Gerry: A Year in Retrospect

Jan 6, 2009 / By Gerry Narvaja

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This post is more of a personal note than most on the Pythian blog, but over the holidays, I couldn’t help thinking about my turbulent last year.

First, MySQL

In 2008, I worked at three different companies. It was about a year ago (January 15th will be a year) I was at MySQL AB’s first company-wide meeting in a few years with more than 400 of my colleagues, when all of a sudden we get the announcement: “Sun acquired MySQL for 1 billion dollars”. Many thought it was a joke, just in time to watch Jonathan Schwartz come up live on video to greet us. Talk about an intense way of starting a year! For some reason, nobody thought that toasting with a shot of vodka before 9:00am was the oddest thing to happen that morning.

Working for MySQL was, most likely, the wildest ride I will ever have. True Open Source spirit (no matter what the rest of the world says), start-up mentality, and growth equal to one order of magnitude while I was there (a little more than six years). Being in the Sales team, I was in the front lines watching the evolution from the customer portfolio point-of-view, and it was amazing. I owe MySQL and its people my 100% commitment to Open Source.

Then Sun

I have to say that I am still trying to figure out Sun. On one side there is the hardware legacy, which brought the company to where it is now. Then there is the software side—all about Open Source, in some cases more open that MySQL itself. The software and services side is what is going to carry them into the future. The struggle for MySQL-ers to survive in such big company where many policies seem to come from the legacy, is obvious, but most are doing just fine. I would have to think very hard to name a better company to acquire MySQL.

Nonetheless, it was time for me to move on.

And Along Came Pythian

At around the middle of the year, I joined The Pythian Group. I would never have taken a job too far from MySQL, so Pythian was the perfect alternative. (For those of you wondering what the name Pythian stands for, refer to Wikipedia’s Pythian Games page.) Pythian allowed me to stay in a place where I’m comfortable: working from home with MySQL and Open Source Software.

I have to say that it is one of the most intense jobs I’ve ever had. Comparing a DBA job at Pythian with any other regular DBA position is like comparing a marathon runner to a casual jogger. The reason is explained very well in Paul’s blog What is Behind Pythian’s Growth and Market Success?. The result is that I’m always engaged in challenging activities, always looking for better ways of doing the same things, and having the opportunity to test them in the very next project. Most of the time, the next project is just after lunch.

How do we handle this intensity? We work in tight teams with a full cooperative spirit—there’s basically no time to play hero. Last but not least, I’m grateful that every time I came up with a suggestion based on my experience of more than six years years at MySQL, it is always received with an open mind and in many cases taken into account seriously.

So What Now?

I’m looking ahead to 2009 with the same excitement a runner feels looking forward to his next marathon. I’m a little afraid of the big effort ahead, but no less excited by the challenge and the motivation to live up to it. Now that I think about it, it’s not that different than the competitors at the Pythian Games more than 2000 years ago.

Happy 2009 to all and a big thank you for the 2008 experiences to all my co-workers, many of them great friends as well.

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