The Distributed SQL Blog

Thoughts on distributed databases, open source, and cloud native

People and Potential: Why I Joined Yugabyte

When I first started my graduate studies in databases in 2012, I remember reading a freshly-minted paper that was making big waves in the DB community: Spanner: Google’s Globally-Distributed Database. I remember being blown away by the scale of the problems being tackled. Synchronizing a globally-distributed database while maintaining a usable transaction latency seemed an impossible task, one that comes with challenges that only exist on the global scale. As a naive grad student, I remember thinking to myself that the tech and solutions were fascinating from a research perspective, but that only the largest of large tech companies would need a database distributed on the global scale.

What a difference just a few years makes. With the explosion of cloud computing and microservices over the past decade, every company bigger than your local pizzeria is looking to migrate their database into the cloud (if they haven’t already). Enter Yugabyte, positioned to be the marquee player in the distributed SQL space.

I joined Yugabyte as a DocDB software engineer in March and have been extremely happy with the decision. Here are the things that attracted me to the company, and the elements that have me really excited to work here.

Yugabyte’s Position in a Growing Market

For a while, it looked like NoSQL systems were going to be best positioned to take advantage of the need for databases in the cloud. They were early to market, resilient, highly scalable, and provided a lot of what companies were looking for – as long as you were okay with eventual consistency. To achieve performance at scale, they threw the baby out with the bath water, removing ACID transactions, relational tables, and other database fundamentals.

Well, it turns out transactions and strong data consistency are really important components of many data applications – even ones with high volume, velocity, and variety. As many NoSQL companies work to retrofit transactions into their systems, YugabyteDB has a major leg up in embracing OLTP workloads at its core, and is extremely well-suited to transition traditional enterprise applications thanks to its Postgres frontend. Meanwhile, YugabyteDB has a major advantage over other distributed SQL systems: it is cloud-agnostic. Embracing YugabyteDB doesn’t lock a company into AWS, Azure, or GCP – in fact, a YugabyteDB universe may feature nodes in all three to protect against failures.

All of this is to say that not only was I impressed with the technology behind YugabyteDB, but also with its positioning in a market ripe for growth. The train is gaining momentum quickly, and I wanted to climb on board before it left the station.

Open-Source Solutions to Cutting-Edge Problems

Like a lot of software engineers, I’m drawn to cutting-edge engineering problems. It’s what motivated my move to academia, and it’s what motivates me now at Yugabyte. Specifically, as someone with a background in distributed OLTP databases, I’m motivated by challenging systems problems like concurrency, consistency, and durability at scale.

Well, Yugabyte has no shortage of hard database problems that come with distribution at scale.  What impresses me most is their solutions to those problems thus far. They had the foresight to embrace mature, open-source software at both the data querying and data storage levels (Postgres and RocksDB, respectively). Doing so allows the engineering team to focus on the connective tissue between the two, implementing the complicated distributed database components that are unique to YugabyteDB.

Additionally, YugabyteDB itself is open source, meaning that any of my contributions to the software are publicly visible. It also means that I get to be a part of a growing open source community across the globe.

Global Database, Global Team

Just a few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have considered the great career opportunities at Yugabyte for one simple reason: I wasn’t in a position to move to California. My life is out in New England, and moving to the West coast wasn’t an option I was willing to pursue. Thankfully, Yugabyte has embraced a culture that is highly supportive of working remotely, one that allows me to be on the cutting edge in databases without uprooting my life. Now I’m able to have the best of both worlds, working in a job I truly enjoy while maintaining the life I’ve built out East.

When I first joined, I thought the time difference between New England and California would be a barrier. What I didn’t realize was that much like its product, Yugabyte’s employee base is globally distributed. I quickly found myself working with colleagues in Russia, New York, California, and India. I am able to set East Coast hours for myself, communicating with my coworkers asynchronously or when our time windows overlap. It’s a perfect happy medium for me, and allows for a lot of uninterrupted time for coding without constant meetings.

A Culture of Collaboration

In my experience, you can’t really get a full sense of a company’s culture until you’re already working there. My interactions in interviews were all very positive, but I wouldn’t truly get a sense of who I would be working with at Yugabyte until I came onboard.

I’m pleased to say that since joining, my experience at Yugabyte has been fantastic! The culture is one of collaboration and flexibility, with everyone willing to do whatever they can to help their colleagues and the company succeed. At Yugabyte, you can tell that the culture of positivity starts with the leadership and permeates throughout the whole company. Every person that I’ve interacted with, whether a fellow software engineer, high-level sales person, all the way up to C-suite leadership, has been incredibly kind, personable, and supportive. A strong company culture is an intangible that is extremely valuable, and something that cannot be manufactured. Had I known then what I know now, this would have been the number one factor in my decision to join.

After weighing the pros of joining Yugabyte, the decision became an easy one, and one that has only gotten better since starting in March. I’m looking forward to the bright future ahead of the company, the interesting technical challenges along the way, and the growing community of great coworkers and collaborators.

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