Life at Nutanix

Life At Nutanix POV: My Software Engineering Internship

William H.

January 10, 2024 | min

At our London office

At our London office

I'm William (he/him), a Software Engineering Intern at Nutanix completing a 12-week internship in the Cambridge, UK office. I will spend this post, taking you through a day of my internship and my thoughts about the experience as we go!

8AM - Getting to Work

Dry and sunny day in Cambridge

Dry and sunny day in Cambridge

I wake up, get ready, and head on my walk through Cambridge to the Nutanix office. Thanks to the free coffee and snacks in the office, I rarely buy breakfast on the way to work, giving me a well-needed extra 15 minutes in bed!

There's some flexibility as to how much I work in the office versus working remotely. For me, an important part of the internship experience is working in an office and getting a feel for that sort of working environment. After all, I'm well used to working for hours on end in my room during term time - it's quite a relief to escape!

Checking my notifications over breakfast

Checking my notifications over breakfast

I start work around 9 AM by checking my Slack, GitHub, and emails while eating breakfast to review my priorities for the day. Some days this involves letting the maintainers of an external open-source project called Cloud-Hypervisor know the status of my project, as they use the protocol I'm working on.

Once I've gone through my messages, I get to work. I suppose now would be a good time to mention what I'm working on!

My Project

The Cambridge office is where the AHV team is based. Nutanix AHV, or Acropolis Hypervisor, is Nutanix's in-house virtualisation solution, based on the open-source KVM hypervisor.

I'm on the AHV storage team, working to define and implement a new virtual device live migration protocol based on recent updates to VFIO in the Linux kernel. It's part of the open-source vfio-user protocol, which is used to achieve very low latency when virtualizing NVMe devices, among other things. This also involves liaising with the QEMU open-source community to upstream the new protocol, a very scary prospect but undoubtedly an extremely valuable experience for me.

 

My desk at the office

My desk at the office

One of my favorite things about interning at Nutanix is that the work that I'm doing is useful work that genuinely needs to be done. The former protocol is outdated, so replacing it with a new one is an opportunity for innovation at Nutanix and in the world of open-source. I feel productive and excited to contribute to a product that customers will really use!

I originally didn't fully understand the former implementation, so improving it was a bit of a challenge. After going around in circles for a while, my mentor Thanos very kindly spent the next half-hour explaining the former implementation. We discussed the potential issues with the new one, which cleared up my confusion. I love how willing everyone is to help us interns out when we inevitably get stuck!

Lunch

After a few hours of work, it is time for lunch.

We often get delivery from different Cambridge restaurants. My favorite is Yori, a Korean place I've been to too many times to count.
Lunch is a great time to bond and have a casual chat with others. It can be a useful time to openly discuss ideas and issues too. Today, however, we discussed the history of the fork–a piercing and un-fork-gettable conversation.

On days we don’t get lunch delivered, I pop into town for food or meet up with friends. The lunch break is very flexible!  It starts whenever you're hungry and, while it's supposed to last around an hour, nobody minds if some days you take a bit longer.

Afternoon Meeting

Weekly meeting with the datapath team

Weekly meeting with the datapath team

After lunch it was time for the weekly meeting with the datapath team. We discuss what we're working on, raise any technical issues we may have, and the goals we're working towards in the realm of networking and storage.

There are members of the team in 3 different countries and even different continents! Much of the team works remotely and joins our meetings on Zoom. It’s normally a pretty even split between those joining in-person and those online. We all enjoy the flexibility.

I generally have three or four meetings a week, including at least one with all of AHV, one with the datapath team, and a one-to-one with my manager, Andrew. The latter involves discussing how I'm getting on with my project, whether I have enough support from the rest of the team, and career advice. I find it extremely useful!

Back to Work

After the meeting, I go back to work applying the new understanding I gained from my morning discussion with Thanos. After making some great progress, it was time for a short pause from work…

Chess Break

Neetish calculating his response to my rather dubious move

Neetish calculating his response to my rather dubious move

Several people in the office play chess, so it's fun to take a quick chess break! Today I played a few games against my colleague Neetish. I also play against other interns as well as the leader of AHV, Felipe, who is incredibly good. There's a chess tournament in Cambridge coming up that we're all going to play in, which I'm looking forward to.

End of the Day

Once I get to a good stopping point, I call it a day. I like that there's no pressure to work until exactly 5 PM,  we leave when we're done for the day.

After work, I normally walk home, cook dinner, then work on personal projects. Sometimes it’s nice to meet up with friends to compare notes on our internships. From what I've heard, the work I'm doing at Nutanix is by far the most useful and relevant!

Conclusion

Overall, I'm certain that I'm working in the right place. I'm enjoying my Software Engineering internship on the AHV team, I get on very well with my colleagues, plus the work is interesting and great fun. I hope this gives you some insight into what it's like to intern at Nutanix!

If you want to learn more, feel free to get in touch.

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