Engineering Spotlight: Cambridge Semantics
Cambridge Semantics is an enterprise big data management and exploratory analytics software company.
We connected with Curt Wright, VP of Engineering at Cambridge Semantics, to get an inside look at the company's engineering team. Wright also went into lots of details about the company’s technology, the various projects, the team's culture and more.
Interested in joining Cambridge Semantics' engineering team? Click here to see all of the company's job openings!
Quick Hit Details
Year Founded: 2007
Number of employees: 90+
Number of engineers: 25
Industry: Big Data Management
Can you share a summary on what Cambridge Semantics does?
Our goal is to help our customers solve the biggest of big data challenges. We've been dealing with "big data" long before it became a buzzword. We specialize in the practical application of data management and analytics at any scale. Our product, Anzo, allows IT departments and their business users to semantically link, analyze, and manage diverse data sources. Whether the data is internal or external, structured or unstructured, we're able to accomplish this with speed and at enterprise scale through the use of semantic web technologies.
What are some of the different technologies that the engineering team gets to work with and at what scale?
Our core product is primarily in Java, though key pieces of our compiler and profiling metrics are written in Scala. Our cloud team is deeply invested in Kubernetes, and we're constantly looking at new ways to expand our architecture to handle new challenges.
What are some of the interesting projects that the engineering team is tackling?
There is so much going on here right now! Some of our key initiatives center around dynamic cloud workflows, automating data analysis and mapping, and rewriting our Spark compiler for completely flexible, business user-friendly data ingestion. We're currently developing a new microservices architecture to expand our unstructured text processing solution, which is a main differentiator for us as a company.
Does your engineering team have a chance to work on projects outside of their day-to-day responsibilities?
Our culture definitely allows our developers to work on passion projects that are relevant to our solutions. We've had engineers write open source custom editors for RDF, make contributions to Ansible and Apache projects, and create other internal tools that make all of our lives easier.
What is the culture like at Cambridge Semantics for the engineering team?
Our flexible culture is based on trust. We give our teams wide leeway in terms of how, when, and where they work as long as they produce quality results. We believe in an open sharing of ideas as free as possible from hierarchies so that everyone feels their voice can be heard. We follow a modified Agile process that attempts to minimize meetings for meetings sake so we can focus on the parts of our jobs that matter the most.
What can a potential employee expect during the interview process?
We typically start with a brief casual phone screen to make sure both sides are aligned and still interested in moving forward. After that, we move to an in-person interview where you'll have a chance to meet several different members of our team and learn different perspectives about the company. Some of those meetings are technical and some aren't. We try to have one longer in-person interview session rather than multiple, though occasionally we'll ask candidates to come back in or to conduct a video interview. Sometimes we do tech challenges ahead of time depending on the role, sometimes we don't. We want to make sure our successful candidates understand who we are and are as passionate about joining our team as we are about them!
Are you involved in any local tech organizations or Meetups?
We participate in several semantic web related groups, whether it be the W3C semantic web working groups or industry-specific initiatives like FIBO.
Rapid Fire Q&A
What’s on tap?
We have a custom space inside WeWork, so we have a constantly rotating selection of local microbrews!
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars for sure.
iPhone or Android?
Coffee - hot or iced?
Iced, also free on tap in our space!
Favorite employee perk?
Flexible working environment and vacation policy.
What TV show describes the engineering team’s culture?
Not sure on this one. We're not really a Silicon Valley-type shop because we're a bit more organized. I feel like most TV show offices are clichés, and we're a bit more grounded than that. Except when the Nerf battles break out...
What music is playing in your office?
24/7 globalized WeWork playlist. This is both a blessing and a curse!
View from your office:
Cleanest desk / Messiest desk:
Garry Boyce, Principal Engineer
Garry is one of our longest tenured non-founding engineers. He's become a jack of all trades and has developed countless internal tools and frameworks that help all of us become better platform developers. He's always thinking not just about how to best get the task done, but how to make it easier for the next developer. New engineers always meet Garry sooner rather than later, as he leads onboarding training sessions and is always available to help explain the ins and outs of our entire system.
Babar Ansari, Principal Engineer
Babar joined our team relatively recently but his background working in Scala and Spark has quickly made him an expert on our data ingestion team. He has a long history developing solutions dealing with massive data volumes and has a knack for compilers that made him a perfect fit for working on our ETL compiler. He's always eager to help out fellow engineers and to try to pass along as much of his specialized knowledge as he can!