This year has been a roller coaster.
Speaking at Velocity
This fall I got to speak about lessons learned scaling databases at the Velocity EU conference in London which was a blast. I got to try new things like high afternoon tea with some amazing women in tech and I basically spent the entire conference chatting with many humans I admire and respect. One great result from that is that I now also joined the program committee for Velocity Santa Clara 2019 and I have been reading a LOT of proposals and learning how to evaluate them from people who are far better at this than me 😄
Growing the team
In January 2018 I was boasting that the DB ops team has ‘doubled’. That was accurate. I was a solo DBA for years and in 2017 we hired our second one. But now I am ending 2018 having hired two more engineers and a third who’s starting in January 2019. People always complain that hiring is hard, especially for positions with a specific emphasis like network or databases and it is true. These days, the focus in the field is increasingly on general practitioner positions. And that makes finding people who want to, or already have, some level of specialized experience in managing databases at scale who are also looking to do more of that in an agile organization is even harder. So early in 2018 my manager and I decided that it was time to grow people in the team. We set forth to hire 2 Jr DBA positions where the focus was far more on potential than existing expertise and knowing that it means a lot more mentoring and teaching for me and Bill, my fellow Sr DBA.
I don’t want to call a success something that is still ongoing but the team has doubled in headcount again and it’s been lots of fun teaching the new team members how we do things and why we do things the way we do. You can read about all I learned about hiring in this postfrom earlier this year.
Growing the team was not just about adding headcount. It was time for me to start focusing even less on day to day database operations and try to help the organization scale with more strategic work. I joined the architecture team and became part of the group that gets to help guide the architectural strategy of things we build. This has turned out to be a good thing for more than one reason.
- I have talked a lot about including those who care and feed the databases as early as possible in the design phase of building a new thing. Having me in the architecture team means I get to see blueprints by teams very early and provide feedback on things that may be traps in the future.
- My goal career wise is to become a PE II which means working closer with those who are in that position right now. That is the architecture team.
What’s to come
2019 is already going to be a very busy year. Late in 2018 there has been a bit of news about SendGrid which I am sure when the time comes will bring interesting new things to solve. We are also in the process of a major rearchitecture to move our stack to AWS. For databases especially that is both a time of so many choices but also a lot of learning how these new to us data stores actually behave under the SendGrid load.
This year has been great but it was not without lots of help. People like Sean Kilgore, John Martin being mentors and sounding boards for me at work (and for non work things too). Friends like Dr Nicole Forsgren, Alice Goldfuss, and Connie-Lynne Villanni being my back channel and letting me vent about all sorts of things. And many more who have taught me lots this year.