March 13th, 2014

This blog posting was created by Rebecca Mills, Apache Cassandra Evangelist at DataStax. To view more blog postings by Rebecca about Apache Cassandra, visit her full blog a happy knockout mouse.

Hey everyone, I wanted to talk a little about my first two weeks working at Datastax as a Junior Technical Evangelist. This was a great opportunity for me, and so far things have been going great. I started work in mid February, my first project was to investigate and do a comparison of other NoSQL databases in terms of their ease of setup from their respective “Getting Started” pages. Let me just say i learned a lot from the experience, finally I knew what everyone was talking about! It useful to widen my scope to other NoSQL databases besides Cassandra. I graded each database’s “getting started” section on various qualities (ease of installation, ease of download, quality of docs, etc), in hopes that we might be able to learn how to make Cassandra more approachable for a beginner.

Once this task was completed, it was already time for my first trip to Datastax headquarters in San Mateo! It was a long 11 hours worth of flying time for me, but getting to see the valley was amazing and the Datastax employees were all very kind and welcoming. I headed to headquarters with Chief Evangelist Patrick McFadin(@PatrickMcFadin) on a Tuesday morning, where I met the other members of the community team in person, as well as fellow evangelist Al Tobey(@AlTobey). That morning I sat in on a conference call with Patrick and Al as they helped a university grad student with his project. Just listening to the two of them talk made me realize just how much I had left to learn. I tried to retain all the new information that I could. After a quick lunch, we arrived back at headquarters to find the final member of our team, another newcomer, Luke Tillman(@LukeTillman), who has much more experience in the tech world than me. He had his suitcases with him after coming straight from the airport, and was eager to start as well. After some paper work for both me and Luke, we all sat down to discuss what I had been working on during the previous week with the various NoSQL databases, what they had done right and wrong in terms of how they introduce new users to their technology. We discussed what direction we were each headed in, and threw around some ideas for Planet Cassandra. Later, the evangelist team headed downtown for team building.

On Wednesday it was time to visit the Sunnyvale office, quite a bit smaller than the one from the previous day in San Mateo. Here we dropped off Luke, who would be working on the C# driver little bit. It was a treat to meet our community marketing manager in Europe over Google hangout, as Patrick and her discussed upcoming plans for trip to Europe for meetups and events. Next was one of the high points of my trip to the valley; going to Netflix! Me and Patrick left poor Luke at the office and headed over to see Christos Kalantzis(@chriskalan) for a lunch meeting. The Netflix office was very expansive, and I was quite impressed by the valet parking. Christos and Patrick discussed some Cassandra/Netflix business, and then Christos showed us around a bit. I met Jason Brown(@jasobrown), who at the time was a committer at Netflix. I also got to hold a real Emmy! After Netflix we met up with Al again to visit a small startup called Runnable, who we were interested in working with. Runnable is a social coding site that makes it easy to explore new technology. From inside a small runtime environment, they give you a simple web interface that you can run, edit, and fork code.. I had been interested in using some of their docker technology on the Planet Cassandra. The CEO seemed happy to see us, and we went into a long discussion on how both sides might be able to help each other. Al, who had some experience with docker technology, offered to lend a hand if they needed it. I would say the meeting was a success and I’m looking forward to seeing what Runnable may come up with in the future. Patrick and me headed back to the Sunnyvale office, and much to my surprise I ended up in a meeting with him and our CEO, Billy Bosworth(@billy_bosworth), probably one of the most enlightening moments of my trip down there. Billy is definitely a person you could learn a lot from. He has a significant amount of experience in the database industry, is extremely knowledgeable, a great leader within the company. Later, we left the office and Patrick courageously drove Luke and me through the traffic and heavy rain of downtown San Francisco to aCassandra SF Group meetup. There was quite a lot of people and we had some difficulty finding a chair to sit in even.The community specialist had done a wonderful job at organising the event. Patrick got quite a few questions after as the resident Cassandra expert.  We also had a chance to talk to GoGrid after about their new 1-button install of Cassandra and free trial. Check it out if you have a chance.

On Thursday we were back in the office, actually the last day for everybody before the move to the new office in Santa Clara. There was some more paperwork to finish up, and then the evangelist team discussed what projects each member was currently working on. Next, we hung out a bit with our community managers, and one of them handed me the keys the Planet Cassandra so that I could help with the Getting Started section. I’m currently working on expanding that section, so if you’re looking for info on how to get started, or what the current drivers are and such, I’m your girl! Patrick outlined on the whiteboard our game plan and progression of Planet Cassandra, giving me a clear sense of what improvements could made to this section. There was a surprise visit from Billy, who once again dazzled us with an amazing pep talk on our business strategy. Finally there was some ticket booking and coordinating for our trip to Europe. We’ll be holding events in Warsaw, Dundee, London, Dublin, Stockholm and Amsterdam! Keep your eye on the Datastax Events page for dates and info on these. If you’re interested in Cassandra and/or a user in the area,  it would be great to see you there!

So many new terms and concepts were flying around, I tried to be sponge and absorb all the knowledge I could from my coworkers while I was there. I took notes on hot topics I knew I had to investigate further when I got back. Even though I was going flat out dawn till dusk most days I was there, I had a wonderful time in the valley and met a lot of enthusiastic and innovative people. Getting to see first hand how Datastax and Apache Cassandra are taking the database world by storm was amazing. I can hardly wait for my next visit!