Kat Gaines: Welcome to Page It to the Limit, a podcast where we explore what it takes to run software in production successfully. We cover leading practices used in the software industry to improve both system reliability and the lives of the people supporting those systems. I’m your host, Kat Gaines, and you can find me on Twitter @strawberryf1eld using the number one for the letter I. Welcome back to Page It to the Limit. Again, I’m your host, Kat Gaines. I’m really excited about our episode today. I got to do one of these about a year and a half ago when I joined the team, but I was the guest on that end and today I’m the host, but I am here today to introduce the newest member of our team, Tiago, who we are really excited about. He’s been on the team, what would you say, Tiago? It’s been about two weeks now, right?
Tiago Barbosa: One week and a half.
Kat Gaines: One and a half. I was rounding up. That’s okay. But we’re introducing a third developer advocate to the PagerDuty advocacy team. So Tiago, welcome to the team. We’re so happy that you’re here.
Tiago Barbosa: I’m really happy too. Thanks for having me and thanks for having me on the show.
Kat Gaines: These are always fun. They’re a little more relaxed sometimes in some of our other episodes. We’re going to keep it a little lighter. So we are just going to introduce Tiago, talk a little bit about his background, what he’s excited to do here at PagerDuty. So Tiago, go ahead and kick us off. Just tell us a little bit about your background, where you come from, what you’ve been doing. I remember when you were going through interviews, I was really interested hearing all this, and I think that our listeners would be too.
Tiago Barbosa: I have 13 years of experience in the tech industry. I started my career back in 2010 working as a technical evangelist for Microsoft. I worked 10 years for Microsoft in many different roles from marketing, as I said, and then moved to tech resales, then moved to support and ended up on the Azure engineering team. And then I decided to move to AWS where I worked as a specialist solutions architect, kind of helping customers all over the world, building their cloud native solutions, mostly focusing on serverless by then. And then I decided to move to a new challenge. I moved to a company called Music Tribe, so trying to mix two of my passions, technology and music. And I worked there for a little bit over a year and I was the head of cloud and platform team in Music Tribe. So we kind of built the cloud platform that devices and instruments connect to. And now I joined PagerDuty as a developer advocate and I’ll try to bring my experience of running applications in production and all the previous experience that I had on helping others build their solutions in the cloud. And that’s what I’ll try to bring to the team and the company.
Kat Gaines: I love that. I think that that was something I heard when you were joining the team, just this really well-rounded experience of working on a lot of different sides of the business, which I think is always really exciting to understand just what different teams are going through and what their concerns are, what their needs are, because that’s what we talk about a lot at PagerDuty. It’s about enabling people and making their lives easier. All of our tooling is really meant to do that, to enable people to get back to their work faster, reduce interruptions, and be able to focus on what matters and do that as efficiently, as smoothly as possible. And so I guess I’m going on about what I like about what we do, and I think what our listeners would love to hear too is what do you like about what we do? What drew you to PagerDuty and why are you excited to be part of this team and start being the host here on our podcast to interacting with our users out in the world and helping them the way that our team does?
Tiago Barbosa: There were a couple of things that actually were really interesting to me. First of all, being a developer advocate is something that allows me, and as you said, to basically interact with different types of stakeholders. We interact with developers, but we also interact with people from the business side and marketing. And so that component that I really like. There’s also the side of public speaking, which is something that I really love for instance like podcasts and Twitch shows. When I was at AWS, I had my own Twitch show for a while. I really like that interaction because that allows me to understand a bit better the challenges that our customers go through. So talking to different people, you understand different perspectives, and this is something that specifically the developer advocate’s role pulled me because of that. Then we have PagerDuty. To be honest, before applying to the role, I didn’t have a lot of experience with PagerDuty. I actually considered PagerDuty as a tool in Music Tribe. So it was one of the tools that I was personally evaluating for a while because we had the need to have something that would help us give a better service to our customers. But definitely the culture of PagerDuty and I happen to have some friends that worked for PagerDuty. Their feedback was just amazing and PagerDuty’s mission. We are trying to solve real problems that people have when running their applications in production. And this is something that is really dear to my heart because I feel like that has been my goal, every single interaction that I have with the different stakeholders throughout the year. So it might be a perfect match for me. So let’s see.
