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December 06, 2016
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Photo blog: Budding Budapest – taking a closer look at our data science hub in Hungary

We opened our Budapest office back in April 2014 and since then, we’ve had new Hortonworkers join every month.  Home to our Cloudbreak, Ambari and Sustaining engineering teams, we have 43 people based in the office with more scheduled to join early 2017.  Over the last week, I’ve been fortunate to spend time with various members of the team to understand what a day in the Budapest office can involve…. While it’s clear there is no ‘typical’ day (true of all of Hortonworks!), learning more about the team’s responsibilities and what it means for our global customers was hugely interesting.

Hungary is incredibly active in data science, as evidenced by it topping the Kaggle Medal Count list throughout 2015 and prominent university programmes including open source technologies in their curriculum.  Indeed, our Future of Data meet up group has over 300 members and the scene continues to grow significantly with each event.  As an aside, our next one takes place jointly with Microsoft on the 14th December and you can find out more here.

So let’s take a closer look at our three teams based in the Budapest office:

SUSTAINING TEAM

Gergely Devenyi heads up the sustaining team for which we made our first hire only a year ago but today stands at 15 people!    The team are all software engineers ranging from very new graduates to those with 10+ years of experience, typically all with a mix of Java, Python and C++ skills.

As you’d expect given the acceleration of the cloud for big data, Gergely wants to build out the team based on exemplary programming skills and a cloud-led mind-set.  The sustaining team’s main responsibility is Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) and they are organisationally positioned to work between our global support organisation and core development teams.

So what does that mean in terms of their responsibilities?  They sit in two main areas:

  • Scheduled maintenance releases for HDP so that our global customers can upgrade to more and more stable versions into their production environment (and capitalize on the latest & greatest Apache patches as well)
  • Hot fixes for customers, for example, who cannot wait for the next maintenance release due to use case timing or unique configurations

On a nightly basis, the Sustaining team runs a large number of system and integration tests on the platform.  With HDP, we guarantee the various components and projects (Apache Hadoop & friends) will work together for each customer’s enterprise environment and Gergely’s team is part of the global effort to make that happen.

During our conversation I asked Gergely why Hortonwork Budapest continues to be an attractive workplace for top engineering talent – he outlined three key reasons:

  1. The diversity of programming languages, tools, methodologies and infrastructure we work with at Hortonworks – it’s complex, broad and invigorating which is greatly rewarding!
  2. Hortonworks is actually delivering Hadoop in enterprise environments, not just talking about it!
  3. By focusing on the entire HDP stack, the skills development is significant and greatly accelerated

Looking ahead to the future, Gergely and the team have high aspirations.  A number are working very hard to become Apache Committers so they can contribute even further to the community.  Gergely outlined how the community is very focused on new features and performance tweaks and while they are very ‘sexy’ areas, his team wants to fuel and lead the supportability piece.

For me, the favourite part of the time with Gergely was learning that one of his co-workers, Gabor Kozma, brings in his rather gorgeous dog into the office every Thursday!  Malna, which is Hungarian for ‘Raspberry’ (and she is not named after Raspberry Pi as I first thought!) is a total charmer in the office by all accounts.  For all the amazing décor in the world, Malna surely is the icing on the cake in Budapest!
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CLOUDBREAK TEAM

Janos Matyas, our country managing director, spends most of his time engaged with the Cloudbreak team. The 12-strong team works with our local country-based system engineers to support customers as they make advances with Hortonworks Data Platform in the cloud.  It could involve technical support and solving challenges related to containers or working through account management planning as customers forge a path forward.  The Cloudbreak team work with customers across Europe, Asia and the US.

When explaining why he believes Hortonworks is building such a hub in Budapest, Janos explained how the local team is working day-to-day with leading technologists to provision Hadoop in the cloud – putting them at the forefront of technology and skills globally within the open source community.

AMBARI TEAM

Finally, I spent time with Sebastian Toader who heads up the 7-strong Ambari team – a number that has nearly doubled in the past two months mostly due to referrals from existing team members!  Ambari stores, manages and monitors Apache Hadoop clusters and while Sebastian’s team is not directly customer facing, they do supplement the support team’s knowledge with their engineering prowess when required by customers.

Moreover, the Ambari team works closely with our Hadoop Partnerworks ecosystem to develop and collaborate on the technology jointly.  Locally, Microsoft is hugely engaged but obviously the wider community is very much welcomed.

As part of a global organisation, the individuals focused on Ambari split into micro-teams to work on specific projects with some based on the west coast of the US, some east coast and some in Budapest.  It could be on feature releases for a technical preview, for example.

 

With all that said, it is very clear to me that the team in Budapest has ramped up very quickly and already made the not-so-new office feel very much like home!  Being based in our London HQ which is predominantly home to sales, system engineers, services and fellow marketing colleagues, it was hugely rewarding for me to learn more about the different skill sets we have around the world.  Budapest has long been on my city-break wish list and now it seems there is even more reason to arrange a visit!

To finish, here’s some photographs for you all to have a look at of the team (some off-site!), our office and, of course, our lovely special guest…. Malna!  I’ve already began investigations into who could bring their dog in each week to the London office, FYI…. 😉

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