I’m often asked, “what’s it like to work at DoiT?” Although employed here for just over 7 months, as a previous customer, I feel like I’ve been part of the team for well over a year already. Here’s my take on that question.
Although our product organization is growing we are not a typical product company, nor a typical pro-serv company. DoiT nestles somewhere in between.
First, I will describe what many of us may have experienced at other companies, and then how DoiT does things differently than most places I’ve been. This post is long but worth it — at least I hope so!
This is what we are NOT about
I think it’s best first to ask, “what’s it like at other companies?” If any of these scenarios sound familiar at all, or makes you chuckle or want to cry, I’m pleased to share there are other choices, and DoiT International is one of them.
You feel “stuck” with tools, technology, and technical debt that you didn’t even create — you inherited most of it, or it was born out of necessity as the company grew, and you weren’t given the time to do it right. You have constant pressure to perform with unrealistic deadlines pulled out of thin air. You want to learn the coolest new technique or language but cannot seem to find the time. You’re pulled into so many meetings that it’s hard to focus on deep work, which results in this spiral of more bugs and spending more time bug fixing than actually creating.
IT / infrastructure
It’s 2:08 AM, and you (and your family) are being woken up because there’s an issue in production. You’re often labeled “the bad guy” by your engineering colleagues because you want to guarantee compliance, stability, and security. Your vendors are constantly pressuring you to sign the next ELA to meet their quotas without any regard for your actual needs. Executives are screaming at you, demanding a root cause analysis, and you haven’t even fixed the problem yet. You feel threatened by the ominous public cloud and automation demands of the organization. “Are my 17 years of expertise going to matter any more?” — yes, they are even more valuable, by the way.
DevOps / SRE
It’s 1:42 AM, and you (and your family) are being woken up because there’s an issue in production. Thankfully you implemented SLIs and SLOs to alert you, so you knew about the issue before the Ops team, but they’ll be awake soon enough! [ha, I couldn’t resist] You are stuck piecing together CICD pipelines with older technology to keep engineering running. Your team drags their feet on updating runbooks, so it feels like every issue is new even though you’ve solved it a dozen times — why wasn’t that automated last year?
You love your customers and work side by side with their employees, but you feel like a second-class citizen. You know flight attendants better than your own children. You have a constant fear that in the next financial crisis, you’re at risk of being cut to preserve full-time employees; or, you’re the “enemy” responsible for the selection of who’s going to be cut. You’re constantly pressured to build out your pyramid to bring down your average cost per resource to justify your $800/hr bill rate. The pressure to meet your margins and chargeability are constant such that you might be compelled to propose solutions you don’t personally believe in, but it’s what the client wants to hear.
Sales and account management
You’re wondering what the hell the demand gen team was thinking when they sent you those “leads.” A voice in the back of your head is constantly nagging you for not negotiating a higher base. Your sales pipeline looks more like a needle than an inverted birthday hat. You’re thinking to yourself, “is PowerPoint really a skill?” Yes, it is, and so is your spreadsheet mastery, by the way! You cannot remember if you already explained that feature because you lost yourself in your nearly-robotic-by-now pitch. In the back of your mind, “This product is amazing, so why do I have to convince others they need it?” and “Is this ever going to close?”
You’ve concluded you’re too honest to climb that ladder on the backs of others. You seek help from a colleague, but it’s not tied to their bonus, so they’re reluctant. Your great idea to improve efficiency got buried in red tape by the committee on efficiency. You open your calendar in hopes to find time to use the restroom during working hours this week. That barbecue utensil set you won during the last offsite is still in your trunk collecting dust.
This is what we ARE about (read on)
If those scenarios above sounded familiar, you’re not alone; I can empathize because I’ve personally experienced them and know it doesn’t have to be that way. You can either join our team (if qualified) or sign up with us and let our team help you.
DoiT International is a unique company. I can share my perspective from the cloud architecture side, although I work with our sales and account management team daily and can speak a little about that too.
My first day at DoiT International
On day one, I received a welcome email from a company co-founder telling me to relax, grab a coffee or beverage, and get up to speed at my own pace. Meanwhile, emails from colleagues I’ve not yet met from around the world come pouring in welcoming me to the team.
Did I miss something? Nope, that’s it — you’re an adult and respected and treated like one.
