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 frontend 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

Transcript provided by We Edit Podcasts. Software Engineering Daily listeners can go to weeditpodcasts.com/sed to get 20% off the first two months of audio editing and transcription services. Thanks to We Edit Podcasts for partnering with SE Daily. Please click here to view this show’s transcript.

Sponsors


Your company needs to build a new app, but you don’t have the spare engineering resources. There are some technical people in your company who have time to build apps–but they are not engineers. OutSystems is a platform for building low-code apps. As an enterprise grows, it needs more and more apps to support different types of customers and internal employee use cases. OutSystems has everything that you need to build, release, and update your apps without needing an expert engineer. And if you are an engineer, you will be massively productive with OutSystems. Find out how to get started with low-code apps today–at OutSystems.com/sedaily. There are videos showing how to use the OutSystems development platform, and testimonials from enterprises like FICO, Mercedes Benz, and SafeWay. OutSystems enables you to quickly build web and mobile applications–whether you are an engineer or not. Check out how to build low-code apps by going to OutSystems.com/sedaily.


Digital Ocean is a reliable, easy-to-use cloud provider. More and more people are finding out about Digital Ocean, and realizing that Digital Ocean is perfect for their application workloads. This year, Digital Ocean is making that even easier, with new node types–a $15 flexible droplet that can mix and match different configurations of CPU and RAM, to get the perfect amount of resources for your application. There are also CPU optimized droplets–perfect for highly active frontend servers, or CI/CD workloads. And running on the cloud can get expensive, which is why Digital Ocean makes it easy to choose the right size instance. And the prices on standard instances have gone down too–you can check out all their new deals by going to do.co/sedaily. And as a bonus to our listeners you will get $100 in credit over 60 days. Use the credit for hosting or infrastructure–that includes load balancers, object storage, and computation. Get your free $100 credit at do.co/sedaily. Thanks to Digital Ocean for being a sponsor of Software Engineering Daily.


The octopus: a sea creature known for its intelligence and flexibility. Octopus Deploy: a friendly deployment automation tool for deploying applications like .NET apps, Java apps and more. Ask any developer and they’ll tell you it’s never fun pushing code at 5pm on a Friday then crossing your fingers hoping for the best. That’s where Octopus Deploy comes into the picture. Octopus Deploy is a friendly deployment automation tool, taking over where your build/CI server ends. Use Octopus to promote releases on-prem or to the cloud. Octopus integrates with your existing build pipeline–TFS and VSTS, Bamboo, TeamCity, and Jenkins. It integrates with AWS, Azure, and on-prem environments. Reliably and repeatedly deploy your .NET and Java apps and more. If you can package it, Octopus can deploy it! It’s quick and easy to install. Go to Octopus.com to trial Octopus free for 45 days. That’s Octopus.com