Category: My Projects
Interesting Resources for Technical Operations Engineers
23 Sep2013

As you may have already heard, I am looking for good techops engineers to join my team at Swiftype. This process involves a lot of interviews with candidates and during those interviews along with many challenging practical questions I really love to ask questions like “What are the most important resources you think an Operations Engineer should follow?” or “What books in your opinion are must-read for a techops?” or “Who are your personal heroes in IT community?”. Those questions often give me a lot of information about candidates, their experience, who they are looking up to in the community, what they are interested in, and if they are actively working on improving their professional level.

Recently, one of the candidates asked me to share my lists with him and I thought this information could be valuable to other people so I have decided to share it here on my blog.


Must-Read Books List

First of all, I would like to share a list of books I believe every professional in our field should read at some point in their life. You may notice that many of these books are not too technical or are not really related to the pure systems administration part of a techops job. I still think those are very important because technical operations work on senior levels involves much more than just making sure things work as expected. A lot of it involves time management, crisis management and many other topics that are equally important for a professional in this field.

So, here is the list (with not particular ordering, grouped by topics):

Systems and Networks Administration

Technical Operations, Architecture, Scalability

Project, Release and Time Management

Other

For more information on interesting books for technical operations engineers, you can check out the following book lists on GoodReads:


Interesting Conferences

Conferences, in my opinion, are an essential part in professional development of any engineer. Here is a list of conferences that could be useful for techops engineers:

  • Surge Conference – in my opinion, this is definitely one of the best conferences dedicated to building and maintaining large web architectures. If I were to choose one conference a year to go to, it would definitely be Surge. Videos from previous years are freely available online: 2010, 2011, 2012. 2013 videos should be available soon as well.
  • Oreilly’s Velocity Conference – biggest and, probably, the oldest web operations and web performance event. In my opinion, recently it became too focused on web frontend performance, though it is still a really interesting event. Complete video compilations from the conference are available for sale: 2011, 2012, 2013.
  • Monitorama Conference – pretty new, but already very popular conference with interesting content for everyone interested in monitoring (which most ops engineers are). Sides and videos from the first ever Monitorama conference in 2013 are available online.
  • Percona Live Conference – really awesome event for anybody who has MySQL in their stack. Huge multi-track event with talks from the best and brightest people in MySQL community. Slides and keynote videos from 2013 event are available online.
  • DevOps Days – small events happening all around the world and becoming more and more popular. The major topic of these conferences is the DevOps movement, related team/project management practices, etc. Videos and slides from some of the events are available online.

Even if you do not have time to watch any of those conference videos, I think every operations engineer out there would really enjoy 2011 Surge Conference closing plenary session video where Theo Schlossnagle (one of my personal heroes in IT community) described a typical debugging session many of us go through every once in a while:


Interesting Web Resources

And last, but certainly not least, I would like to share a list of web resources I like to follow to stay up to date on the most recent news and fresh ideas within the web operations community and related areas:

Leading Industry Sites and Blogs

  • MySQL Performance Blog from Percona – one of the best resources on MySQL performance
  • High Scalability – awesome resource with a lot of great articles on scalability, performance and design of large scale systems
  • Kitchen Soap – Blog by John Alspaw (another of my personal heroes in IT field)
  • DevOps Community Planet – feed/news aggregator for the DevOps community
  • DevOps Community on Reddit – not too active, but still a useful resource for getting interesting news
  • Agile Sysadmin – Blog of Stephen Nelson-Smith
  • obfuscurity – Blog by Jason Dixon, maintainer of Graphite, author of Descartes, Tasseo and other useful tools for metrics collection and displaying
  • The Agile Admin – Many interesting thoughts on agile web operations and devops
  • Operation Bootstrap – Blog of Aaron Nichols talking about many different aspects of working in operations

Engineering Blogs of Large Web Companies

Podcasts

  • Changelog – member-supported podcast on 5by5 network talking about interesting open source projects
  • Food Fight – bi-weekly podcast for Chef community
  • DevOps Cafe – interviews with interesting members of DevOps community
  • The Ship Show – twice-monthly podcast, featuring discussion on everything from build engineering to DevOps to release management, plus interviews, new tools and techniques, and reviews

And this is it! I hope these lists would be useful for young engineers going into the technical operations and for people who already work in this space. I am going to try to regularly update this post in the future to make sure it stays relevant for a long time.

P.S. Once again, if you are looking for a job in technical operations, please consider joining my team at Swiftype!


