We are Cloudflare
Meet all the people who make up the Cloudflare team from all offices, all teams, all levels, in as many languages as possible.
Welcome everyone, this is Chaat Butsunturn and I'm your host of We Are Cloudflare. And in this segment, I'm interviewing different people from our global team.
I've been starting with San Francisco because that's where we're based in our home office.
And today's guest is William Robledo. Hi William, how are you? Hey Chaat, doing well.
Great. Thank you for having me. Thanks for joining. So we met playing ping pong, I remember, right?
And it's probably one of the things I miss most from the office.
And for those that don't know, we have a ping pong table in the club level, which is the basement level of our office.
Yeah, you've been playing any ping pong lately?
No, actually, no. Actually, work has been kind of crazy.
So definitely this pandemic kind of expedited my job in the infrastructure world.
Yeah. So what is it that you do? You're on the infrastructure team, but I don't really know your title.
And let's learn about infrastructure. Yeah, so I'm the head of data center engineering inside of the infrastructure.
What that means, that fancy title.
What it means, actually, I am responsible for every single point of presence around the world of Cloudflare.
So anything that happens physically, my team is the first responder.
So from all the projects that we have, from installing new servers, to decommissioning servers, to looking at how do we grow current footprint, that's everything that comes through the infrastructure team.
And I'm just a part of that.
I think inside of the infrastructure team, there are four other teams that manage different aspects of it.
Okay, so I think one of the biggest differentiating factors of Cloudflare is its network, is its infrastructure.
You're one of the guys behind that.
So what's your specific team and how is it different from the other ones?
So it's interesting. I think the way that I see this is infrastructure, the way that I see this, it's almost like a basketball team.
We have the offense and the defense. So there are four teams in total inside of the infrastructure team.
And so we have the hardware engineering team.
We have the growth and planning ISPs, what they call interconnectivity team.
And then we have the operations, data center engineering team.
So the way that I see it is the other teams are playing offense, meaning they are going after looking at ahead of time, what projects, where we need to go, heavily commercial, future of hardware, etc.
While my team is playing and making sure that things are running, staying live, the work keeps basically without no interruption, keeps continuing.
That's why usually I play the defense. I make sure everything happens smoothly on this end, while the other infrastructure team plays offense.
I'm on it. Okay. And Cloudflare, our network now is how, I know we're at 200.
Are we more than 200 now? Definitely more than 200. And I wouldn't be able to give you a number exactly, but we are definitely more than 200.
Wow. We definitely will be.
I'm sure we're prepping a blog to announce the latest numbers.
Looking forward to that. Right. So how did you get an infrastructure? What were you doing prior to Cloudflare?
Yeah. So actually, prior to Cloudflare, I was working for AWS.
One of the engineers working with them growing the footprints around the US and responsible for building their point of presence.
And yeah. And interesting how it came to the data center world.
It was through AWS. And they were the ones that basically taught me most of what I know.
And since I joined Cloudflare, it has been an exponential learning curve.
Right. Yes. It has been an amazing rollercoaster.
Right. Well, the network has grown. So how many POPs did we have when you started?
We were 80. 80 POPs. Wow. Okay. That's a lot of growth. Yeah.
And we were six people inside of infrastructure. On the team? Yes. What is it now?
I think 45. Are you all in San Francisco or you guys? No, this is multiple.
We have people in London, Singapore, Austin, and many other offices. Yeah.
Actually, I got a question last episode that I didn't get to address. Someone was asking about the Lisbon office.
And in that Lisbon office, we're hiring and we're hiring across all roles.
My understanding. So I recently hired someone there.
We have the first infrastructure member in there. His name is Pedro.
He is responsible for compliance and security for all of our data centers. Right.
So yeah, that team is...
And it continues to grow, I guess? Yeah, definitely. So in the last episode, I was telling everybody that at Cloudflare, one of our traditions is the fun fact.
Do you remember yours? Yeah, I can't forget it. I use it every day.
So the fun fact that it was actually... I love reading manuals. I love to read step by step how things are built.
So I mentioned during the fun fact was if you ever go to Ikea and you need someone to help you build any furniture, I'm the guy.
