Engineers Demonstrate Innovative Capabilities at Annual Hackathon

Equinix fosters an environment that inspires employees to do their best work when solving our customers’ toughest challenges

AJ Coon
Szymon Włodarczyk
Engineers Demonstrate Innovative Capabilities at Annual Hackathon

The competition to attract the best and brightest workers impacts companies everywhere. While talent hiring challenges affect all business units, they’re often more pervasive in engineering and technical roles. In the Equinix 2023 Global Tech Trends Survey (GTTS), 67% of digital leaders said that a shortage of IT talent was one of the top threats keeping them up at night.

It’s a challenge that we experience ourselves at Equinix. To do our best work for customers, we must hire technical talent that doesn’t just bring a depth of skills and expertise; we look for those with a curious and creative mindset focused on achieving business results. Once hired, we work to nurture engineers by ensuring they feel connected and involved in engaging work.

One way we achieve that is through our annual hackathon. This 48-hour coding competition brings together employees to ideate new features for the Equinix roadmap.  While hackathons aren’t exclusive to Equinix, our approach offers unique aspects that encourage collaboration and business acumen for tech enthusiasts globally.

Inspiring a culture of innovation through hackathons

We were both actively involved in our annual hackathon, which just wrapped up. While you might think these coding events are solely for engineers and developers, that’s not the case. These events are much more successful when the teams are cross-functional, with colleagues from different organizations spanning product, sales, data center operations, legal, and marketing, as well as varying professional backgrounds and geographies who together make powerful teams. We challenge hackathon participants to focus on developing entries that solve big-picture business challenges and pain points for customers.

Building a proof of concept in just a few days requires upfront work; teams assemble in the weeks leading up to the event to start brainstorming. Then, during the two-day hackathon, they write code to develop their prototype and collectively produce a brief video to pitch their idea and solution to two rounds of judges, including C-level executives. Creating a persuasive video to market their technical idea is crucial for convincing the judges that it warrants funding.

Another unique aspect of Equinix hackathons is that each idea must map to a key theme; this helps participants focus their time and energy on proposing topics that directly map to our customers while taking advantage of the latest advancements in technology. This year, our themes focused on areas such as applying Artificial Intelligence to solving business challenges, taking an API-first approach and driving efficiency for customers.

Equinix’s hackathon has proven to be fun and professionally enriching for my career. Collaborating with team members from various global backgrounds fosters effective problem-solving and highlights the power of diverse insights. I’m proud to be a part of Equinix’s culture of innovation.” Zoe Liu, Machine Learning Engineer II, Equinix

Participating in the annual Equinix hackathon inspires our growing talent base to be more innovative with the solutions they develop every day.

Engineering integrates the physical with the digital

Experimenting with new ways of using technology started long before hackathons became popular—it’s in our DNA. When Equinix launched its data center operations 25 years ago, it was the start of an evolution from the physical to the digital. As our global customers advanced to be digital leaders, they could no longer rely solely on physical infrastructure. We expanded our physical colocation services to include digital data center services by introducing a digital layer that runs on top of complex physical environments to enable monitoring and observability. Then, we introduced digital infrastructure services powered by software-defined interconnection that allows customers to consume network infrastructure globally and instantly.

With a focus on distributed applications and platform development, our Data Center Services Engineering team uses business logic to build the digital experience and APIs that optimize workflows and connect systems and applications. That’s how we help our customers expand their physical footprint to function in a digital landscape. But this isn’t limited to our customers; our engineers continuously find ways to streamline internal processes. In effect, we consume our best development efforts for customers to drive internal efficiency, commonly referred to as eating our own dog food.

Customer-first engineers make developer tools accessible

Innovating for our customers is what drives everyone at Equinix, and that includes the engineering team. Our engineers know a hybrid multicloud model is our customers’ top deployment choice. They aim to make it easy for customers to deploy hybrid multicloud by developing the necessary tools. Doing so involves engineers talking directly with our customers, which means they get to see first-hand when their work solves a customer’s problem.

While you might think engineers only work behind the scenes, engineers at Equinix interact with customers frequently. We’ve heard this is unusual: at other companies, most engineers work in the background and must rely on information shared by colleagues instead of customers. It’s one of the differentiators that attracts engineers to work at Equinix.

Equinix would not be the company it is today without our visionary employees who have been intentional about creating solutions for themselves and our customers, regardless of their roles. In fact, Equinix was recently recognized as a top place to work in IT by Computerworld. We’re proud of the examples we see every day from Equinix engineers.

Engineers who join the Equinix team have a fantastic opportunity to equip our customers with data center services and digital infrastructure services that help them succeed in the digital economy. If you’re looking for an opportunity to work with customers to develop ground-breaking solutions and contribute to the future of digital infrastructure, check out our Careers page.

AJ Coon VP, Software Engineering
Szymon Włodarczyk Principal Architect, Product Software
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