Category Archives: portfolio

What I Did at Joyent

I started working at Joyent on December 1st, 2010, as the Director of Training. My task was to lead the creation of three levels of training materials: for end users of the Joyent public cloud for customers who were buying SmartDataCenter and using it to run their own clouds for systems integrators and others who Read More…

I started working at Joyent on December 1st, 2010, as the Director of Training. My task was to lead the creation of three levels of training materials:

  • for end users of the Joyent public cloud
  • for customers who were buying SmartDataCenter and using it to run their own clouds
  • for systems integrators and others who would resell SDC and would therefore need training in all of the above, plus in how to sell it

By the summer of 2011, with hard work from many in Joyent ops, support, marketing, and engineering, this training was being delivered to customers worldwide (by Shannon, Ryan, PeterG, Nima, Aaron…).

Community Management

In August, 2011, Joyent decided to open source SmartOS, and appointed me the Community Architect (the launch, on August 15th or 16th, unfortunately coincided with the death of my father). I managed setting up the website and wiki for SmartOS, while also helping to transition the old illumos materials and mailing lists to new homes, and generally trying to keep things running smoothly and people working together in a community that suffered from Post-Oracle Stress Disorder.

By request of the community, I managed an attempt to create a non-profit illumos Foundation. This involved discussion, bureaucracy, and more discussion. After over a year of wrangling, a foundation was deemed unnecessary and the attempt abandoned (leaving me with an unwanted illumos Corporation to my name, which was then more difficult to shut down than it had been to start). Many thanks to those who worked hard with me on this effort, especially Bayard Bell and Gordon Ross for moral and material support. Along with Milan Jurik, they also gave the foundation’s only cash donations, from their Google Summer of Code earnings.

Thanks especially to Rich Lowe, Robert Mustacchi, Keith Wesolowski, and Josh Clulow for their important and ongoing contributions to the community: management, sanity, infrastructure, documentation, irc presence, and of course code.

Events

Part of the community manager job was managing events (both our own and our participation in others’) to help evangelize SmartOS and related communities. But I’ve been involved in tech events throughout my tenure at Joyent, including:

  • Dec, 2010: My first events for Joyent: filmed Ryan Dahl speaking at Splunk, then live streamed a NodeCamp in SF.

Tim Eller and Ryan Dahl

  • Mar, 2011: Various activities for the launch of Brendan Gregg’s book DTrace: Dynamic Tracing in Oracle Solaris, Mac OS X, and FreeBSD, which I had also helped edit.
  • June, 2011: Filmed and streamed an illumos meetup.
  • Jan, 2012: At the request of the conference organizers, I encouraged Brendan Gregg and Robert Mustacchi to speak at SCaLE, and filmed them as well as Garrett D’Amore talking about SmartOS and illumos. Also ran a BoF for Joyent and helped with an illumos booth. Also that month, filmed and streamed an illumos meetup hosted by Delphix, largely about their work on ZFS.
  • Apr, 2012: dtrace.conf – A tech conference which I organized, ran, live streamed, and filmed.
  • July, 2012: Bryan, Brendan and I spoke at FISL in Brazil, and brought back video of all of us, plus Randal Schwartz. Epic amounts of cachaça were consumed.
  • Aug, 2012: Hosted BayLISA at Joyent for an evening of talks on SmartOS. With about 70 attendees, it was the largest BayLISA gathering ever.
  • Oct, 2012: ZFS Day and illumos Day – Two days of conferences organized by me, funded by sponsorships from Joyent and other illumos-interested companies. We also held the 2nd Annual Solaris Family Reunion during one of the evenings. The day after all that was done, I pitched in to help my Joyent marketing colleagues in an emergency (our A/V person had been hit by a car). I provided two solid weeks of A/V work, including UStream live production, for an online nodestack event.