You're our guy. Right. Yeah. And then the reason why I use it every day is because all the data centers that we build around the world, there's a manual how to do it.
Right. We always try to improve how to do things. Did you see the movie Fight Club?
Yes, I did. So whenever I think of Ikea and manuals, I think of Fight Club. Yes.
Part of the beginning of the show or the movie where he's just looking at a room and imagining it in Ikea mode.
All right. Were you a big Legos guy? Did you love Legos growing up?
I just love putting things together. I think I just love... On my eighth grade project, I built a radio.
Yes, I used to spend a lot of time in the library, like reading those how to build your anything.
Right. For my graduation project, I decided to build a radio.
Right. Was it an AM radio, a ham radio? AM radio.
I remember it required a lot of copper wire for the frequencies. Sure. I remember going around all the mechanics around San Francisco, trying to find where I can get a lot of copper from the alternators.
Right, right. So I had to take an alternator apart and get all the wire out.
Right, right. Did you ever use a Snap Circuits or did they have those back in the day?
No, I actually never used it. My son, I have a nine-year-old and he likes Snap Circuits where you're able to actually start building circuit boards.
So introducing into the hardware world, currents, et cetera.
So if you had a new fun fact, would you change it? Is there another fun fact that you...
No, I think that's still part of my DNA. I just enjoy seeing how things are built from nothing to something.
And I think that's why I enjoy my job a lot.
Yeah, you get to figure out how it all works. Do you ever go on site?
Do you ever have to actually go to our... My team definitely sometimes have to go on site due to the complexity of the projects.
I will require someone from Cloudflare to be on site and make sure that things go smoothly with no interruptions of any maintenance.
Myself, I try to go when I can, but my team definitely goes more often.
Right, right. So we've been working from home since, what, March now?
Yeah. What do you miss most? The people. I think I just... I'm a social person.
I enjoy the way that we met. Yeah, right. Just getting off your desk and just go...
Usually during the time when the office was open, get off my desk, go get a cup of coffee, say hello to random person I haven't met, introduce myself and make a new friend.
Yeah, yeah. That's definitely something that I miss. Yeah, last week I had one of my guests, Shweta, the solutions engineer.
We met, third floor coffee, pour over.
I was talking to Carrie Linder, the designer last week, and she mentioned that I asked her what she missed.
I forgot to ask her during the segment.
So afterwards I asked her, so what do you miss about the office? And she said, Nespresso pots.
I was always more of a pour over guy myself. No, I'm an espresso cup, yeah.
Yeah, right. Yeah, it is a whole new world. This virtual background here, for those that don't know, I think I mentioned last week, Cloudflare, when you first walk in, first thing you're going to see is our lava lamps.
And here we have virtual lava lamps for our virtual world.
Well, William, thanks so much for joining. I've got Dasta joining.
Do you want to stick around? Yeah, definitely. Thank you for coming.
I would love to be part of the rest of the other interviews here. Sounds good.
All right. So Angela and Dasta, I'll have you, whenever you're ready, feel free to join us live.
Boom. All right. Hey, guys. Hi, John. So I know you guys all met in our virtual green room earlier.
And Angela and Dasta, when I asked you each separately to be guests on We Are Cloudflare, I had no idea that you guys were in the same class.
How about that? When was that about? That was roughly two years ago.
And that's right. We are both part of class 101. And we started at 101 Thompson Street.
Yeah, where the headquarters are. And Dasta, you're on the data team.
Is that right? Yes. All right. So what is the data team? What do you do? Yeah, I'm on the data team where we work on data platforms for logs, analytics, and usage.
So essentially, the reason I call it a data platform is because we provide platforms that now allow different product teams to also help push their logs or provide analytics for their products and also manage usage.
So if you're a product team and you want to start billing for self-serve customers, you can use the usage platform.
Likewise, for analytics, if you want to power your analytics, we have the GraphQL API platform, which you can use to make analytics and experience.
And for logs, for an HTTP request, we help customers configure jobs that push logs for them.
Right. So do you work with any of our partnerships? Like for where people can extract data into logs?
Yeah, we don't closely work, but we collaborate with special projects team, like because some of the integrations to other destinations is also driven by like partnerships, like they set up custom integrations for other destinations, like Sumo Logic and Datadog, things like that.