Join Me at Swiftype!
18 Sep2013

As you may have heard, last January I have joined Swiftype – an early stage startup focused on changing local site search for the better. It has been a blast for the past 8 months, we have done a lot of interesting things to make our infrastructure more stable and performant, immensely increased visibility into our performance metrics, developed a strong foundation for the future growth of the company. Now we are looking to expand our team with great developers and technical operations people to push our infrastructure and the product even further.

Since I have joined Swiftype, I have been mainly focused on improving the infrastructure through better automation and monitoring, and worked on our backend code. Now I am looking for a few good operations engineers to join my team to work on a few key projects like building a new multi-datacenter infrastructure, creating a new data storage for our documents data, improving high-availability of our core services and much more.

To help us improve our infrastructure we are looking both for senior operations engineers and for more junior techops people that we could help grow and develop within the company. Both positions could be either remote or we could assist you with relocation to San Francisco if you want to work in our office.

If you are interested, you can take a look at an old, but still pretty relevant post I wrote many years ago on what I believe an ops candidate should know. And, of course, if you have any questions regarding these positions in Swiftype, please email me at kovyrin@swiftype.com or use any other means for contacting me and I will try to get back to you as soon as possible. If you know someone who may be a great fit for these positions, please let them know!


New Chapter: Swiftype
31 Jan2013

So, after a few weeks of looking for a new job I’m really excited to start my journey in a young, but very ambitious startup called Swiftype which is focused on developing a technology for private site search, that could be used on everything from small blogs to large product sites. The company is growing really fast and I’m going to lead all the work on infrastructure, build the ops team and hope to get a chance to do some coding along the way.

Stay tuned – I really hope to finally get a chance to do more blogging this year. :-)


Looking for a New Gig
14 Jan2013

As of today I’m no longer working for LivingSocial and I’m looking for the next thing to work on. Since my family is in Toronto and I have an apartment (mortgage) here, I’m not looking to relocate and currently looking for something remote (I have 7+ years of remote work experience) or something local in Toronto.

For more information on my background, please check my Github profile, my linkedin profile or the resume section on this blog. If you need to contact me, feel free to use any channels listed on the contacts page.

Update: After a few initial interviews I’d like to update this post with a bit more details on what I’m looking for in the new position.

First of all, I’m really not sure I want to be yet another ops engineer working on “everything ops” in my next company. If I’d be to join a company as a regular ops engineer, I’d prefer it to be a clearly defined role with a clear focus on some set of challenging problems. I’m honestly tired of setting up cacti/nagios/chef at this point and would like the job to be a little bit more challenging.

Though even more I’m interested in being able to make strategic technical decisions for an operations team and apply my experience and knowledge for solving challenging tasks with a dedicated team of ops engineers. This could be anything from a tech ops team lead role (in a medium/large companies) to a director of technical operations (in a small-to-medium sized startups).

Update: Ok, I’ve found a new job – I work for Swiftype now!


DbCharmer 1.7.0 Release: Rails 3.0 Support and Forced Slave Reads
1 Sep2011

This week, after 3 months in the works, we’ve finally released version 1.7.0 of DbCharmer ruby gem – Rails plugin that significantly extends ActiveRecord’s ability to work with multiple databases and/or database servers by adding features like multiple databases support, master/slave topologies support, sharding, etc.

New features in this release:

  • Rails 3.0 support. We’ve worked really hard to bring all the features we supported in Rails 2.X to the new version of Rails and now I’m proud that we’ve implemented them all and the implementation looks much cleaner and more universal (all kinds of relations in rails 3 work in exactly the same way and we do not need to implement connection switching for all kinds of weird corner-cases in ActiveRecord).
  • Forced Slave Reads functionality. Now we could have models with slaves that are not used by default, but could be turned on globally (per-controller, per-action or in a block). This is a new feature that brings our master/slave routing capabilities to a really new level – we could now use it for a really mission-critical models on demand and not be afraid of breaking major functionality of our applications by switching them to slave reads.
  • Lots of changes were made in the structure of our code and tests to make sure it would be much easier for new developers to understand DbCharmer internals and make changes in its code.

Along with the new release we’ve got a brand new web site. You can find much better, cleaner and, most importantly, correct documentation for the library on the web site. We’ll be adding more examples, will try to add more in-depth explanation of our core functions, etc.

If you have any questions about the release, feel free to ask them in our new mailing list: DbCharmer Users Group.

For more updates on our releases, you can follow @DbCharmer on Twitter.