Highlights from Second Indix Internal Hackathon of 2016

We just concluded the second internal hackathon of the year at Indix Chennai. It was conducted on June 30 and July 1, 2016. Hackathons are conducted at the end of every quarter as part of our engineering culture. Given that we have a treasure trove of data, everyone loves the opportunity to share and work on new and exciting ideas. The event was successful this time around as well. Around 25 innovative ideas drove the hackathon (compared to 12 last quarter).

Our very own Director of Design Engineering Praveen came up with some poster ideas to lure non-engineering folks into the hackathon as well. An idea wall put up prior to the hackathon encouraged people to “stick” in their ideas.



Idea wall

Nine demos were presented at the end of the 30-hour hackathon. Indixers enjoyed watching team mates present the fruits of their labor.

The Ideas

The hackathon kickstarted with everyone pitching their ideas and forming teams. And then it was 30 straight hours of hacking fun. We saw good participation from the non-engineers too. Well, you know, there’s a lot of work involved in idea formulation besides the coding.


Pitching and sharing ideas

The DevOps team had built a Dynamic DNS for Route 53 using CloudWatch Events and Lambda – an attempt to avoid throttling of Route53 requests during an Auto Scaling event. Another effort centered around using spot fleets for cluster stabilization with minimal cost. This is an extension of Matsya, a tool we built for managing Hadoop infrastructure on AWS.


Hackers at work

Some members of the API team worked on extending our in-house highly scalable key-value store (built on top of rocksdb) as a generic key-value store. This was an effort to open source the project and power one more addition to, which was also built during last quarter’s hackathon. Another team worked on an URL ping service which traces every product URL that flows in our system. This helps in measuring the health of a URL that flows through the various components.

An engineer from the Tools team developed an internal tool to extract products listed on deals/sales pages of ecommerce websites using our On Demand API for 4th of July-themed items. An attempt focused on the automation of our internal seeder to identify if a given site is a commerce site or not was very cool.

Another team developed a tool for AWS instance degradation alerts using AWS Lambda which would be of much use to track degraded instances and act upon them. Our HR team also participated in this hackathon, as some of the engineers helped them develop an internal comprehensive tool for goal setting and mentoring for employees. It will help keep the HR team and employees on the same page.


Demo time

Critical business deliverables overlapped with the hackathon, thereby limiting engineering participation. That’s why there were only 9 demos as some of us didn’t get a chance to work on our hackathon ideas! We’re working hard to see how we can solve this going forward in order to have close to 100% participation from everyone in the organization.

On the whole, it was an awesome and geeky 30-hour hackathon which paved the way for everyone to take a break from their regular work and innovate on some super exciting ideas.

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