It’s everyone’s favorite time of the year at ThousandEyes: our semi-annual Hack Day! Every six months, we invite our employees to put aside their day jobs and take action on projects that have the potential to improve the company. More than 25 teams from across the globe participated in this Hack Day. Each team had one day to complete their project and, the following day, they presented the results at a company all-hands. Prizes were awarded to a number of teams based on the level of innovation, inter-departmental collaboration and impact on the business.
Among the proposed projects, one stood out for its Hollywood-style trailer. Check out the proposal for the D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Review) initiative below, aimed at improving efficiency among the Engineering team:
While there are far too many great projects to profile all of them, the following are a few of our award winners:
Winner of the “Nerdiest” Award: T-Links
Multi-taskers rejoice! Team T-Links is here to save your sanity. We all know the pain that comes from trying to find a document that’s saved somewhere in the abyss. Whether working with spreadsheets, slides, confluence pages, etc., there are a ton of URLs to remember and manage. Current processes require you to navigate from memory or through bookmarks saved in web browsers. This solution, T-Links, provides a way to quickly navigate to a page with a “te/
The idea for the project, according to Dhirendra Sinha, was inspired by fellow employees at ThousandEyes who had several tabs open and had to scramble through emails and Slack messages to find the links to documents. “It was a big productivity killer,” says Dhirendra, “Seeing this, I was inspired to think about having a short link that is very intuitive to refer to these documents.” For Dhirendra, the most memorable part of the day was working together with the team to shoot the video showing the pain point and the solution. Dhirendra adds, “While the team really worked hard to implement this idea, the video shoot was definitely the fun part.”
Winner of the “Business Value” Award: A.L.F.R.E.D.
The “business value” award went to A.L.F.R.E.D., which stands for Automated cLoud First Resource Enumeration Daemon. The concept for A.L.F.R.E.D. came about to help customers create tests to endpoints they have hosted in IaaS providers. According to Nelson Rodrigues, “During implementation, it can take a fair amount of time to understand various customer infrastructures and what assets they have and what they care about.” He felt we needed a way to let customers provide us with access to their IaaS accounts (such as AWS, Azure, etc.), where we'll scan for NLBs, DNS Names and more to automatically create tests against those items.
“During our recent work to deploy our Disaster Recovery environment, I realized we could use the APIs to scrape the assets that are deployed in our IaaS environment and import them into ThousandEyes and test them automatically,” adds Nelson. Thus, A.L.F.R.E.D. was born. For Nelson, the most memorable part of the day was the collaboration and involvement from various teams within the company. “We had a pretty well-staffed team with folks from UI Design, Product Management, Engineering, and Engineering Ops. Everyone was able to make contributions that made the project really stand out,” adds Nelson.
Winner of the “Most Collaborative” Award: FreshEyes
What might the future ThousandEyes platform look like? This year’s winner of the “Most Collaborative” award, FreshEyes, took a good look at how users experience our platform to create a future design that would be both modern and functional. But first, they needed ideas! “We’re always talking with our engineering partners about ways we can collaborate better,” says Stephen Lowe. “The only problem is, our day-to-day work gets in the way. So we saw Hack Day as a perfect opportunity to start putting some of our ideas into action,” he adds.
His most memorable moment was watching his teammates scurrying around the company getting real-time feedback from colleagues. Stephen says, “Our team attracted team members from all different functions, which was awesome. The hard part was figuring out how to merge all our skills and apply them towards a common goal. One way we did this was to have our team, representing Docs, InfoSec, Design and Engineering, run around and conduct on-the-fly user research with people from around the company. It was really memorable walking by and see these conversations happening around the building.”
[Tie] Winner of the “Founders” Award: InstantBot
Who doesn’t love conversing with bots on the Internet? This co-winner of the “Founders” award, selected by our CEO and CTO, was created to run network tests instantly from our Enterprise Agents, and then respond with the results back to the user. The idea is that this functionality can be used to debug any network issue from the agent's perspective easily and quickly.
InstantBot utilizes this functionality, waits for the results from the test and then immediately creates a public snapshot of the data, which it later publishes it to a Slack channel. InstantBot also grabs a screenshot of the "public link" and posts it at the Slack channel, which gives it a good visual touch. Stathis Souris says that “As we started building up the idea, Slack came into the picture, and then Serverless with AWS Lamda—and that's how InstantBot was born.”
The most memorable part of the day, according to Stathis, was the energy and collaboration of their team. “We split the project into smaller parts, and each member was responsible for their own. It was a fun project because we got to wear our customers' shoes and try to build something cool on top of ThousandEyes tech.” He adds, “When we connected everything, we just went to Slack and started playing around with the bot. Everyone was so happy with what we had accomplished in a single day.”
[Tie] Winner of the “Founders” Award: TwousandEyes
The next winner of the prestigious “Founders” award is TwousandEyes, a Twitter bot that responds to requests on web service status. The idea for this project is to leverage the ThousandEyes platform and API to provide a low-effort way for someone to interact with our platform. According to Michael Green, “By sending a request by tweet, anyone can see the immediate results and get a taste of the value ThousandEyes can provide.” Michael adds, “Taking a project from an idea to a working build in a short amount of time was fun. It was neat that others could test out the project directly.”
Winner of the “People’s Choice” Award: InterVue
Each year, we also have a “People’s Choice” award, which is chosen by popular vote among employees here at ThousandEyes. This year’s winner is InterVue, a small web app that allows our People Ops team to create a centralized, searchable and categorizable repository of interview questions, and enables staff to reserve interview questions they’d like to cover. According to John Bauan, “the motivation behind this project was to solve a real problem during the interview process. For too long, there was no tool that facilitates the coordination between interviewers.”
Teamwork and Innovation—A Winning Combination
At ThousandEyes, we’re proud of our team, and this Hack Day was a big success because of the number of employees around the globe who participated. By combining the collective expertise of our team members, we were able to make headway on a number of initiatives that will impact our business.
Days like this remind us why ThousandEyes is continuously recognized as a great workplace by the independent analysts at Great Place to Work. The analysts look at more than 60 elements of ThousandEyes team members' experience on the job, and here are some stand-out stats:
- 99 percent of employees agreed "our customers would rate the service we deliver as 'excellent.'"
- 99 percent are appreciative that "people celebrate special events around here."
- 98 percent said "management is honest and ethical in its business practices.'"
- 98 percent believe "people care about each other here."
- 98 percent felt "when people change jobs or work units, they are made to feel right at home."
Read more about this award at http://reviews.greatplacetowork.com/thousandeyes. And if Hack Days like this interest you, or if you love to solve complex problems daily, check out our Careers page to see open opportunities.