Global collaborative engineering

The 2017 Workonline Tour to Silicon Valley and San Jose provided engineers from around the world an opportunity to expand repertoires and network with peers


The inaugural 2017 Workonline Tour was a whirlwind experience that took participants to the iconic Silicon Valley and San Jose, providing them with an opportunity to expand their knowledge base, grow their networks and collaborate on new ideas and solutions.


The tour started at the North American Network Operators’ Group (NANOG) conference, addressing issues that included interconnection, routing, power and facilities and other topics relevant to the industry. The attendees then went on to San Francisco where delegates visited some of the major CDN campuses of LinkedIn, Twitter, Akamai and Fastly. David Herselman, Managing Director at Syrex walked away with relevant insights that could play a role in bolstering the performance of the South African market.


“The biggest takeaway was the openness,” says David. “The US presenters openly discussed their network infrastructures and how they work internally. In South Africa this is the polar opposite as people are a lot less willing to reveal how they do things. The openness at the event proved to be of inordinate value as it allowed for organisations to learn from one another and to resolve common problems.”


David pointed out that it was more than a little refreshing to see market leaders such as Twitter stand up and talk about the challenges they face – it highlighted how everyone is having the same problems. In addition, the attendees used the opportunity to develop a network of operators where there is open discussion and assistance.


“It was a surprising development,” adds David. “These networking opportunities with our competitors where we can reach out and discuss concerns and help one another is a marked shift from the attitudes in South Africa. In addition, we were able to visit some of the biggest names in the industry, from Twitter to Pinterest to Twitch, and to see how they work and meet the minds behind the businesses.”


For David, the tour not only expanded his insights and understanding of the industry, but proved that South Africa is not that far behind the rest of the world. It was reassuring – while South Africa may have some unique challenges to overcome, many of the problems that face the businesses here are the same as those in the developed world.


“The big campuses that everyone talks about, they are a response to a problem,” concludes David. “There are no shopping centres or restaurants near them and the cities, and the commute is awful, so they have created these self-sustaining hubs that provide employees with everything they need to be productive and happy. In South Africa, we can learn from these ideas to change how we do business and how we learn from each other.”