Nearly everything is automated (the benefit of geek executives), so you knock out items in your onboarding checklist from Rippling like “connect to our Github org” or “join our Slack community” or “join our WhatsApp group” or “learn about Zendesk best practices” or “log into your AWS and Google sandbox accounts.”
My team lead reached out and asked when I wanted to schedule an intro chat. “Next week is fine, just let me know. Take your time completing the onboarding tasks, and if you want to spend this month studying or preparing for a cloud certification, feel free. My calendar is public, so jump into any meeting to see how things work.”
It’s almost unsettling at first how relaxed everything is, but it gets even better when you speak with customers on “sales calls” — these are companies you often already admire/love or products you already use.
I used quotes, and here’s why. DoiT International is a software engineering company at heart (we have a growing platform engineering org). Our revenues are still generated from our partnership contracts with Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure. What’s unique is that we provide all our software and services at zero cost to the customer.
Our revenue is based on cloud consumption, and our primary focus is making sure customers are successful in their adoption and continued use of cloud technology. We think and operate long-term, and there’s no need for drafting the next SOW, pitching the next project, or upselling to the next version — at DoiT International, it simply doesn’t exist.
Our “pitch” if you can call it that is quite simple. Purchase your cloud services through our Cloud Management Platform, and you get all our software tools and people for no more than you currently spend; more often you actually spend less both in offers we can help you take advantage of or optimizations our architects help identify.
We are compensated through partnership contracts with the cloud vendors (i.e., we just signed a $1.5 billion deal with Google last quarter). Everything is additive to what customers already have, and nothing goes away, but now they gain our expertise on top for simply switching their billing account in their cloud console.
Who wouldn’t jump at that opportunity, right? The answer is not many, which is why the company is doubling in size each year, profitable, and revenues already in the hundreds of millions of dollars. An interesting statistic is that the company was already over $100 million in annual revenues with nearly 30 people — a testament to the efficiency and automation most companies only dream of.
The most common question is, “what’s the catch?” and the answer is, there is none. I read once that we close over 56% of every opportunity. Still, since I’ve been here, I can only recall two or 3 (out of many dozen) that didn’t immediately sign up — oh, and our agreement is month-to-month, 4 pages in length, and quickly clears legal teams with companies of every size.
I’m on calls like this every week. The cloud vendor sales team introduces us, we share a few minutes about our model and then jump into the issue at hand. We want to get to know the customer, their products, and make sure they’re a good fit for us too.
For cloud architects, we only hire senior, experienced, hands-on technologists whom our customers trust to review, guide, or recommend solutions to their teams. Most of our customers already have expert engineers, so we are a safety net or, as some state, “their personal Stack Overflow” for all things cloud (and a little more really). Customers periodically submit support requests that come into Zendesk as “tickets,” (a.k.a. cases) and we have a system that distributes them round-robin based on expertise (and soon availability — we are writing our own algorithm and bot for more intelligent distribution).
Regardless of your role (even our co-founders), you are expected to contribute to customers' success. If that means grabbing a ticket from our Zendesk queue because a colleague is busy on a call, you gladly do it. Everyone at DoiT International has each others’ backs. All are focused on customer success — that pretty much sums up the expectations (customer delight, true expertise, and being a team player).
I was ambitious and wanting to contribute right away (despite no pressure to do so), so I looked up a teammate’s calendar on my second day, saw a meeting they were in, and joined it. It was a cool company that was building out its DevOps capabilities, and a couple of new team members were trying to get their Jenkins CI server to work in Kubernetes on Google Cloud. During the call, they were advised to create a support ticket, and one of our team would help them set it up.
I immediately pinged my colleague and asked when that ticket comes in, assign it to me. When the ticket arrived, I suggested a video chat, and the customer shared their screen. We walked through their Helm chart config and found the issue, an incorrect Kubernetes Service type (ClusterIP instead of NodePort), which is why the Ingress (GCE) wouldn’t connect. They tweaked that and re-ran the script, and it worked!
They were so pleased that they submitted another ticket the next day and asked if we could help them add TLS; I snatched that ticket and helped there too, sharing a working example from my sandbox of Cert Manager and automated TLS using Let’s Encrypt. I’ve become buddies with several of their team, and now on video chats, we’re spending more time talking about the weather, the last great restaurant we dined at, etc. This is how most of our interactions are — customers are grateful for our guidance, support, and assistance in stressful times.
