Like pretty much every company in 2020, Civo has had to deal with some unexpected world events! To wrap up the year, I thought I'd put together some of the most significant developments in our company from a CTO's perspective, and how they will affect us looking forward into the next year.
Even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, our #KUBE100 beta has been incredibly popular, we've built some exciting new technology while adjusting to doing much of our work remotely from home, and our team has grown along with our ambitions. We have also built up an enthusiastic user community, with regular online meetups and our knowledgeable Ambassadors as the cornerstones of our knowledge sharing and feature testing.
Adjusting to remote working
Prior to the UK lockdown in March, the Civo team all worked from the office above our data centre. Suddenly in mid-March, we all had to stop coming in to keep everyone safe, with the offices being adjusted to Covid-safe layouts for those who had to be on site for hardware upgrades and the like. Aside from occasional issues with home internet connections being a pain, the shift to remote was relatively smooth. The team all worked relatively independently even when in the office, so shifting meetings to be online video calls was probably the biggest difference aside from not having a food truck come around at lunchtime. Bluetooth microphones on Linux really could work better for all our sakes, though...
All of our internal systems are online and we don't generally deal with much in the way of paperwork, so the admin side of working was business as usual. Our Site Reliability Engineers and Cloud Engineers all use a VPN anyway to be able to access the "back-of-house" side of our cluster, so it was simple to roll that out to everyone required.
Onboarding a new, global team
With our UK team adjusting to remote working due to the Coronavirus pandemic and government advice to work from home whenever possible, in 2020 we recruited the first staff members outside the United Kingdom. As CTO of a small, local team for the previous few years, this meant some changes to how we report status, plan for development etc. We have staff as far east (from the UK's position) as Asia and as far west as Cuba and the USA.
This means dealing with vastly different timezones. Our earliest starter finishes work at 10am UK time and the latest starters don't begin until 1pm at the latest. This means while we inevitably have some large team catchups, we've had to adjust to asynchronous status updates and planning individually from myself with the team rather than always group sessions.
What has been absolutely lovely for me is that we've also this year hired from our customer-base. The same enthusiastic users that are shouting about our products and helping others on our community slack channel are now beginning to join as full team members.
Planning for new regions
We always wanted to extend Civo beyond our home in the UK. Being closer to your data centre means less latency, and as both a developer and a gamer I know all about how frustrating latency can be!
We have some top-of-the-line hardware shipping to our first new region as I write this. We have been working on a new platform to run as plug-and-play, meaning we can extend the Civo offering to match demand and be closer to where more of our users are. In 2021, as soon as we have the US region online, we'll be looking to expand capacity in the UK as well as further East, with more to follow both throughout the year and the few years that follow. We can't wait to have you be able to choose a region that suits your needs!
Building our community
Alongside our newly-international team, we have a great bunch of community Ambassadors who we are all really glad to have contributing to Civo. Whether it's participating in our regular meetup streams, writing guides to benefit other users, or just being a welcoming and helpful presence in our Slack community, we couldn't have done what we have done without them. The core Civo team is small, so it's great to have knowledgeable people on hand to test out features in alpha and helping out users where they have questions.
We also have had superb contributions from across the Civo community for our meetups, which we will continue monthly in 2021. You can see recordings of all the previous events on our YouTube channel, where you'll also find other videos around Kubernetes and cloud-native for all kinds of experience levels.
Looking into 2021
The thread running through everything we've done this year has been the creation of our new platform, built from the ground up to run Kubernetes for our customers. From planning and specing out hardware for our new regions to writing the code that will actually run the platform, we have been getting ready for what will be a busy 2021 and beyond. With the hardware for our first US region en-route, that work is now paying off.
As soon as it arrives, we should be able to get it up and running without having to be on site, as the whole thing has been designed from the ground up to be entirely remotely configurable and extensible. So, once we've proven that our plan works, we plan to roll out more new regions in rapid succession in early 2021.
With our team spanning the globe, we are in a position to create some seriously cool things. We are lucky that as a company, 2020 has not thrown too many spanners into the works for us, and we realise that. Our community-driven roadmap is what we're driving towards, but there are a lot of moving parts to be set in order underneath to make it all come together.
If you are a Civo customer, thanks for being along for the ride with us this year. If you are not yet a customer, sign up and give our managed Kubernetes platform a try. There'll be some exciting new announcements in the new year...