Why I Joined Lightstep
by James Burns
I still remember my first solo on-call experience at Twilio. I’d shadowed on call for two weeks out of the last eight. I was supposed to be prepared. It was around midnight when the page came in: There was an issue with networking in Australia, we were down. It was the beginning of the evening rush for critical customers. I represented cloud operations, I was supposed to know our cloud provider inside and out, to be the subject matter expert. Looking at the behavior of the network, I was lost. Gradually other teams who had moved their traffic out of Australia dropped off the call, but I was still there, trying to get resolution from cloud provider support for hours. To this day, I’m not sure what happened, but what I remember most of all was the feeling of helplessness, of uncertainty, of powerlessness.
As time has gone by and I’ve come to understand development and operations better, my passion has grown to make sure that when people, whether developers, operators, or devops, are put in that position of pressure or of needing to find an answer — they will have the tools and the training to understand how to take action. They should feel empowered, confident, and able. Through my time at Twilio and then Stitch Fix, I saw the impact that timely insights could provide. I saw that by training with Chaos GameDays instead of incidents, engineers with all levels of experience could become effective at operating their systems under stress. The growth went beyond that, they excelled at designing, developing, and validating systems to be operable.
I’ve seen not only the impact that great observability can have, but also the unique possibilities that Lightstep enables with its Satellite Architecture. Teams can quickly understand from a handful of traces what each one needs to do to recover a positive customer experience as quickly as possible during an incident. Developers can see the behavior of their code in production and how it differs from their expectations. Support engineers can directly access and understand their customer’s experience of the service or platform. Everyone can build empathy for their customers and clients, whether internal or external.
I am excited to join Lightstep to advocate for and with developers and operators. To share that there is a better way to experience their systems and how to get there. While I work with Lightstep, much of the information and guidance will be helpful whatever part of the journey of observability you’re on. In the spirit of OpenTracing, the starting point is to develop a shared understanding of the problem we’re trying to solve, what makes it difficult, and how we can get better together.
I look forward to growing and learning with all of you.