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The People and Values Behind Great Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

Great SaaS - starts with great software. My company has been working on this mission since 2004.

It took a few years to get our solution right - to offer a geo-distributed MySQL database backend for billion-dollar businesses. And it took a few more years to polish it.

Today, we continue to improve it day-in, day-out.

But there is no doubt the patience and perseverance pays off:

While the number of Tungsten-clustered databases in-production is in the thousands, we average only one (1) new support request per day, and, because of this, we provide an average response time less than three (3) minutes.

Not enough is said about the people and values behind great software; so that’s what I want to talk about here. Continuent is an agile, globally-distributed, remote team that is much greater than the sum of its parts. Our software helps global enterprises manage the risks associated with business-critical data, which requires a cutting-edge level of innovation and performance!

In case you missed it, Continuent falls under the category of “companies in the Open Source ecosystem” as described by our founder and CEO, Eero Teerikorpi:

Commercial software companies … monetizing their proprietary solutions by adding value on top of open source projects.

Thus, our culture is heavily influenced by its affiliation with Open Source, nicely described in this RedHat blog.

But what does this look like in practice?

Every six months, the whole company meets in-person in either the USA or Europe. At these company meetings, we reflect, get aligned for the future, and we get to know our teammates in-person (a strange and fun experience). 

Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT, USA: Spring 2019 Company Meeting

Since we’re actually seen only once every six months, what actually motivates us in the day-to-day - and how do we work against the challenges of being a distributed SaaS team? Eero summed it up at our last company meeting:

Working for Continuent means the freedom to work 24/7.

We each take responsibility for the team’s mission, we do whatever it takes to provide increasing value; and in exchange, we get the ultimate flexibility.

As a result, in my early twenties I was able to live in an RV and a sailboat and travel up and down the West Coast of the USA; now I find myself one of the luckiest moms in Tech and my company doesn’t need a formal policy to make it so!

How is this possible? Besides having a great product developed and supported through literally decades of experience, I believe it boils down to the following:

  • Growth mindset - We all strive to learn, innovate and find new ways to make things better. Nobody is put down for asking questions, and everyone is receptive to feedback. Things are pretty transparent; and this makes for a truly dynamic team. As Agustin Gallego said in his state of the community talk at Percona Live in Austin this year, “Do your homework, and no-one will ever refuse to help you.”
  • Trust/respect - We’re all passionate about our work, but it isn't always easy to openly disagree with one another, especially when we all care so much. The beauty is that we have common ground in our mission to provide great SaaS; and this fluid collaboration wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t trust and respect our teammates and communicate in a way that shows this. 

At the end of the day, when we get to work with such awesome customers year after year, and hear what a difference our products make to them professionally and personally (it’s a matter of being able to sleep at night for some...), it’s all worth the effort!

If you’re interested in learning more, please visit this page for commercial-grade Tungsten Clustering, providing high availability, disaster recovery, and a host of other benefits especially for multi-region applications running on MySQL, MariaDB, or Percona Server; and this page for our Tungsten Replicator, good for analytics and other heterogeneous data integration for a variety of targets including Vertica, Redshift, Kafka, and more.

About the Author

Sara Captain
Customer Success Manager

Sara has worn various hats at Continuent since 2014. Listening to Continuent customers over the years, Sara fell in love with the Continuent Tungsten suite of products. She started learning Linux and MySQL administration with the support of Continuent's amazing team, so she can help with keeping Customers happy. Prior to Continuent she worked in consulting with a focus on leveraging data.

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