Cloudflare TV

Engineering Openings on the Workers Team

Presented by Todd Ciampa, Ian Spivey, Kris Evans
Originally aired on 

Join Todd as he interviews Hiring Managers, Ian Spivey and Kris Evans, regarding current openings and the engineering challenges one can help us solve on the Workers Team.

Cloudflare Workers

Transcript (Beta)

Thank you for everybody from around the world that is joining another episode of The Recruiting Corner on Cloudflare TV.

My name is Todd Ciampa and I'm on the recruiting team in Austin, Texas and I am super pumped up to introduce two of my colleagues from the workers engineering team also located in Austin, Kris Evans and Ian Spivey.

Today we're gonna talk a little bit about the Cloudflare Workers team, what it is, what it's like to work on the team and good news everybody we have openings on the workers team so both Kris and Ian are excited to tell you a little bit about what it's like to be a member of the team and what we would be looking for.

So without further ado we're gonna dive right in. So why don't we start off with Kris.

Tell us a little bit about about yourself, how long you've been with Cloudflare and what was the reason why you joined.

And you are on mute.

I've been at Cloudflare about two years. The reason I joined I actually saw the blog one day when they launched 1.1.1 I was watching the blog and then I started reading and it really caught me with all the innovation and everything that was going on so I was just really excited so I applied and the next thing you know I was working here.

That's awesome. Ian how about yourself? Yeah I've been here at Cloudflare for a little over two years now which is amazing.

Time just flies by. So what originally motivated me actually pretty similar to Kris I was a fair amount of time reading the blog and learning about the impact that Cloudflare could have and the impact that I could have in a positive manner on the Internet by joining Cloudflare.

So I think that that was that was a big part of it that the big scope of impact with a relatively small team and the the real depth of technical challenges that were available that was really compelling for me.

That's awesome that's awesome. Well for everybody who is joining you know the workers Cloudflare for workers is something we're all super super excited about and and Ian's kind of our resident expert in terms of explaining what Cloudflare for workers is.

So Ian tell us a little bit more about what that means.

Yeah so workers is our serverless edge computing platform and that sounds like a lot of buzzwords but it means at least a couple of important things.

So one is that it's edge computing so you write code in JavaScript or anything else that JavaScript or something that can build to JavaScript or WebAssembly and then you deploy it at Cloudflare's edge and our edge is our network of data centers in more than 200 cities around the world ranging from a couple of servers in the smallest ones to hundreds thousands in the biggest ones and so that's what it means to be edge computing.

You write code it gets deployed in Cloudflare's edge and it's serverless because the unit of code that you're deploying is just a bundle of JavaScript.

You're not worried about managing servers or your runtime environment or you know installing dependencies and things like that.