Kat Gaines: I think you’re here. So I think we’ve all agreed on that at this point, and I think just to kind of expand on that, let’s talk a little bit more on what you’re excited to talk about as part of this team. Before we were recording, we were talking about a couple of topics that you’re really passionate about, that you think you’d love to help our customers with.
Tiago Barbosa: I can tell you one of the reasons why I moved to Music Tribe one year and a half ago was mainly because I had never been on the customer side. I’ve helped a lot of customers develop their applications, make sure that they’re running a scalable and reliable way in cloud, but I had never run an application myself. I was responsible for building the code, writing the code, and running the applications, giving proper support to our customers. And so this is something that I felt like this was my next step, and that’s what I got in Music Tribe. I got to put into practice all the learnings that I had got through the 12 years of experience working for big tech companies. This is something that I’m really passionate about and I actually got to experience this really hands on because we work quite of a small team, so I did write some code as well. I’m really passionate about building cloud applications, different cloud design patterns, making sure that people are aware of them because one thing that I’ve seen in my experience in working with different customers is that developers have different ways of approaching problems. This means that they are probably going to find different solutions for the same problem, which is fine, but solutions already exist in most cases. So reinventing the wheel is not something that I’m really fond of. Having the chance to share that with other people is really important. Basically I can, and I hope I can share a bit of my experience about running applications in production and maintaining them. So this is something that I think I can bring to the team.
Kat Gaines: Let’s talk about that a little bit. I think that there is a lot that people need to know. And you just said something that really resonated with me about how everyone has different ways of approaching problems. Sometimes we’re trying to reinvent the wheel. I think there’s a lot in running applications and production and maintaining them, as you’re saying, that comes down to teamwork and knowledge share. And that’s something that can get really fragmented. There might be a wiki that somebody wrote at some point that got lost or other team instructions, or I think the worst case scenario often is that there’s just kind of knowledge that’s in people’s brains and they forget to write it down somewhere. Then they leave a company and then everyone’s looking at each other going, “Who knows how to do this thing?” And it’s kind of like that Spider-Man meme where they’re pointing at each other just like, “It’s you.” “No, it’s you.” Except it’s the opposite, because literally no one has an idea. So I think there’s probably stuff to dig into there around what do you want people to know around those best practices, and what are the things that you feel like you’ve seen that are uniquely, “Wow, we need to be watching out for this and we need to be thinking about this a little”?
Tiago Barbosa: You touch a very important point, which is, so I think there are two main things that I can give you. Once again, the example of my last experience, there’s typically you see engineering teams and development teams working in updating silos. So you still see companies, and this happens more in enterprise companies or large corporations where you have the development team then you have the release team then you have the platform team manages the infrastructure and all that. And this creates silos. One thing that I tried to do in my last experience is, “Let’s make sure that we have basically the people that are building the code, writing the code, and building the platform and supporting services,” they are basically all aligned, so they are part of the same team. From one end, from start to end, basically you have people that have knowledge on every component along the way. And this is something that is really important. And part of it is, so this is on the structure of the team. It’s really, really important to make sure that communication happens effectively. But then there is another component around documentation that you touched as well. So one of the things that I try to implement as well is, documentation is part of your code. So you build something, a new service or you make a change to a service. It’s something that you need to check whether if you are using pool requests or something like that as a mechanism to get your codes merged into production, you need to have some kind of check on that step that basically validates that, “Okay, you changed code, do you have the documentation for that as well?” We use the open source tool for that and it was working really well. We used it as our developer portal and it became a self-service developer portal, which saved us a lot of time as well, because teams could actually consume the services that we were building without reaching out to us. So I think it’s improving the communication. It’s just a different way of doing it.
