LinkedIn – EMC Isilon Experience

I was updating my LinkedIn profile today1 and, after finishing my new write-up for EMC Isilon, noticed that I was drastically over their character limit. I’ve pared it down but thought I’d post the whole thing here since I went to all the effort of writing it to begin with!

1 No, I am not looking for a new job. I just got an itch to update the thing.


I’ve worn many hats so far in my short time at EMC Isilon: performance tester, performance team lead, platforms test lead, and DevOps architect.

Right now I’m leading four teams who together are reinventing how we build OneFS within Isilon engineering. We’re moving to a DevOps model leveraging continuous integration for more timely, focused feedback to developers on the state of their code. I’m personally responsible for the overall architecture of this new system and ensuring that the four teams (Infrastructure as a Service, Test as as Service, Build as a Service, and the Orchestration layer) are all integrating together. I’m the single point of contact for the Engineering organization, both out to my peers and up to management, on the state of the project. I’m also a technical consultant for the Infrastructure as a Service team since I have deep knowledge about the OneFS product as well as our internal infrastructure.

Prior to being a DevOps architect, I was the test team lead for the platforms team as they undertook upgrading the FreeBSD version that OneFS is based off of. This included creating and driving test plans, working with development on how to enable testability from day one, breaking work into smaller pieces for distribution to other team members, and interviewing potential team candidates. The thing I’m most proud of is creating tooling to enable testing of code from development before it could be plugged into the existing infrastructure. This enabled testing of code from before the first code commit to catch code regressions early.

Before the platforms team I worked with the overall performance team. This included all aspects of Isilon product performance (development, test, benchmarking, and support) across all product functional areas (kernel, networking, filesystem, and protocols). During the implementation of the Endurant Cache, one highly respected developer gave me the title of Performance Test Ninja which I’ve gladly kept to this day (’cause come on — it’s a cool title!). I was a team lead and contributor on the creation of the Performance BVT — an extensible performance test suite for automatic performance evaluation to ensure no performance regressions from build-to-build. Passing the PerfBVT (as it is affectionately known) is part of the merge criteria for feature branches before they merge the main code repo. The PerfBVT has caught several major performance regressions before they were ever merged.

Throughout my time at EMC Isilon I’ve reported to the test organization which gives me free reign to have insane focus on quality. I’ve not lost my technical chops either as I’ve muddled around in the FreeBSD TCP stack when troubleshooting 10GigE performance, slogged through kernel traces, and identified code bottlenecks (before tossing the bug to development to fix).

Outside of my “day job” mentioned above, I also have a passion for recruiting, diversity, and training. I’ve given tech talks at colleges, regularly participate in interviews for positions throughout engineering, give Engineering 101 classes for new hires, I’ve been a mentor of Ada Development Academy interns, represented EMC Isilon at GeekGirlCon and the Out & Equal Career Fair, and was on the formative board of the EMC LGBT West Coast employee resource group.

Isilon Anniversary – 4 years

Sunday marks my 4-year anniversary at Isilon. It’s been a fun ride and taken me into roles that I would have never seen myself (BSD10 merge test lead, The Factory whipping boy … I mean architect). I enjoy working with some really remarkable, bright, and passionate people solving challenging problems — they make it all worthwhile. I’ve been a part of several major software releases (Mavericks, Waikiki, Jaws, and Moby) and a whole slew of our new hardware platforms (S200, X200, X400, A100, NL400, S210, X410).

I’ve also enjoyed the diversity work I’ve been able to do, including representing EMC Isilon at the Out & Equal Career Fair, manning a booth at GeekGirlCon, and working with the Ada Developer Academy.

Here’s looking forward to whatever craziness the next year has in store for me!

Birthday Countdown: Today’s the day!

Well hello 36, fancy meeting you here.

Today marks my 36th trip around the sun and my 4th year in Seattle.1 My first couple of years here I wasn’t certain that I’d stay for any length of time, but I’ve really become attached to the city. Perhaps not so much to the seemingly endless days of darkness around the winter solstice, but the city at least.

I’ve never really identified with a city like I have Seattle. I loved living in Austin and Denver — both were really great cities — but I never felt like they were “my city” the same way I do about Seattle. I think a large part of that is living so close to downtown and being a pedestrian in it daily.

I’m really looking forward to my 36th year. The past decade has been the best time of my life, both relationally, professionally, and personally. I feel like I’ve finally found my stride and am thoroughly enjoying the journey not just striving for a destination. I have Really Big Plans for this upcoming year and am excited to see how they pan out.

Thank you all for joining me in my journey!

In honor of my 36th birthday, I’m asking people to please consider donating $36 (or $360 (or $3600 if you’re feeling really generous)) to Lambert House. You can do so via their Network for Good page or send them a check directly to PO Box 23111, Seattle WA 98102. I have no way of tracking how much the donations add up to, so I’m not looking for a specific dollar amount. If you feel inclined, I’d enjoy knowing if you’ve donated something, anything, to this very worthy cause by commenting on this blog entry or on the Facebook post.

1 Benjamin and I drove into Seattle the evening of my birthday on our move up from Denver. The most memorable part of that birthday was having our air mattress deflate that evening after an exhausting 8 hour drive.

