Stephen AhlgrenBroomfield, Colorado, United States
I’m a lead software developer at Alteryx working largely in the backend of our Server and Engine. My background is in both Computer Science and the Geosciences, and my nearly 15-year professional career spans the gamut of consulting and software development. Among other tasks, I’ve worked as front-line technical support, systems administrator, on-site consultant, laser scan (LIDAR) technician/programmer, trainer, software architect and maintenance programmer. My broad background and deep bag of tricks helps me to embrace each new challenge as a learning opportunity, and my penchant for stepping boldly into the unknown is a cornerstone of my development practice.
Regardless of my role, I’ve always considered the customer as my guide, and nothing gives me greater joy than seeing my code in the hands of a true expert, pushing it to the limit while solving interesting problems. I thrive on interacting directly with the customer, be it helping to troubleshoot a difficult problem or listening intently to their needs while gathering requirements for an upcoming development project.
At Alteryx, I started working on Server during its infancy, so when it comes to deploying, troubleshooting and maintaining Server I’ve probably seen it before! The Alteryx Team released the first version of Server with the Alteryx 8.0 “Gallery” release, which included a replacement for the legacy Alteryx Scheduler and the new Public Gallery interface. We added our “Private Server” implementation in Alteryx 9.0, and since then our Server functionality has grown steadily with each release.
Although the Server itself has changed over the years, one constant is the simple client question of “Why” buy Alteryx Server? The answer changes depending on the exact client needs, but there’s several reasons that tend to crop up in most engagements. The list of Server features is extensive, but from my perspective it’s a natural extension to Designer and helps Designer live up to its full potential.
With that in mind, I would welcome the opportunity to help clients understand and successfully deploy Alteryx Server!
I graduated from Amherst College in central Massachusetts with undergraduate degrees in Geology and Computer Science, and subsequently earned an MSc. in Structural Geology at the University of Arizona. Prior to my engagement at Alteryx, I worked as both a consultant and developer in upstream Oil & Gas, writing software for 2D/3D surface and subsurface modeling, geological restoration and reservoir simulation. I also worked as a Systems Administrator largely for Unix-based and mixed PC/Unix networks and have extensive experience as a mentor and trainer for both internal and external clients.
In addition to my tenure at Alteryx, I’ve worked in several startup-type organizations, including designing processing algorithms for ground-based laser scan (LIDAR) systems when they were first appearing on the market in the late 90s, and architecting a flexible coordinate-conversion platform for the GIS/CAD industry. I’ve been responsible for the rebirth of several “Big Ball of Mud” (BBOM) type products, refactoring and adding tests to improve stability and move the project into the future. I’ve ported several products from Windows to Unix, dealt with internationalization issues, replaced hardware in high-end servers, wired offices for Ethernet, worked the floor of numerous tradeshows, and taught C++ classes to international development teams. I’ve carried each of these experiences forward in my career, learning from each and adding to my ever-deepening bag of tools & tricks.
Despite my exact role, my stated mission throughout my career is to deliver top-quality software and services to clients, on time and in scope, framing their needs within the larger scope of the company’s objectives. I thrive on diving into the unknown, asking hard questions, developing a concrete tactical plan, and trundling forward knowing that the outcome may be different than what I expected. Embracing change is a fundamental aspect of agile software development, and with nearly fifteen years under my belt as a “Pragmatic Agilist” I enjoy refining my practice and sharing that knowledge with others.
I believe strongly in outreach, both internal and external, and throughout my career I’ve made a concerted effort to spread my domain knowledge laterally through training classes, blog posts, and direct communication. I initiated an agile training program at Alteryx now known as “Agile Week” during which developers are coached in agile development best practices through instructor-led and hands-on sessions. I co-developed a Server-focused training class to up-skill our internal Customer Success and Sales teams, and we turned the class into an all-day training session that premiered at Inspire 2016. My recent Alteryx Community blog post series on Server focused on deeper IT-type issues such as performance and automation that an Administrator might encounter when working with Server.
As a software developer, nothing gives me more satisfaction than seeing something I wrote in the hands of a user, solving interesting problems and making their life easier in the process! I thrive on direct engagements with clients and am often called upon to assist with troubleshooting difficult problems, verifying a deployment/configuration strategy, or gathering customer requirements. Without customers, my job would not exist, and I greet each interaction as an opportunity to perform better than the last. Whether it’s running benchmarks to correctly size a Server, digging into Kerberos configuration, or troubleshooting an HDFS connection, I bring a high level of confidence and commitment to each customer engagement. Each experience is unique and an opportunity for me to both learn something new and transfer knowledge via mentorship. A win-win for everyone involved.
I am fortunate to work with such a talented development team, and I strive to build cross-team relationships across our organization. We build upon the motto of “One product, one team”, with you, our customer, as our guide. Together, let’s continue to build the Next Great Analytics Company!
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