Kat Gaines: Yes, I think that is really important to be able to think about those things intentionally, to be able to build them into the process from the start, rather than having to go back later and realize that, “Oh no, we didn’t document this correctly, or we need to hand it off.” And we don’t have anybody chasing around trying to figure out who knows the details of that thing. And I think I mentioned earlier, hoping they haven’t maybe left the business and that they are still available to talk to around it. There’s a lot to be said about future proofing your work and ensuring that you’re really able to think about those scenarios going forward and be able to think about how you’re setting up your teammates for success. You mentioned something about teams working in silos, and I kind of want to dig into that a little bit. I feel like that has been such a focus of how we work lately. And by lately, I mean the last few years, I think that right now we have kind of almost a hot button reactionary mode of a lot of businesses scrambling to do a return to office push because while they’re thinking about their resources, frankly. But then there are also a lot of leaders who very firmly believe that, “Well, our teams only work well together when they’re physically located next to each other. They’re not working well remotely.” I don’t think we believe it’s true at PagerDuty. I don’t think that’s the collective belief either. I think there are just some folks out there who are trying to figure out solutions to problems and kind of poking at anything they can to figure that out. But when you’re thinking about how teams are siloed, how do we work on that in today’s world? How do we work on making sure that we’re talking about preventing these types of knowledge gaps that we’re mentioning? How do we make sure that we are talking about ensuring that the team is comfortable enough with each other to have those conversations and say, “Hey, you missed that step.” What is it that you’re seeing that you’re, I guess, excited about in terms of how the way we work has shifted and what that looks like?
Tiago Barbosa: So I’ve been working remotely for the last seven years, more or less.
Kat Gaines: It’s not new for you.
Tiago Barbosa: It’s not new for me, but I confess that a lot changed since everyone is working remotely. So although we already had people working remotely, there was a large part of every single team that wasn’t. And so the communication needs to be different, first of all. So the way that we interact with others needs to be different. Perfect example is our team. The team is in the United States. I’m one of the first working in Europe, so we have three, four hours overlap. So we need to work in a synchronous way. This means that when we can collaborate is during that three to four hour overlap, but then we still need to work for the rest of the time and we need to make sure that nothing falls through the gaps. And so proper communication is required, and that depends on the type of work that you are doing as well. So if you are writing codes, if you building some type of software, you have proper tools for that. But if you are, I don’t know, in marketing or someone else there, you probably use different tools. So I think there’s no right strategy or a one size fits all strategy that solves the problem. It changes from team to team because also different individuals have different ways of working. And so I think one of the fundamental parts of making sure that the communication exists and that it works for the team is, well having some kind of a team lead or a manager that is actually aware of what it is to work remotely and the fact that things need to change and tools by themselves are not going to solve anything. So you need to listen to people and you need to adapt some of the practices and the processes that you were using in the past. Personally, I don’t believe that telling people to just go to the office will solve a problem if the problem actually exists, because I think remote work opens a lot of other possibilities for employees because well, you can basically move to any other location. If you want to live near the beach, you can. If you want to live in the mountains, you can. So you can have people working from Portugal or Spain or United States or whatever. It brings a lot of advantages for employers as well. Personally, I see it as a good thing because it gives us the option to choose. So if you want to go to the office, you can in many cases. So I don’t see a problem.
Kat Gaines: I agree with that. You and I are both in our offices and we mostly work remote, but we have the option to just go in if we really want to or if we feel that we need to. And it’s the type of thing where if you or Mandy or anyone else on our team were in town, then I would probably go to the office to hang out with you. But when we are working remotely anyway, we work well together knowing that we understand those things that you were talking about, we understand what time we have available to collaborate. We understand that any issues we’re having working together are going to be the same whether they’re in person or remote. And we understand that we need to lean on how we work, not just, I liked what you said about not just lean on tools, but actually processing how you work and listening to the people to solve those things.
Tiago Barbosa: There is just one additional point that is important to mention there, which is the fact that I felt it myself during COVID and more recently, well, which is the fact that if you just stay at home, so working remotely has this disadvantage, I would say, which is, if you work from home, you basically spend the entire time at home. So you need to make sure that you spend some time outside that you still do some sports, listen to music, you do stuff that kind of distracts you a little bit of work, otherwise you probably not going to deliver your best work if you are tired or bored or if you have too many distractions as well. So I think it’s just a different way of working, not necessarily bad way of working. I think it’s the opposite actually.