You just give us this code and then we run it for you and so the way this works is that when when an HTTP request hits Cloudflare's edge it like there's some routing logic involved and if it's gonna invoke a worker we the Cloudflare's edge passes it off to the workers system and workers is actually running under the hood Google's v8 engine which is what powers Chrome so it's basically like having a tab in your web browser that's processing a request and spinning something back so you write this code it invokes some JavaScript or WebAssembly and returns a response and there are a few really cool things about this so one you don't need to think about scaling at all there's one region this runs all over the globe in any of our data centers and and if you get more requests like we have we have customers handling very large numbers of requests and they don't need to think about how many servers they have so that's awesome another thing that's awesome is compared to traditional like serverless computing we're using this model built on Chrome's v8 engine which means that instead of like the overhead of running virtual machines we're basically like running a web browser so spinning up your workers like opening a new tab in Chrome effectively it's the same logic all the way into the hood so it allows us to be more economically efficient as well and pass those cost savings on to customers so it's really cool don't need to think about operations and scaling and you can write JavaScript which millions of web developers know how to do or anything that compiles down to JavaScript or WebAssembly and you know get started in a couple minutes that's super high level that's workers serverless edge computing platform of the future that's awesome man that's awesome and and both both of you are engineering managers within the workers team and and so Chris tell me a little bit about the you know the division and and you know what your team does and then Ian follow up afterwards and answer the same question yeah so my my team is called workers new markets new markets is focused on focused on building out new use cases for cloud for workers so that if you recent seen the recent serverless week announcements we were actually the first launch of that week for workers unbound workers unbound is basically enabling workers to run higher CPU CPU workloads at the popular edge so typically we restrict it per like 50 milliseconds per request we're working to get that up to 15 minutes and slowly rolling that out right now awesome and I'm the engineering manager for a team called developer productivity and so we're focused on making custom making our users our developers more productive once they're on the platform so that's things like making it easier to develop making it easier to test and deploy monitor your workers once they're in production so that whole developer lifecycle we're focused on making it as seamless and effective as we can awesome I mean the work that you're all are doing super impressive and sounds like we're really solving problems that are gonna affect so many different organizations people around the world so it seems like an exciting opportunity to be a part of this team Chris tell me a little bit about the the current opening we have for your your team where we would be open to considering candidates for tell us a little bit about that yeah so my team's currently looking for a senior level systems engineer we're looking for somebody that has lower level programming experience people that have experience doing performance optimizations as you can imagine when we roll things out like workers unbound one of the things that's really important is taking advantage of all the hardware at Cloudflare's edge so we need people that can really you know figure out how we can run our edge worker runtime and take advantage of that you know that hardware we have out there cool as far as locations go though the workers teams primarily located in the engineering team is primarily located in Austin so for most of the people that I'm looking for right now would be either relocate to the Austin offices at some point in time obviously post COVID but as with everything Cloudflare is always reevaluating everything in the workplace with what's going on right now so that's totally subjective has changed if somebody was interested I totally recommend they apply we may not necessarily have an opportunity now but at a future date we definitely reach out if they were a good fit awesome awesome Ian tell us a little bit about the opening and opening or openings on your team absolutely now we're looking to hire someone mid to senior level who has experience in the JavaScript ecosystem and the key thing one of the key things and experiences that we're looking for is experience working with large JavaScript projects like multi-team projects that have complex build steps and stuff like that or you can really like work in a real big production JavaScript project and bring that experience to bear building tools for developers like that who have experiences like you so it is important to us to look for people who have a bit of experience doing that but you know we're not looking for many years you know it could be two or three years working at a company like on a big front -end project that meets those definitions or it could be 20 years of experience across all sorts of different parts of the ecosystem so pretty pretty open from that perspective okay awesome so it sounds like the kind of people that we considered is it can be pretty broad and you know somebody who's been involved in technical recruiting for more years than I want to admit one of the things that I've learned from a lot of engineers is the excitement with working with like cutting-edge technologies the things that are really kind of pushing the limits and that's actually one of the things that drew me to to Cloudflare because knowing that that would be very attractive to potential candidates can you tell me a little bit about the kinds of technologies that we are working with that would be appealing to engineers out in the field yeah definitely so starting kind of like what Ian was talking about earlier with the v8 engine we have what we call our runtime that's that's written in C++ and there's a lot of work that we still need to do in that space so I think anybody coming in that for my team would definitely be asked to work on some C++ some rust we also have some of the control plane and UI layers that that that layer basically consists of like go Kafka Postgres we run all that on top of Kubernetes so if people are interested in you know learning how to deploy systems end-to-end how to you know automate you know some of the you know pushing all these developer scripts to the edge that's definitely the space that they would be a good fit in and then from a UI place we also have react and JavaScript so a lot of our front-end is built using a react JavaScript framework called react so absolutely a couple of things work across a lot of the same parts of the stack as Chris's team we also do a fair amount of work on top of workers as a platform so we're writing workers in TypeScript and JavaScript and then also we maintain our command-line interface program called Wrangler which is written entirely in Rust so across that and in general we try to adopt a philosophy of letting people work across different layers of the stack so you won't find that someone is asked to you know only do the JavaScript stuff or you know only work on Rust we proactively work with team members to figure out what they want to learn what are good opportunities we see it as a positive for the team and the product to encourage people to learn across layers of the stack so yeah you can spend a year and a half mostly doing C++ and then pivot to Golang or a year doing JavaScript and then pivot to Rust you know all sorts of stuff like that.

