Palo Alto, CA
Texas A&M University
Future outages beware: intern Tristan wrote a script to help keep Groupon’s data centers up and running at 100%. Not bad for a summer internship!
Tell us about the team you’re working with this summer.
I’m embedded with the Systems Engineering team. I worked on critical infrastructure like DNS and load balancers. Most of the code I’ve written has consisted of Python or shell scripts since a lot of the work we do is systems administration. I’ve worked with Zeus (our Ansible-based bootstrapping system) to develop a new DNS server setup. Most of our systems run some flavor of Linux.
What’s been most surprising about interning at Groupon?
Groupon’s architecture is rather interesting. Rather than the entirety of Groupon being in one app (it used to be this way – it’s a nightmare to maintain, and even worse for performance!) most everything is split out into different services, which are owned by different teams. That means we’ve got, for example, a team that handles databases, a team responsible for the internal API, and yet another team that is in charge of the Groupon website. All of these services work together to provide the Groupon experience. Every time you click a link on the website or buy a Groupon in the app, you’re using dozens of different services! Obviously, that means there’s a lot of cross-team collaboration: we make that easy by using HipChat to communicate. It can get a bit tricky when the team you need is on the other side of the planet, but that’s what’s awesome about working at a company like Groupon.
Describe your internship in 3 words.
Stressful, innovative, rewarding.
What do your parents think you do?
They think I do some sort of magical stuff.
What’s the most innovative technology you’ve experienced in your lifetime?
Fast, reliable Internet access. Without that, none of the other technology we have would ever work. Having grown up on dial-up or otherwise fragile connections, I can appreciate fast, reliable Internet a lot more.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve accomplished this summer?
The project I worked on my first week at Groupon was a small script that would verify whether files being passed to the DNS servers were formatted correctly, and if not, roll back to a previous version of the DNS data to put the system back into a functional state. This made it into production across all of Groupon’s data centers by the end of my first week here, which will help prevent outages in the future!
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
1984 by George Orwell
What’s your favorite spot for grub in the Bay Area?
Layne’s: they’ve got the absolute best fried chicken.