Contributor interview- Diego Parrilla


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We are starting to post interviews with our contributors here on SecOps Hub. @Logronoide is our first user to participate!

Tell us a little about yourself:
Hello everyone! My name is Diego Parrilla and I’m an engineer and entrepreneur from Spain. I have a Master Degree in Computer Science by the Polytechnic University of Madrid. I got it in the XX century, but I try to keep myself up to date with everything cool and interesting in the tech industry.

Although I don’t know the number of companies you need to start to call yourself a serial entrepreneur, I think you could start at four.

How did you get started in dev?
When I was twelve years old my father gave me my first microcomputer. But it wasn’t a popular microcomputer like ZX Spectrum or Commodore 64 and it had just a bunch of games and utilities, so I had to learn to program it by myself!

I got my first check when I was thirteen programming a simple game for a computer magazine. Later on, I joined some young and promising video games developer teams for 8 and 16-bit platforms. It didn’t work very well so I decided to be a good boy and do what my parents said and study Computer Science.

Although I haven’t been programming in my day to day for ten years, I keep my skills in good shape by programming in side projects like Apility.io

When did you start contributing to open source projects?
I have been involved in community projects since the late 80’s when we could only communicate through 1200 baud modems connected to the FIDOnet BBS network. But I guess my most relevant participation in an Opensource project has been in OpenStack, the open source cloud computing platform. I created a company called StackOps that made the first OpenStack distribution easy to install and get started (all the easy and simple to start an OpenStack Platform can be…). I have also collaborated on other projects such as the Hudson Continuous Integration tool (now Jenkins), the ZFS file system or recently the API Gateway Kong. But not at the same level.

Why did you decide to build moocher/apility?
At StackOps we also ran a Cloud Service Provider. We had a problem with users who “abused” trial accounts over and over again. We called them “moochers”.

During Christmas time of 2015 the problem broke completely and we had a coordinated attack that nearly collapsed the service. The procedure for discovering these “moochers” was manual, but in the middle of the Christmas time neither my team nor me were willing to abandon our families because of these bad users, but we couldn’t take the full service down either.

So I came up with the idea of gathering information of the users when they connect: IP address, email, domain, credit cards, browser User Agent to set up a profile. Then the user was given a score based on this information, and if the score was low, he was not allowed to register.

What I discovered is that all this information needed for scoring already exists, but it is very scattered on the Internet and not always up-to-date. That’s how I thought that maybe a service that gathered this information and kept it up to date could have a market.

I launched a site called ‘moocher.io’ with a free basic API to see what happens. And yes, people started using it. Once I validated that there was a market, I decided to market more advanced services under the brand name ‘Apility.io’. ‘Moocher’ may be offensive to some people so I think using this new name was the right choice.
By the way, thanks to the very first version of the service we reduce false registrations by more than 90%.

How did you first find out about SecOps Hub?
When you launch a new tool, it’s very difficult for people to start using it right away. Therefore, I am aware of all the conversations that take place in different forums about certain keywords of my service, and I try to help and solve doubts to my users. This is exactly what happened in Secops Hub, with the addition that I also discovered a very interesting new forum!

Following these conversations has important side effects:

  • You help unblock problems your users encounter using your tool and end up bettering your tool.
  • The user you have helped becomes your best ally when it comes to promoting your service or product.
  • The ‘internet never forgets’ and a good answer will be indexed by search engines. And, they will give us some “SEO love” in return.

How do you learn new tools?
I use social networks to follow interesting projects and people. I love sites like HackerNews or ProductHunt. But I think old school face to face meeting is the best way to engage, so local meetups are perfect to spread the word about your product and get feedback.

What advice would you give to new developers looking to build their own tools or contribute to open source projects?
I think you have to be passionate about what you do. When you develop a new product, service or tool you are creating something that didn’t exist before. That is not something everyone can do, and those who do deserve my utmost respect.

When you build something new, don’t expect to immediately have recognition or make a living from it. Take it easy and don’t throw in the towel just because things don’t go well at first.

What compels you to contribute to SecOps Hub and other online forums?
I think you can always learn from the people who use the forums, regardless of their skills. For example, I may think that a capability in our API is easy to use, but users can tell you that it is not correct. On the contrary, an advanced user may raise a need that you didn’t consider but that may be interesting.

How do you gather feedback for new tools or features? Do you work with a team?
There are currently a few hundred users (and companies in most cases) who use our service. Although we still don’t have the size to hire a full Product Management team (I take this role), we do have Support staff and Account Managers.

How do you like learning?
Sometimes I am self-taught, but I recognize that I like to learn from smart people. It’s the funniest thing.

What projects are you working on?
In a few weeks I will start teaching in a master on Cloud Computing and Opensource Technologies in Madrid. My past with OpenStack haunts me!

Any other hobbies you would like to share?
I’m a big fan of basketball, especially the NBA. I stay up many sleepless nights watching games, and when the playoffs start I hardly sleep. I’m a fan of Boston Celtics, and with a healthy roster we can win the East to Lebron James’ Cavs to fight The Finals against the Warriors!

Any feedback for SecOps Hub?
Keep pushing hard, boys and girls! You’re doing great!