The world's most popular open source database
Lenz Grimmer is a member of the MySQL Community Relations team at Sun Microsystems. He lives in Hamburg, Germany and has worked for MySQL since April, 2002. Before joining the Community Team in December 2005, he was a member of the release engineering team that is in charge of creating the official release builds of the MySQL server.
Hi Iggy, thanks for giving me the opportunity to ask you some questions! Could you please tell us a bit about yourself? What is your background? Where are you located?
Iggy: Let's see, my name is Iggy and I'm 31 years old. I live in a small town just outside of Orlando, FL. U.S.A. with my beautiful wife Kathleen and our two Akitas named Leto and Leia. In the past I've worked in support, qa, engineering, and services with products in the backup/high availability and business intelligence spaces. I think I'm best described as a Generalist with a preference for the Windows platform.
Looking at which teams you've been in so far, I would guess you have been around for a while. How and when did you join the MySQL team (aka the Sun Database Group)?
Iggy: I joined MySQL in June of 2006 when my long time friend and colleague Elliot Murphy asked me to become a member the Maintenance team and focus on fixing Windows bugs.
Our windows user base hopefully appreciated all your good work in that area! What team are you in at the moment and what is your role? Can you talk about some of the tasks are you responsible for?
Iggy: I am a member of the Connectors team. Overall the Connectors team is responsible for the bits that connect to the server in some way. My role is to fix annoying Windows bugs, maintain the Windows Installer, the Instance Configuration Wizard, and implement our SunInventory integration. Overall, I'm pretty much a bit player but cumulatively I hope my changes have made MySQL 'better' especially on Windows.
I am quite confident they did. So how does it feel like working for a virtual organization? Do you see any advantages/disadvantages in this working environment?
Iggy: Working from home for a virtual organization is great but it's still work you know? The most important advantage I see is that, I get to decide when and where to work as it fits my life as opposed to trying to fit life into the time outside of work. The biggest challenge comes from trying to manage resources. If the cable modem stops working, the house loses power, computers crash, or the neighbor is mowing their lawn I have to deal with it. Actually becoming part of Sun has lessened this impact by providing an optional local office where I could work if necessary but it's still a challenge.
Working from home myself, I know exactly what you mean. Now that I have the opportunity, I actually made it a habit for myself to visit the local Sun office at least once per week. What does your workplace look like? What do you see when you look out the window?
Iggy: This is one of the great advantages of working from home for me. My office is a semi-grown-up nerd's playroom. I have two desks, one for 'work' and one for 'play' so my wife can tell the difference with a glance. My 'work' desk looks out over a nice green space. Both desks are littered with books, papers and computers. My 'play' desk has bits of my current electronics projects scattered about. I keep my bicycle in the office to remind me to get outside. The remaining space is filled with books in cases and on shelves.
I like the idea of having two separate desks! Especially if work and play look quite alike for the untrained eye. I wish I had the space for this kind of setup. But please tell us some more about your work. What are you currently working on?
Iggy: Currently I am working on integrating MySQL products with the SunInventory web service. SunInventory is free @sun.com service that allows users to manage their hardware and software inventory. Once the inventory is registered users will receive product specific news and updates. More information about it can be found at https://inventory.sun.com/inventory/
At this stage we're testing the integration in our Windows 6.0 MSI packages. The registration information is gathered automatically but optionally forwarded. The pilot program has been running since mid-August and has some 2000 user registrations already. The anonymous data gathered shows some interesting trends like: 95% of Windows users are running on x86, 60% of Windows users are using Windows XP, and 35% of registrations have come from Latin America. My hope is that the information gathered will help engineering provide a 'better' product by focusing on how our customers are actually using the product.
That's quite interesting! I agree that this is useful information to get a better picture of how MySQL is used and deployed. It will be helpful to guide our engineering plans. By the way, I've heard that we have a team with the interesting acronym "WTF". Can you reveal what this is about?
Iggy: I know, it's already taken right? ;) We use it that way too, but we also use it to refer to our "Windows Task Force". This is a small virtual team made up of members from Documentation, Engineering, QA and Support tasked to make MySQL on Windows 'better'. Windows accounts for some 50% of our downloads, but some felt that MySQL on Windows has always been something of a second class citizen. The WTF aims to address those issues.
And to my knowledge several of their improvements have been integrated into MySQL 5.1 already. Have you been involved in the creation of the MySQL 5.1 release? How did you contribute to it?
Iggy: I made changes necessary to the Windows build and packaging processes to make MySQL ready for Vista certification. I was a member of "MySQL Server 5.1 Bugs Team[1-3]" tasked with eliminating bugs from 5.1 in preparation for it's release.
Excellent, thanks for your contributions in making 5.1 a great release! Can you tell us what you enjoy most about your job?
Iggy: I really enjoy working as a member of a international team and the perspective in life that has given me. Most of all, I love working in the open source community. I know it's popular to say "Open source is the future" but that doesn't make it less true. It's an idea who's time has come and I'm proud to be a part of it in some small way.
I have to concur, being an active part of this revolution is exciting! And it's great to see that your job exposes you to so many interesting and hot technologies. What do you do outside working hours?
Iggy: Basically I do the same things outside working hours that I do during working hours and most times it's hard to tell the difference. Currently I'm very interested in programming Atmel AVR microcontrollers using GCC. When I'm not programming I like to ride my bike, read fiction, and take on random projects like learning about CNC machines, restoring old lathes, casting aluminum and DIY home improvements.
So it seems like you are a generalist when it comes to hobbies as well! How has your job changed since MySQL joined Sun, if it changed at all?
Iggy: Aside from my work with SunInventory, my job responsibilities are by and large unchanged. I still have the same manager and still work with the same great team. The biggest change I've noticed is the number of people from classic Sun who want to help integrate MySQL. For example, MySQL is now bundled with NetBeans and Glassfish on Windows. When the integration work was being done, I had a chance to work with the developers (virtually) from those teams to make sure that our packages would work in their bundles.
Yes, it's amazing to observe how other groups within Sun are eager to work with us - there is so much potential for collaboration. Iggy, thanks a lot for answering my questions and giving our readers an insight into your life and work! It's appreciated.
This interview was performed in November, 2008