Nodestack

  • Feb, 2013: At SCALE, I organized, ran, and live streamed a full day Nodestack event for Joyent (speakers were Max and Brendan, plus someone from MongoDB). Brendan was a key speaker at the main conference, and I filmed his talk on Linux Performance and Tools. That video was the basis for a blog post on performance for Joyent; Brendan and I ran a guerilla marketing campaign which drove a big spike of traffic to that. Max, Brendan and I also ended up unexpectedly staffing an illumos booth at SCaLE:

Max and Brendan, SCaLE

Other things I was doing throughout these years included:

  • Social media via the SmartOS and illumos sites and blogs, Joyent SmartOS on Twitter, and my own (long-standing) Twitter account, deirdres.
  • Capture, editing, and curation of a great deal of technical video, including filming and streaming Joyent internal training and knowledge sharing, all hands, engineering and customer meetings, etc.
  • Marketing tech talent, as described in my Monktoberfest talk, eg identifying conferences Joyent should have a presence at, then nagging people to submit talks.
  • Made the DTrace pony.
  • T-shirts. Lots and lots of t-shirts. And beer.

Scott McWhirter and some guy from Game of Thrones

Training Again

Brendan Gregg training

By September, 2012, I had taken back the reins of training, launching Joyent’s first public course: DTrace: Core Features and Performance Analysis, written and delivered by Brendan based on his DTrace book. (That course also includes a 150-page training manual, also written by Brendan!) This was followed by more courses taught by Max Bruning and Brendan, to both public and private customers. I did everything training-related (except write or teach the courses): marketing; sales; management of facilities, staff, and calendars; ordering books; printing course materials, t-shirts, and certificates; communicating with students; accounting; etc. The courses generated high-margin revenue for Joyent, while helping to train both Joyent staff and Joyent public cloud customers, as well as other companies already using SmartOS and related technologies, or investigating whether they might like to. In early 2014, we also began testing online course delivery.

I have loved working with so many talented people, both at Joyent and in the larger community. Thank you all for what I was given the opportunity to do and learn. Thanks especially to Ben Rockwood for getting me to Joyent in the first place, Jason Hoffman for hiring me and believing in me, Ben Wen for the “Venti” lunches that kept us both sane. Thanks (first, last, and always) to Brendan, my best test subject and case study.

Oh, about the t-shirts, and coffee mugs, and ponies: you can still get them here.

And, yes, of course there’s a video.

FAQ: Yes, I’m moving on to new adventures. No, I’m not going to say what just yet.

 

Joyent Retrospective

Once again, I find it’s time for a retrospective of the videos I’ve done in the last few years. The people and events featured in this include: Brendan Gregg – The Perf Book: Getting Started is the Hardest Part dtrace.conf 2012 attendees – A Carousel of DTrace Bryan Cantrill – SVLUG Comparative Operating Systems Discussion Bryan Read More…

Once again, I find it’s time for a retrospective of the videos I’ve done in the last few years. The people and events featured in this include:

I tried to fit in every Joyent employee (current or past) who has been in front of my camera. If I missed you, it was unintentional!

You can download the video here.

What Linux Can Learn from Solaris Performance, and Vice-Versa

Brendan Gregg keynoted the Southern California Area Linux Expo this year, to a packed room, with this talk: How does Linux system performance compare to other OSes, particularly the performance-focused Solaris family? What features inspired by them could be added to Linux? Both are bristling with performance features and optimizations, and it’s difficult enough to fully understand Read More…

Brendan Gregg keynoted the Southern California Area Linux Expo this year, to a packed room, with this talk:

How does Linux system performance compare to other OSes, particularly the performance-focused Solaris family? What features inspired by them could be added to Linux?

Both are bristling with performance features and optimizations, and it’s difficult enough to fully understand the performance of the Linux kernel and its distributions, let alone other kernels and OSes for comparison. Brendan Gregg has unique insight into the performance features and analysis capabilities of both Linux and Solaris-based systems, which he covers in depth in his new book:Systems Performance: Enterprise and the Cloud. He also works at Joyent, a high performance cloud provider, where OS performance is core to the business, and frequently debugs head-to-head performance comparisons. It’s not just each OS’s baseline performance that matters, but also their analysis tools, and how quickly potential customer benchmarks can be debugged and tuned. This talk will include specific areas where SmartOS – an open source illumos kernel derivative of OpenSolaris – often beats Linux performance, and vice-versa. How does Linux compare today, and what can it do next? … and what could the Solaris family learn from Linux?

dtrace.conf 2012

In April, 2012, I organized and ran the second-ever DTrace conference (the first had been held in 2008). I found the venue and sponsors, did all the logistics, live streamed and filmed the entire day’s proceedings. It was run somewhat unconference style, with Bryan Cantrill emceeing, so the final list of talks you see below emerged Read More…

In April, 2012, I organized and ran the second-ever DTrace conference (the first had been held in 2008). I found the venue and sponsors, did all the logistics, live streamed and filmed the entire day’s proceedings. It was run somewhat unconference style, with Bryan Cantrill emceeing, so the final list of talks you see below emerged over the course of the day.

