Phil Jensen is a Principal Deployment Engineer at Evernote and is a member of the Operations team. Phil helps keep the service running in top form, working closely with the development team.
How is Operations handled here at Evernote?
We have a talented team of excellent engineers and system administrators in the US, Europe and China providing Operations engineering and support. We work very closely with product development teams to deliver services, provide reliable system and network infrastructure and troubleshoot when required.
What role do you play on the Operations team?
I am currently involved in production deployments for the Evernote web service as well as general system and configuration automation. I’ve been spending a lot more time with database administration in our production environments. In the past I have helped with bringing up the Evernote service in China (Yinxiang Biji), our V3 shard architecture, writing Puppet code for our production services, automating package construction, production deployments and service maintenance. I also help maintain our production kernel and Xen virtualization builds and packaging.
What are the big challenges?
Some of our big challenges include scaling the service to support tens (to hundreds) of millions of users while working to make tasks and processes as efficient, reliable and repeatable as possible. We are constantly iterating on our major maintenance tasks to ensure that we have excellent documentation and mitigate risk.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
This is a tough question. I enjoy taking general tasks and processes and helping to scale them as safely and efficiently as possible. I also really enjoy getting my hands dirty, building new packages and core operating system components for Xen and the Linux kernel. I enjoy using tools like Puppet, Fabric and Ansible to create and deploy configuration and services.
What’s your background? Who’s your biggest mentor?
I’ve worked in system administration and operations for 18 years. Working with Linux 0.98pl1 in 1993, I started my professional career working at an internet service provider in 1995. I’ve done quite a bit of work in network engineering, consulting and training, having founded a small consulting unit at a web hosting provider in the 90s and providing instruction in web services at a small technical college. My biggest mentor would have to be our CTO, Dave Engberg, who has taught me more about working with Java, Tomcat and MySQL than I ever thought I’d learn!
What’s your favorite Evernote feature?
My favorite Evernote feature would have to be the quick note functionality in Evernote for iOS 7. It’s really helpful to be able to have a thought and immediately be able to start on a note with a single tap.
How do you use Evernote?
I use Evernote on a daily basis as I work on production systems, writing code, documenting service configurations, planning changes and attending meetings. I spend most of my time with the iOS and Web clients.