For Staff+ engineers personal growth is often fueled by organizational growth. In my time at CZI, I founded and worked as the Principal Engineer for our Infrastructure and Security group. One of the things I have been reflecting on recently is the ability for organizational growth to fuel individual growth. Back in the day when I was fighting the Fail Whale I found that rapid organizational growth and change enabled rapid personal growth and learning.
Yak Shaving is among the more colorful sayings used by software engineers. And it is an idea that, once you know it, you see everywhere. I worked on a team at Twitter that went so far as to have a Yak as our team mascot. But what is yak shaving? According to wiktionary, it is– Any apparently useless activity which, by allowing you to overcome intermediate difficulties, allows you to solve a larger problem.
We’re excited to announce the open source release of cztack (we pronounce it “stack”), a major tool in CZI’s infrastructure. cztack is a framework of Terraform modules that enables teams to build better, more robust cloud infrastructure with less pain. Along with fogg for managing Terraform infrastructure-as-code repositories, cztack provides a set of common building blocks that CZI engineers use to build infrastructure. To explain why this project exists, we’ll tell you a bit about how CZI works.
I came across Terraform soon after it was released in 2014 and it quite clearly fit a need in the world of cloud infrastructure engineering. As I worked with Terraform over the years, I’ve learned a lot, some by reading the experiences of others, but mostly by making mistakes. Terraform is a powerful tool, which makes it extremely useful, but also somewhat dangerous. You can use it to stand up seriously complex infrastructure, but if you are not careful you can also accidentally destroy all of that at 4:30pm on a Friday (learned that one the hard way).