Thursday, June 29, 2006

Joining the Dolphin!

Finally. Now, I really feel my job with Inter Access has come to an end. After seven years and seven months, I'm leaving them to join.....MySQL!

The old job and how I got there

I started my IT career somewhere halfway 1998. At the time, I was busy becoming increasingly unsatisfied with working the irregular jobs I used to have then. I got my master's in Molecular Biology in 1997, and just did not succeed in finding a job related to my studies. Of course, this had a lot to do with the fact that I aspired having a job in bio-ethics, whereas my studies groomed me to become a Laboratory Researcher.

(I still find scientific research a very interesting thing, but when I started my studies, I did not realize that reading science books and consuming scientific knowledge are activities that are entirely different from constructing scientific facts. On top of that, I discovered that although the term "Molecular Biology" suggests studying the very fundaments of life and nature, the fact is that most of the knowledge established in that field involves researching things that are dead, and in an environment -the laboratory- that is entirely artificial. Actually, as a Molecular Biologist, you can consider yourself quite lucky to study even dead things - most of the time, you'll be stuck experimenting only on parts of, or even just molecules of dead things. Anyway, this paradox among other things made me turn to bio-ethics instead.)

Suddenly, I got the opportunity to do a half-year course to become a database/RAD developer. You know, RAD whas the big thing then, and although there were lot's of courses like that, I feel that I was very lucky to do this one particularly. Most of the 'courses' then consisted of little more than dressing up cherry university graduates from whatever discipline with a suit and tie, giving them a car, a laptop, a cellphone and a pack of business cards that read "IT Consultant" just before sending them to customers to find w2k problem code in their COBOL systems.
Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I think I can objectively say that I got excellent tuition from Leo Wiegerink at CENS Univerity in Hoofddorp. Despite the course title, database/RAD developer, we spent lots of time on information modelling, theory of the relational model, normalization, object orientation, client/server concepts.

The most important lesson I learnt from Leo is that most problems are information problems, and most of them boil down to the lack of a single point of definition. Analyzing the problem in order to model it is often more important than the physical implementation.

Anyway, I was offered a job as a (oracle) database developer by CENS immediately after the course. Shortly after that, CENS was aquired by Inter Access and this has been my employer from then on. I moved on to the BI team, and finally ended up in the Technical Management unit of the Microsft Solutions branch to become a Information Architect.

I've learned a lot during my 7 years and 7 months of employment with Inter Access, and most of the time, I enjoyed myself a lot. However, during the past year and a half or so, I've really noticed how my and the company's vision of IT business have been increasingly growing apart. Inter Access wants to be a mainstream (IBM, Microsoft, Oracle) IT service provider, with a focus on infrastructure and long maintenance maintenance contracts, and I suppose that's fine. However, this is not my future vision, and the differences between us have grown to be so big that I think it's better to part ways now.

The new job

I started visiting the mysql job vacancy site as long ago as november 2005. Ever since the MySQL 5.0 beta challenge took off in june 2005, I've been quite occupied in my spare time checking out MySQL 5.0. It took me little time to grow tremendously enthusiastic about MySQL 5.0 and the role MySQL is playing by providing a world class open source database management product that is the fundament of all these emerging Enterprise open source stacks like Pentaho and Opentaps - let alone the prominent presence MySQL already has in all those websites and e-commerce applications.

To a large part, my enthusiasm is inspired by the MySQL open source business model. It just makes sense to me to be open about the software source as a measure of quality and trust. It was all the more frustrating to me that I just did not find any opportunity to start using this software in my former job with Inter Access. It just felt like not managing and prioritizing our business opportunities. So, as time went by, it seemed, and it still seems, to make good sense to seize the opportunity to join MySQL.

The way I see it, MySQL is high velocity train that has taken off and is now accelerating. By the looks of it, it is not ready to slow down any time soon. MySQL is still relatively small -300 people- in terms of number of employees which makes it all the more fantastic that they are the 3rd rdbms vendor in terms of number of installations. Third! Next to the giants (or should I say dinosaurs) like Oracle and MS SQL. Well, I don't know, but I don't need to be convinced anymore to see that a truly shining future lies ahead of MySQL AB and MySQL products, and I just want to be part of that.

I think it was in March 2006 when I went to the site and applied for the "Certification Developer" job vacancy. To me it just seemed to be a perfect mix between staying on top of new functionality in the MySQL server, writing about that, working together with the training program and actually developing questions that make up exams. During my studies, I actually did develop questionaires so I'm familiar with test-theory and some of the analyses involved in that field. Just a few days later, I received a telephone call from Carsten Pedersen, the MySQL AB Certification Manager. We had a very pleasant talk, and he explained to me that I would have to go through a few more interviews. MySQL Certification development is tightly aligned with both documentation and training, and these departments checked me out too, all through phone calls. Then, I got to meet a lot of MySQL people at the user conference and now, finally, I can announce that I am in fact, as of 1 july 2006, a new MySQL employee.

Needless to say that although I'm pretty exhausted from the past month wrapping up my business with Inter Access, I'm just wildy excited that I can start with a job that is so radiacally different from the former one. Instead of a service company like Inter Access, MySQL is also a product centric company. Instead of a dutch national company, MySQL is operating on a worldwide scale. Also, instead of mostly spending my working hours in an office, I will now be working from home most of the time. It just makes me feel full of energy, ready to make the most of this grand opportunity.

Roland Bouman, Certification Developer
MySQL AB, Holland,


Unknown said...

Congratulations Roland. It's nice to see you join the "Open Source" camp full time now ;-)

I really hope you will like your new job and wish you a lot of success there!


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the team!

Anonymous said...

Congrats Roland!

Sounds like a great move! Have fun with the Dolphin!

Mike Kruckenberg said...

Congrats Roland, exciting news. How long will it take to get your "Employee" banner up on the planet? I see Marcus doesn't have his yet.

Anonymous said...

You rock, Roland! It's great to see you on board. See on #mysql :)

rpbouman said...

Hi people,

thanks for all your congratulations and kind comments!

Matt, it's true - I'm in that camp now. Currently I'm trying to arrange for my attendance at the Euroscon in Brussels. Hope to meet you there (and inevitably, drink a few together ;-). BTW: thanks for putting me so prominently in the Kettle manual! I feel it's a gift, and I'll try and make the next one two (still working on more pentaho / kettle blog entries)

Lenz, thanks for welcoming me! And of course, thanks for the job interview - I owe the job at least in part to you, and I'll keep your concerns in mind, you know, the ones about being less active in the community.

Nicholas, thanks! I'm already having a great time with the dolphin. Of course, having a few members of a certain American native tribe around to train it to make it do cool tricks is certainly adding to the fun!

Sheeri, thanks! <robot-voice>You will soon be assimilated too!</robot-voice> It seems like ages ago we met at the uc. Everyting ok with the online buddies?

Mike, thank you! Everything ok at home? Anyway, I'm not really sure how the icon stuff is managed. Maybe we should pass the pobationary period? Oh well, I'm sure this will be settled soon.

Jay! Thanks man, I really appreciate your kind words! And thank you for some of the reassuring talks at the UC. Hope to see you soon again. BTW, great work you did on upgrading the forge. It's getting better and better.

Ronald, thank you! Yes, it is very exciting to have this opportunity. I'm determined to make the most of it, and I'm sure I'll have great time here. Is your business doing Ok? I sure hope so! Good luck to you to.

So, again: thank you, thank you, thank you!

From now on, I'm quite certain I will be writing a few blog entries about the MySQL certification business. At the same time, I will keep on posting techie articles and tidbits.

Bye all, looking forward to see you all, someplace, sometime!


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