A Day in the Life: Qumulo Demo Day

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It’s 4 p.m. in Seattle on a Friday during a release week. The new release branch has been cut and handed off to the certification team. It’s time to take a look at what new goodness made it in! Engineers and curious team members gather in the cafe, with snacks and drinks, as our VP of Product Management, Ben Gitenstein kicks off the sprint demo that will mark the end of another two week release cycle.

The first team presents a performance improvement. With only three minutes, the presenter quickly walks through the customer pain, a bottleneck that the team identified, and the team’s strategy to break the bottleneck. They finish by revealing a performance/time graph that shows the improvement in this release.

The next team to present gained a new member this week, and the new engineer is presenting! She demos a feature that makes cluster-to-cluster replication more efficient. The demos continue to flow through, and conclude with an engineer’s personal project: a tool to make remote debugging easier. He describes some use cases and teaches us how to use the tool.

For each demo, audience members applaud and ask questions: how does this affect related use cases? Are there any negatives? For particularly exciting features, the presentation can even turn to production, with time spent on graphics, dialogue, and practice.

At Qumulo, we not only dedicate time to Demo Days but also look forward to them as a company. Here are five reasons we love the exercise:

  • Demos are a moment to take pride in what you and your team have accomplished.
    After working on a feature for days or weeks, it’s exciting to show it off and teach everyone how to use it.
  • Demos spread knowledge of new features and tools.
    With a growing engineering team, it’s hard to keep track of all the tools, patterns, and features being developed. Of course there is Slack, a wiki, email, release notes, etc., but nothing beats having everyone’s attention for a few minutes and being able to ask questions
  • Demos are fun (and educational!)
    Many demos include discussion of clever algorithms used and complex problems solved in implementing a feature. Presenters tell anecdotes from customer pain points that prompted the work.
  • Demos reinforce our values.
    In everything at Qumulo, one of our core values is we share by default. Whether we’re squashing a nasty bug, paying off code debt, or implementing an exciting feature, a demo is equally encouraged.
  • Demos are an early opportunity to seek feedback and share learnings.
    Customers are our magnetic field and every presenter ties their work to what it will allow customers to do. We are incremental and experimental, and we need a tight feedback loop to be so. Demos are an early opportunity to seek feedback and share learnings.

Sprint demos are much more than a requirement to be fulfilled: we enjoy participating as well as watching. Demo Days allow teams that are proud of the work to share it with their peers and coworkers in other departments in a fun and meaningful way.

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