We can’t all be Shaq: why it’s time for the SRE hero to pass the ball and how to make it happen

Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most celebrated NBA players of all time. He played for six teams over his 19-year career and won countless awards — and for good reason. When the team needed two points, they knew they could throw the ball to Shaq, and let him go to work. He’d inevitably push someone around (hard not to do at 7’1” and 300+ pounds), dunk the ball, and the crowd would go wild.

The skills (and probably the size) are different, but there are a lot of engineers playing the Shaq role at their company. When the 2 a.m. outage page goes out, they’re the first to respond. These nebulous heroes find the problem, determine the affected areas, fix the issue (or know who to call to fix the issue), wake up the VP, draft messages to send to customers and stakeholders, create tickets to address why things went bad. Then at 9 a.m., they go back to the job they were hired to do. Backs are patted, and life goes back to normal until the next 2 a.m. page.

So what’s the problem here? Games are getting won, incidents are getting solved, it’s true. But are you truly setting your organization or team up for success by just “doing it for them” every time? A win doesn’t always have to come from a backboard-shattering slam dunk, and relying on the most dominant player to save the day isn’t a scalable solution for an organization’s continued success. Attend this talk to understand why it’s time to pass the ball and learn three ways you can take fast action to get there today.



Malcolm Preston

Joseph “Malcolm” Preston is a Staff Software Engineer at FireHydrant. He also spent time at Hudl, Thunderbolt Labs, and Ideeli. Based in New Rochelle, NY, Malcolm enjoys sports videography ...