Employee spotlight Markus Kahl

Interview with Markus Kahl on maturing the OpenProject Cloud offering

Temps de lecture estimé: 4 minutes

Meet Markus Kahl, Senior Site Reliability and Operations Engineer

Markus Kahl is OpenProject’s Senior Site Reliability and Operations Engineer. Like his colleague, COO Robin Wagner, he has been with the company since its early days.

In this employee spotlight, we discuss various topics, including how he approaches his top responsibility at the company: maintaining and improving (maturing) the OpenProject cloud offering.

5 things about Markus

What is your favorite music?

Genre: Metal, Rock, and Electronic

Band: Coheed and Cambria

Thanks to my wife: Classical

What are you reading?

Current book series: The Dresden Files

Forever favorite book: The Raw Shark Texts

Learning: Technical articles about Terraform, etc.

What are your favorite activities outside of work?

Video game development

Gaming, like D&D

Sports, like Volleyball

What did you study at University?

Computer Science and AI

Where was your first job?

At 13, I worked in a kitchen washing dishes and as a paperboy—basic stuff.

I wasn’t happy with it, so at 15, I started taking software development freelance gigs!

Cette vidéo est disponible en anglais.

Tell us about your role and your day-to-day responsibilities.

I’ve been with OpenProject for 13 years now. I started as a working student in 2011. The position was recommended by some friends who were working students for OpenProject themselves. At that time, we were in a tiny office in Berlin with, I don’t know, 10 people or so.

Remote work has always been accepted at OpenProject. So, when I immigrated to the UK in 2012 to start my master’s degree in computer science and then met my wife, it was quite good to be able to work from home. Later, it continued to be important as my wife is in academia. We’ve lived all over—Scotland, Northern England, Southern England, and now we’re in Wales.

My role has changed over the years as well! Thirteen years means a lot of change for a company and its employees. I started out as a developer, first on the backend and then on the frontend. Then, we began our Cloud offering, and I was involved from the ground up, from strategic planning to development. I have stayed focused on the OpenProject Cloud offering, maintaining and improving it over the years.

Now, I manage two support professionals to work with our Cloud customers, taking their questions and issues, helping them find the information they need, improving performance, and resolving problems. It’s great to be at a point where I have the expertise to share a lot with others, helping them grow in their roles, which in turn helps our customers.

What’s something new and exciting you’re working on?

I’m working to improve our compatibility with other service providers. We’re solid with US-based companies like AWS, but we have customers in Germany, for instance, who prioritize data sovereignty and only host servers in Europe. To move this forward, I am working on making the infrastructure and the software work across different providers.

Part of that is also maturing other parts of our work, for instance, we needed a disaster recovery policy, so we created that. This ensures we’re prepared to act quickly and efficiently if a ransomware attack or data loss catastrophe occurs. And there are other security certifications and checklists we adhere to when working with large corporate customers.

It’s all part of the next phase of maturity and growth for OpenProject Cloud, so it’s exciting.

Tell us about the Cloud versus On-premises versions.

We have several large organizations with security guidelines that direct them to self-host their OpenProject instance on-prem. It’s a wonderful option for them.

The Cloud version is an excellent option for those who want to drive costs down and don’t have these restrictions. 

We have strong development and support for both. The Enterprise edition is offered on-prem or Cloud. The Community edition is self-hosted, on-prem.

How does the AI conversation translate for OpenProject?

Interestingly, I did my masters in artificial intelligence. At the most basic level, AI can do simple things like duplicate detection or summarize a conversation. So, we’re considering integrating it into OpenProject while staying focused on solving problems our users and customers tell us they are facing today, as Robin discussed in his interview,.

How has OpenProject changed over the years?

When I started as a working student in 2011, we were in the business of creating custom tools. For instance, we built a language-translation tool for the German company Siemens. We had not yet created and turned our complete focus to building a project management tool.

Eventually, our founder, Niels Lindenthal, saw a need for a project management tool for business teams, from engineering to sales and marketing, HR, and more.

We still seek feedback from users and customers as we develop and improve the product. People can vote on features from our OpenProject Community instance.

Wrapping up

Thanks for sharing how the OpenProject Cloud offering is growing and maturing, Markus!

Stay tuned for more employee interviews where we chat and learn from the OpenProject team about their exciting history, work, and plans for the future. We already published an interview with OpenProject’s Chief Operating Officer Robin Wagner, which you can read here.