Right, right. But to add more, like we work closely more with like SREs and the infrastructure teams.
For the ops people and the core people. Got it. Got it. Right. Now, Dasta and I, for reference, we met in Toastmasters.
I just caught myself saying, I know someone out there is counting my filler words.
So now I'm going to be self -conscious for the rest of this segment.
Angela, how are you? Good. How are you? Great.
Where are you today? That's a really nice pad there. I am in my virtual living room that I just looked back on, even though it's not there.
I love it. So you're on our customer success team, correct?
Correct. And so customer success is kind of a newish term.
I know there was some people called it account managers, but so what do you do in customer success?
So I'm part of a global team that basically works with and watches over all of our enterprise customers.
And basically just to ensure their success in adopting and incorporating Cloudflare products and services.
So we do this on a day-to-day basis, week-to-week basis, by building relationships with those enterprise customers, staying in constant contact with them so that we can stay aligned with their goals and continue to provide value.
So it's been great just kind of working really closely with a lot of our customers.
But you are correct in that, like, it really was only recently that it was called customer success.
Previously, I think it was maybe more so referred to account management or technical account management.
Right, right. Yeah, and Cloudflare has millions of customers, but most of them are going to be one of our pay-as-you-go, self-serve, do-it-yourself clans.
And it's one of the largest differentiating factors between enterprise and a self-serve is the ability to have someone like you on board to help them make the most of our platform to solve problems.
Absolutely, I couldn't have said it better. We're their main point of contact.
There are others on their account team, such as a solutions engineer, an expansion account rep, an account executive.
But they can rely on us to bring anything that they might have questions on, anything they need additional assistance, any concerns that they might have.
And we bring in all the necessary players to discuss further if needed.
So we do really try to help them out in all different facets.
Right. And my understanding about customer success also is that you're kind of the quarterback on the Cloudflare side of things, right?
And you marshal the resources internally at Cloudflare.
What other teams do you integrate with or do you have to coordinate with to ensure customer success?
I think the better question might be what teams don't I coordinate with? Because we actually collaborate with quite a few teams across Cloudflare.
I would say maybe less so those types of teams like the one that you're on, William, with infrastructure, maybe some with data, the team that you're on, Dasta.
But I think for the most part, we work with a lot of the forward-facing teams.
So anyone from the teams I mentioned earlier, the account executives, the expansion team, the solutions engineers, to like product managers, marketing.
So it's been really great to be able to build those relationships internally as well as externally.
What did you do before Cloudflare? I was also a customer success manager.
Before that, an account manager and a technical account manager. So as long as I can remember, I've always been in a customer-facing, customer-supporting role.
Oh, I see. How about you, Dasta? Where were you before Cloudflare? What were you doing?
Cloudflare was my first job after grad school. I went to grad school in Wisconsin, Madison.
Okay. Sorry? Were you a badger? Yes, badger. That's what they call it.
There you go. Okay. But Madison is a very beautiful school town that sits on a isthmus.
It's a part of land that connects to inland lakes. And totally loved it.
Right after my grad school, I decided that I really wanted to be a systems engineer where I can really get a hang of building systems from scratch and managing data.
I knew that I wanted to be a data engineer. And Cloudflare was just a fascinating place because of the scale.
We were growing so fast.
And in particular, the data team appealed to me because we were managing huge data pipelines.
Right, right. Yeah. And I imagine that's grown over time too. Yeah, yeah.
It's fascinating to see our growth. Mm-hmm. Does your world intersect with...
How does your world intersect with infrastructure or does it? Not directly. I think infrastructure is the first line of...
The way I see it is the first line of...
When it comes to procuring infrastructure, setting it up all, getting it ready for everyone to go ahead.
And then the network team comes in. And then we have the core and edges, sorry, depending on how...
Whether these are in our core data centers or our...
Yeah, right. Yeah. So that's the reason I haven't directly interacted with William.
But I know William, like that he's... Do you ever play ping pong?
That's where I met him, so... Oh, I see. Yeah, I do play a lot of ping pong.
I haven't seen you guys though. I know, it must be different. Well, I never play in the mornings because I'm always doing the biz dev thing.
