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Instaclustr Insights: Meet Co-Founder Adam Zegelin

NameAdam Zegelin
RoleVP of Enginering and Co-Founder
LocationPalo Alto, CA

What’s your role at Instaclustr, and what does a typical day like?


My current position is VP of Engineering – but that title changes all the time. As far as the day-to-day right now goes, my primary responsibilities lie with assisting our growing sales team in the United States (and primarily the staff with me here in the Palo Alto office). I work with the group by jumping onto sales calls to help with technical details, answering any questions that pop up, etc.


Then there’s the consulting aspect. For our customers located in the Western U.S. that use our managed services and need some consulting support while building their client applications, I can be there on-site for them (and enjoy doing so). I also do a lot of remote consulting work for customers across other regions. We offer consulting for those running Cassandra themselves, or that are interested in onboarding Cassandra and just need some help getting up to speed with the technology. This part of the job includes engaging in technical workshops and training courses for our customers. This week I’m flying to Dallas for a hands-on workshop, and then I come back and do another three-day event. They come in dribs and drabs – and then, of course, all at once. Long story short, my days are pretty varied at the moment!


You’re at Instaclustr’s Palo Alto office now, when did you come over from Australia, and why?


Originally, fellow co-founder Ben Bromhead moved over to the states because it made sense business-wise. Ben’s the more customer-facing of Instaclustr’s founders, whereas I’m more on the get-down-into-the-code side of the coin. The U.S. team in Palo Alto grew quickly with Ben leading the charge there. And then when another engineer from Australia decided he wanted to go back home, filling that open position in the U.S was an opportunity that really appealed to me. My wife and I had always planned to try living abroad, and this was a tailor-made opportunity to actually follow through on that.  Making such a major move usually means finding a new job and so on, so this was a way to try a new place more easily. We moved to the Bay Area last July, a little over a year ago.


You’re a co-founder of Instaclustr – what’s the most rewarding aspect of being in that position? What’s the most challenging?


Easily the most rewarding part is seeing Instaclustr grow from just a few of us to a company with more than 50 employees (and scaling quickly right now). Seeing that our idea actually did make sense, and that all the effort we put in early on has actually paid off…well, that’s pretty darn cool to see.


The most challenging part has been giving up control as we’ve grown, but that’s something I’ve definitely gotten increasingly comfortable with. Early on, so many significant technical decisions were basically my responsibility. As we’ve expanded the development team (and have groups working on separate IT projects), one person can’t manage everything. It’s kind of like having a baby and letting other people take care of it – it’s definitely a little bit scary at first. But you have to embrace the fact that you need that larger organization and people you trust to run something like this.


What are you most excited to see over the next 12 months at Instaclustr?


I’m admittedly a bit biased here: for the past six months, I’ve been working on an open source Kubernetes Operator to provide Cassandra support on Kubernetes. We’re getting some nice early traction, and it will be very exciting to see adoption grow we continue to build it. Ben [Bromhead] might be even more excited than I am because he’s seeing the long-term vision there. It opens more doors to Instaclustr by letting us run Cassandra in more environments and support more clients. The Kubernetes community has undergone incredible growth over the last few years, and Cassandra on Kubernetes has a lot of interest within that community. It will be exciting to see where it goes over the next year or two.


What do you miss most about Australia?


I miss it because it’s home. The biggest shock to the system moving to the Bay Area (and San Jose specifically) is that Canberra is a much quieter town. San Jose has so many more people, and a lot, lot more activity. I’m never going to complain about the traffic in Canberra again!

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