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A CTO’s ‘Drawn-Out Conversation’ on How to Build IoT At Scale with CircleCI’s CTO

26 Sep 2019 10:48am, by

CircleCI sponsored this post.

Gillian Kieser
Gillian has a background in psychology and linguistics. She has been working with software developers for 10 years, using her language skills to craft complex technologies into compelling stories. She currently leads the content team at CircleCI, where her mission is to expose the world to the softer side of DevOps.

Fast-growing Internet of Things startup Particle has done many things the hard way. For one thing, it built the operating system all of its hardware runs on (and it’s open source!) Then, when faced with the problem of how to ensure connectivity for all of their devices, regardless of where its customers planted them (in cow pastures or on moving vehicles), Particle decided to build its own cellular network to service those devices.

In this video, CircleCI chief technology officer Rob Zuber speaks with Zachary Crockett, co-founder and chief technology officer of Particle. It’s the first in a new video series called “Drawn Out Conversations” from CircleCI where two CTOs come together with a fresh pack of Sharpies, and diagram their biggest technical challenges and how they overcame them.

Particle makes everything companies need to create connected networks of real-world information: it makes prototyping kits, production hardware and provides all of the services required to power them. This scope provides plenty of conversational opportunities to explore the unique challenges of hardware tech.

Zuber and Crockett’s spirited chat runs the gamut of the day-to-day concerns of a CTO: technical tradeoffs, architecture decisions and scaling challenges. Best of all, Crockett shares how he built a successful company while breaking all of Zuber’s favorite aphorisms (including “never build anything that you could buy off the shelf” and “stay focused on your core business competency”).

Crockett explains how IoT is the logical successor to mobile phones in the evolution of computing:

“We often talk about IoT as the third revolution in computing,” he said. “You had PCs, then computing power got constrained and the scale of deployment massively increased with mobile phones. Then with IoT, computer power scaled-down [further] and scale of deployment [became] … huge.”

Watch as Crockett unpacks the process behind developing Particle’s mobile network, building a custom operating system and dealing with unique challenges such as micromobility:

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