Ticket volumes vary but typically 1–2 in a day come in per each cloud architect. Many are not softball questions because these are problems our customer’s engineers couldn’t figure out and need extra help with. It’s perfectly okay if you don’t yet know the answer because eventually, you will. It can be scary at first because the customer depends on you to help them. This is where you rest easy because your team has your back.
You first search in Zendesk to see if anyone has already solved a similar issue. If not, post a call for help on our engineering Slack channel, and team members swarm to provide tips/answers. Worst case, you spin up your sandbox environment and go through tutorials until you figure it out, and then share your findings with the customer. Guess what, you now just gained another skill.
During a technical crisis, it’s more important to be present, share ideas on how to troubleshoot a problem, and give peace of mind you have their back. At DoiT International, our team resolves over 93% of tickets, and response times are twice as fast as cloud vendor support. We do have platinum-level support contracts with cloud vendors with faster SLAs for those rare occurrences we need to escalate issues and create tickets on the customer’s behalf. We also regularly work with cloud vendor product teams and engineers, so occasionally, we have personal contacts that can get answers even faster.
The organization at DoiT International is extremely flat. Nearly every tool is integrated and automated, and we leverage Slack in so many creative ways. One of the things that impressed me most was our continuous and immediate positive reinforcement via Slack channels.
Every time a sales team member closes another deal, it’s automatically posted in Slack for all to see and rejoice. When we read about customers’ success, their next funding round, their IPO, that Rolling Stone article, we share that in Slack and all celebrate their success.
Every support ticket satisfaction rating from customers is posted for all to see as well — you don’t need middle management when the entire company can immediately see if you delighted (or disappointed) a customer. I’m pleased to share that the disappointments are extremely rare, but when they occur, we call the customer to find out how we can do better.
Another key differentiator is our transparency. Even if we had a bad review, it’s all publicly available on our live support stats page (directly integrated with Zendesk / BigQuery).
I realize this post has grown very long, so thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far. If you’re wondering about all that “other stuff” besides sales calls and tickets, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s minimal and mostly optional.
Monday planning call
In the U.S., we hold a 25-minute call every Monday with tech/sales. This is where the sales team announces any meetings they need some tech coverage, and we allocate which technical team members will join. It’s usually swift, covering each region from West to East Coasts.
Weekly or bi-weekly 1:1 with the team lead
Usually a 15–20-minute check-in on Friday (here in the US). As we are growing (now 130+ people), we are exploring a weekly report (few bullet points) shared with senior leadership.
Weekly social (we’re all remote)
You could call it a department meeting, but that would be a stretch. We join a video chat, share gardening tips, talk about weekend plans, or get to know new teammates.
Monthly all-hands call
Our executive team shares company updates and monthly financial performance, welcomes new hires, and celebrates work anniversaries! Anyone in the company can propose new ideas or ask questions in our all-hands Slack channel either during the call or at any time.
Monthly social (Let’s Hangout)
As a global company, we host a video chat each month with breakout rooms (no more than 7 per room) to get to know our teammates “across the pond” better. Times vary to allow different countries to participate.
Free time is encouraged.
The rest is completely up to you.
For me, I love learning new technology, efficiency/process automation, and teaching others. I may be designing and building out my “dream stack” and testing out the latest and greatest products (encouraged to keep your skills current), proposing a new framework or tool our teams can use, or simply authoring blog posts to share lessons learned or demo things I find interesting.
In these first 7 months, alongside my daily duties, I’ve had time to earn three professional certifications, and many of my colleagues have even more.
At DoiT International, we have former CTOs, senior software engineers, Kaggle competition winners, authors, scientists, patent holders, network and IT professionals, and more. We believe if you’re happy in life, you’ll be happy at work, and that will result in what we call “legendary support” to customers.
Our cloud architects typically spend 1/3 time on “sales calls,” 1/3 on “tickets,” and 1/3 doing anything else they choose (getting your next certification, writing your next book, wiring your house with sensors, and testing out IoT Core for your next blog post - I’m talking about you, Matt!).
Whatever passions you have, you’re encouraged to pursue them. The main expectation is your expertise remains relevant to delight our customers with expert guidance and helping solve tough problems — we want you to play with the latest technology and master it.
If this sounds like something you may be interested in, I encourage you to visit our Careers Page or ping me (with a message) on Twitter or LinkedIn. We seek the best and brightest, so our screening is tough, but once you’re “in” you’ll quickly find that there are alternatives to those typical scenarios I presented earlier. I look forward to working with you soon, either as a customer or colleague.