Sunday, February 21, 2016

MySQL Support People - Directors, Managers and Coordinators

This post is devoted to my colleagues whose contribution to MySQL Support was really important, but mostly non-technical, that is, pure Directors, Managers and Coordinators, who hardly ever reported any bug in MySQL in public and had to step into the technical issues from customers mostly when we, engineers, failed to some extent:
  • Tom Basil - he hired me twice, first as a Director of Support in MySQL back in 2005 and then as a COO in Percona in 2012. Tom was a Director of Support and Development (thanks Salle for clarification) in MySQL since 2001 and he defined, to large extent, the Support culture I am proud to be a part and defender of till today. The approach to providing Support 24x7 by the international team of the best engineers working remotely from home and coordinated by one of them, playing the role of Support Shift Captain (SSC), working based on Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) written as a set of wiki pages, using emails (properly, "the burden should be on the writer" etc!) and IRC to communicate with colleagues - all these, for me, were created either by or under the influence of Tom.
    He left us in Sun in September, 2008, somewhat unexpectedly and silently, to join Percona, but he left us in a very good state. MySQL Support, in general, was really a privileged organization inside MySQL and Sun, thanks mostly to Tom, I think. Tom was a really great Director of Support for MySQL! Everything was in order for me, I became Senior in MySQL fast, I've got great employment conditions from Sun and felt really safe for few more years ahead.
    The entire story of my work for Percona also started with his question some day in 2011 (or was it 2010?) when we met in Kiev (they had administrative team meeting iin the hotel some 500 meters or so from my flat), got some sushi and he asked me would I like to join Percona... I answered that I am not invited, to begin with. Then, some day in 2012, I was invited and got a job offer that I eventually accepted. As a result I worked for 3 more years in the best Support team in the industry. I was surprised that Tom was not involved in anything related to Support directly in Percona and I am still not sure why this was the case.
    Tom is still in Percona now, he is a Chief of Staff. In this role he tried his best to help me to still work in Percona, and the fact that I am not there any more is by no means his fault. Thank you, Tom, for your continued efforts that help entire MySQL Community!
  • Peter Farkas - he was my Director of Support in Percona, a leader of Support organization that I've already nominated as the best in the industry! He had that position starting from December, 2011 and more or less till December, 2015. Peter had spent a lot of time first to get me into his team (he agreed to wait for 3 months for me to complete hand over of all my work in Oracle) and then to keep me happy and operational while I worked for Percona (I became desperate few times there). We worked a lot together to make sure Percona Support is really the best, and implemented some unique procedures (inspired and even requested by Peter Zaitsev, to be fair) of internal quality assurance. Unfortunately some of the work in progress we still had to complete was not completed before we left Percona, first Peter and then, recently, me.
    In private writings to some colleagues I've already named him as the best Director of Support of those whom I worked for, with Tom Basil being only second. I am sure not everybody in Percona agrees with me. My statement above does not mean that Peter Farkas had never made mistakes or could not do many things better while managing the team. But his level of responsibility and care about the team and each engineer there was outstanding, he really sacrificed 4 years of his life to the team. Let me give just one example. Peter was the only Director of Support who took SSC shifts, during any time zone, when he or his reporting team managers failed in scheduling or were not able to step in. He was never scared to talk to anyone, from (few) demanding and angry customers to CEO, to defend his team members when they actually did everything right. Only enormous pressure could make him fail in these efforts.
    Now Peter is a Co-Founder and CEO of Altinity, a company that has something to do with SQLite. I hope he'll tell us all more about that during his talk at upcoming Percona Live conference. I'd like to work with him again one day.
  • Lorna Ward - she joined us in Sun, early 2008, as an Assistant Support Engineer and eventually became a Support manager in Oracle. She was a reliable SSC, capable engineer and good colleague for us, and I am really sorry that my direct way of communication about problems influenced her badly once.
  • Erzsebet Olsovszky -  she joined Percona Support in August, 2013, as an Executive Assistant, to help Peter Farkas to manage all the tasks we had in Support. Based on her notable corporate experience with IBM, she helped us a lot to set up proper procedures around meetings, internal quality assurance initiatives, and, most importantly, setting priorities for the bug fixes in Percona software taking into account the real needs of our customers and usual goals of Development.
    She made real miracles to get both me, Director of Support, managers, Director of Development, CTO and even CEO (when it was badly needed), sitting around one "virtual" table and discussing the best approaches to process, fix or workaround known bugs and deficiencies affecting Percona customers. Moreover, she managed to document the results of these discussions properly.
    Erzsebet is a Senior Coordinator in Percona since January, 2015. We worked closely together for more than 2 years and I really appreciate all her help, efforts and "can do" attitudes. She never gives up!
Again, this list is not complete (I remember at least 3 more names to put there) and I am going to correct it soon. Your feedback is appreciated, I could really forget someone without any good reason.

So, now you know also about those who mostly helped us, MySQL Support Engineers, to work properly and efficiently. They are also "MySQL Support People" to me. Let me remind you about the previous posts in this series that listed great engineers I had an honor to work with while supporting MySQL:
As this is a final post in the "MySQL Support People" series, I'd like to conclude with the following statement:
From pure practical point of view, I value opinion on how to do Support (and services in general) for MySQL from anyone mentioned in the posts from this series as much more important in decision making comparing to the opinion from anyone who is not mentioned in them. To be considered of the same league, they should start with providing some links explaining their contribution to MySQL Community...

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