I am an experienced manager, software engineer, speaker, and architect of very large-scale computer systems. In the past, I’ve had a special emphasis on the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) websites, but these days I’m mostly working with utility-based compute systems (aka “cloud computing”). However, even though some consider the term “old-fashioned” these days, I tend to think of myself as a systems analyst; that is, my primary skill is the ability to visualize and solve problems related to integrating large-scale systems such as websites, service-oriented network architectures, data warehouses, and other software constructs. I have a proven track record of launching large-scale software projects; I was the architect and lead developer for the first service-oriented architecture (SOA) website at Yahoo!, and I’ve launched numerous other large-scale sites and products since then.
In the past, I’ve been a consultant and architect of data warehouses and very large extract, transform, and load (ETL) processes.
Amazon.com, Seattle, WA (2015-present).
As a software development manager for a couple of teams in the retail division, I hold end-to-end responsibility for several internal systems.
Rackspace Hosting, San Antonio, TX (2010-2015).
I was a software development manager in the Developer Experience team, part of the Rackspace Cloud products team (and was a founder of the Developer Relations Group, its immediate predecessor). This team develops language bindings (Software Development Kits) for Rackspace and OpenStack products and works with developers to adopt and utilize the Rackspace public cloud products. My first major deliverable was the php-opencloud library, an open-source API for OpenStack and Rackspace services. We also manage the Rackspace Developer site and participate in a number of developer outreach programs. I also spent time in developer outreach activities, such as speaking at conferences, workshops, and meetups.
Previous to this role, I was an architect and product manager on the Rackspace Cloud team working on the latest iteration of the Compute product line, which is based on the OpenStack Compute (Nova) project. In this role, I worked with many other teams inside Rackspace to integrate the new product fully into the business systems and other processes within the company. I designed a scheduler service for OpenStack Compute and defined administrative APIs for use by Rackspace operations teams.
In addition to my direct work with the Compute product line, I was also an architect for an internal Rackspace initiative that involves a major transformation of our internal systems into a service-oriented architecture (SOA) around our major cloud products.
Yahoo! Inc., Sunnyvale, CA (2004-2010).
I held a number of positions while at Yahoo!:
- Social Media Architect, Media Integration Team, 2010. As the social media architect for the Yahoo! Media group, I was responsible for defining and driving integration with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites, as well as advocating best practices for user data management and retention.
- Sr. Engineering Manager, Media Integration Team, 2009-10 In this position, I manage engineers involved in multiple projects that support the Yahoo! Media anchor properties News, Finance, Sports, and various other smaller properties. Since this was a new team, I was involved in establishing a management structure, defining internal processes and architecture, and helped to build a collaborative environment rich in technical expertise. In addition, I have also been active as an individual contributor, coordinating efforts to bring WordPress to Yahoo! and developing the professional blogging tools for use by Yahoo! Media sites. As an engineer, I developed and deployed systems on Linux (Redhat 4 and 5), written code in PHP, configured Apache servers, and handled various internal security issues. I designed the overall architecture for the professional blogging solution, ensuring that it is highly scalable, secure, and redundant.
- Sr. Engineering Manager, Yahoo! News, 2008-09 In this role, I managed a team of backend engineers; during this time, we delivered major new revisions to the News site. Our work also ensured that the site could support extremely high-traffic events such as the 2008 Presidential Election, the 2009 Inauguration, and the untimely death of Michael Jackson. During this time, Yahoo! News achieved and then maintained its position as the #1 News property on the Internet. I led my team in developing good engineering practices, organizing sub-groups, and reporting on critical project deliverables. While I was a manager on News, we moved to a fully service-oriented architecture (SOA), which proved to be more scalable than the previous one.
- Engineering Manager, Yahoo! Shine, 2007-08 I led a team of engineers in developing the first property at Yahoo! to be entirely driven by user-generated content. I worked with product managers and upper management to negotiate initial product features and schedules, and led the team to achieve those commitments. In addition, I designed, implemented, and tested the overall system architecture as well as the caching systems involved. I also personally handled last-minute performance testing and cache optimization using HTTPperf and other tools.
- Technical Lead and Engineering Manager, Yahoo! Tech, 2005-07 I was initially the technical lead (engineer) for this product, and moved into a management role after the initial delivery. Yahoo! Tech was the first new media property to be developed at Yahoo! in over five years, and the first site within Yahoo! to use a totally service-oriented architecture (SOA). We led the way in implementing new technologies and frameworks at Yahoo!, and my team members have gone on to be widely-recognized experts throughout Yahoo! I designed and developed the web services architecture, including the integration of various services from throughout the Yahoo! organization. I wrote much of the API code in PHP and deployed it using FreeBSD, MySQL, and Apache, and implemented a caching system using Squid and Yahoo! internal tools.
- Backend Engineer, Yahoo! News, 2004-05 In my first role at Yahoo!, I worked with other engineers to deliver a total redesign of the News property, moving from legacy code to a site that was completely implemented in PHP and using MySQL, Linux, and Apache.
Data Warehouse Engineer, Blazent, Inc., San Mateo, CA (2004).
