My job, after 5.558 years


I’ve been at Mozilla for 5.558 years (or 2001 days but who keeps count?).

Over that time I’ve seen my role within Mozilla change from a network engineer on a team of three to helping orchestrate a team of 38. While my role and job title has surely changed, I don’t think my job actually has. In fact, I can sum up my entire job description with the following:

To empower the Community to promote the Mozilla Mission.

So great, that’s my job, summed up in one line. What does that actually mean? How do I go about doing that?  And what is the Community?

Good questions.

First, the easy one.  In the Mozilla world, people are everything*. The Mozilla Community is you.  It’s me. It’s everyone who contributes to the Mozilla project, whether paid staff or volunteer contributors.  Es todo el mundo.

Second, I’m going to back up a bit.  Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been spending time with Engagement and talking more and more about Community, so much so that I’ve started using it as a proper noun.  How did I get there?

Back in late Spring, I took a now pivotal trip to Buenos Aires. People close to me are probably tired of hearing me say it, but I came back from that trip with an affinity for gelato and espresso. And Community.

Then I took a trip to Paris (and yes, lost my passport).  I spent a little time there learning more about the Mozilla Community.

Then it hit me.  I’m IT, an Ops guy.  I am also Engagement. We all are.

A couple weeks ago Mozilla had nearly all 600 employess onsite for a company All Hands.  One particular keynote hit me and focused a lot of my thoughts and feelings into a singular point.  I took notes.  A lot of notes.

  • We will never have enough employees to compete
  • We need to create on ramps to create & participate
  • You do not need to be an employee to participate
  • Make others stronger, build better aspects of Mozilla
  • Be fierce.  No one will build into the Internet the kinds of things we want to build

In less than 60 minutes, I saw 2012 as a chance to pivot IT and came up with this simple idea to guide 2012:

How does IT put Community first?

So back to that question, how do I “empower the Mozilla Community”?

There’s the obvious and then the three things that will define 2012 for me.

  1. I orchestrate a group of nearly 40 folks who manage Mozilla’s IT Infrastructure and Operations.  These are the folks who are largely behind the scenes running all the computers that support all the websites.
  2. Community IT.  My collective teams manage an dizzying array of technology.  We support a company that was nearly 40 strong when I started and is nearly 600 today.  We have all these tools at our disposal.  Do you know about them?  How do I make these same set of tools available for you to use?  Teach me what other tools you need.  Help me help you leverage the resources and skills we have to empower the Community and push Mozilla’s mission forward.
  3. Community Sysadmins.  IT is generally closed.  Mozilla is not.  There’s a incredible disconnect there.  How do we leverage the expertise of the Community in running some of the busiest websites in the world?
  4. Air Mozilla.  How do we reinvigorate Air Mozilla such that it becomes a focal point for the Mozilla Community?  A place to show case open source video and technologies?  A place for the Mozilla Community share content?

Over the next several weeks  you’ll see a couple more blog posts talking more about those and how you can get involved.  I’m going need your help, afterall.

My own personal goals by the end of 2012 are:

  • to have 5-10 volunteer Community Sysadmins actively helping run Mozilla’s network and servers.
  • to have a vibrant Community IT group…
  • to have a premiere source for open source video technology, a site where the Mozilla Community can find, share and create video content

And, quite frankly, I’ll be even more excited if those are thriving on their own, independent of me.

This feels like the most ambitious set of projects I’ve ever tried to start.  We might stumble, we might fall.  I suspect, however, we’ll succeed because of the strength of Mozilla’s Community.

To be crystal clear, and to quote Mitchell, I am utterly committed.


ps. For those Excel folks,  ROUND(YEARFRAC(DATEVALUE("3/15/2006"),TODAY()),3) & DAYS360(DATEVALUE("3/15/2006"),TODAY())

Tags: ,

Categories: Community, Mozilla

11 responses

  1. Mike Beltzner wrote on :

    I am standing and applauding. Let me know if there’s any way I can help. I would be happy to join any discussion on how to develop Mozilla’s tools to make it easier for community members to engage and feel like part of the org.

  2. bhearsum wrote on :

    This is splendid and exciting. I’m particularly interested to see how having volunteer sysadmins pans out — that’s something that other groups (like RelEng!) could implement, too.

    The Fedora Project also has volunteer sysadmins. I’m not involved there at all, but I’ve been told that it’s been successful for them.

  3. Nigel wrote on :

    I’m amazed by how much Mozilla keeps opening up to the community! 🙂

  4. Jay Patel wrote on :

    I’m excited to watch the IT Community grow and can’t wait to see what we do with video. Can’t imagine a better person to lead the way as we transform how Mozilla does IT.

    I hope others at Mozilla that may feel like they’re not directly engaged with our Community can find ways to think outside the box and pave the way to bring more aspects of what we do every day into the lives of Mozillians everywhere.

  5. Lawrence Mandel wrote on :

    What a well written piece. Each team can take your template and apply it.

    “To empower the Community with X to promote Mozilla’s vision.”

    I’m excited to see how IT can open up.

  6. David Boswell wrote on :

    This is exciting and I think there’s a ton of potential for people to get involved with the projects you mention. I’m looking forward to reading more about what’s happening and helping out.

  7. Pierros Papadeas wrote on :

    This is splendid! Can’t wait to see all those amazing initiatives of yours realized, and help you along the way!

    Thanks so much for taking the lead of this 🙂

  8. jibonosky wrote on :

    Thank you for a great post and wish the best of luck to all job seekers who are reading this post and also those who are not. Best Regards

  9. Paul Booker wrote on :

    Great post Mr Z!

    Very much looking forward to getting involved with Mozilla IT.

    One idea that may be of interest could be to run Social@Mozilla on a Mozilla community server at EC2 / Rackspace Cloud / .. Doing this could also generate some interest to develop the site further.

    Paul Booker
    i <3 the open web

  10. Dan Mosedale wrote on :

    This is fantastic. I’m really excited to this happening. As the first sysadmin many years ago, I wish I had done more of this early on (we had one or two non-Netscape folks who helped us out, but it was very minimal). Thanks for bringing this to the forefront!

  11. Gervase Markham wrote on :

    (Just got to reading planet after holiday.) Words cannot express how awesome it is to read this 🙂 Go for it!