Kat Gaines: I think that’s an important point. You do still have to get out into the world and get a little sun on your face with sunscreen of course, but get a little sun on your face, get out there, interact with the world a little bit. I do think that early pandemic, that was a trap I saw some friends fall into of just being in the house all the time and then either feeling like, “Oh gosh, I just feel fatigued all the time.” And wondering, “Oh, do I have COVID?” And no, you just haven’t left the house in five or six days and you need to at least take a walk around the neighborhood even when it wasn’t safe to do pretty much anything else. Right? Making sure that we’re cognizant of our needs as human beings too, which I guess that is one thing that going to an office forces you to do. It forces you to get up and go somewhere, but there are so many ways to get that throughout your day. So I’m going to move us to a couple of questions that we ask every single guest on the show. And the very first one is, what is one thing you wish you would’ve known sooner when it comes to running software in production?
Tiago Barbosa: And this was one of the things that I was lacking. As I said before, moving to Music Tribe, I haven’t actually helped a lot of customers build their applications, but I haven’t actually never been through the process of supporting an application that is in production. Of course, I had experience kind of optimizing and troubleshooting and all that, but I wasn’t responsible 100% of the time. There was always other people there. And so, one of the things that I was already expecting but I didn’t have a lot of experience was around setting up proper observability setup in your solutions. And this is a challenge of course, and this is a much larger discussion. So if you build applications using microservices and all that, so everything becomes a little bit more complex, more resilient, more scalable, but more complex for sure. So having the proper observability setup to have visibility on what’s relevant, also kind of removing the noise and having people and mechanisms in place to support customers when something unexpected happens. So this is something that I kind of knew I was lacking some experience on that side. Fortunately, I didn’t have to learn the hard way because I guess that we were building things in the right way from the beginning. But definitely something that if I knew, I would prepare myself a bit better before taking the step to run applications in production.
Kat Gaines: I do think a lot of people learn that the hard way. And so you probably did luck out a bit. I think that is probably, maybe to help some folks from learning that the hard way. Maybe that’s a future episode that we have on deck that you can talk about at length, possibly. And then our second one is, is there anything about running software in production that you’re glad I did not ask you about today?
Tiago Barbosa: There is one question that people ask me all the time is, which cloud platform is better? Since I work for Microsoft and AWS, there’s always this ask, so, well, I’m starting to build a new platform. I am going to run this for millions of users. That’s my goal. So which one should I choose? And this is, like I always try to avoid.
Kat Gaines: You want to remain platform-agnostic.
Tiago Barbosa: Exactly. There’s good things and bad things in all platforms, so just need to be aware of them.
Kat Gaines: That makes perfect sense. Well, Tiago, I think that we have kind of filled the time that we wanted to. It was really great chatting and getting to introduce you to our listeners. Thanks for joining me for this.
Tiago Barbosa: Thanks for inviting me and who knows in a couple of weeks if I will be the host.
Kat Gaines: Yes. All right folks, thanks again for joining us. You will be hearing more from Tiago soon. Again, I’m Kat Gaines and I’m here wishing you an uneventful day. That does it for another installment of Page It to the Limit. We’d like to thank our sponsor, PagerDuty for making the podcast possible. Remember to subscribe in your favorite podcatcher if you like what you’ve heard. You can find our show notes at pageittothelimit.com, and you can reach us on Twitter at @pageit2thelimit using the number two. Thank you so much for joining us, and remember, uneventful days are beautiful days.
Tiago Barbosa is a Developer Advocate for PagerDuty. With 13 years of experience in the tech industry, he has helped hundreds of companies of various sizes and industries on their journey to build resilient and scalable cloud applications while working for Microsoft and AWS. Before moving to PagerDuty Tiago ran the Cloud and Platform Engineering teams for Music Tribe. When he is not busy working or travelling, he is most certainly spending some good time with his family, playing music or surfing.
Kat is a developer advocate at PagerDuty. She enjoys talking and thinking about incident response, customer support, and automating the creation of a delightful end-user and employee experience. She previously ran Global Customer Support at PagerDuty, and as a result it’s hard to get her to stop talking about the potential career paths for tech support professionals. In her spare time, Kat is a mediocre plant parent and a slightly less mediocre pet parent to two rabbits, Lupin and Ginny.