“It is done,” he tweeted. Today is my last day at Chef/Progress. This is a journey nearly 13 years in the making, and what a journey it has been.
For me, it started with HJK Solutions, a consulting company started by two of my best friends, Adam Jacob and Nathan Haneysmith. When they first started the company, they asked if I was interested in joining them. I was, but I couldn’t move to Seattle, or really take the risk of a new consulting gig. Adam said “Well, if you can’t join us, at least use the tech stack we’re working with, and check out infrastructures.org.” That tech stack was Ruby, Puppet, and some home-grown code. I did go forth and implement that when I went to SANS.
It paid off, in spades.
I was chatting with Adam in early 2008, and he said “Hey so we’re going to make a new product to replace our use of Puppet. And we’re going to make a product company instead of a consulting company. You want in?” This time around, I could work remote, and there was more certainty, since they were raising funds through venture capital. “Sure,” I said, “How do we start?” Adam pointed me at a job posting for “Senior Linux System Administrator” - essentially I would be doing his job while he wrote the initial version of Chef, and raised capital.
I started on July 2, 2008. I mark this as my start date on this journey, though it was a journey than began with HJK. Opscode wouldn’t be founded for a couple more months, and my “HR Start Date” was always sometime in September. I don’t even remember when anymore. On January 15, 2009, we released the initial version of Chef, and the whirlwind of this adventure truly kicked into high gear. We developed content, we answered questions in IRC, Twitter, and the mailing list. Through it all, I met all of you who have become a part of this community, and built your own companies and careers.
We made impacts. We dramatically shifted the way that people think about managing infrastructure. We drank beer, hugged, and cheered each other on as we moved around between companies and positions. I attended every Seattle-based Chef Summit (plus one in London), and every US-based ChefConf. I got to travel around the USA and to Europe, speaking at conferences and training customers and the community on Chef.
The best part of it all was the people. I worked my ass off to make the product and the cookbook content the best it could possibly be. I made mistakes, I learned a lot of lessons. I grew as a person, as a professional, and as a mentor and leader. At the end of the day, as always, it’s the people that matter most.
I worked for HJK/Opscode/Chef for 4479 days. I had eight different titles, and 14 different managers. At one point when I reported to him, Nathen Harvey said “Joshua, you know a lot about Chef, but you haven’t done any hands on production operations in a few years. You should see about fixing that.” So, I did. I talked to friends at other companies to see if they’d do some kind of “ops exchange” where I could help them with their infrastructure management with Chef, in exchange for fun times and blog posts. As it turns out, Chef itself had an job opening for the Operations team. I thought “Where better to build and manage production infrastructure with Chef, than at Chef??” After all, a lot of my own code, cookbooks, and guides were used by the Operations team.
It was wild and fun (except heartbleed and SSL certificates). And, to shortcut an otherwise long story, I worked on operating Hosted Chef, then the internal release engineering and engineering services team, then moved back to the Hosted Chef operations team. I stepped up to manage the team a couple of years ago when Ben Rockwood left to pursue his own awesome adventure. The move from an IC to management is a complete career change, and the ChefOps team has a lot of responsibilities including Hosted Chef, so that kept me engaged.
Then, late last year on September 8, 2020, it was announced that Progress Software was going to acquire Chef. On the last day of Chef, when the acquisition deal was closed, I had my conversation with the new company, Progress. I was given a transition offer of 120 days. I took it, so I could transfer what I knew about my areas of responsibility - chiefly, Hosted Chef. Today is the termination date for that transition. I wholeheartedly believe that the future of Hosted Chef is in good hands - the new Operations team is quick-learning and capable. In fact, they have already done a database upgrade and a new version deployment!
As for myself, I was able to interview with a number of companies, and received an offer to start with one on February 1st - they were gracious enough to give me a start date after my termination date with Progress so that I could ensure as smooth a transition to the new team as possible. I’ll have another post soon about my new employer. Needless to say, I’m excited about the opportunity to continue serving the tech community, and advocate for better software for humans to use.
Until we meet again, #HugOps to all my #ChefFriends. I love you dearly, and I am honored to be a part of this community.