Published on 17 March 2015 by

Today, we'd like to feature Phil Watts as an exemplary community member! Phil has given generously of his time to our UX research program as a Puppet Test Pilot. He’s also active in his local Puppet User Group in Philadelphia.

Jenny Mahmoudi, Puppet Labs UX researcher, says, “Phil has been extremely helpful in evaluating Puppet Enterprise 3.7 in the wild, and has had direct impact on both tactical and strategic iterations.

“Phil helped us understand the pain of a multi-step manual process to delete hundreds of ephemeral nodes, because he is doing this on a weekly basis for his test environments. Phil's situation highlighted a pain point that many others have experienced, which pushed us to design a better workflow that is now in development.

“One of the trickier problems in PE 3.7 is integrating a dynamic code promotion workflow with the environment assignments in PE’s node manager. There isn’t a quick or easy solution here, but Phil’s clear articulation of his workflow and goals is a vital input to iterating on the design. Not only has Phil helped us improve the current release of Puppet Enterprise, but he has also provided data that will help us evaluate and improve designs before shipping them.

“If the best way to learn how to improve the product is to observe it being used in the real world, the next best thing is to simulate a real world situation. Phil helped us do just that by exporting an anonymized set of data from PuppetDB. We will import this data into our prototypes and test out scenarios and workflows, spotting design flaws that would pop up only with real data, and discovering workflow problems in an environment with more at stake. To borrow Phil’s Apollo 13 reference, it’s like dumping the pile of crap on the table and trying to invent a way to put a square peg in a round hole. In our case, it’s trying to adjust our prototype to fit in the real world.”

Mari Federow, Puppet Test Pilot coordinator, says, “Phil was an amazing help in our PE 3.7 release research, up to and including a site visit. He has responded to almost every email Puppet Test Pilots sent him, contributing to many surveys and volunteering for most research projects for which he’s eligible, as well. Between sessions, he is exceptionally responsive, communicative and helpful, and we've learned an incredible amount from his contributions of time and wisdom.”

Phil currently works as a cloud and DevOps admin at TE Connectivity in Harrisburg, Pa. When not attempting to automate all the things, Phil spends his time being directed into action by his 2-year-old daughter, Munchie, and his 9-month-old daughter, Ollie-Bear. When they rest, he is left under the command of his 3-year-old cat, Honey Waffle, her cohort Sasha, and his fellow prisoner (and wife) Jenn.

Thanks, Phil, for helping others in the community learn from your experience! You can find Phil as MarsuperMammal on GitHub , @pwattste on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

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