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People Stories: People and Culture Is Why I Joined Yugabyte

Paul Lee

I’ve always been fascinated with databases; they’re the backbone of all modern software. While at university, I followed the database sector and all the major players. After I graduated, I joined Google as an “early engineer” to work on their cloud database product. During my time there, I witnessed the titanic shifts happening in the database world and came to learn about YugabyteDB. After spending months looking into Yugabyte, it became clear that working here would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So I sent in my resume, interviewed, and was offered a job on the LRT team, working on the query layer of the database engine. And since joining, I have had an amazing time!

A Little About Me

When I was a kid, I spent hours browsing through my dad’s “Oracle 9i DBA Handbook.” I was fascinated with technology from a young age, especially on the enterprise software side of the house. I loved reading stories about how certain technologies would come and go while others would evolve into lasting, generational products. As a result, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in technology early on.

The Current State of Things

In an era where buzzwords like “AI/ML”, “web3”, and “big data” are thrown around, it’s easy to overlook the backbone of all modern software—the database. Databases aren’t the first thing to come to mind when we think of “hot” and “sexy” markets, but the database market is still the largest software market category. In fact, it’s growing even faster than those other “hot” categories, especially as more and more of the application stack is moving into the database. The good old database, as we know it, is being reimagined for the modern era.

Yet, despite this reimagining, most of the world has been held back by legacy, expensive, proprietary databases—ones that can’t match the scale/resiliency requirements of modern workloads. The rise of NoSQL in the late 2000s was a good workaround for some of these challenges. But, as we know, this was only accomplished by making some serious trade-offs around consistency, data integrity, etc.

Where Yugabyte Comes Into the Picture

Inspired by the groundbreaking 2012 paper Spanner: Google’s Globally-Distributed Database, Yugabyte is built on an architecture that supports both scale and the guarantees of a relational database. Gone are the days of making trade-offs between ACID and scale. While technology, more often than not, is an art of making trade-offs, Yugabyte is bringing to market the first true iteration in database technology in over 50 years.

Of course, technology is only part of the picture. If there’s one thing that decades of predatory databases licenses taught us, it’s that you want flexibility around your system of record. Yugabyte has nailed this by fully open-sourcing its database with the Apache 2.0 license. You can deploy and use YugabyteDB any way you want: on-premise, multi-cloud, hybrid, containers, etc. On top of that, if you ever want to add changes or fix something in Yugabyte, you can always create a pull request in GitHub. You can sleep peacefully at night, knowing that, whatever happens to Yugabyte as a company, the source code for YugabyteDB will always be out there.

Finally, Yugabyte has embraced popular, open protocols by literally reusing the PostgreSQL and Cassandra query layer. No need to learn another protocol—the YugabyteDB interface feels like home. And this incentivizes Yugabyte to stay true to what users want.

The Power of the Database and the Power of Yugabyte

When Satya Nadella was asked which product he wished Microsoft developed first, he didn’t say the iPhone or Google Search. Instead, he said the “relational database.” Databases aren’t easy to make. They’re complex and technical. It takes a lot of time and money. That’s why, despite most of the application stack moving to the cloud, most databases have—up to now—remained largely stuck in the past. Having worked on Google’s cloud-native PostgreSQL database before joining Yugabyte, I’ve witnessed this. But I’ve also seen market demand grow for a reimagined database. Few, if any, databases address this pain point the way Yugabyte does, armed with industry veterans, the best of the best.

The thing I’ve been most impressed by, even more than the technology or the opportunity, is the people. It’s hard to put into words, but Yugabyte best reflects the nature of its product: a reliable, great, open-source database. There’s a tremendous amount of trust that’s placed on every individual. And there’s a degree of transparency I’ve never witnessed anywhere else. And even with the get-things-done mindset, there’s a tremendous respect for work-life balance. Finally, the leadership is second-to-none; they’re absolutely committed to the long-term.

Yugabyte operates on 3 core values: trust, relationships, and outcomes. This isn’t just another corporate motto—it’s built into the DNA here.

The Future of Databases and YugabyteDB

It’s a special time to work at Yugabyte on this next-generation distributed SQL database. You don’t often have the right people and technology in the same place at the right time. Despite the tremendous growth in popularity, it’s still early in what will be a generational shift in how we see the database. With the huge swath of business use cases Yugabyte addresses, distributed SQL is showing signs as a true, next-generation transactional database.

As Peter Thiel once said, “Every tech story is different. Every moment in history happens only once.” And that’s why I joined Yugabyte.

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