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Apprendan Q&A – Talking 5.0 with Drew Harris, Junior Test and Release Analyst

Ryan Quackenbush

By Ryan Quackenbush2.11.14

What do the Apprendans who worked hard to complete Apprenda 5.0 have to say about what they learned, what they think is important and how they made it through our most aggressive release schedule ever? This release is our largest and most ambitious to date.  We’ve learned so much from our customers, and we’re proud to know we’re building the best PaaS for the Enterprise, with the Enterprise.  

Fun Fact: Obsessed with Netflix: huge Bioshock fan.

Ryan: What was most exciting for you about the latest release?
apprenda_before_and_afterDrew: For me, it’s different. I’m new on the team and to the Apprenda environment, so a large part of it was getting myself acclimated from the old to the new versions. In some ways, it was like having to learn something twice. To see the progress from what it was to what it’s become is astounding: it’s intuitive, elegant, and simple. Not to discredit the old platform, but in the testing realm, UI is what you see and use.

Ryan: What role did you play in the release of 5.0?
Drew: I’ve been on the back-end of the feature-related stuff. I was mostly responsible for updating our test cases to utilize the new UI and ensure everything remains functional and works correctly; project testing wasn’t in my day-to-day. However, I’ve kept an eye on what everyone has been working on. Just going down the list: bootstrapping, Oracle, Java updates, scaling…it’s amazing what everyone has accomplished within this time period.

Ryan: I admit this is a biased question (since you’re new to Apprenda), what do you think so far?
Drew: It’s been great…there’s an energy here, a cohesiveness. Everyone is very motivated and wants to become more and more accomplished in what we’re working toward. That’s nice to see, as opposed to the typical corporate grind where everyone’s gotta put in that 9 to 5. Here, if people are working more, it’s because they want to: there’s a drive to see things done right. That sort of collective vision makes the entire process a lot more fun and exciting to be a part of.

Ryan: What do you want to bring to the table?
Drew: Ultimately, my goal is to match that energy. I want continue to learn, progress, elevate and improve whenever I can to meet the demanding needs of both the team and our customers.

Ryan: Do you think the energy you describe finds its way into the product?
Drew: Without a doubt: everyone’s blood, sweat, & tears is in this, and it shows. People worked around the clock, many days, to make this release happen. I know the UI folks (Chief, Jacky, Alex & Caleb) were working tirelessly. It’s apparent simply by looking at the simplified navigation. The designs are brilliant. It’s all so logical.

Ryan: From a testing perspective, how does the new UI help you get you job done faster and more efficiently?
Drew: That’s a good place to start. It really is so much faster. Having to navigate through certain links and needing to wait for pages to load can be very wearing on a user. We can make apps right on the fly no matter what page we’re on, just from the bottom bar…simple as that. We can do this through URL upload or archive upload: it’s just simple, easy, done.

Ryan: As one of the newest members, what’s it like having your team expand and grow so quickly around you?
Drew: It’s more exciting than anything else. Despite feeling intimidated about the high quality of the product and the quality of work that needs to be reached to continue enhancing the product, everyone truly is very helpful and willing to help me get up to speed, which I find to be very encouraging.

I work very closely with Kelly (seeing as we’re only a few feet away from one another), so most of my questions go to her. She’s got a real talent for explaining difficult concepts and helping to connect lines. It probably stems from her teaching background. I also go to Zak with a lot of issues that arise in my acclimating to the product, so I’ve got to give him a hat-tip as well.

Specifics, such as getting my machine to be able to build Apprenda, were really appreciated. When I came in, I had no idea how to use PowerShell, and here Kelly is teaching me how to use basic commands and basic functionality. She’s encouraged me to try things on my own and get away from the “I don’t know what I’m doing” mode.

Ryan: Considering you’re a relatively recent first-time user of Apprenda, what could you say to someone sitting down in front of the platform for the first time? What would you want to pass along to them?
Drew: I’d recommend thinking through all the UI’s that we’re used to in everyday life…whether it’s Facebook, Google, or whatever: there’s so much power underneath. Something so seemingly simple can often hide much more complicated actions in the back-end, which is the case with Apprenda. It’s almost impossible to comprehend how people can keep it all contained. The power that’s going through to host your applications, creating the grid on all your infrastructure…all when you’re typing in a name and uploading an archive. Take a minute and try to think of the multitude of things that are occurring behind the scenes to make it all happen. It’s pretty awesome.

Check out the other interviews in this series!

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Ryan Quackenbush
Ryan Quackenbush

Ryan Quackenbush is the Advocacy Programs Manager at Apprenda. His cooking is renowned, his record collection and library are extensive and, when not at Apprenda, he can usually be found rooting for the Mets or playing live music. You can follow him on Twitter at @RSQuackenbush.

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