Meeting the EMEA MongoDB Masters – Mitch Pirtle

Meeting the EMEA MongoDB Masters – Mitch Pirtle

Continuing and getting back on track with our series of getting to know the MongoDB Masters – Meet Mitch Pirtle who lives in sunny Turin.

Meet Mitch Pirtle


Me: Who are you, what do you do and where are you based?
Mitch: Hi I’m Mitch, and I’m an American living and working in the beautiful city of Turin, Italy. I previously lived in New York City, where my involvement with MongoDB began years ago. Currently I’m the CTO for Sounday, a music startup focusing on bringing together professionals in the music industry (and not just chasing Facebook fans). I am a husband, father, football coach, musician, skate punk, cook, prankster, and master hedonist. I’m also building a private recording studio and working on an independent documentary film.

Me: How did you get involved in open source?
Mitch: For me, all software is open source. It has been this way for more than two decades – software that I cannot open and fix myself, I try to avoid. That is not considered “real” software to me, but sometimes is an unpleasant necessity due to a client requirement or some such.

As for getting involved, I honestly can’t remember. I think I pushed some code for the early linux audio systems before ALSA came out, or maybe NCSA server (the precursor to Apache). Definitely in the mid-nineties, but hard to tell as it was pre-GitHub, so all of my commits from the previous millennium consisted of email, irc and ftp (or nntp). My biggest FOSS success is probably as a founder of the Joomla! content management system, where I can claim the dubious honor of being the “John Hancock of Joomla!” as I signed the incorporation documents for OSM (the non-profit behind the project). I’ve contributed code to relational databases, webservers, audio systems, networking stacks, and as the world wide web progressed, a great many projects based on PHP, Python, Ruby, Node, and others. I’m supposed to be helping with the PHP extension and have failed to produce anything of value – which provides my shameful admission for this interview.

Me: How did you get involved in MongoDB?
Mitch:  I was actually interviewing as CTO for a startup funded by Gilt, and Dwight Merriman (founder of MongoDB, as well as Gilt) was my technical interviewer. We spoke for fifteen minutes about the opportunity, and then spent the rest of the hour babbling about a document database and how that would impact development, as well as deployment. I asked some tough questions, and probably showed Dwight that I understood the benefit of the approach. This was pre-1.0, and I went on to not only get the job but base the stack on MongoDB…

Which became the first production ecommerce website to rely on MongoDB for storage, and followed that with the first production ecommerce website to rely solely on MongoDB for ALL data storage at the following startup. My background with PHP-based projects sort of made me an ambassador to the PHP community for the project, which leads us to the next question.

Me: What do you do as a MongoDB Master?
Mitch: Promote the project of course, and also work with developers who have questions about MongoDB. I also write articles, speak at local and international events, and consult to companies wishing to get a detailed evaluation of the tech and how it relates to their existing infrastructure and staff. I also help FOSS projects integrate with MongoDB, and am currently working on far too many projects.

Me: How did you become a Master?
Mitch: I blame Meghan, or maybe Kristina. I was told either on IRC or twitter, and am still waiting for an autographed guitar or something. That’s what all my clients at Sounday do :-)

Me: What one thing would you like to promote in MongoDB that nobody knows about but you think  is beneficial to people!
Mitch: Project stability! I’ve held off contributing to many projects because they are unstable, and I would hate to see my contribution go with a short lifespan. I’ve seen the private innards of a great many projects, and can tell you with absolute conviction that the team behind MongoDB is not only scary smart but fiercely passionate about what they do. You can see that in how they treat their tracker (which is usually a bad joke for most projects). The collective brainpower is truly amazing, as every project has one or two great minds but this one has a dozen. They respect voting on tracker issues, and really listen to the community. I see other great technologies come and go, usually due to turnover or abandonment by their founders, but that simply isn’t going to happen with MongoDB, and I think the future could not be any brighter.

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