And I got to get people while they're still around.
But after three o'clock, I might make an appearance.
Yeah. So actually, Angela, one of your colleagues, Aaron, I'll often see when I'm playing ping pong because he's on the pinball machine.
Yes, he loves that.
I think he's still trying to... It's the Adams family, ping pong machine.
Uh-huh, the Adams family, I know. It's my son's favorite room in all the buildings.
I don't blame him. Right. What's your fun fact, Angela? Do you recall?
I do, yes. So I said that the most interesting thing I've ever ingested as a foodie was grilled scorpion and snake's blood.
And snake what? Snake's blood. Snake's blood.
So how do you have it? Like when I think of snake's blood, I kind of think of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where you just eat it into a chalice and then drink it or something, I mean.
Close, it was more like a little shot glass, but similar.
Yeah, and the scorpion, is it deep fried? Because I'd eat anything deep fried.
I'll have to be honest, I didn't actually see it cooked. I assumed it was grilled because it was on a stick.
There were two of them that were skewered and they sprinkled it with some seasoning, like that was going to help.
But I ate both of them.
So I don't know that I would do that again, but I can check that off the list.
I don't know if you know this, but there are actually scorpions in the Oakland Hills.
I mountain bike up in the hills and I often, well, speaking of fun facts, my fun fact was that I'm an avid mountain biker, but I do most of my mountain biking at night.
And to do the backstory on that, I used to, back in the day, play, I was an avid ultimate Frisbee player and I'd play ultimate on weekends and Tuesdays and Thursdays, we had practice.
Wednesdays were a free night, so my crew would be like, well, let's, what can we, let's ride.
So I started riding on Wednesday nights and then now we're all old and we retired from ultimate, but we still ride.
And in the Oakland Hills, for the first time, about a month or two ago, I noticed some scorpions coming out at night and you don't often see them.
They're about yay big, you know, dark ones, but I never thought to put one on a skewer.
So I'll let them live. Dasta, what about you? What was your fun fact?
Yeah, my fun fact was that I like sailing and I eventually aspire to go bare boat cruising somewhere I like.
Bare, bare what? Bare boat cruising.
It's like, you just rent a sailboat and you live there, you just hang around and you have all the necessary equipment to live on a boat.
Like, not at a place that you are used to, but more of like a vacation.
Right, right. How long do you think you would do that for?
Yeah, I did it once, only lasted six hours. But did you like it?
No. No, but that was a very audacious goal. So I am a very basic sailor.
Like I, back in grad school, like during my last semester, I didn't know what to do.
And so I said like, let's pick up sailing and I totally loved it. Like sailing was one thing that introduced me to, like that made me fall in love with physics and mechanics.
Like there's so much to winds and how to like just handle a sailboat.
And I'm not even talking about a keelboat. Like it's a basic dinghy. Like totally wanted to do that, but I haven't been sailing.
One of my regrets here is I haven't been sailing a lot in the bay.
In fact, I should try that. Well, you know, my guest last week, Andrew Fitch, he lives on a boat.
Oh, I know that. Yeah, right. Have you?
Yeah, and I don't know if it's a sailboat or it's a, you know. I think he lives on a sailboat, yeah.
And he has two, I guess two or three of them, right? Wow, yeah.
And you know, I, in theory, like boats, just like in theory, I like, in theory, I like roller coasters, but in reality, I don't.
I can't. Here I am saying in theory, and my phone is asking me, I'm sorry, I didn't hear that.
No, it's theory, not Siri.
The sailing part of the mechanics of the steering, the winds, that's the fun part.
The part that I like is when you just have to sit and just the waves, the boat just keeps rocking, that part.
It's not that fun, yeah. Sailing, like, yeah, I agree with William.
Like it teaches you a lot about, like how to apply physics.
Like there's a wind clock and like you learn to see the winds and especially in the bay, like I hear, I've heard friends say that you have to be cautious about the tides as well, right?
Because sailing in Madison was all about tracking winds on inland lakes.
That's a lot different. The dynamics there is a lot different from sailing in like bay or ocean.
Yeah, I was wondering about, like, I don't understand how people sail upwind.
