Charles Hooper

Thoughts and projects from an infrastructure engineer

Catching Up


  • Moved to San Francisco
  • Took time off to decompress
  • Joined team at Heroku
  • Loving it


It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I wanted to let you know that I’m still alive! Things were very hectic due to a few life changes but I much of the dust has settled now and I’m excited to talk about what those changes are.

But first, some history.

In 2011, I was a junior at university studying Business Information Systems. I had some prior systems engineering and operations experience and was paying my tuition by performing contract work for a company that doesn’t exist today. While at this company, I worked very closely with a developer and the two of us were responsible for running this company’s infrastructure. Neither of us had the time or the willpower to be bothered by operational tasks, so we automated everything. Even though our environment was much smaller (somewhere between 30-50 instances in EC2) than many others, we had alot of things that many companies are lacking:

  • New services were in configuration management
  • New deployments were almost entirely automated
  • We had good visibility with a variety of metrics being reported to Ganglia and Graphite
  • We even had a reasonable nagios configuration

Around this time, the term devops was being tossed around on twitter on a more frequent basis. I can remember actually having a Google Alert for the term to email me when there were new blog posts about it and it not being spammy. I have a love/hate relationship with the term, and in December 2011 I wrote my blog post Concurrent Engineering: The Foundation of DevOps in which I argued that the ideas behind devops weren’t new, but were maybe old ideas from business that were recently independtly re-discovered.

The blog post wasn’t very popular, but Solomon Hykes (CEO of dotCloud) managed to see it and, thinking we had very similar ideas about devops, invited me to interview for a position on their newly formed Site Reliability Engineering team. I got the job at dotCloud, and up until April of this year that’s where I stayed.

In mid-April, I resigned from my position at dotCloud and moved to San Francisco. There were a number of reasons for the resignation but chief among them was that I needed some time to decompress and all of my paid time-off had been used up following my youngest brother’s car accident. This ended up being an awesome decision because it gave me my much-needed decompression time and I was able to explore my new city.

I took about four weeks off before I put any real effort towards a job search. The move to San Francisco and the job search alone could fill two entirely-too-verbose blog posts but the end result was that I moved here safely and joined the team at Heroku!

Fast forward to today and I’ve just finished my third week at Heroku. It’s an amazing experience, a great team, and an awesome culture that is encapsulated in the following quote:

I like our culture. We welcome failure into our house and then kick its teeth in.

I’ll write more about this another time. For now, thank you for listening to my story.

— Charles