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The Last Mile: Delivering the Last 10% Of a 4-Year Migration

- PST
Main Stage
Join on Hopin

Jordan Moldow
Box, Staff Software Engineer, Database Tools and Automations Team

Jordan Moldow is a Staff Software Engineer on Box’s Database Tools and Automations team. After earning MIT BS degrees in CSE and mathematics in 2014, Jordan moved to California to join Box. Jordan and his teammates focus on backend database infrastructure, providing the tools, intermediate services, and protective measures necessary for massive query and data storage capabilities at scale. Jordan is passionate about free software, clean software/interface design, teaching/mentoring, software architecture, and team effectiveness. Jordan lives in the SF Bay Area of California with his partner Melissa and their dog.


In complex projects, the last 10% of the project is often the most difficult part. In this talk, I will share a case study of Box's 4-year effort to get rid of our legacy mapping DB and move the last piece of our legacy monolith MySQL traffic to our data access layer. This talk will cover how to manage technical risk and optimize team execution in a technically complex and operationally distributed environment. This talk will share reflections on useful tactics that led to the successful completion of this 4 year migration project for others to learn from and leverage.As a relatively new Staff engineer, I learned and experimented with building and maintaining a long time-horizon project plan, identifying unknown unknowns, and continually finding ways to de-risk the project at every stage of development. As the project progressed, I found that successful execution depended not only on these technical strategies, but even moreso on how the team operated. In the spirit of Agile and mitigating the isolation of the pandemic, we experimented with almost every aspect of how we worked: how/when we worked together, how our sprints ran, how we evolved designs, and even the minutia of how we retrospected. In this session, we will have a candid discussion on the technical and organizational strategies that I believe were important to our success, or that were promising enough to warrant more experimentation in the future. Participants will leave with a few ideas that they should be able to try out within their own teams. Additionally, there are some deeper ideas about team leadership and effectiveness that I hope participants will be able to reflect on going forwards.