That doesn't make any sense to me.
I guess that's where you tack, you know.
Have you ever tried wind surfing? No. Is it fun?
No, I've never tried it, but I imagine it's pretty similar, but you're on the water, you know.
With sailing, do you see, are there any things with your personal passions, each of the three of you that, I mean, I know for William, clearly it seems that your personal passions translate into your work.
I mean, one of the things that I miss about in this COVID world is we don't get to interact not only with each other, but with our customers.
And I think that's one of the things about Cloudflare TV that we're trying to do is just offer a window to some kind of interaction, whether it be technical conferences, webinars, or just the interpersonal connection where you get to meet people at a conference, for example.
Did any of you have opportunities to interface with customers or collaborate with partners in person in a way that we're not able to now in this COVID world?
Like, I would go to conferences like AWS and, you know, it was a great opportunity to meet people.
I really enjoyed that, you know. Not only do you have, you know, random technical conversations at the booth, but then, you know, you could be at a bar at a conference and you could pretty much walk up to anybody and say, what are you doing here?
Because they've got a reason and it's very similar to yours. So it was kind of nice to have that opportunity to just talk to people.
But that's one of the things I miss.
I mean, Angela, do you ever get to see your customers in person?
I do. Well, pre -COVID, pre-quarantine, I, you know, as a customer success manager, I definitely try to get out to see my customers as often as possible.
I think there's an aspect to building relationships that is missing if you don't get a chance to interface in person.
Although I have to admit, being forced to kind of do everything virtually since quarantine, there's definite argument for getting to know your customers virtually as well that I never really anticipated before.
And that goes for like family and friends as well. I definitely am talking to customers and family and friends way more often than I was pre-quarantine.
So it's definitely a different perspective to think about and not to be discounted.
Right, right. And William, I think your team, some of them, when you're exploring how to expand your infrastructure, you're reaching out.
But I imagine when you're working globally like that at that scale, it is all virtual anyway.
Is that correct? Yes and no. I think as you mentioned earlier, there are conferences that we go, peering conference, data center world conferences where you meet people that are from different ISPs, different Internet providers around the world.
And people are basically looking for the same, how to connect to Cloudflare.
How can we have a point of presence with Cloudflare? Prior to COVID-19, I go to a lot of LATAM conferences, expand these.
So I'm usually the one that goes and meets the Internet providers down there.
But prior now to this new way, we have been doing it virtually like everybody else.
I think in the Latino culture, we are like, we love face to face interaction.
Totally, right? Yeah, even it has been, I think it has been quite tough for the Latino culture because when we say hello, we kiss on the cheek.
Ah, yeah. Say goodbye to that tradition, right?
I don't know how that's going to work anymore. Maybe we should do this on the Doze Masters chat.
Yeah, I remember that. Well, we have two minutes left.
I don't want to get cut off, but I did want to ask them in 30 seconds, each of you, is there a particular project that you're really excited to be working on right now?
I can go first. I think a lot of projects. I think that just seeing the future growth of Cloudflare from current expanding of current footprints to having new locations, they're definitely exciting.
Angela, Dasta? Yeah, I'm currently working on this premium enterprise customer alerting.
Like, so we want to alert our premium enterprise customers anytime we see something's wrong with either the Cloudflare network or customers origin.
This is us being proactive and letting customers know, and we just want to be transparent about our errors.
So this is my first time interacting with customer support teams and how they deal with customers, how they have to keep everyone in loop and how the alerting goes on.
So I'm working more on the engineering side of things, but it's nice to see how different teams, like even our product manager, John.
So, Angela, before, because I see it's 3.29.
No worries, I can make it quick. So I've been getting more involved with the employee resource groups here at Cloudflare, which I think is vital during these times where we're all kind of stuck at home.
So that's been a really great, not work related, but Cloudflare related project that I hope to continue even once we're back in the office.
That's great. Well, thank you to all my guests for being here for We Are Cloudflare.
I hope you all have learned something about the team, how we work, who we are, and tune in next time.
Next week, I think it's 12.30 Pacific.
I'll be with three new guests, TBD. Thank you so much. Thank you, Chad.
Thanks for having us, Chad. Thank you. Bye.