Martin Jung
Martin Jung, Engineering Partner at Commit

Starting with Zero

August 31, 2021 in Work out loud

Commit Engineer Martin Jung joined the startup PlaceHolder in 2020 as their first engineer hire. But he didn’t go alone. Martin brought Zero, Commit’s open source tool, a DevOps resource to complement his skills in application development.

I joined Commit in 2020, and was fortunate enough to find a pilot with PlaceHolder in April, before joining the startup full-time in September. 

PlaceHolder is a commercial real estate startup that helps companies easily find physical warehouse space that matches their business needs. When I joined the company, PlaceHolder didn’t have any other engineers. We had a CTO, but I was engineer number one. As a growing startup looking to expand their scope and service, they had a certain set of skills they were looking for in an Engineer. DevOps, of course, is an important skill set, but it’s one that I don’t have a deep background in. My area of expertise is application development. 

The good news is that I knew that PlaceHolder was in need of DevOps support before I started. I also knew about Zero, the open source tool that Commit has developed to help startups with lean teams focus on their applications, not on back end issues that don’t add direct value for customers and build competitive advantage. 

Learning Zero

Before I joined PlaceHolder, I got a crash course in Zero, getting to know how it works. I talked with several of the experienced members of the Commit community about it—and asked a lot of questions. Then I used Zero to test infrastructure configuration for a simple web application. I set up all the parts, with a simple back and front ends, verified the flow, and got it working. 

The experience let me hit the ground running when I joined PlaceHolder. I had the confidence to use Zero on our internal resource management web tool, getting it up and running in just a few days. And it’s not a super simple tool. It has a login mechanism, involves complex interactions with a database, and auto-scales with increasing traffic. I tapped the Commit community with a few questions as I got it all working, and it worked. Under the hood there’s a lot going on, but Zero made it pretty easy.

Zero pluses

The benefits of Zero are pretty clear. Using Zero, a startup like PlaceHolder can hire one engineer with expertise in application development, like me, instead of hiring a second engineer to focus on DevOps. I benefit personally because I learned a lot about DevOps in just a short amount of time, and continue to advance my skills by refining Zero and evolving the platform to match the needs of PlaceHolder.

Zero is just as the name implies: It’s ground zero for your application and infrastructure, a strong and stable starting point. But it’s open source, well built, scalable, and designed using the collective expertise of dozens of Commit engineers, who have launched and scaled hundreds of SaaS products. 

Interested in learning more about my experiences with Zero? Just ask.

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Martin Jung is a Commit Engineer specializing in application development who joined PlaceHolder, a commercial real estate startup, in 2020.

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