Charity Majors @mipsytipsy CTO @honeycombio, ex-Parse, Facebook, Linden Lab; cowrote Database Reliability Engineering; loves whiskey, rainbows. I test in production and so do you. 🌈🖤 Oct. 10, 2019 3 min read

So, I'm starting to feel a little self conscious about the amount of honeycomb hype posts lately. I devoutly hope to never be one of those tedious, untrustworthy souls who exist to plump their own shit.

But I'm not quite ready to stop yet, either.

Lately I've been hearing some questions over and over. Like, where did honeycomb's name come from?

And why do we feel like such a discontinuous break with the decades of prior art in monitoring, logs and APM?

The name: that's a great story, I love getting to tell it. I tweeted about it on slack's IPO day, since they play fairy godmother in this tale:

Tldr, it was our third try at a name. We loved the connotations (highly structured data, hard workers, sweetness, even a subtle nod to queen bees), and slack gifted us the domain for the cost of legal fees -- even threw in  for free.

friends, man 🐝💜

As for why we look and feel so distinct -- people often comment wonderingly on how alien it felt on day one, and how natural it felt on day two -- I can only offer theories.

First, simple tool illiteracy. I've been an ops eng since I was 17, but monitoring always bored me.

Christine had even less ops tool exposure than I did. But she had built Parse Analytics, and then grappled with the limitations of metrics and time series up close and personal after that.

Both of us had used scuba at Facebook. Scuba was far from perfect - it was originally a hack to store lots of sampled events in RAM for debugging heavily loaded mysql services - but it failed in radically different ways.

It was an almost religious experience. For both of us.

I was grappling with business-threatening levels of reliability failures, experiencing all the horrors of microservices before we had a term for it.

Nothing helped until scuba. Scuba made microservices at scale *possible*. Not a world class team, not other monitoring or APM.

I didn't understand *why* -- we spent the first year teasing out exactly which elements were necessary, helpful, unrelated, harmful, or missing.

And learning how to *talk* about it. The differentiators, the positioning. Which industry changes were fueling the changing needs.

Someday I will be able to talk about those years. It is hard to reminisce without sinking into sticky gloom.

There is a 5-part blog where I first put forth and argued for a technical spec for observability, in fall 2017. It took me six weeks to write them. I did nothing else.

I barely slept or ate. I had nightmares every night for a year after turning CEO, ones where the only roles I will ever get will be PM jobs.

I failed at *everything* for a solid two years. It was numbing and endless. I cratered relationships. It was a bad time.

That's why I am trying to linger on the good news this time, dwell a moment longer. I am still trying to convince my body and subconscious that that war is passed.

Maybe I can find other fuel besides 180-proof stubbornness and a religious experience. Maybe more sustainable.

I enjoy hearing my own words and arguments trickle back to me, after several packet hops, by people who think they're educating me.

Well, I'm trying to transmute what I actually feel into joy. 🥴. It actually angers me a little at how obvious and intuitive it all seems now.

If it took me months of sweat and blood, it could at least have the courtesy to sound impressive. But anyway.

I am not an optimistic person; hazards of the profession I guess. But those long, awful years of begging and pleading for users are receding fast, and that feels good.

We used to celebrate every sign-up, now that slack room is useless thanks to the stream of notifications.

We don't have the capacity to onboard everyone who wants to pay us lots of money.

Lots of signups come from people and companies we have never heard of.

Best of all is watching folks have the same religious experience we did.

And seeing just how quickly they, like us, understand that *there is no going back*. They take us with them when they switch jobs, because they cannot fathom engineering without it.

Thanks kids 🖤🐝

You can follow @mipsytipsy.


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