I helped develop data warehouse architectures and policies for this small start-up company that focused on Business Intelligence applications for Information Technology departments. I worked with Oracle, MySQL, and various ETL applications (Informatica, Embarcadero, Ascential) in defining the ETL processes for the application.
Sales Consultant, Informatica, Inc., Redwood City, CA (2003-2004).
As a Sales Consultant, I provided technical expertise on the Informatica suite of ETL/data integration tools during the sales process. This included product demonstrations, trade show participation, and on-site proof-of-concept projects. I also worked with Informatica’s acquired changed-data-capture products using IBM DB2 and ORACLE.
Independent Contractor (2001-2003).
During this period, I participated in numerous projects including data warehouses for a major bank in San Francisco and for a large government agency in British Columbia. These projects included the design and development of ETL processes using tools such as Ab Initio, Oracle, DB2, and ETI˙EXTRACT. I also participated in several small start-ups and worked with VC firms on various projects.
Director of Software Engineering, DotRocket, Inc., Campbell, CA (2000-2001).
I was in charge of producing a web traffic data warehouse product for this startup company that focused on Internet bandwidth optimization. A prototype of the data warehouse was designed and implemented using Perl, PHP, and MySQL before the company ceased operations because of lack of funding. I managed a team of employees and contractors during this period.
Managing Director of European Operations, Legendary Data Systems, Reading, Berkshire (United Kingdom; 1999-2001).
As the country manager for this US consulting firm establishing a foothold in Europe, I hired and managed a team of consultants, developed and maintained customers, grew a partner base, worked with legal staff and other specialists, and delivered an organization that significantly contributed revenue to the company’s bottom line in a period when the US operations had stagnated. Projects included data integration and data warehouses in conjunction with Natwest Bank, Plc, IBM Germany, and Evolutionary Technologies, Ltd. I was responsible for substantial new lines of business as well as Legendary’s first major customer success story in Europe (Barmer Ersatzkasse in Wuppertal).
Evolutionary Technologies International (ETI), in Austin, TX, and Wokingham, Berkshire (UK); 1992-1999.
(Note: firm is now defunct)
While with ETI, I started as a software engineer and was promoted to engineering manager. Using ETI tools, I developed or helped develop “data system libraries” that generated code in C, COBOL, JCL, and various other languages; these libraries generate programs that accessed various database and storage systems including DB2, Oracle, IDS, and IDMS.
During this period, I helped the company grow from 16 employees to a multinational organization with more than 400 employees on three continents with annual revenue in excess of US$40M. I established the company’s first technical support team. I became a consultant, first in the US and then on a long-term assignment in Europe. I worked with numerous customers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, South Africa, and Italy. (Note that consultants with ETI worked in both a pre-sales and post-sales capacity.)
I helped ETI Europe deliver more than US$20M in revenue while I managed a team of consultants in the UK, France, and Germany. I helped develop close relationships with partners such as IBM France and IBM Sweden. My final title with ETI was Manager of European Consulting. During my time with ETI, I helped to deploy more than 40 major data warehouse or data migration projects, as well as assisting in closing many new customers.
Technical Writer, BMC Software, Austin, TX (1991-1992).
I produced reference and end-user documentation for the ALTER for DB2 and CHANGE MANAGER for DB2 products. I worked closely with the engineering staff and with other technical writers and editors.
Systems Analyst, Texas Education Agency, Austin, TX (1988-1991).
I helped in the development of the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS), the first large-scale data warehouse that focused on the needs of Texas Educators. In addition, I helped develop an order tracking and management system for the purchase and shipping of textbooks to the more than 1,100 Texas school districts.
System Support Specialist, Commercial Systems, Inc., Austin, TX (1984-1988).
I wrote Z80 assembler device drivers and provided end-user support and consulting for this small start-up computer manufacturer.
- B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University, Waco, TX (1983).
- Certified Scrum Master.
Awards and Honors
- Nominated four times for Yahoo!’s “Superstar” award, a very high honor.
- Won the Yahoo! “You Rock” award in August, 2010 for my role in deploying WordPress as a professional blogging backend for Yahoo! News.
- Named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2006.
Presentations and Publications
- The Future of PHP is in the Clouds, Keynote at PHP UK conference, 2014.
- How to Succeed at Open-Source, Free Software and Open-Source Symposium, 2014.
- Cache Strategies for Web Apps, ZendCon 2014.
- OpenStack: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Dallas Cloud Computing Group, 2014.
- OpenStack and PHP, 2014 Midwest PHP conference
- Open Source in the Real World, 2014 Midwest PHP conference
- Presented at the Asilomar Microcomputer Workshop in 2010 on long-term changes in the publishing industry and their impact on writers and readers.
- Presented at the International PHP conference’s Webinale in 2008 on scaling strategies and graceful degradation.
- Presented at the Washington, DC, PHP User’s Group in 2007 on “Drinking From The Firehose” (developing websites that will not fail under high stress).
- Presented at the International PHP conference in 2007 on service-oriented architectures and REST.
- Presented at ZendCon in 2007 on optimizing service-oriented architectures.
- In addition to this blog, I also create the On Garner Road podcast, a human-interest look at the people who live on the Internet.