Week 1 @ AWS

Today is the last day of week 1 at AWS, and it has been fun, exciting, exhausting, overwhelming, intimidating, and all the other adjectives.

Here’s a few of the things I’ve learned:

The “Working Backward” approach to solving problems is like test-driven (or doc-driven) development. Documenting where you want to land, and then working backwards to figure out how to get there, is something that got me excited about test-driven development (TDD) when I was  Perl geek, and when I was a PHP developer. Using this same technique to plan everything else is an obvious (in retrospect) extension of this way of thinking, and just makes so much sense to me, once I figured out what people were talking about.

Amazon strives to be a “Day One” company, which means we’re always innovating, taking risks, and thinking about the long term, rather than settling into “Day Two”, which is where everything is decided, and we’re just turning the crank. I made the mistake of saying, on my first day, that I was looking forward to day two.

I was swiftly corrected by my new colleagues on my faux pas.

I am surrounded, at Amazon, by people I already know. This is, in part, because the tech industry is really incredibly small. It’s also because my path through tech has brought me into contact with the very best people in the industry. Some of those people were colleagues at Red Hat, of course, and some are here at Amazon. It’s been really cool, especially, to reconnect with some old friends from the Apache Software Foundation, who I did not know were here. And apparently there’s a lot more of them. I will, of course, miss my awesome colleagues at Red Hat, although I expect I’ll keep seeing many of them in the usual places, as I’ll still be going to many of the same events.

For the folks asking what I’ll be doing – I’m an “Open Source Evangelist”, which, while I’m not really fond of the word Evangelist in this context, means that I’ll be a cheerleader for open source. This is both inward-facing – helping AWS engineers know how to engage with open source projects, and be good citizens – and outward-facing – talking about the great stuff that AWS engineers are doing in those projects. These two aspects work together, of course. We have to be good citizens to build trust, and we have to have that trust in order to do our job effectively.

For folks asking what AWS is, well, it’s something you use every day and, likely, don’t think about it. When businesses want to host something on the Internet, but don’t want to build a data center, buy and manage computer servers, hire system administrators, and pay to power, cool, and feed all of the above, they use AWS to provide those services, and then they’re just responsible for the actual content that goes out onto the Internet. A huge percentage of the websites that you use on a daily basis are actually hosted on AWS, and you’re never aware of this because it Just Works.

For folks that are just happy for me, thanks. I have hugely appreciated all of the people who have reached out to me to congratulate me on this position, ask about the job, and just generally be happy for me.