That's awesome so do we do we require people to to have experience or with Go and Rust talk to us a little bit about what our philosophy is regarding language specific or language agnostic you know what do we think about that here at Cloudflare?

I typically say that we so sometimes for very specific roles we may look for people who've already demonstrated expertise in an area if it's really necessary for the role and we feel like the learning curve is really high but for the most part we believe that smart and curious people can learn you can and do learn new programming languages and we want to be the kind of place where people can do that so in general there aren't strict language requirements more requirements around like having solved those kind of problems you have the kind of experiences that are relevant.

Chris anything you would add to that?

No I agree and I think what we what I generally look for when we're bringing somebody on is like you know strong like computer science fundamentals so they have experience with like data structures and algorithms can they you know do they do they have the capability to jump out and learn things it's the it's the be curious that really really stands out to me there so if they're if they're willing to learn I mean we're we're definitely willing to let them jump into other areas they may not you know necessarily have a background in and try it out.

It's so refreshing to hear I mean I think that as as if somebody does work with a lot of different organizations right sometimes that we can get to not us in general at Cloudflare but some people get too specific to certain languages and one of my observations is that you know and engineers are curious right and they want to continue to add skills to their tool belt and so you know it sounds like if if people really have the core fundamentals in in computer science are excellent problem solvers great people to be around then that's something that we would really consider for for our engineering team is that that that fair?


No we've touched on on a little bit of the challenges that that our team gets to solve but if if either one of you want to jump on this next one like you know what what would be an example of a meaty type of a problem that one of these openings that we currently have available would be able to contribute to solving?

Chris do you want to?

We've got a lot of problems I think one of the big challenges with the workers space and you know I'll tell you this too is the is the opportunity there's just so many projects and so many things that we have to do is trying to figure out the right ones to work on.

Right now we're pretty pretty focused on workers unbound and in some upcoming releases we're working on so I think a lot of it's just kind of like you know what I mentioned earlier is like how do we take advantage of the hardware we have at our edge how do we utilize it to the best of our ability to make sure that we you know we're spending money and getting the best you know the best value for everything we're putting out on the edge for developers to use.

Yeah some of the I touched on this earlier in talking about what the team focuses on but we're focused on developer productivity and that is every part of the life cycle from you start up developing, testing, deploying and observing your code and your service and production and so we have space to keep making things better at every layer of that stack effectively.

Making workers more observable like implementing better telemetry, tracing, logging is a big one and then also improving the testing harness and testing story for workers is a big big focus area of us going forward so those are all and they're such cool problems to be able to solve for at such a scale of the platform that's you know that's has thousands of developers using it like for live production services that really high rates of traffic your work matters and it's helping make that better every day so that's that's exciting for me.

That's awesome. Chris this next one's for you you know I think a lot of engineers you know have some pretty strong opinions in terms of how we work right whether it's following like agile principles extreme programming so on and so forth can you tell us a little bit about stylistically the way we approach developing software from a methodology perspective?

Yeah Cloudflare is a really cool program that they run across a lot of the engineering community.

We have a global SDLC that essentially takes the product requirements document that we come from PMs we basically respond with what you call like a functional spec or like a design and then we basically take those and we plan to go ship those.

It's really fun the teams get a lot of autonomy and how they choose to deliver on the things that they're asking the problems they're asked to solve.

