New Job at Amazon

Started my new job at Amazon a few weeks ago.  I’m working in the high availability team.  Our team works cross company to increase availability of the Amazon.com retail website.  If for some reason you see an I’m Sorry Page while you’re shopping on Amazon, our team is likely tracking the incident. 

I have been so impressed with the amount of data that is freely made available to the employees.  In one week at Amazon, I got access to take a look at the number of orders that are being generated on a daily, hourly, by minute basis, errors that are being thrown, and dig down into various incidents.  These are metrics that are available to all employees.  Some metrics are, of course restricted, and some metrics pop you on the restricted stock trade list.  Measuring is often quite difficult for a large scale companies and so far, I’m quite impressed with the effort put into measuring almost every aspect of the business and making it as widely available throughout the company as practical.

Some significant differences between Microsoft and Amazon – At Microsoft, I more or less felt like I had an unlimited operations budget, and we were always building services for millions of users.  Some services I worked on hit “Microsoft-sized scale”, but several others topped out at a few thousand hits per month at their peak…  At Amazon, we actually have millions of users (hundreds of millions), and every minute of every day there are HUGE numbers of people placing orders.    But, it’s also clear that the company is extremely frugal.  It’s a bit like the wild west, and people/groups make do with what they have and keep their services up and running. 

It’s a bit too early to make any commentary on Amazon culture.  So far everyone has been friendly enough, but not shy about pushing back when it’s warranted.  As with Microsoft, I’m not sure if I believe that there is a single Microsoft culture.  I’ve heard people say that Microsoft culture is aggressive and can be perceived as rude by the uninitiated.  But, I’ve been in 3 different groups all with their own very distinct micro culture.  There are cohorts, managers and GMs that are extremely courteous and encouraging, to those that pop off on the other end of the spectrum.

So far, it’s been exciting to explore a new business (retail), and especially one with so many customers, and so much data.  The charter is seemingly broad enough to keep me busy and engaged for a long time.

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