One year at Qobo

Today marks a year since I joined Qobo as a CTO.  And what a year it has been!  On one hand, it flew by like a week.  On the other hand, looking at how much has been done, it feels like a decade.  Here are just a few highlights, in no particular order:

  • Team changes – a few people left, a few people joined.  A gadzillion people were interviewed, met, and even worked with on a project basis.  Those who are in the office now have also grown and got better both individually and as a team.  I’m always excited to see change in people.
  • Technology focus – a variety of technologies from earlier company history were consolidated into fewer, but better solutions.  We are a PHP shop now, with solid expertise in WordPress, CakePHP, and SugarCRM.  Focusing on fewer technologies allowed us to gain deeper knowledge and to perfect our tools.  Which leads me to the next point …
  • Open Source Software.  I’ve been a fan and an advocate for Open Source Software for years.  But it was always difficult to push it in the corporate world.  I got better with it at each previous work place, and Open Source grew up with years too.  But it wasn’t until Qobo that I got to the level that I wanted.  Have a look at our GitHub profile – there are forks of projects that we contribute to (mostly third-party WordPress plugins), our project templates, experiments, and tools.  And we are far from done yet.
  • Hosting consolidation and the cloud.  When I joined a year ago, the company was using a variety of hosting companies around the world.  While that provided an immediate base for some of the platforms in use, it was somewhat difficult to manage.  Since then, we’ve moved everything to Amazon Virtual Private Cloud.  We use quite a bit of the AWS stack, mainly – VPC, EC2, Route53, and S3.  And it works great for us!
  • Deployment automation, quality assurance, monitoring, etc.  We’ve built (yet again) and (finally) Open Sourced our deployment automation tools.   I’ve built this kind of tools before, but I was never quite happy with them, and I had to reiterate again and again.  Finally, we have something that works quite well.  There’s always room for improvement, of course, but it served us well for a few month now.
  • Projects, projects, projects.  We’ve worked on client projects big and small all year round.  And there are quite a few that we are proud of.  The Portfolio page for our website is coming soon too, so we can properly showcase those.
  • Office move.  We’ve moved offices in the shortest possible time,  optimizing and completely restructuring our internal infrastructure.  We are now in better premises with a better setup.  We need less hardware and things are much easier to handle.
  • Podcasts and audio books.  In the last year, I’ve driven over 40,000 kilometers, mostly going back and forth between Limassol and Nicosia.  Most of this time was spent listening to podcasts and audio books, from which I’ve learned a lot and got a billion ideas.

There’s plenty more, of course.  But the most important out of this all, I think, is that I’ve learned a whole lot about a whole lot, I’ve tried plenty of things I wanted to try for a while, and I’ve had a tonne of fun, even though sometimes that meant long nights and no weekends.

It’s been a great year and I hope I’ll have many more like this one.  To all, who were around – a big thank you and please don’t go away.  To those who parted ways – thanks anyway and good luck.  I hope more people get to experience what I’ve experienced this year.

P.S.: And the blog section of our website is coming soon too.  Once it’s up, we’ll keep you all updated on our endeavors through there.

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