Our team specifically or my team specifically runs really lightweight sprints we don't do a lot of time planning but we do enough just so we don't we don't feel like we're getting like bogged down by the planning process for us it's about you know getting value to our customers as quickly as possible so we try not to you know throw in a lot just enough to keep us on the right path.

Cool, awesome. Another thing I think that engineers are attracted to is open source.

Ian can you share a little bit with us you know kind of what kind of opportunities from an open source perspective there might be?

Yeah absolutely so there are a number of parts of the workers stack that we develop that are open source that we develop in public.

A couple of the key ones are Wrangler the command-line interface as well as our documentation which is all open source and a number of other libraries that customers use while developing workers like static site serving libraries that customers use to implement static sites and those are all developed and maintained in public and so folks across the team get a chance to participate in that whether that's like working with community collaborators to iterate on suggestions for how to make our services and products better or just you know doing your own doing your own work in public and responding to community interact and community directly that way.

So that's definitely a definitely a cool opportunity and across Cloudflare we you know work in the open source community in a number of different ways whether that's you know contributing to contributing upstream to various services.

A whole lot of different open source things going on.

That's cool that's awesome and so for everybody who's out there you know we're coming up on about 10 minutes left in our session here and we would love to answer any questions that anyone has so please feel free to filter those through here and if we have time we will get to them.

Switching gears a little bit more we talked kind of about you know philosophically you know how we work together you know everyone wants to work somewhere where they get along with people so you know obviously the last six months have been very interesting where we're all working distributed but when when things do go back to normal here hopefully sooner than later tell me about some of the things that either one of your teams like to do for for fun and for team building you know Chris tell us a little bit about anything that you can share.

Yeah we've been trying to do a lot of like remote like zoom style events.

We did one where we did a coffee tasting and that was interesting we got we basically got in a call with the barista and they walked us through how to brew the best cup of coffee you know for like whatever device it was like bring your own like coffee making device and they kind of walked you through how to brew it to the right to the best quality and that was cool but then we had people on the team who didn't drink coffee but like tea and so then we did a tea one and so that worked out pretty well and then recently we did a painting class where we got on a call and we just did like you know we painted watercolors so it's just kind of varies we've done a lot of we've been trying to do a lot of different events to kind of do some team building.

That's awesome and then when before we were all working from home were there any other things that that y'all did when everyone was able to get together that would be fun to share?

It's kind of funny I actually I've actually been completely remote since I joined my team I think Ian might actually have a better idea of like some team events I did before I was on the team.

Yeah those those those are you know pretty similar set of events and kind of things that we would try to do on a regular basis.

Folks some folks also play games together people who are into it of like various different kinds we've kept that up since we've been working in a distributed fashion which has been fun you know all sorts of people have all sorts of different preferences and things that they enjoy so that's been good.

We've even been doing doing all sorts of like you know charades, Pictionary, weird stuff but we you know would occasionally do those kind of things in person.

Yeah a lot of especially folks who are based in Austin a lot of time just enjoying the food scene in Austin because there's so much there's so much great food around here and so getting folks out to try something new together outside of the office has been really good.

I think I think we all are and I mean let's look I mean let's be real right you guys are both hiring leaders.

Chris talk to us a little bit about your your leadership style and from your perspective you know what it's like to work on your team and kind of what your expectations are.

Yeah Ian I recently became a manager I guess it was probably back in April.

Ian put me on to some different books around leadership styles and different approaches.

One of them was a model called leader leader.

The idea is that you don't dictate what your team does you let them kind of like guide and you know direct the way you operate and so generally when we operate I usually ask the team like how do you want to do X or how do you want to do Y how do you want to approach this problem and then we talk about as a team and figure out what the right approach is and then we go do it.


Ian how about yourself? Yeah you know very similar and you know another another way people look at that is servant leadership.

It's a similar similar lens but you know we're here to empower a team and build a great environment for them to do their best work not to you know dictate how we're gonna solve problems.

