It’s easy to think that being a DevOps or SysAdmin at WP Engine means days and nights spent troubleshooting WordPress sites. And while as a company we do indeed do that 24/7, that’s not the charter of our infrastructure team.
At most companies, DevOps and SysAdmins are viewed as a cost center.That is, you’re not creating “the product” and you’re not creating “the growth story;” you’re creating “cost.” Therefore, you’re not strategic to the company, but rather a necessary evil required to keep the lights on, and something to be optimized to its minimum.
At WP Engine, it’s exactly the opposite. Our infrastructure — our platform — is the product. Innovation in the infrastructure is part and parcel of innovation generally, and growth, and product. It’s always true that, all else being equal, lowering the cost of infrastructure is good, because it increases profit margins and reduces waste (we all hate waste, don’t we?). WP Engine, however, will live or die by our ability to deliver a better experience to our customers — faster websites, more scalable websites, high-uptime websites, secure websites — not by our ability to stuff ever-increasing numbers of customers on aging hardware because it helps the profit margin.
For us, DevOps and SysAdmin is an investment area, not a cost center.
And the problems we’re investing in are interesting! Proof?
We serve more than 2,000,000,000 (yes, that’s 2 billion!) requests daily from thousands of servers in 13 data centers world-wide. We block 150,000,000 malicious events and transfer 2 petabytes every month. We deploy 100 to 200 code changes every week, safely, at scale.
And we’re still growing frighteningly fast, which means the challenges never stop coming. It’s hard… but fascinating. Scale makes rare events commonplace, which requires ingenuity to prevent, or at least to detect and mitigate with some level of automation. Thus, just keeping up with our growth and scale is difficult, but fun.
Security is a whole category in itself. We have an in-house system that combines both high-scale front-end as well as dynamic log analysis and reaction in the back-end, to cope with the fast-changing landscape of life on the Internet. And lest you think that security might be relegated back into that “cost center” category, don’t forget that a secure site is also a faster, more scalable site, because all that malicious traffic isn’t occupying server resources.
But, we’re not content to just scale the current business. Innovation is the heart of any successful tech company. If you stop innovating, even to the point of disrupting yourself, then you start withering.
So our infrastructure team is also working on our next-generation systems, with new technology ranging from the latest cloud systems to big data with Hadoop. Our big numbers require things like scalable, highly-available microservices; reliable, real-time data pipelines; and even things like crunching massive quantities of log files looking for needles in the haystack that can help us find and fix issues and optimize the platform.
A lot of companies claim to do big data. Two billion requests per day is actually “big data.”
We’re building new products that we can’t write about yet (we don’t want to tell all our secrets to the Internet!), but at our scale, almost nothing can be conceived and built without design and implementation from our infrastructure team. We all are necessary parts of our success.
Finally, we actively support contributing back to open source and other communities. In WordPress of course, but also Ansible, HHVM, Hadoop, nginx, and anything else we use. Contributing code is one way, but so is hosting events (our own Tyler Turk started and runs the Austin Ansible Group from our offices) and attending and speaking at other events. Some companies say they support this, but for us it’s our Fifth Company Value — “Committed to Give Back” — so we really mean it, and we invest time and money in it. It’s not just lip service.
So if you’re a DevOps or SysAdmin, and it sounds like a breath of fresh air to be treated as an investment, as a vital part of the product, innovation, growth, and future of the company, not as a cost center to be optimized into the “minimum viable team,” then you should apply now and see whether WP Engine might be your new home.