Birthday Countdown: Off by one error

Remember, remember the 5th of November. Oh wait, it’s the 6th already. Nevermind.

For many years in my early-30s I could never remember how old I was and thus how old I was turning on my birthday. I’d like to think this is because the numbers are meaningless but really it’s because I have a horrible memory for things like that. More than once I’ve had to do the year calculations to get it right.

The good news is that I can stop counting after 3 more years. My Granny Pearl has been “39 and holding” for, well, ever. I think once my Dad turned 50 she finally bumped up that number to “49 and holding”. Should I want to, I can probably pull that off myself for a decade or two. People are constantly surprised at how old I am — sometimes being off by a decade or more. I’ve tried to pass that off as healthy, vice-less living but no, it’s just because I have decent genes and the Sonic is too far away to get to readily.

In honor of my 36th birthday, I’m asking people to please consider donating $36 (or $360 (or $3600 if you’re feeling really generous)) Lambert House. You can do so via their Network for Good page or send them a check directly to PO Box 23111, Seattle WA 98102. I have no way of tracking how much the donations add up to, so I’m not looking for a specific dollar amount. If you feel inclined, I’d enjoy knowing if you’ve donated something, anything, to this very worthy cause by commenting on this blog entry or on the Facebook post.

Birthday Countdown: Family birthdays

Today is my Granny Dot’s birthday: Happy birthday Granny!

Every year when we talk she tells me that my birth was a wonderfully-late birthday present for her. My Mom’s birthday is also in November at the end of the month so it’s a multi-generational birthday month. I was really fortunate to be born into a very loving and supportive family. I really rocked their world (not in a good way) when I came out to them, but over the past 14 years we’ve largely found our stride again.

Not all families are as supportive as mine, which is one of the reasons why I really value what Lambert House is doing to support LGBT youth. LGBT folks use the term “family” when describing each other since so many of us didn’t find our family-by-blood to be terribly supportive after coming out to them. Lambert House gives youth today an opportunity to find those supportive community connections early.

In honor of my 36th birthday, I’m asking people to please consider donating $36 (or $360 (or $3600 if you’re feeling really generous)) to Lambert House. You can do so via their Network for Good page or send them a check directly to PO Box 23111, Seattle WA 98102. I have no way of tracking how much the donations add up to, so I’m not looking for a specific dollar amount. If you feel inclined, I’d enjoy knowing if you’ve donated something, anything, to this very worthy cause by commenting on this blog entry or on the Facebook post.

Birthday Countdown: Happy Election Day!

Happy mid-term election day! I was actually born on a mid-term election day 36 years ago. Family legend has it that my Dad was watching election results when I made my grand appearance. Wikipedia says that in Texas, Republican John Tower was very narrowly re-elected US Senator (49.8% compared to his opponent Bob Krueger with 49.3%) but I like to think I stole the show that evening.

The LGBT community has made great strides at the polls recently. Just two years ago Washington passed Referendum 74 making gay marriage (or as I like to call it: marriage) legal in Washington state. I don’t think civil rights should be voted on since almost by definition it is the minority who is attempting to gain rights1 but I was so incredibly proud to live in a state where a majority of people (54%) think I deserve the same rights as my straight neighbors.

In honor of my 36th birthday, I’m asking people to please consider donating $36 (or $360 (or $3600 if you’re feeling really generous)) to Lambert House. You can do so via their Network for Good page or send them a check directly to PO Box 23111, Seattle WA 98102. I have no way of tracking how much the donations add up to, so I’m not looking for a specific dollar amount. If you feel inclined, I’d enjoy knowing if you’ve donated something, anything, to this very worthy cause by commenting on this blog entry or on the Facebook post.

1 The exception to this being women’s rights. Women make up 50.8% of the US and yet we as a country are still passing stupid laws that restrict their freedoms.

Birthday Countdown: Gay bars & community

A common theme about people is that we like to be around people who are like us. We build community around people who share common ideas, struggles, and desires. These communities can be churches, sports teams, where you went to school, where you grew up, and other places. For many LGBT individuals these places are gay bars. In fact, the nexus of the gay rights movement started at a gay bar. Gay bars provide safe havens for LGBT folks to be themselves and meet others like them. To flirt with a stranger of the same gender and feel confident you aren’t going to get punched or assaulted for it.

Gay bars are great if you’re over 21 (sometimes 18), but what about LGBT youth who aren’t old enough? That’s where places like Lambert House come in. Lambert House provides a safe place for LGBT youth ages 13-23 to share a meal, meet people like themselves, and build a community where they feel not just included but welcome. We all need safe places to build community, help support a great place for that in Seattle!

In honor of my 36th birthday, I’m asking people to please consider donating $36 (or $360 (or $3600 if you’re feeling really generous)) to Lambert House. You can do so via their Network for Good page or send them a check directly to PO Box 23111, Seattle WA 98102. I have no way of tracking how much the donations add up to, so I’m not looking for a specific dollar amount. If you feel inclined, I’d enjoy knowing if you’ve donated something, anything, to this very worthy cause by commenting on this blog entry or on the Facebook post.