A lot of that also comes down to sharing context so you know the principle there is that if you well-intentioned smart people if you share all the right context to them are gonna come up with great solutions to problems better than any manager can come up with who has a lot less view into and a lot less bandwidth and capacity and isn't as close to the problems on a day-to-day basis and so that's like what we spend a lot of time focusing on is sharing the right context helping prioritize the places where we are uniquely sort of suited to help lead can be around like prioritization across things that require visibility into other teams and what's going on so that that kind of stuff that's where we try to deliver value and just supporting the and that's great to hear and I think hopefully I speak for a lot of people you know getting an opportunity to work somewhere where there is that autonomy and opportunity for everyone to contribute in terms of how things work is really a great environment and so it's so great to hear that you know you leaders like Chris are kind of learning that style to really attract great talent you know having engineers right like you know some people know this from from a very early on that this is the career for them you know when you guys were growing up did you guys know that you were gonna be engineers you know tell me a little bit about how you even got into this field first all right so actually when I was in college I was actually I was dating a lady who whose mother worked at a tech startup she actually introduced me to a job doing tech support in the evenings you know going around the server room this is probably back 2000 I don't know 2007 2006 doing like text where you walk around the server and you unplug wires make sure everything's plugged in used to before we had you know automated UI checks used to actually have to go click to the UI and make sure it was doing what it was supposed to be doing so I did that and then there were some engineers that were on call that didn't like being on call and getting paged all the time for different stuff so they started teaching me stuff like sequel you know different things like that to kind of help start with debugging and then I got into coding and kind of just grew from there over time so Chris did you you didn't go to school for computer science then I went back to school later at a later point in time I think it was one of those points I think I hit at some point in time I felt like I hit a wall in my career I didn't have enough like specific knowledge that I needed to you know be able to do some of the job so I was like I should go back to school and get it you know get a degree that kind of helps with that so I went back and did a program at UW that kind of replaces what you'd call like an undergraduate in computer science yeah I did end up studying computer science in college although you know had a kind of winding path through a number of different number of different careers you know worked in finance and software and then even in tech I worked in product for a while which was you know for me was just all about finding places where I could where I could have an impact but I really you know came around to enjoying both as the software engineering part of the job and engineering management in particular of the ability to support engineers to do their best work help help coach and develop people and you know see them grow and do better and given that the support they need to do great work that's something I became really passionate about and one thing it kind of like talking about paths like the paths you take to get where you are one cool thing about Cloudflare in my experience has been both accommodating people from really like being excited about people from a really wide range of backgrounds and not just you know folks who've done something super traditional here's resume and background looks like everyone else but also mobility within the company so there are lots of folks so actually both Chris and I joined Cloudflare on totally different teams and moved to the workers team over time and there's a ton of that mobility within Cloudflare which I think which is awesome and that means that you know if you're excited about the things that are going on in one part of Cloudflare or multiple different places you can find something exciting and then a year or two later move and go work on something else work on a new opportunity so that's I always found that really really motivating that's great that's great and checking in right now it doesn't look like we have any any questions from our from our viewers which is which is totally okay but we did want to also let everybody know that myself Chris and Ian are all very accessible and I think one of the unique things about Cloudflare and our recruiting process is how heavily involved our hiring managers are really at the very top of the interview process and so Chris and Ian you know actually look at all the applicants that come in against their recs and reach out to them directly and that enables me to be going out and looking for candidates on a passive basis and so we want to let everybody know that if you're interested in joining the Cloudflare team feel free to connect with any of us on LinkedIn and we'd love to have a conversation with you to let you know a little bit more about the opportunity to see if there might be a mutual match and we really want to thank everybody for for joining this this is Chris and Ian's first time on Cloudflare TV and I think they did an incredible job of representing the workers team and and we really thank you guys for being on the recruiting corner so thank you for everybody for for joining us from around the globe and look out for future shows in the recruiting corner where we talk about everything recruiting thank you you you