Getting to Know Tim Cramer, VP of Engineering at Ansible

July 28, 2015 by Carrie Drummond

TimC_780x300Knowing the members of our Ansible community is important to us, and we want you to get to know the members of our team in the Ansible office. Stay tuned to the blog to learn more about the people who are helping to bring Ansible to life.

This week we're happy to introduce you to Tim Cramer, VP of Engineering at Ansible. Tim brings over 20 years of enterprise software experience to Ansible. He was previously at HP where he was responsible for the overall delivery of Helion Eucalyptus Cloud, managing global teams of engineering, support and IT. He also worked as an executive at Dell, Eucalyptus, and Sun Microsystems, and as an engineer at Sun and Supercomputer Systems Inc.

What’s your role at Ansible?

  • Running the development and release of Ansible Tower and managing the Ansible open source team and community efforts

  • Scaling the engineering team and increasing the ability to release products more often and with higher quality

  • Overseeing partner engineering integrations that benefit Ansible customers and users; for example, working on enhancing Windows, VMware, OpenStack, and AWS functionality

  • Understanding and prioritizing the features for Tower releases

What’s your management philosophy?
My philosophy is not unlike the great developer/operations relationship which Ansible facilitates for our customers… Trust and enablement. Our team needs to be able to trust one another, which breeds efficiency in that you can concentrate on creating a great business rather than dealing with trust issues.  I enable my team to do interesting, innovative things... meaning it’s ok to fail, and it’s ok to surprise, as long as you’re working hard and learning from your mistakes. I also like to understand and be involved in technical decisions, but I don’t micromanage. I’m not the smartest guy in the room, but I make sure I hire those people and listen to them.

What are the other challenges you face in terms of scaling the site and handling the user growth as you add new features?
I believe the challenges are multifaceted:

  • Adding engineers at the right pace such that they can be productive and the rest of the team can be productive

  • A higher quality product, both the open source project and Tower, while adding more features that expand our test matrix

  • Being able to release software more quickly, but at an acceptable pace for enterprise customers

  • Doing more than one thing at a time, for example adding important small features quickly, handling escalations, and assisting prospects, while also focusing on the product delivery

What exciting things have happened since you joined Ansible?
I’ve had the pleasure of working with the team on the last two months of Tower 2.2 before we released it, and am now looking at shaping the next release of Tower. We’re looking at doing a lot on the User Experience side to make it more intuitive. I’m looking forward to feedback from 2.2, particularly System Tracking, and seeing how we can improve its usefulness. We’re also considering adding integrated notifications, pluggable authentication, and really look at the permissions structure/model. It’s also been exciting to be on the Ansible 2.0 open source release. The community is very passionate and engaged, which makes the job a lot easier. The team has been really concentrating on the large number of pull requests we’ve accumulated.

Who are some of your influencers?
My biggest influencer is my father. He started out making bricks, then digging ditches, and got into the union doing HVAC work. He worked hard, and eventually built great customer relationships and started his own business. It was a huge risk for him (and our family of six), but it worked out great. Now he has enough money to travel and have a nice retirement. I learned how to build relationships and make customers successful from him. Plus, he taught me to have a strong work ethic. I thank (and blame?) him for always being on the job. :)

What should we know about you?
I have a hers/mine/ours family with six kids between the ages of 6 and 23, including a set of twins. We enjoy spending time together as a family. I also really enjoy music and playing in bands. I played First Avenue in Minneapolis with a punk band in college, called Cremation Dance (good luck finding a reference to that!). At Eucalyptus I played in a company band with Greg DeKoenigsberg, Tim Gerla, and David Federlein. You could say we’re “getting the band back together” at Ansible.

Where you want to see the Ansi-bull travel?
Pamplona, Spain for the running of the bulls.

More questions for Tim? Ask him on Twitter at @tjcramer.

Ansible, Engineering, Q&A


Carrie Drummond

Carrie is the former Marketing Coordinator for Ansible. She can be found on twitter at @carriedrummond.

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