The Chief Architect’s Purpose

A few years ago I was attending the O’Reilly Software Architecture conference in London where I had prepared a talk on Target’s new vision for the future, a Target Retail Platform. After the conference I had a couple days of vacation and I stopped by an art exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery on Alexander Calder. It was there that I learned that Calder defined the Chief Architect’s purpose better than anyone.

The Calder quote at the top says: “I think I am a realist, because I make what I see. It’s only the problem of seeing it. If you can imagine a thing, then you can make it and ‘tout de suite you’re a realist. The universe is real, but you can’t see it. You have to imagine it. Once you imagine it, you can be realistic about producing it.

This quote struck me as I had spent the last few days thinking about architecture, and how the architecture conference I’d been attending rarely talked about architecture. I had attempted to create a presentation on Target’s architecture vision, nothing about how we would build it or the technologies used, but simply the vision, principles and structure that would guide a 3000 engineer strong team to leave its current reality and build a new one, a retail platform. I would guess that 80% of the presentations at the conference were on microservices. It was 2017 and all I could think was architects are behind the curve if this is their first introductions to learning about microservices. However, the microservices presentations were far better attended than my own, so, joke was on me.

I loved this quote because I often used the term Architecture Realist when people would ask me about my architecture style. I was only interested in creating architectures that would and could be implemented. I had found that most Chief Architects rarely present anything that engineering teams can actually use to guide their development, and instead fall back to edicts on technologies.

But what really struck me was the simple definition of Calder’s artistic approach, which coalesced for me into the Chief Architect’s purpose.

“The universe is real, but you can’t see it. You have to imagine it.”

This is it, this is the purpose of being a Chief Architect. It’s your role to take yourself out of your current reality and imagine a new one.

“Once you imagine it, you can be realistic about producing it.”

Unlike Calder who could then go about executing his vision via a painting or mobile, producing what you imagine within a large enterprise is not a straightforward task.

The presentation I had created, “Platform Architecture for Omnichannel Retail” was my attempt to convey what I had imagined for Target. Communicating to 3000 individuals to follow a vision is the Chief Architect’s job, not its purpose. I prepared the presentation for O’Reilly to force myself to document the vision in a way that could be consumed by a technical workforce.

Over the ensuing three years I’ve given some version of this presentation hundreds of times to small and large groups within Target. In the real world, producing an architecture means understanding and engagement from teams, which is best done in small groups where people feel comfortable asking hard questions.

What you’ll find is you don’t always have the right answers, your reality, which you thought was perfect, was half baked. But if your principles were sound, working through the hard questions to answers that follow the principles of the architecture builds the patterns and practices necessary to produce the new reality.

For Target in 2020, the new reality is here, we have a Retail Platform.

The Simple Formula to IT Modernization

Having instigated and led through the digital transformation of BestBuy.com, and then moving to Target where we have been completely modernizing IT across the entire company, I’ve learned the simple formula to IT success.  While the formula is simple, the execution is what is inherently difficult.

In my first year at Best Buy, I spent months pitching how we would rebuild BestBuy.com and move it to the cloud back in 2010 and 2011.  At the time, this was a radical idea as clouds were new and unstable, and were considered highly insecure by corporate IT leaders.  The pitch was centered on the standard IT formula of People, Process and Technology.  This formula is good, but it also has a big miss, there is no emphasis on outcomes.  The pitch worked and I was granted $13M to start the rebuild of BestBuy.com, a project that took four years and well over $100M to complete.

While we continued to use the People, Process and Technology formula in our decks and communication to leadership, I managed my team of 200+ engineers to outcomes.  We had to deliver a flexible, maintainable, layered cloud ecommerce platform that scaled infinitely or we were failures.  We implemented Product Management and Agile and morphed into a Product Engineering team that brought BestBuy.com into the modern world and did our part in the overall turnaround of the company.

For more on that see my 22 part series on the Digital Transformation of BestBuy.com.

The People, Process, Technology formula was great for selling to VPs and EVPs, but the dissonance between the sales pitch and the implementation kept me wondering about a better way.  Then I moved to Target which helped me understand that I had found a better way, I just didn’t have the name for it yet.

At Target, our CIO is the most architecture centric CIO that’s ever existed.  Most CIOs pay lip service to architecture, but then hand it off to an Enterprise Architecture team and say “go implement architecture.”  But when the architects try, they are constantly overruled or ignored because all good architecture decisions require tradeoffs in feature delivery in the short term.  Without an overarching vision, no business or IT leaders will make feature tradeoffs.

