When Your DSE Architect Resigns | Apache Cassandra and DataStax Enterprise - DataStax Academy

It has happened in the past. It will happen again. And, not to ruin your day, but chances are, it will happen to you at some point in the future. What will you do when someone essential to your team’s success decides to leave? Maybe it’s for another opportunity. Maybe it’s for health reasons. Maybe it’s for family reasons. Maybe it’s for retirement. Whatever the reason, what will you do when a top contributor to your DataStax Enterprise project has an unfortunate encounter with that figurative “bus” and is no longer available to you?

In DataStax Support, we have seen this devastating scenario play out in the lives of our customers more times than we can remember. We simply cannot suppress those memories fast enough. While the circumstances vary, in the end there is an important project in jeopardy and a valuable customer in desperate need of assistance. So, based on these occurrences, and with the help of work by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, this is what you might expect when your DataStax Architect, Lead DBA or other key contributor resigns.

But before we begin, let me make it clear that I do not claim to be a licensed psychotherapist and I am not trying to trivialize the sense of loss and grief associated with the passing of a loved one by comparing it to a business resignation. However, the Kübler-Ross model fits, so I thought we could use it, albeit in a simplistic form.

Denial

The first stage that you are likely to encounter when you hear of the resignation is shock and denial. In this stage, your immediate reaction is “Not me!”. Sure, we’ve heard of this happening to other companies but it can’t be happening to me. Things aren’t that bad for us. I’m sure our succession planning efforts will pay off and everything will be fine.

The important task at this stage is to confront the assumptions. How prepared is your team? Are the successors adequately trained? Are they able to provide an accurate assessment of the state of your DSE clusters and are they confident in their current abilities to move the project forward to a successful completion? Chances are your data is too valuable to leave to a team who will “learn on the job,” and in DataStax Support we have tried to assist many who were unwillingly thrust into their role without proper planning.

As you confront your assumptions during this initial denial stage, talk to us about whether additional training will help those successors better prepare for their added responsibilities. It could be the difference between a successful transition and a problematic one.

Anger

As the reality of the situation settles in, it is normal for those affected to enter a stage of blaming and anger as they look for the source of the problem. After all, we are engineers for whom RootCauseAnalysis.isActive() defaults to true. Frequently, the questions begin with “why”.  Why didn’t we have any warning? Why weren’t the processes documented? Why didn’t anyone upgrade to a supported version or add additional nodes? This stage is normal. In fact, a certain amount of anger is healthy because it shows that you care.

The important task at this stage is to control the anger and channel the passion in a constructive manner. As you assess your situation and discover the sources of problems, you may find it useful to perform a comprehensive assessment of the health of the cluster as a whole. In researching the question “what else is wrong”, an organization can discover where it can best target its energies.

The DataStax Services team offers a holistic Health Check that will help an organization pinpoint the most urgent issues to address as top priorities.

Bargaining

It is natural to progress to a stage of Bargaining as you seek to avoid the impending loss. Thoughts of “what if” and “if only” cross your mind. “They can leave, just not now. Let’s just get past our busy season, then we can deal with this.” Or, “Maybe if we paid them more, they will stay.” Or, “If only they had given us more warning, I’m sure we would have been ready.”

The important task as you explore the possibilities is to converse with others who might be able to help turn some of those hypotheticals into reality.  Oftentimes, a conversation with your DataStax Enterprise Sales Manager will provide other options that could help you endure the current crisis with greater hope for a successful resolution.

Depression

In truly severe situations where Bargaining provides no hope for avoiding a dire outcome, Depression sets in and the temptation is to give up. As the Lead Architect departs, how will your project go on?  What do you do now?   

Keep in mind that Kübler-Ross’s work centered around stages of grief over the death of a loved one and we are simply talking about the departure of an important member of the team. As such, this person’s departure from the team, while it might represent a personal loss associated with the possible distancing of a business associate and friend, it by itself should not be a cause of catastrophic doom for the DataStax Enterprise cluster. If it does, then it is likely there were larger problems already in place that must also be addressed.

However, if you find yourself pondering the way forward, then this is an indication that you should contact the DataStax Services team to consider what assistance they can provide. DataStax Services engagements are customized to assist customers in the midst of their unique situations. And “the sooner the better” applies here since delaying too long will limit your options. So, before you hit the depths of despair and depression, contact your DataStax Services team.

Acceptance

The final stage of Acceptance does not necessarily mean that everything is alright because some important team members are not easily replaced. However, at this stage there is a sense that life will go on in a world that has changed.  You begin to construct your new life and turn your focus onto what’s next.

For some customers, the new reality involves the successor(s) functioning sufficiently as a replacement. For others, Services involvement is more essential, maybe even providing Remote DBA assistance. For others, DataStax Managed Cloud provides a compelling solution that strips away the responsibilities of cluster administration allowing your team to focus on your application. DataStax can help you construct this new reality.

Conclusion

The departure of a key employee is often problematic. But in the case of your DataStax Architect, Lead DBA or other key contributor, their departure does not need to be catastrophic. In the unfortunate event that one of your key team members tenders their resignation, stay in touch with your DataStax Support team. We can connect you with Training, Services and Account teams to minimize the impact of the departure and better position you for addressing future challenges.

Summary

StageSummary ThoughtImportant TaskDataStax Assistance
DenialNot me!Confront assumptionsTraining
AngerWhy me?Control/channel emotionsHealth Check
BargainingNot now!Converse about optionsEnterprise Sales Manager
DepressionHow now?Consider available assistanceServices
AcceptanceWhat next?Construct a way forwardRemote DBA, DataStax Managed Cloud