Engineering Day – Lifting the Bonnet


Over the past year there have been a huge number of changes and improvements carried out by the engineering teams at thetrainline.com, so we techies decided to invite the non-techies within the company to a day of talks and demos on 28th September to ‘lift the bonnet’ and explain what we get up to; to showcase some of the work we have been doing to improve user experience, speed up deployments, reduce operational costs, and generally Make Things Better.

thetrainline.com Engineering Day - posters

In all there were 16 sessions of around 15-20 minutes each, with presenters from almost every team within the IDG (engineering) department.

Murray Hennessy, our CEO, opened the day with an enthusiastic welcome to the 60 or so people who had packed into the main meeting area:

thetrainline.com Engineering Day - CEO Murray Hennessy

One of the most popular sessions was given by our Principal Engineer, Irving Caplan, who explained the strategy for cloud computing at thetrainline.com: a hybrid cloud model is the most appropriate in the short-term, particularly as there are still security concerns around public cloud. The session on our new database platform, Oracle Exadata, raised a spontaneous cheer as the DB team showed a BI query which took over 6 minutes running against the old database take only 5 seconds against the new Exadata database:

thetrainline.com Engineering Day - old database thetrainline.com Engineering Day - Exadata

In addition to sessions on Fisheye and Graphite (both of which we use extensively), we heard from our Commercial team, who worked closely with our front-end gurus to develop our mobile-friendly Live Departure Boards application (http://m.thetrainline.com/live), and the heroes in the System Support team who keeps things ‘on the rails’. We provided lunch for all attendees to keep the discussions flowing, during which the IT service desk folks gave tours of the data centre (geeky, but well-attended!)

thetrainline.com Engineering Day - data centre

We had a video-link to our office in Bangalore for a session on build system monitoring, and a poster for our weekly lunchtime software engineering forum – Burrito Club – gathered quite a bit of interest, especially when people saw the statistics on how many calories had been consumed!

thetrainline.com Engineering Day - Burrito Club

Our CIO, David Jack, wrapped up the day at 5pm. Based on the feedback we have received from those who attended, it looks like we’ll run these events regularly, perhaps every three or six months; everyone seemed to appreciate the day.

thetrainline.com Engineering Day

We’ll leave the final word to the team on Reception:

“Mahoosive thank-you to IDG for the Engineering Day. We definitely learnt a lot and appreciate the effort put in to educate the upstairs folk on the technical shizzle going on downstairs. You are all heroes”

thetrainline.com Engineering Day

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