With little support or understanding from the CIO, the various IT VPs are free to flout architecture rules or governance, and therefore go off and implement their locally optimized solutions.  This is the core cause of IT inconsistency and sprawl, and why every SOA ever designed failed at enterprise scale.

At Target, we’ve used a different formula consistently for the last four years:

  • Architecture First
  • Team Second
  • Value Third

How does this compare to People, Process and Technology, let’s analyze it.  

People and Team sound the same but they have different inferences.  People is generic and generally boils down to something about only hiring A players, and B players hire C players because they are insecure.  This assumes you already somehow have a bunch of A players, and that you are an A player too.  This is obviously ridiculous.

Team, however, is about getting people to work together of all types and capabilities.  It’s about maximizing talent by the group coming together and creating something more than its parts.  At Target we’ve strived to create a learning culture where the most granular breakdown of the organization is the team rather than the individual.  Inside the team, there are ranges of capabilities, often based on experience, the environment encourages helping each other through pairing or mobbing, increasing everyone’s capabilities.

Process isn’t even part of the new formula though it is important.  Process actually gets rolled up into Value.  Value is what you are striving for, it’s the outcome of working on features and technology.  But if a feature doesn’t resonate with the customer, no actual value is delivered, although we have learned something that didn’t work.  Value, in the end, is how the customer perceives it, and how you measure it.  Delivery of value uses a process, in Target’s case Product and Agile.  Making Value measurable is the hard part.  Saying you delivered value by adding a new payment type is great, but measuring the impact in incremental sales through an experiment which tests whether a new payment type actually increases sales is better.

Technology and Architecture are often tied together, but the reality is Architecture is technology independent.  Technologies are tools, or, as architects like to say, implementation details.  Architecture is the vision, strategy and principles underlying and overlaying how every system is built and how it fits into the larger picture.  Getting the architecture right gives every engineering team a place to fit their work into how Target’s guests benefit.  Too often, engineering teams have no idea how they fit into the enterprise, so they make choices and build solely to please themselves and their sponsors.  But if the team understands how they benefit the company, they have a higher calling and are willing to make architecture tradeoffs.  

Getting the architecture right allows the company to achieve both known and unknown outcomes.  If we learned anything from the last two months of COVID lockdowns, a good architecture allows you to flex, scale and build new capabilities overnight.  It allows you to withstand an instant 30% channel shift from store customer to online customer.  

Architecture, Team, Value is the simple formula to IT modernization.  Just look at the recent outcomes.  

WFH Chronicles – 2020 May – agile manifesto revisIted

A number of things have reminded me of Agile lately.  The new HBR article on The Agile C-Suite only emphasizes that the little agile cults we formed in the early 2000s to build software was the right direction.  As one of the executives interviewed for the study, it’s great to see agile evolving to managing entire companies.

I can remember the exact day I started my Agile journey, it was January 2, 2003.  I was long enough into my occupation as a software engineer to know that the dominant Waterfall methodology was painful, slow and often resulted in poor outcomes.  I had been working as a consultant for about two years at this point, and on the first workday of the new year, we were starting a project to rewrite a 25 year old mainframe application for workforce management.  West Telemarketing in Omaha, Nebraska was the largest outsourced call center manager in the world with over 25,000 agents across the globe.  It was a big project for everyone and we had just hired two new consultants with Agile backgrounds to help us on the journey.

I was certainly skeptical up front, but as we got into the daily processes and mindset it felt like someone had finally designed a process that fit the real world.  It didn’t take long until I was a convert and devoured Alistair Cockburn’s Agile Software Development to get a better understanding of the process.  

For the last 17 years I’ve only worked in Agile shops.  Sometimes I had to create them, sometimes I joined existing agile teams.  But through it all, I think I’ve sent the URL to the Agile Manifesto 1000 times to engineers and managers to get them introduced to the concepts.  

But I hadn’t really read it for many years.  When I was first introduced to the manifesto, I was a consultant and the “this over thats” made sense.  We recently went through product training that brought the manifesto back in front of me, and was drawn into a discussion about it.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

Reading and discussing them again as Chief Architect for Target, I find that they don’t resonate as well.  Target has converted to largely in-house product and engineering, so no more contracts.  When working within an enterprise where hundreds of product teams rely on mutual timeframes to deliver large scale initiatives, sorry, we need some type of plan.  We also need documentation for long term ownership of the products.  However, many people and teams read the manifesto and said “no more plans, no more docs!”  The manifesto struck me as very oriented towards outsourced engineering practices.

