Monday, October 6, 2014

Red Is the New Blue

I am excited to announce that I will be starting a new step in my career tomorrow.  After over 15 years with IBM, I will be joining Netflix (hence the Orange is the New Black homage in the title) starting Tuesday.

In my time at IBM I've had the honor to work with incredible colleagues, on amazing projects, and through exciting times.  The work on IBM Host On-Demand (the first commercial Java product in the world), IBM WebSphere Application Server function and performance (starting with V4), WebSphere's SOA (WS-*, Business Process Management and Enterprise Service Bus) and IBM's XML (XSLT2/XQuery) technology over the years has been challenging, interesting, and most importantly fun.  More recently in the time spent in the IBM's Emerging Technology Institute I was able to work on performance and then scale and then cloud and then on the creation of the Cloud Services Fabric (CSF).  This focus on cloud was very exciting to be a part of and I believe the technology I was a part of will continue at IBM for some time, being part of what helps IBM public cloud services have rock solid operational capabilities empowering development to deliver function quickly to customers with the insight needed to adjust quickly to opportunities that present themselves.  I'd like to personally thank all of those people who have worked beside me over the years.  Unfortunately with the length of my career at IBM, I cannot thank each individual person here.  Just know that every team I worked on is near and dear to my heart.

This said, it was time in my career to make a change.  I will be joining the cloud platform engineering team at Netflix is Los Gatos, California.   I will further explain the role as appropriate in the near future. I have had the opportunity, through NetflixOSS, to work with many of my soon to be colleagues already.  The technology, teams, and challenges ahead of me are all very exciting.  Below are some points of comparison that all factored into my decision to make a change in my career:
  1. Big company to less big company
    • Except for a short stints in college and in the Raleigh/Durham startup scene in 2000, I have worked for one of the largest companies in the world for the rest of my career.  It is amazing how many people I know across the world and across the various business units of IBM.  The scope of projects that can be done with such resources is great.  I hope to replace the same scope at Netflix with the intense technology culture and collaboration with similar companies in the valley.
    • Some stats for the compare:  Employees (~400,000 IBM, ~ 2,000 Netflix), Market cap ($189B IBM, $27B Netflix), Countries served (~170 IBM, ~50 Netflix - and growing every day)
  2. Enterprise to consumer
    • Enterprise is a challenging market to succeed in.  The expectations are high and the legacy is strong.  Keeping the world's governments, banks, insurance companies, hospitals, and manufacturers running is no easy task.  I am proud to have been a part of powering many of those critical businesses.
    • In moving to the consumer side, I expect to learn a new view on computing which was tough to focus on in the enterprise market.  I think the size and scale of the Netflix platform and service will be a huge change and learning experience for me personally.  I doubt Netflix is stopping to 50 million subscribers and it is clear that they will continue to help drive Internet bandwidth policy discussions across the globe.
    • I believe technology to power the consumer offerings is contributing significantly to technology innovation.  You don't have to look far beyond the cloud vendors to see the consumer companies and system of engagement applications that drove the initial creation of cloud.  The same holds true for mobile.  Other aspects of technology like NoSQL, containers, and large scale distributed computing also were born out of the necessity to implement solutions to consumer company problems only due to their mobile scale and always on requirements.
  3. Research Triangle Park (North Carolina) to Bay Area (California)
    • This was not only the hardest aspect of my decision to make a change, but was a key motivating factor to make a change.
    • In my career it is easy for me to make personal decisions.  The decision to move to the Bay area seems easy to someone that wants to create technology.  In the past, I have considered areas like Boston, New York City, or Texas.  All of these areas create more innovative technology than Research Triangle Park these days.  In the last year or so, I have witnessed the amazing collaboration that exists between companies in the Bay Area.  I believe the collaboration possible in the Bay area exceeds that of other the tech areas.  In the end, I came to the decision that there is no better place in my personal career in technology.
    • In my personal and family life moving from the east to the west coast is a huge change.  Our family is well established on the Atlantic coast.  We have amazing friends and neighbors in the Raleigh/Durham area.  Without going into personal details, I do think while the change will be hard, there are still very good reasons for a family to settle in the Bay area.  With kids that are interested in technology I know of Bay area opportunities to share in learning with them.  Also, I hope the access to great California outdoor space with moderate temperatures will be a reason to spend more time with the family enjoying the surroundings.
So today I am sitting on a plane with the first one way ticket I've had in a long time.  I've got my new Netflix red shoes on (see below) ready to take a first step on a huge new journey.  I'm sure I'll be swamped for the first month or so, so don't expect too many blog updates.  Once I get my feet firmly back on the ground, I'll let you know more about what I am doing.

Thanks!  If you get to the San Jose area, look me up!