Life at Pythian as a MySQL DBA

May 23, 2014 / By Derek Downey

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Final MySQL blog graphic 2

Several people have asked me in the last year what it is like to work for Pythian. There are many reasons for a question like this, depending on who is asking.

Some people are concerned about the fact I am working for a Canadian-based company.

This typically comes from some of my xenophobic North American peers. But let me assure you, it’s not bad! Pythian is based out of Canada, but has employees around the globe in more than 25 countries. It’s pretty impressive, because Pythian must comply with the work laws of each country.

When you’re first hired at Pythian, you’ll be invited to visit their global headquarters in Ottawa, Canada. This is a great opportunity to get to know your peers, as well as the history of the company and how it operates. The country is beautiful, even if you’re lucky enough to be hired during their winter. Overall, it’s not very different compared to working for any other company in my country, aside from the extreme cold weather and all the talk about hockey and curling.

Besides, I actually like hockey.

Some people are curious about what it’s like working from home.

Pythian is not my first experience working remotely. I have been telecommuting since 2005. I tell these people that it’s not for everyone. Working remotely takes hard work and self-discipline.

When I first transitioned from office-life to working remotely, it was brutal. My productivity plummeted; I rarely began real work before noon. You typically don’t have your boss hovering over your shoulder at home—If you want this, feel free to add a monitor on the wall behind you and make sure your boss uses a webcam.

A remote employee must treat the home office like a real office. That means no wandering to your desk in your pajamas, half asleep. Make a concerted effort to dress for work, just as if you’re going into the office. If you have to, take a drive around the block as part of your commute!

If you have family or friends living with you, make sure they know that while you may be physically in the building, you are off limits except in emergencies.

Communication with colleagues can be challenging, and despite technology, your organization must develop an attitude with dealing with remote employees. At my first company I was among two people working remotely, and staying in the loop was like pulling teeth. Pythian on the other hand, is built with a large portion of its workforce being remote. The company is growing rapidly, and so must its policies. It is a major focus to ensure that all employees are kept up-to-date and in the loop. Communication lines are open using appropriate technologies such as Skype and Google Hangouts ensuring that team members are engaged with each other.

Some people are interested in the type of work I do as a MySQL consultant.

This is the conversation I love to have. Most often it comes from someone I met on the internet, and that’s ok. The best thing about working at Pythian is the sheer amount of technologies I get to work with on a daily basis.

As a MySQL Consultant at Pythian, I deal with customers running MySQL 4.1 through 5.6, Percona Server and MariaDB variations, Galera, Tungsten Replicator and many other solutions to solve some of the internet’s toughest problems. Our clients run datasets from a few gigabytes to multiple terabytes. Our clients run on different operating systems: Solaris, FreeBSD, all flavors of Linux, and even Windows in some cases. Our clients use filesystems ranging from ext2 to xfs and zfs, although we try really hard to persuade against ext2. We provide consulting for environments running on many of the cloud providers and hosting providers. We develop proof of concepts, migration and upgrade plans, performance tuning, capacity planning, high availability and disaster recovery plans, and much more.

Let’s face it: The open source world is ever-changing and new technologies are always being created to interact with the MySQL database or even NoSQL technologies, such as MongoDB. There are relatively few places to work at that can offer exposure and experience to such environments.

Do you have what it takes to be a “Pythianite”?

Pythian is dedicated to developing their employees, also known as Pythianites. Pythian provides ample opportunity for career growth, but this work is not for everyone. It’s very fast paced and at times stressful. There are high expectations for our consultants, and we genuinely have to love your data.

If you think you  have what it takes to work at Pythian, check out our current opportunities.

4 Responses to “Life at Pythian as a MySQL DBA”

  • Felipe says:

    Very interesting post, congrats!

  • Mohsin says:

    Hi Derek, Thanks for the post, this helps and motivates me to apply at Pythian. You are right about discipline of working remotely. I personally think that is a privilege and trust by the employer that I would cherish the most. It is sort of a implicit mutual trust which is extremely important component of a good working relationship.
    Thanks and kind regards,

  • Frosty says:

    Nice read, I’ve worked in IT for longer than i care to admit. Its nice to see companies that realize productive people can work from home and still be productive. I’ve been able to perform all my job functions from home for the last 15 years, and always proved more efficient doing so, but could never get management to bite on even a couple days a week from home. Wonder if Pythian needs any sysadmins/McGuyver types?

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