Here’s a modern take on the manifesto learned while building high scale distributed platforms through the digital transformations of Best Buy and Target:

People matter most, processes and tools are enablers

Working software, maintainable over time

Continuous collaboration across all teams, always

Plan, build, learn, change, plan

WFH Chronicles – 2020 – April

Taking an intern out to lunch in 2020 suddenly became much harder to do, luckily, I already got it done prior to the WFH shift.

After a month now of WFH, it’s official, I can’t love it.  I don’t think anyone would classify me as outgoing and gregarious, but I do like the separation of work and home, and find in-person whiteboarding far more collaborative and energizing than trying to work out architecture with Confluence diagrams and PowerPoint. 

For the first two weeks of WFH, I had no place to work in my house.  I’ve never liked working from home and thus have no office at home.  That left me, like many others, trying to find a quiet space in the house to have meetings for eight+ hours each day on Zoom.  I also have a college freshman trying to do online school from home, and our house doesn’t have many isolated places.  As a music percussion major, we now have a marimba in our living room which takes out 2/3 of the house when he’s playing it.  My Zoom meeting participants have gotten used to light marimba in the background of many of my meetings in the afternoons.

Without a great setup, I was stuck at the dining room table, or my wife’s studio in the mornings until she wanted it back.  I finally created a standing desk out of an old table (but very nice teak table from the 70s), with a footstool one of the kids built in shop class in high school, and two large books.  The books are Volume 2 of a Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (who knows where volume 1 went) and the 98th edition of the Handbook for Chemistry and Physics.  I’m assuming it’s better than the 97th edition but how would anyone tell?  These two books add about seven inches of height for me.

The best part about my new setup is it’s in a room we call the playroom, a four-season porch added to the back of the house circa 1954.  It’s the playroom because it started out has a place where toddlers could play and be well contained without any noise filtering to the rest of the house.  It continued that way through high school housing the many gaming consoles and late night tv sessions.  But the room looks out on the backyard which is just starting to revive from winter, and has many birds that have appeared with the start of spring. 

I now can observe our cherry tree, and see a pair of purple finches, who have created a nest in the neighbor’s arbor vitae.  They seem to like to sit in the cherry tree and take in their domain.  There’s also some of the many neighborhood rabbits and squirrels that traverse the yard throughout the day.  I’m getting to know their habits.

But the bird watching has now become a hobby/obsession.  As you can see from my setup, I have a bird watching guide and a pair of binoculars, not for creeping on neighbors, but for checking out the birds that come through.  Besides the finches, so far there’s plenty of cardinals and robins, but also a yellow-bellied flycatcher (at least I think it was).  With the sparrows and black capped chickadees, you might find me stepping away from my Zoom meeting to grab the binoculars to get a better look.  I also have a digital camera ready but have found the telephoto isn’t strong enough and taking pictures of birds is tough.  An iPhone just doesn’t cut it either.

A sad DIY standing desk

You’ll also see a 2.5kg soft weight, I’ve found that I get fidgety standing for most meetings all day long, and a light weight to toss around keeps me occupied and better able to focus, while possibly providing some health benefits.

Final item in the picture is a serious digital metronome, I’m sharing the space with the snare drum as it’s still the most sonically isolated area of the house, and if you’ve ever heard a snare drum in practice, they are loud!

It seems we’ll be at this for some time so my unexpected outcome is intimate knowledge of my backyard and a minor ornithological obsession.

Take an Intern out to Lunch in 2020

Twenty odd years ago as I worked at my first couple  jobs, people with much more experience in the workplace spent a bit of time and money and took me out to lunch.  I was reminded of this when I took out a Target intern for lunch and it brought back these memories. Here are those stories.

My first internship was at Wisconsin Power & Light (WP&L) in Madison, WI, a now defunct power utility.  It was a program for graduates interested in careers in power and a friend of the family who worked for WP&L had let me know about it.  It was the summer of 1992 and I found myself in a 10 story office tower in downtown Madison. There were about 8 interns who were all working in different parts of the company, I was in a group that attempted to calculate the best mix of power production to meet the needs of the utility’s customers.  The VP of the group, Don, had a nice office with a big wooden desk and a posh leather chair. We met every few weeks to talk about what I was working on.  

