31 March 2015 User Stories

My Year at Elastic

By Daniel Palay

One year ago, I stepped into our Los Altos office with a metric ton worth of butterflies in my stomach. Here I was an outsider, with only of six years of political and non-profit work to my name, walking into one of the fastest growing startups in the world.

Sure, I'd been around this industry for vast majority of my cognitive life. I grew up in Mountain View, my computer scientist dad worked at Silicon Graphics, then a few startups, and finally at Google. I tried to take after my dad - I even joined Computer Club in Seventh Grade (I'm pretty sure I failed at making a video game in Basic and that was the end of that). From that point forward, I couldn't get into computers or technical tools - instead I always looked to others for tech help: my dad, my three computer scientist roommates, and now my father- and brother-in-law.

So what led me to join Elastic (neé Elasticsearch) on March 31, 2014? 

It would be easy to say the people - I mean how could I argue with the personalities, compassion and backstories of the colleagues I have here. There are doctors (medical and academic), published authors, well-known computer programmers and developer relations advocates, legends in sales and operations, and heck, there is even that wicked awesome bald guy who only wears black v-neck t-shirts, Levi's jeans, and Nike shoes.

But there were people (maybe not as awesome) in my political and non-profit past. I could say the technology - which is pretty killer. I mean, just check out all the info on our product page (and while you're there, download the newest versions of everything available). But if you remember, I'm not that strong of a technologist. So why was I here?

Simply put: It's the stories about how our technology has real-life impact on any given person you pass on the street.

I could honestly talk about our community-driven success stories until my fingers fell off and I went blue in the face. Each of them is unique and wonderful in their own right, so stay tuned to our blog as we feature more of these stories moving forward and share how Elastic technology is helping play a part along the way. But for now, here is just a quick sample of what I'm talking about:

  • Opower empowers energy providers to help end-user consumers worldwide to reduce their carbon footprint and energy consumption 
  • Everbridge ensures emergency alert communications are delivered to the public in seconds to ensure continued public safety during crises 
  • Stack Overflow makes it easier to find a trusted answer to some of life's toughest coding, math, and science questions

But really, it's the stories that fall under the overarching theme of making society a better place that really get me. There are the nonprofits that use our software ( Wikimedia and GuideStar come to mind); there are the universities - both domestic (including the University of Georgia system) and foreign (KU Leuven for instance) making intranet search easier for their students; and there are even hospitals, including Mayo Clinic and Oklahoma's Integris Health, making sure that their patient care is faster and more efficient.

But more personally, as a child of a mother who bravely fought (and ultimately succumbed to) brain cancer, the story that touches me the most is from our dear friends at the Yale University Department of Laboratory Medicine. If you were at Elastic{ON} you heard Dr. Wade Schulz talk about how their world renowned doctors are using Elasticsearch to power their research database in their search for novel causes and cures for cancer. Their ingenuity means that hopefully one day there will be generations of children growing up knowing that cancer won't be able take their parents away from them too soon. If you weren't there or couldn't catch Dr. Schulz's talk, watch it on demand now.

So a year in, why am I here?

I've gotten a little more technical (I know how to close an HTML bracket and even know how to poke around Kibana 3 and 4), but more to the point, given how our new office is in Mountain View (actually across the street from where I lived growing up), I'm feeling a little nostalgic, so here it goes:

My mom always taught me to do something that makes me proud. And with Elastic, she couldn't be more right.

Here's to many more years.