Telecommuters No More

For a long time we swore we’d never open an office, but circumstances have overtaken us.  We’re now the fastest growing rental software company in the market and by some estimates the largest.  It’s odd for a small group of folks who think of themselves as the scrappy underdogs to find ourselves in that situation, but there we are.

When a company passes through the startup and validate-the-market phase of the business, old assumptions about roles and processes have to mature and evolve.  The way you do business when you have three hundred customers is quite a bit different than when you only had twelve.

I for one think we’ve missed a lot of opportunities over the last year.  We’ve let old problems fester for too long and allowed ourselves to get so mired down in the day to day that we’ve neglected some strategic planning.  This summer has been spent working through some of those issues and we’re ready to make a few announcements.

A New Cloud

We’ve recently inked a deal with C7 data centers in Utah to move our entire North American server infrastructure from the Amazon Cloud to a much faster VMWare based cloud.  This is the first of several steps toward a next generation deployment environment which will eventually include a hybrid of dedicated and virtual servers – and a mult-tenant software architecture.

Testing of the new cloud begins next week and full migration of the production network should be completed by September 1.  Customers won’t have to do anything or even notice in most cases.  Things will work just as they always have, hopefully just better and faster.

Faster Availability

This week QA approved the release of Flex 4.6.15, our first major release in several months.  This release includes a major redesign of the availability engine as a first step toward addressing performance issues.  The next step in our quest for a faster Flex will involve refactoring line items to use direct JDBC instead of Hibernate.  After that, we’ll turn our attention in earnest to high availability and multi-tenancy.

Brick and Mortar Flex

We’re also pleased to announce that our first physical office will open on August 1 in Richland, WA.  Called the Flex Code Space, this office will serve as a base for Flex’s research and development efforts for the next three years.

Formerly the offices of a great local company and friends of Flex &yet, this 1700 square foot office will allow Flex to recruit and train a new crop of software engineers to help with our nascent mobile efforts and our plans to retire Flash.

While our location in Richland, Washington may not be silicon valley, we are spitting distance from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, making Richland home to the largest per capita number of PhD’s in the country.  All these scientists and engineers in a small, relatively isolated rural community gives Richland a culture that simultaneously values academic rigor and the simple pleasures of family life.  We’re hoping to build a happy meritocracy at Flex and we think basing the engineering team in Richland gives us a good chance of doing that.

Decorate Our Office

We want our engineers and candidates to know what our customers are all about, see firsthand the cool things our clients do with our technology.  As a small part of this effort, we’d like to invite our customers to help us decorate the walls.

As you can see, the walls are pretty bare.  What we’d like to do is have our clients submit high resolution photos of their work: big outdoor rigs, arena rigs or any shot of a job you’re particularly proud of – especially if it includes pictures of you or your people.  We’d also like to see Flex at work in the warehouse: maybe your Flex terminal with mountains of flight cases, truss and equipment in the background.  Maybe an action shot of you with scanner in hand, prepping the next big show.

We’ll take the most visually striking images, have them printed on large canvases or framed and hung in the new office. 

So if you have an old archive of photos of your team or gigs, feel free to send over the highest resolution files you have to jeff [at] flexrentalsolutions [dot] com.  Or, if you have a nice camera on the shelf, head on out to the shop and take a few quick shots for us.

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