I spent my time trying to create the first spreadsheet that could calculate the cost of electricity from a cogeneration power plant.  Cogeneration is when you use the waste heat from generating power to produce heat for heating or cooling buildings. It uses more of the heat energy that would otherwise be expelled into the environment, and lowers the cost of electricity to the utility.  Cogeneration was just starting to catch on in the early 90s.

Rather than write a simulator in either of the two languages I was learning, Pascal and C, the chosen technology was macros in Lotus 123.  Lotus 123 was basically the Excel of the time. It turned out to be quite fun to build up a spreadsheet of inputs such as fuel costs, efficiency, etc and create a bunch of calculations that would output the cost of electricity from a potential plant.

At the end of the summer, Don scheduled a lunch to review how my summer went, he told me to pick the restaurant.  I chose Wah Kee Noodle, probably the best Chinese noodle shop in Madison which was in business for over 30 years before the owners retired in the summer of 2019.  Don had rarely been to Chinese restaurants so it was a new experience for him. We had a nice lunch, slurping a big bowl of noodles, where he asked a bunch of questions about my work, what I had learned that summer, and whether I would come back in the future.  I was starting my PhD program in the fall so I didn’t think I would return, but thanked him for the experience and for lunch. I still remember the genuine interest in my future Don showed even though I was just an intern passing through his office. Being an executive now, I realize what a great leader Don was in showing his team that everyone in his office mattered.

A few years later as I decided to exit my PhD program in Nuclear Fusion, I needed some work to fill in the gap between January and May of 1995.  Being part of the University of Wisconsin, my mom knew someone who was looking for a programmer to create the software to run a PLC network at the UW Biotron.  The Biotron is a building that houses climate controlled experiments usually on plants. The project to install the PLCs was going to automate the collection of environmental data that was being done by lab techs.  When it was finished, they would be letting go of two of the four lab techs. It was my first introduction to automation replacing humans in jobs. I heard that even 20 years later, the software and PLCs were still doing their jobs.

Even though the lab techs knew I was working on the system to replace them, the lead tech, Matt, made it clear to his team that they were to treat me like one of the team.  They were unionized and they would come find me at break time, and make sure I took my break. We would hang out in the break room and chit chat about the weather, which was generally below 0F, and how I managed to bike there every day.  

As the winter progressed and I began building my own protocol for the C based PLCs to talk to the master controller and relay their data, as well as build the control systems that would adjust the environment of each room, everyone stayed friendly.  Even when it became clear I would get the project done, no one showed me any animosity.  

At the end of the effort, Matt took me and the team out to lunch, I think it was at a Burger King, and given that I was building software to put a couple people on his team out of work, we had a surprisingly good time.  I really appreciated Matt’s kindness and leadership, it could have been a much more hostile environment under a different leader.  

These lunches were over 20 years ago, but I remember them well, much better than any lunches I’ve had in the past few years.  If you are a supervisor and you have an intern in your group, take them out to lunch, it will make a big impression on them that may last for their entire careers.

R.I.P. Kenilworth Trail

This may be slight deviation from normal, but the end of the Kenilworth Trail is coming today (May 13, 2019), which is a bike path that has featured highly in my life. Whatever you think of the light rail that will be built in the corridor for the next three years, it will destroy one of the most highly used bike paths in the US so that suburban commuters can get downtown faster and bypass Minneapolis. That’s what the light rail is doing, it’s routed through the far west side of Minneapolis through one of the least populated portions because it’s faster than taking it through Uptown and down Nicollet, which might actually serve some Minneapolitans.

I estimated today that I’ve ridden portions of the Kenilworth trail over 10,000 times in the last 20 years. How did I get to that number:

  • Bike commuted downtown for 13 years, 2x per day, ~200 times (yes I biked all winter for many of these years. ~5200 rides.
  • For 20 years, from April to November, I generally ride to do daily errands: trips to Vertical Endeavors, Target, Walgreens, Punch Pizza, Barnes and Noble, Whole Foods, Lunds, Byerly’s, etc. On weekends it’s probably 4 trips per day, weekdays and extra 0.5 trips per day. ~7290
  • For 10 years estimate 30 trips downtown to Twins games, fireworks, restaurants and brew pubs in the evenings per summer: ~300
  • Probably another 1000 rides for fun and exercise with the kids, dog and friends

So in the past 20 years, I’ve ridden portions of the Kenilworth trail approximately 13,790 times. That’s likely an underestimate if anything.

