Scaling Box with Jeff Quiesser

When Box started in 2006, the small engineering team had a lot to learn. Box was one of the earliest cloud storage companies, with a product that allowed companies to securely upload files to remote storage.

This was two years before Amazon Web Services introduced on-demand infrastructure, so the Box team managed their own servers, which they learned how to do as they went along. In the early days, the backup strategy was not so sophisticated. The founders did not know how to properly set up hardware in a colocated data center. The front-end interface was not the most beautiful product.

But the product was so useful that eventually, it started to catch on. Box’s distributed file system became the backbone of many enterprises. Employees began to use it to interact with and share data across organizations.

The increase in usage raised the stakes for Box’s small engineering team. If Box’s service went down, it could cripple an enterprise’s productivity, which meant that Box needed to hire experienced engineers to build resilient systems with higher availability. And to accommodate the growth in usage, Box needed to predict how much hardware to purchase, and how much space in a data center to rent–a process known as capacity planning.

As Box went from 3 engineers to 300, the different areas of the company went from being managed by individuals to teams, to entire departments with VPs and C-level executives.

Jeff Quiesser is an SVP at Box, and one of the co-founders. He joins the show today to describe how Box changed as the company scaled. We covered engineering, management, operations, and culture.

In previous shows, we have explored the stories of companies like Slack, Digital Ocean, Giphy, Uber, Tinder, and Spotify. It’s always fun to hear how a company works–from engineering the first product to enterprises with millions of users. To find all of our episodes about how companies are built, download the Software Engineering Daily app for iOS or Android. These apps have all 650 of our episodes in a searchable format–we have recommendations, categories, related links, and discussions around the episodes. It’s all free and also open source–if you are interested in getting involved in our open source community, we have lots of people working on the project and we do our best to be friendly and inviting to new people coming in looking for their first open source project. You can find that project at Github.com/softwareengineeringdaily.

Transcript

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