Perhaps my greatest feat for this conference was persuading the Oracle DTrace for Linux team to attend and speak!

For a good overview and wrap-up, see Adam’s blog post on dtrace.conf.

8:30 AM registration, coffee by Stone Cobra, breakfast by DEY for illumos
9:00 opening
9:15 State of the Union – video Bryan Cantrill
Setting the Agenda – video
10:15 coffee break by Stone Cobra
10:30 User-Level CTF – video Adam Leventhal
10:45 Dynamic Translators – video Dave Pacheco
11:15 Control flow & language enhancements – video Eric Schrock
12:30 lunch sponsored by Nexenta
1:00 PM coffee by Stone Cobra
1:15 Carousel ride!
1:30 Clang Parser for DTrace – video John Thompson
2:00 Visualizations – video Brendan Gregg
2:30 Visualizations, Enabling toolchain for seamless USDT – video Theo Schlossnagle
Visualizations – video Richard Elling
3:20 Coffee by Stone Cobra
3:30 DTrace in node.js – video Mark Cavage
4:00 User-land probes for Erlang virtual machine – video Scott Lystig Fritchie
4:45 DTrace on Linux – video Kris Van Hees
5:30 ZFS DTrace provider Matt Ahrens
5:45 DTrace on FreeBSD – video Ryan Stone
Bryan throwing big heavy books at people
6:00 Barriers to Adoption – video Jarod Jenson
6:30 beer sponsored by Basho
7:30 out of venue, go for dinner

Many more videos about DTrace can be found in my YouTube DTrace playlist.

That Marketing Thing

At the beginning of my Monktoberfest talk on Marketing Your Tech Talent, I said that: “I have occasionally had a marketing title; it has never been a good fit.” This was an overstatement. In the course of my career, I have had several good experiences as part of or working with marketing teams, for example Read More…

At the beginning of my Monktoberfest talk on Marketing Your Tech Talent, I said that: “I have occasionally had a marketing title; it has never been a good fit.” This was an overstatement. In the course of my career, I have had several good experiences as part of or working with marketing teams, for example at Adaptec, starting with: “…my new boss, Dave Ulmer… I told Dave what I’d been doing online (CompuServe, Usenet, answering emailweb pages) and he said: ‘Fine, do more of that.’ And that’s about all the direction he ever gave me. He not only understood the Usenet, he was frequently and visibly out there himself.” (more of this story here)

Even when not been formally part of a marketing organization, many of my tasks and activities could be classified as “marketing”, broadly defined as “communicating the value of a product or service to customers” (wikipedia). Such activities have included:

  • Conferences: Oh, so many conferences, and trade shows. I’ve done everything from booth duty to designing, creating and running events myself (and everything in between), all over the world. I am also occasionally in front of the audience as a speaker.
  • Events and meetups for user groups, communities, and students (which bring in leads, build relationships, and create popular, enduring content).
  • Video: I’ve been filming technical events and talks since 2007, and began live streaming them as well soon after. Videos here (with more being constantly added).
  • Websites from start to finish, bottom to top: strategy; technical / platform decisions; design decisions and management; implementation management; information architecture; design, management and production of content; application design; ongoing content contribution; analytics.
  • I have written and edited all kinds of technical text: articlesbooks, newsletters, blogs, documentation, product descriptions, brochures, conference talk submissions, etc.
  • Front-line customer communications: real-time response to product and PR issues. Channelling market intelligence back to developers and decision makers within companies.
  • Community management, including launching and nurturing user and developer communities. I may have been one of the first people to refer to a company’s users as a community.
  • Training: Yes, training is also marketing.
  • Work with PR teams to develop topics and material, write articles for trade publications.
  • T-shirts.

Just a few recent specific examples, while at Joyent:

So, yeah, I do a bit of marketing.