There’s a lot of memories on that trail. I used to rollerblade with a Burley with two kids (in the 2-6 range) in it around Cedar lake. One time I’m not sure what I was thinking but I was swinging the kids side to side for fun. I got a bit to aggressive and flipped the Burley on it’s side and proceed to crash myself. Luckily, the kids were fine, and I escaped with minor roadrash.

I used to run our dog, Callahan, down the path to get him some quick exercise. I would ride my bike, he would run alongside, he was very well behaved. One day though, as I was riding back down the path, I slipped the leash over my handlebar by accident. Callahan abruptly stopped to do some business, and in these cases I usually just dropped the leash. This time though when I dropped it, it caught the handlebar and pulled the front wheel sideways. I took a header over the bars and somehow landed it on my feet, jamming my hip and causing future arthritis. These were my only two crashes on the Kenilworth.

A number of friends and I would go brew pub hopping in the evening for many years. We’d ride to Northeast and hit a few pubs and ride back, often without lights. There’s nothing like riding the Kenilworth at night with no lights, it’s pitch black and you can barely see the path. One night, and I swear this is true, after turning off the path and passing the Cedar Lake South Beach around 1AM, there were about 30 naked teenage girls getting ready to go skinny dipping. It was like riding past Ulysses’s Sirens, except that there was one older lady standing under the streetlight with a clipboard, likely ensuring the Sirens earned their skinny dipping merit badges.

It’s funny but there are a lot more stories simply about riding and walking down an amazing urban bike path. These don’t exist in other cities, and now it will no longer exist in ours. I filmed my last ride down the Kenilworth, it’s not the greatest, but this is what is now gone:

On Learning New Things

Holiday is mostly past us going into the new year of 2019 which means we retailers are starting to have some time again.  The start of the year is when people think about making resolutions with the intent of improving themselves.  For the past ten years at least, my resolution has always been to “eat more pie.”   It’s an easy resolution to keep and it makes me happy to accomplish it every year.

It’s better to be more intentional about what you are learning, so skip the resolution and take some action.  In the last year I took a deep dive into Distributed Ledgers (DL, better known as Blockchains) to determine how we might use them at Target.  This turned out to be a much harder problem that it sounds, use you can use a DL for anything really, but it only makes sense in specific contexts where you are actually sharing data with external partners.

Second, I gave a presentation on technical culture rather than technology.  It was a first to talk about building engineering culture, even though it’s what I’ve done for most of my career.  But it was important to put Target on the map as a leading technical retailer.  Five minutes from the keynote is below, but there’s also a 45 minute talk if you have access to Pluralsight.

Outside work, I learned silver smithing and attained the rank of amateur.  I generally need something inside and outside work to keep me busy.  Plus, you can give the finished products away and it makes people happy.  An almost finished ring below:

A Digital Ecommerce Transformation – 2012, The First Cloud Holiday – Part XXII

This will be the last entry in this series, at least for the foreseeable future.   Writing all this out has finally put this era of life firmly in the past, even though there were three more years of work to deliver an infinitely scalable cloud based ecommerce system. This really only scratched the surface of the amount of work and amazing team that delivered mobile and browser based ecommerce to TWLER during a time of incredible hardship for the company. New CEOs, falling revenue, and insanely tough competition left many to think TWLER was going to wind up as another retailer on the trash heap of history. But steady 30% growth online and an ecommerce platform that allowed for intra-day changes to the system gave the business teams the tools they needed to drive growth and make up for lost revenue in the stores. If you look at the revenue numbers for 2012-2014, store revenue declined, online increased and it all more or less evened out. Now onto the story.

There’s a running joke at TWLER that this Holiday is the most important Holiday ever! It’s funny because it actually is true, if you don’t deliver at Holiday, you go into oblivion like all the other failed electronics retailers like Circuit City and HH Gregg.

We went into early November scorching hot, cloud home page ramped up through the summer to take 100% of traffic, and cloud PDPs were still ramping up as we went into November. We had adopted the strategy of shunting small amounts of traffic to our new systems, than turning up the dial with global load balancing as we learned how to operate them. Remember, everything was new. We were operating in AWS for the first time, we had built all new UIs, controllers, caches, data services, and content management systems from scratch in about 10 months. We were also beating the hell out of Akamai as we load tested our systems and determined what we would cache in the CDN. Given how quickly inventory and pricing could change, we had to choose carefully what was cached in Akamai.

