Hello Dynatrace Community,
Our Member of the Month for July 2021 joined the Community pretty recently, but already provided a lot of interesting product ideas - always full of details, useful feedback, and interesting discussions with other professionals. What a start! Let’s all congratulate @ct_27 : it’s awesome that you are with us in this Community! Let’s hear more about Jason from the below interview.
Can you tell a little bit about your professional life? Where do you work and what do you do in your job?
My professional life has always been focused around the use of automation to simplify our lives. It started with the development of automated build process, for a small software company, that enabled the distribution of customer specific automated installations. Later I joined Accenture where a co-worker and I created a completely homegrown build and deployment solution followed by the implementation of a continuous integration and deployment practice for a major insurance company. This experience brought me to Yale University, where I lead a Quality Assurance department focused on using synthetics to automate Performance and Functional testing. The use of synthetics and the ability to analyse multiple dimensions of data naturally expanded beyond testing and became a valuable solution for monitoring application health.
With 25 years of IT professional experience, this past January I marked my 10-year anniversary with Yale University. I initially entered Yale University as an Accenture consultant introducing the practices of performance testing and functional testing through automation. I’ve worked on a number of high-profile projects, such as the implementation of Workday, that enabled me to obtain an enterprise-wide view into how all the different components of a university function. It’s this experience along with my passion for technology that enables me to be engaged across multiple projects supporting the adoption of new technologies and finding ways to improve our services. Over the past two years my primary focus has been on improving our application health monitoring through the creation of a new Enterprise Monitoring standard. To accomplish this, I’ve played the role of project manager, implementor, solution architect, tech lead, configurator, engineer, and service manager to name a few.
What is your story with Dynatrace? Why did you start using our platform and for what project?
Yale first learned of Dynatrace two years ago when we initiated a search for a product with the capabilities of full stack monitoring. The solution needed to serve both the central IT department as well as the independent IT departments that support the many colleges across the University. We needed something that was easy to install, could be delivered as an internal service, provide application health monitoring through full stack, and most importantly provide flexibility in sharing data. For this, Yale conducted an extensive PoV with Dynatrace and two of its closest competitors during which we had all central departments and college IT departments participate. All involved resources then provided feedback against a common set of objectives. It was during this intense PoV that Dynatrace impressed us with how quickly we were able to get it running and that by lunch we were adding metrics to dashboards and watching Session Replays.
Dynatrace was selected as our flagship tool for the Enterprise Monitoring project due to its ability to consume metrics from many different technologies and in many different ways. With the support of OpenTelemetry we knew that even if Dynatrace didn’t have native support for something there is likely an industry standard way or means to pull in the needed data. Then with the AI and correlation engines, native to Dynatrace, we could have all metrics reliably monitored by one solution. Next came the presentation; we needed to break down department silos within the organization thus encouraging Infrastructure and Development teams to collaborate more in a shared platform. Using Dynatrace groups and management zones the entire enterprise now has access to view general information relevant to their services while restricted systems or data have access controls around them; all through the same user interface. That brings us to how Dynatrace is enabling us to reduce our technology footprint by eliminating duplicative monitoring solutions and number of otherwise boutique solutions now that Dynatrace has the ability to conduct full stack monitoring in one tool.
Have you ever had any interesting use case for Dynatrace product that you found out to be particularly intriguing? Could you tell us about it?
Where to begin? Our current solutions were all generation 1 monitoring solutions so coming to a generation 3 solution is intriguing in almost every way. Session Replay, Request Attributes, PurePaths, Waterfall Analysis. These are all features that brought about use cases we would have never thought of prior to Dynatrace. The ability to identify performance issues within vendor code has probably been the most cost savings use case. With Dynatrace identifying the precise java class causing performance issues the weeks long back and forth with vendors trying to reproduce and key in on the exact cause is virtually eliminated. Instead we can provide the exact line of code and details of the use case leading up to the performance issue all from data collected by Dynatrace.
What brought you to our Community? What is your best memory about it?
I was drawn to the Community by the intelligence of the contributors and the wealth of information discovered in the responses. Being new to Dynatrace, I’m still going through the many growing pains,
The Community members are always respectful and provide some very creative solutions to everyone’s problems. My best memory is related to the fact that there are participants from all over the world in this Community, so the Community is in essence always alive. So, it was 3am and I had already spent hours trying to develop an extension to deliver the following week. I decided to check the forum for some ideas and sure enough discovered a post similar to my situation. I posted asking for a solution and received a response within the hour. After some conversation I grabbed some sleep. The next morning, I received another reply that a community member had updated their git code overnight with what I needed to help me out and today we continue to use this solution.
And how about your life outside the IT – what is your biggest passion?
Outside of IT, my passion is my family. We have a great deal of fun and together we maintain a small farm property of goats and chickens. We’re fortunate enough to live by water so we frequently go for hikes, take bike rides, and push off on our kayaks for adventures along the New England sound. As for hobbies, I like to mix my background in engineering with my love for technology. I’ve constructed my own maker shop complete with wood working equipment, CNC machine, and 3D Printer. Using single board computers such as particl.io, raspberryPi, and Arduino (MCU) I develop games with the kids or more advanced automation solutions around the home. My favorite project was modifying an electric RC car with distance and motion sensors that would take over control if the car predicted a potential crash; this way my 6 year old safely drive it without me worrying about crashing it.
It would also be great if you could share with us your favorite movie, song and/or a book. Let other Community members discover something new and interesting to watch/hear/read 🙂
I’m obviously a product of the 80’s. My favorite movie is Back to the Future. I know, “Great Scott!”. My favorite scene is when Einstein (Doc's dog) is sent to the future because it’s the first time you see all the visual effects of the flux capacitor and car lights come together. My favorite song is Take on Me by a-ha and was the first vinyl record I ever purchased, as a kid back in the 80’s.
Thank you so much for this interview Jason, a lot of interesting stories in there – it’s always curious to see, how everyone has their own, personalized story with Dynatrace. Also (as a big fan of synth-pop and 80's), a great song choice!