The way engineers traditionally became distributed systems engineers was by creating infrastructure in-house and building hands-on familiarity with how data moved through a system. But specialization among engineers and increasing levels of abstraction have created a situation in which almost no one has a complete view of how data moves through an entire system, end to end. At the same time it’s become harder to understand the systems we’re building because we didn’t build them ourselves. Mobile and web apps are increasingly built on backends as a service, platforms as a service, and infrastructure as a service, and we snap together software as a service like Legos.
We’ve all become distributed systems engineers, intentionally or not. This means that the skills required for understanding and diagnosing problems within a distributed system are more important for everyone, whether frontend, backend, or full stack, because our systems are increasingly distributed. Rachel Myers and Emily Nakashima detail tools and skills we can use to get ourselves out of the corner we’ve boxed ourselves into.
Rachel Myers is a backend engineer at Google working on Firebase rules. Previously, she was an engineer at GitHub and ModCloth and founded Opsolutely. In her free time, she designs enamel pins.
Emily Nakashima is a full stack JS engineer who loves design, web perf, and metrics. Emily is a co-organizer of the AndConf code retreat and unconference and a volunteer for RailsBridge.
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