting lead every month. The idea of growing together drives it. We receive feedback, and we can give feedback about our lead, current project, company policies, and whatnot. The inputs are not only sought but acted on and we see results in action - this feeling of making a company better together is something worth cherishing while also learning to build organizations. The goal when giving feedback is not on you or me but the larger goal for which we are working and making everything better than it is!
Who does not like being appreciated for their effort? Every month, during our monthly engineering meet, the Engineering head and team leads announce Infranauts of the month. Individuals who have gone above and beyond to achieve their goals.
For the Community
Last but certainly not least, community contributions. InfraCloud believes in community values and encourages Infranauts for community contributions.
People at InfraCloud have contributed to projects like Kubernetes, Docker, gRPC, Jaeger, and many more. We speak at multiple conferences, events, and meetups. Within InfraCloud we have organizers of Kubernetes & Cloud Native Computing, Docker, and Python Pune meetup groups.
If you are someone starting your Cloud Native journey, we would love to help you. You can book a slot here and connect with us. We will be happy to answer your questions.
It is my own experience living in the culture at InfraCloud. I have been willing to write this post for quite some time now. But as they say, better late than never. :) I want my amazing friends and colleagues to become part of this journey - so if you are looking to up your game with a fun group of people - reach out to me or any of the Infranauts. Please feel free to connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn. :)
We are hiring! Do visit infracloud.io/careers for some exciting opportunities.