Work dread

Today is the last day of a great 10-day vacation out to Washington DC to visit family — both Daniel’s and my own. We get on a plane tonight to head back to Seattle and I go back to work tomorrow. For the second time in my 15-year career I’m dreading it and I haven’t even sync’d my work email to see how many hundreds of emails are waiting for me.

I’ve been dreading work since last September at the end of my trip to Spain with Jonobie. And that dread has been fairly consistent ever since.

Work has consumed my life. I get up at ~4:30a — 30 minutes before my alarm goes off — and respond to emails from the contractors in India. The plan is to get to the gym by 5:30 for my hour work-out, come home, spend some time with Daniel, and head into the office by 8a. Instead, I skip the gym and spend all morning trying to get caught up with emails and code reviews. I give myself just enough time to shower and eat breakfast and then continue working on the bus ride into the office. I work non-stop, eating lunch at my desk, until 5p when I leave for home. When I get home I’m mentally exhausted and have no energy for much more than eating dinner that Daniel has lovingly cooked, doing the dishes, watching an episode of something, and crashing in bed at 9p.

This is not a life.

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!

EMC Isilon electronic design automation (EDA) whitepaper

A month ago we released a whitepaper on using Isilon storage in an electronic design automation (EDA) workflow. I had intended to blog about this when it was released but I was 2 days away from leaving on vacation and it escaped me.

EDA workflows are often a conglomeration of home directory, HPC-analysis, and large streaming workloads so it can be challenging to optimize your storage to support it all. The whitepaper covers everything from node-type selection, network configuration, file layout recommendations, and more.

Many thanks to Steve for working with all the SMEs to put this together!

Consulting after a loss in principle

Today I was promoted from a Principal Software Quality Engineer to a Consulting Software Quality Engineer! Given the rep that so many software consultants get, I find it funny that at EMC you move from being Principal to being Consulting — lets hope I’m not required to leave my principles behind!

This doesn’t necessarily mean I have more responsibility than I did prior. Much like IBM, at EMC you pretty much have to be doing the work at a level to be promoted into it. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

I still plan on using Performance Test Ninja as my title as that’s still more descriptive, and way more fun, than the official one.

I wanted to capture a select few of the congratulations emails I received (leaving out full names to protect their privacy since my blog is highly googleable).

  • well-deserved indeed. congrats. – Case
  • Hooray!!! Congratulations on a great job and all the hard work to earn this promotion! It was a privilege to work with you for 2 of those years. I have new positions open on Certification… ;) Just kidding! – Matt
  • Oh, you cheeky bastard. There you were focusing on MY promotion when this amazing news was in the pipeline! SO MANY CONGRATULATIONS to you!!!!! Saying this is “well deserved” is the understatement of the year. I’m so glad that you’re being formally recognized in this way. Way to go, Casey! I’m so happy for you—and for all of Isilon! – Deb
  • Congratulations, Casey! And here I thought you were only good at pottery :) – Brett
  • Outstanding! Casey, above the fact that you are damn smart, you are a consummate professional, always have a great attitude, and typically can be seen with a smile on your face. It’s obvious that you enjoy your work and you are also able to carry projects over the finish line. Congratulations! I’m happy and appreciative that you are an Isilonian! – David

Isilon 2012 Performance Review: Far Exceeds Expectations

It’s the time of the year when I get a huge does of affirming words. Like last year, I once again got a Far Exceeds review.

My favorite bit from my manager’s write-up is:

Casey is knocking it out of the park pretty much every day. He has rightly started asking what criteria will be used to judge his success in the future, because it’s obvious that he’s nailing any criteria we would hold him to today.

So glad to have found an industry and a company that appreciates my level of crazy. Is it really work when you’re having this much fun?

EMC backs repeal of DOMA

Yesterday, EMC joined 277 other employers and organizations in an amicus brief supporting the repeal of the “Defense of Marriage Act”. Congratulations EMC – you continue to make me a very proud employee.

Other notable signers that jumped out to me included:

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Citigroup
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Intel
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Microsoft
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Nike
  • Pfizer
  • REI
  • Starbucks
  • Twitter
  • Walt Disney Company
  • Xerox

The brief, while footnote heavy, is quite clear: DOMA is bad for business. The NYT summarizes it up nicely:

Lawyers writing the amicus briefs have hewed closely to the business issues in the case, leaving social and political issues to others. Among them are tax and benefits issues, administrative costs, employee morale and the ability to attract gay employees and to move them to locations where gay marriage is prohibited.

Emphasis mine. Damn right I’m not going to move out of a state where I can get legally married to one where I can’t — and right now that includes California.

Be sure and check out the full brief for the full list of companies (and an impressive use of footnotes).