We were running three load tests a week trying to get the entire system up to a point that was 50% higher in traffic and transactions from the previous year. We figured 50% was a fairly safe bet considering historical traffic trends showed that we would likely only get a 20% traffic increase. The only place to truly stress test for scale was in production, so we would run the tests starting after midnight and ramp them up to full scale by 3AM. Obviously that meant a lot of late nights for the testing teams and many of the development teams as problems were uncovered at higher and higher scale.

The second week in November, the marketing team decided that the current pricing signage wasn’t good enough, it was going to be a highly promotional holiday and we needed everyone to know our pricing was as low as anyone’s. The team wanted to change all price messaging to “Guaranteed lowest price” from something else, with info on how we would price match any major competitor. The UI team estimated in the old system, it would take 3 months to make those changes; in the new cloud home page and PDPs, it took us two hours. Most of it was testing. This more than anything else, guaranteed that we would go into holiday with the cloud site taking full load even though business teams still weren’t completely bought in to the new world.

By the week of Thanksgiving, we were seeing good load tests and meeting our estimated peak loads for the Black Friday sale, which started at 2AM on Thanksgiving morning. Everyone knew when the sale was supposed to drop, and most shoppers were willing to wait up until 2AM central time, buy the limited inventory items, and then go to bed.

As 2AM rolled around, we felt like we were ready, we estimated we would take 60% of the load in AWS for home page and PDPs, and the remaining load for search and checkout would go to the ATG clusters in the datacenter. Caches were warmed, systems were scaled out to meet the load, and teams were in place to monitor everything that happened.

When the sale dropped, traffic ramped up instantly and kept rising minute over minute. We blew past 50% increase in traffic that was estimated and approached 150% increase in peak traffic. We figured out that the old systems simply couldn’t scale to demand, so the peak traffic was likely depressed and spread out over more time when the system throttled, but with systems that elastically scaled, the peak traffic just kept growing. This was ok in the cloud systems, but we were approaching scale way beyond expected in the commerce back end. As ATG servers heated up and the database was being pounded, we were minutes away from throttling traffic when the peak subsided and we had weathered the first storm.

Over the course of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, TWLER had its most successful online holiday ever, as competitor ecommerce sites melted down all around us. Virtually every retailer was down at some point over that time period, but we survived. Lots of things failed, including tax and inventory systems, but tax can be estimated and fixed before shipping, and you can guess at inventory for some amount of time until you run into trouble. While we remained up, the days and nights were spent fighting scaling issues, database issues, back end services issues, and network issues. When Cyber Monday ended successfully, the team felt like it had been fighting fires for five days straight.

The post mortem on the new cloud based systems was that it saved TWLER from catastrophe. Previously skeptical business and tech team members saw the front ends take massive loads and scale up accordingly. All the problems occurred in the legacy systems and enterprise services. It wasn’t flawless, but it showed that the investment was worth it and the direction was correct. It was my third holiday, and certainly the most exciting one ever. The architecture that I envisioned was starting to come to life, the teams we created banded together and bonded over intense problem solving, and the cloud future of TWLER.com was cemented with a successful holiday showing.

The next three years continued the evolution from ATG to cloud distributed architecture. While there were some rocky times and numerous outages during holidays, we survived them all and ended up at a fully automated future. Holiday’s became boring, and the only fun was watching daily revenue increase and pass $200M in a single day. Otherwise we just hung out and watched the metrics roll in, the mantra became “bring it on!” as we wished for higher traffic to truly test our systems.

And with that boredom, came the desire for a new challenge, which eventually took me away from TWLER in 2016 to take on restructuring the architecture for an entire company. That story may appear here someday, but it is still in progress.

Thanks to everyone that worked on TWLER.com from 2010-2015, it was truly a journey worth taking.

Commerce Tomorrow Podcast

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Kelly Goetsch and Dirk Hoerig to record an interview on Target’s engineering culture as part of their Commerce Tomorrow podcast.  Kelly was in town for the Open Source North conference which we were both speaking at.  We sat down in the Target recording studio to tape the show.  I’ve been using the studio to create an internal podcast for Target Engineering so we had an audio engineer and figured out how to include Dirk from Germany.

Click here to hear the podcast.