Google Next

By Steven McCord

CTO and Co-Founder | 06.20.2017

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A lot of companies talk about customers first, but how quickly can anyone really accomplish that from a product and technology perspective? Normally it’s through sporadic interactions with the customer, reaching out after a feature release, building a backlog and then prioritizing that feedback weeks or months later. At ICX Media, this wasn’t fast enough for us. We attacked this question differently and built a technology service from scratch that involves the customers every step of the way.

For answers, as we do in most things, we turn to modern day philosopher, Tom Cruise. As Kelly McGillis tells Tom in Top Gun: “You’re not going to be happy unless you’re going Mach-2 with your hair on fire and you know it.” Kelly might as well have been talking about me and ICX; after all, I do have red hair. And just like Tom, we aren’t wasting time getting anywhere:

Recently, Google asked me to participate in their Google Next conference in DC to talk about Kubernetes and container strategies as a whole. What I really want to talk about, though, is not just the technology but what it enables us to do at ICX Media.

The need for speed couldn’t apply more to us. At ICX Media, we have created a next generation media company that is changing the way media companies are built by focusing on product and technology from inception of the company. We started with the consumers of the media, understanding their tendencies and traits to help inform media decisions. Instead of gut decisions to drive content and determine our roadmap, ICX is utilizing data science, technology, and scalability to determine content preferences, monetization opportunities and the best creators to build that content.

I won’t go into how Kubernetes and a container strategy works inside ICX, but I do want to focus on the benefits that it affords us.

From a pure development perspective, we have consistent development environments all the way to production. From an agile perspective, this is ideal. We can stay as close to requirements as possible, morph feedback from QA and Product right from the first commit, focus on quality and reliability from conception, and still get the product in the customer’s hand as fast as humanly possible. Instead of monthly interactions with customers, we can now talk weekly, daily, or sometimes even hourly. As I discussed at the conference, we have built a system of continuous deployment that allows us to deployment multiple times a day throughout our stack, enables developers to build applications full stack in different languages, all the while maintaining stability of the entire infrastructure.

Mr. Cruise’s advice isn’t limited to just the skies either; he shows us the way on the streets as well. As Cole Trickle said in Days of Thunder, “Speed. To be able to control it. To know that I can control something that’s out of control.” Yes, basically this company is like the Mellow Yellow driving down the backstretch, ready to tangle with Rusty.

Specifically around data, Kubernetes has allowed developer and product resources direct interaction with the ingestion engine, which has allowed for quick iteration of the analytics presentation and visualization.

Finally, one of the most cultural parts of this strategy, is that Google’s technology has helped drive a complete understanding of the application architecture throughout the organization. By making it simple to manage the applocally, developers and product get to interact with the technology first-hand instead of by looking at a high-level diagram. Everyone in the company is interacting with our stack daily in a local environment, which allows them to interact with technology and to have more engaging conversations around the product and close the feedback loop for improving our product down to minutes.

So how has Google, Kubernetes, and container strategies allowed us to do this? Ultimately, those are all just fancy words in my humble opinion to get product to consumers faster, allow our organization to be as nimble as possible, and to have complete understanding of our technology stack across aspects of our business, including Sales and Marketing.

At ICX, we’ve had the unique opportunity to build our entire product and technology centered around consumers. And Kubernetes has been the perfect solution for us to get feedback as soon as possible to continue to expand and provide the best product we can. Fast, focused, and with frequent feedback.

Is there risk to speed? Sure. But we’ve built in quality so that we won’t ever find ourselves in the hospital racing wheelchairs or flying into a jetwash. But remember; speed can’t be taught. And the way we’re built, we’re as fast as anyone out there in getting you the product you deserve.

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