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Meet ScyllaDB’s New VP of R&D, Yaniv Kaul

We’re excited to welcome Yaniv Kaul, who just joined ScyllaDB as VP of Research and Development, to the sea monster community. Kaul comes to ScyllaDB from Red Hat, where he was Senior Director of Engineering.

At Red Hat, Yaniv led the Cloud Infrastructure engineering group, which included the OpenStack, Virtualization Management, Cloud Storage and Data Services, and Performance and Scale engineering groups. In addition to leading engineering teams, Yaniv also brings years of Quality Assurance and security experience to ScyllaDB. A graduate of University of Hertfordshire (BSc., Computing and Networks), Yaniv holds 8 patents related to virtual machine performance tuning, in-memory caching, and SSD block-based storage.

We recently caught up with Yaniv for a quick Q & A. Read on to hear about his fascination with tackling complex challenges: from distributed system engineering to photographing bees.

What drew you to ScyllaDB?

I worked with [ScyllaDB co-founders] Avi and Dor at Qumranet and then at Red Hat, so that was certainly one item to consider. The other is that since I knew Avi and Dor, I was following both Seastar and ScyllaDB’s development – their technical achievement and challenges – since their inception. I’m a bit of a geek and find core technology areas like performance, scale, and cloud quite interesting…(more so than areas such as mobile or gaming).

It’s not just databases per se, but distributed systems overall that I’m fascinated with. I actually have a lecture that I deliver to first year students about why data storage is so hard. I mean, it’s just read and write, so what’s so difficult about it? Well, it will break. And once you realize that it will break, you understand that you need replication. Then, once you replicate, it’s a distributed system – and you get into tons of other challenges. I like those challenges.


What are your takeaways from the recent ScyllaDB R & D Summit in Tbilisi Georgia?

I was really struck by the open atmosphere. It was almost an “unconference.” At most internal dev summits I’ve attended, the focus is, “We need to discuss topic A, reach a decision, then execute on it.” This summit was different – more open ended. We had presentations and technical discussions without the pressure for a resolution and action.

Also, it was great to meet the team members. We’re a truly distributed engineering team, yet there’s just no substitute for sitting down with someone for dinner, discussing family, and hobbies – and of course the occasional talk of code, features, and bugs.

What are you most excited about right now?

Our journey to the cloud. [ScyllaDB Cloud is now behind the majority of ScyllaDB’s sales]. It’s exciting because a lot of the ScyllaDB core developers are discovering new things related to Kubernetes in this environment, abstraction layers, and so on. There are some great challenges,of course, but also huge opportunities.

What’s on your wish list for the ScyllaDB community?

We have two communities: the user community and the developer community.

Let’s start with the user community. I’d like to see more success stories – specifically, more integration stories. ScyllaDB is not used as an island. It is used in connection to other projects such as Spark and Kafka. I’d like to see more stories on how ScyllaDB is used as part of a larger data processing pipeline. Also, I’d like to hear more feedback, both positive and negative. What’s helping your team with your projects, and where can we do better? Hearing specific feedback from users really motivates the development community members.

From the development community, I think the user interface is a good place to start since there’s a lower barrier to entry there. Offering new ways to work with ScyllaDB, making it simpler to interact with ScyllaDB – I think those are areas where we could see some really interesting and valuable contributions. But if there’s anyone up to the task to continue and accelerate Scylla – contributions are welcome!

Also, if anyone is up for contributing to our end-to-end testing, that would be amazing. Testing something this complex can be daunting, but it’s extremely important to the project. I’m really impressed by the work that our QA team is doing to test ScyllaDB performance and scale. They have developed a very advanced approach to testing. Adding your perspectives to this testing effort could be a great way to contribute.

What ScyllaDB capability/technology do you think is a hidden gem?

ScyllaDB’s Monitoring Stack. It provides a huge amount of information on what’s going on. People who know how to use the monitoring stack can gain a lot of insight on the internals and what ScyllaDB is doing. I don’t think many people are aware of all the available metrics and what you can deduce from those metrics.

Do you have any reading – or video viewing – recommendations for engineers?

What do you do in your spare time?

Well, I like to go on trips. My most memorable trip – so far – was my honeymoon. We were able to spend 100 days traveling around the globe: New York, San Francisco, New Zealand, Japan, China, Hong Kong…

However, I haven’t had the chance to go on too many trips lately. We just renovated our house, so we’re still recovering from that. When I do get a chance to take a trip, I really enjoy photography. Specifically, I have an interesting fascination with taking photos of bees.

Intrigued? Join our Engineering Team

ScyllaDB, the fastest NoSQL Database, is a remote-first company looking to expand our team with engineers who thrive on tackling daunting challenges. If you’re intrigued, take a look at our list of open positions. And for a peek “under the hood” of ScyllaDB engineering, browse our Engineering Resources.


About Cynthia Dunlop

Cynthia is Senior Director of Content Strategy at ScyllaDB. She has been writing about software development and quality engineering for 20+ years.