Many of the world’s largest and most complex organizations are Workday customers, with more joining our community all the time. That’s why our technologists are continuously focused on advancing the scalability and availability of our technology infrastructure.
Among them are Noah Arliss and Jason Howes. They are experts in the field of distributed computing, one of the many technologies that Workday uses to help evolve its infrastructure. Distributed computing brings multiple computing resources together over a shared network to do work that is too large for a single machine, such as running large-scale applications that manage many operations in parallel. The concept itself is over 30 years old but it’s being used in new ways, serving as the foundation for important innovations like the Hadoop open-source software framework.
Arliss and Howes, who joined Workday in November 2014, have one goal in mind: Grow a team tasked with uncovering new ways to extend the benefits of distributed computing for Workday and our customers (including our goal to reach zero downtime for Workday releases). We spoke with them to learn more about this technology and plans for their team based out of Workday’s Boston office.
How did you get interested in distributed computing?
Howes: Back in middle school, I was into bulletin board systems, which existed before the Internet. They let people connect their personal computers to servers using modems and establish communities where we played games and wrote on forums. The notion that you could communicate with people you never met through this invisible ether fascinated me. My curiosity drove me to study computer science at Cornell where I learned how computers communicate, and how to make them work together to solve problems using distributed algorithms.
Arliss: When I was in college at Brandeis University studying computer science I had a project to create a Beowulf Cluster―essentially building a cluster of machines to run tasks. So, a lot like Jason, the idea of connecting computers together and getting them to communicate was interesting to me.
Can you talk about how we’re using distributed computing at Workday?