From 30 to 300K

After four months working at Pantheon1 decided to write a little retrospective on my time there so far.

From 2013-2021 I created and hosted Drupal websites for Kent State University Libraries. Some of the things I worked on were moving their physical Mac OS servers to CentOS 6 virtual machines, migrated their custom CMS platform to Drupal 7, launched the first Islandora Institutional Repository running on Drupal 82, moved their custom digital repository to Omeka3, and upgraded those CentOS 6 VMs to RHEL 8. In total involved around 30 test/production websites running across across seven VMs.

What 10,000x changes

In December 2021 I joined Pantheon. Pantheon hosts (and much more!) a lot of websites. Like 300,000 of them. To name a few: Harvard, Kent State 😊, RedHat, Rensselaer, Pershing Square, Yale, DocuSign, Nestle, Clorox, and even this little website you're on right now.

So what changes in an environment that's 10,000x the scale? Probably the most striking difference that I did not anticipate is the degree to which success and failure are amplified.

Failing has always been easy. Didn't try? Fail. Didn't try hard enough? Fail. Misunderstood something vital when you were trying to do good? Fail... These realities always exist no matter the scale. When there are 10,000 times more "things", there's that amount -- multiplied by whatever failure factor exists at any scale -- of opportunities to mess up. What's much more interesting is the inverse is also true. There are that many more opportunities to succeed! As a matter of fact, many more.

Everyone is trying their best to make things better for tomorrow. So while at 10,000x scale there's more room for error, luckily that large scale also provides a large support system of people/co-workers that are able and willing to catch common failures, allowing success to manifest at a much greater rate.

  1. https://pantheon.io
  2. https://oaks.kent.edu
  3. https://journal.code4lib.org/articles/12529