I’ve been with 37signals as a remote system administrator for a month now and thought I would share some observations on Operations:

User Experience
I’ve been thoroughly impressed by how much everyone genuinely cares about the user experience with the applications they maintain. Everything from page response times increasing by a few milliseconds to minimizing interruptions during deployments or even the impact of the number of http redirects on load times – it’s all constantly being discussed and debated. This is often supplemented with hard data in logs and pretty graphs (thanks Noah!) from the multitude of resources made available internally to help diagnose issues.

It’s more than just observation and discussion, though – frequently these chats morph into immediate direct action in code or configuration changes.

37signals definitely embraces remote employees and treats them like any other. In my first month I’ve used Campfire, Basecamp, Jabber, Skype, Gmail, Github, Confluence, Google Docs, and more to stay connected and learn how some of the pieces fit together. Thanks to the resources made available from day one and the accessibility of the other Operations team members, I honestly haven’t felt left out in the slightest when working from home.

Operations definitely sets the bar high for accountability to users and the rest of the company. Every issue I’ve seen raised by support, programmers, or other admins is looked into and taken as seriously as any other.

When larger production issues are dealt with, detailed postmortems are made available so the same mistakes aren’t repeated. These have been great for learning what not to do.

The amount and depth of monitoring at 37signals is impressive. They have thousands of checks for everything from hardware issues, application error rates, backups, and scheduled jobs. On top of this, we have remote monitoring and systems in place for notifying users of ongoing issues.

Overall I’ve been impressed with the high standard of work in the Operations group and I’ll be doing my best to live up to it.

It’s been an interesting and enjoyable first month with 37signals, largely thanks to everyone who’s made me feel so welcome and valued, especially Taylor, John, Eron, Will and Anton. Thank you!