Observability is my specialty!
Through my career as a software engineer, manager and executive a common love of observability has been present.
Observability is more than monitoring and charts. Observability is a measure for how well internal states of a system can be inferred by knowledge of its external outputs. In other words, if you don’t have sensors — metrics, logs, etc — that help you understand how your service is working then you can’t tell if things are going wrong!
I’ve spent a lot of my time learning as much as I can about this subject as well as applying my knowledge to the things I work on. My earliest efforts were a homegrown monitoring tool that I keep on GitHub for posterity.
Open Source Work
- Simple Sensor Format is a novel, new format for transmitting metrics, spans and other observability primitives.
- Veneur is a server implementation of Datadog’s DogStatsD that brings efficient performance and the capability to approximate “global” histogram and timer percentiles using Ted Dunning’s t-digest approximate histograms and sets using HyperLogLogs.
- Censorinus is a JVM — by way of Scala, but with no other dependencies — *StatsD client with support for both StatsD and DogStatsD.
- datadog-scala is a Scala library for interacting with the Datadog API.
- Dozens of contributions to Datadog’s monitoring agent and Integrations SDK.
- Perl charting library Chart::Clicker, with love to Infinity Interactive for being so supportive and Stevan Little for being so inspirational.
After joining Twitter in 2012 I quickly found my calling in the Observability team. I learned, maintained and created some marvelous stuff in that role. My next gig at Keen IO was not specifically observability, but after the lessons learned at Twitter making sure that Keen’s systems were as observable as possible was a focus of my work.
I joined Stripe in 2015 I created an Observability team and worked to change Stripe’s culture such that observing our systems was a core concern. In that role I created Veneur which Stripe used to power metrics and traces. I led the creation of an entirely new observability stack with minimal interruption, managed and changed vendors a few times, and contributed to large improvements in reliability and confidence at Stripe through both observability tooling and incident process.
In 2019 I joined SignalFx as a Technical Director. My role is a mix of advocacy, customer engagement, and product improvement.
I’m often asked by investors to discuss my thoughts of new or existing monitoring products, and I enjoy speaking about these tools with others both to learn and provide my thoughts. I’ve also participated on customer advisory boards, representing my engineering teammates and learning challenges from vendors.
I speak regularly and conferences across the country promoting observability and thoughtful, empathetic operations.
Here’s a talk from Monitorama 2016:
- In March of 2017 I spoke with Software Engineering Daily about my observability work at Stripe.
- In April of 2018 I spoke with Software Engineering Daily again about observability pipelines.
- In April of 2019 I spoke with Real World DevOps about going from a customer to a vendor and some observability stuff.
- Wrote a guest post for Honeycomb talking about making people awesome with instrumentation.
- Reviewing posts and early books in the observability space, such as a technical review of Cindy Sridharan’s Distributed Systems Observability.
I hope to continue learning, teaching and pushing Observability in to the future. I feel that it is essential to the technical and social well-being of technology companies by keeping operations and teams in tip-top shape!