Friday, November 07, 2008

My Last day at Amazon

This is a bittersweet week in many ways. Today I left after about 900 work days (and couple of on-call nights).

It is natural to have mixed feelings after spending multiple years doing something specific: I had my Amazon interviews around time of the US presidential elections of 2004, and now left after that particular national nightmare finally ended. On positive side, at least I did not leave a legacy behind...

Amazon is one of those places that you just love to hate ("can't live with it, can't live without"). For those that are not familiar with the software company, it is a place of extremes: fundamental insights mixed with sizable stupidities and (often baseless) arrogance, massive raw talent and potential greased with misguided cultural legacy (frugality as in cheap, "just do it" attitude abbreviated as NIH, and so on). So you could say that it is blessed with lots of good people and cursed by habits that some of the very same people have developed over time. I won't go into gory details: if you have ever worked there you know what I mean; and if not I might not be able to explain.

But beyond being exciting and frustrating place of highest degree, Amazon is Unique. Few places can offer the scale and scalability problems to tackle. Very few. Most companies just try solving all problems by the Standard Hammer: big-ass relational database, running on colossal servers. Not so at Amazon, for both better and worse. And if we are lucky, uncannily smart folks from Amazon Web Services will soon offer us with vastly extended set of good scalable building blocks that will finally obsolete many of these worn relics from 70s, such as relational databases.

So what it all means is that it's such a trip to work there for a while -- try it and you'll feel like having drank multiple Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters, on your way to Mars and back. So I thoroughly recommend trying it out, if you are young and have no history of heart problems. Heck: even WITH heart problems it might be worth it ("what doesn't kill you makes you stronger"?). No pain no gain.

So how do I really feel now? Perhaps like David Bowie put it: "Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed" is close. But be sure to check out the next blog entry here for another perspective.

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