Last month, I wrote a piece in this space about how political campaigns should be run in the cloud to avoid the kind of vulnerabilities the DNC and the Clinton campaign have faced from hackers.
As it turns out, much of the Clinton campaign is being run in the cloud, Stephanie Hannon, CTO for the campaign explained in an online interview on the Product Hunt. Hannon actually spent most of her professional life working for Google, so she knows a thing or two about it.
"I was the product lead for Google Wave. I helped create hosted Gmail which became Google Apps for work and education. I helped launch Google Maps in almost every country in EMEA. I helped create General Transit Feed Specification and Google Transit. I worked on elections and disaster response and civic engagement at Google. I've succeeded at things and failed at things and I'm happy to talk about all of the above," she wrote as way of introduction to the Product Hunt discussion.
She has taken these lessons and applied them to her work at the Clinton campaign where she has built a team of 70 engineers, product managers, and designers. The team, which is based in Brooklyn, is charged with building tools to help Clinton win the election this fall.
She says her team, working with the help of some development partners, has built 50 tools so far to help do the nuts and bolts work of any campaign including fundraising, organizing, voting data and analytics, infrastructure, storytelling, and rapid response.
She points out that it's a very different experience working for a campaign on a limited budget compared to working for Google, one of the richest companies in the world, and she has to take that into consideration when she makes her technology decisions.
Running on the cloud
The Clinton IT team comes from private sector, and they are applying tools and techniques they learned in their previous jobs to the campaign including agile programming, open source, and the cloud.
"Everything is hosted in AWS utilizing SNS, SQS, RDS and auto-scaling groups to handle the large traffic loads plus we use Travis for Continuous Integration to ensure our software is always working. We also have two internal ops teams focused on engineering productivity that makes sure developers can use configurable boilerplate to handle common productization tasks," she explained.
That reliance on open source, programming frameworks, and the cloud allows the team to stay agile and focused on the project instead of the tools. Too often in any project, team members get bogged down in the tools at the expense of the project.
In a short-term situation like a campaign, it's essential to be able to sift through ideas, move quickly, discard things that don't work, and build out the ones that do. Using the cloud provides a platform for that agility that can encourage a team to be creative.
Nobody knows how this will all play out of course, but using these kinds of tools certainly provides a base for experimentation and adjusting on the fly, which are essential for running a campaign.
Photo Credit: Justin Grimes on Flickr. Used under CC by 2.0 license.