Serving as the Digital Bridge: Meet the APIx Team at MongoDB

Meet MongoDB’s API Experience (APIx) team, the innovative group that connects our customers with our products. Their work is no small task; they operate at the intersection of technology and customer experience, ensuring that the product and user experience remains integrated, efficient, and effective. Keep reading to learn how APIx is making an impact and what it means to be part of this growing team.

Jackie Denner: Thank you for joining me today to share insights into our APIx team's work. To start, will you give an overview of your software engineering background and how you started working with MongoDB?

Colm Quinn: I come from a start-up background. My experience includes industrial automation, particularly in the development of time-series databases and real-time analytics tools for production data. My work spans various industries such as pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, renewable energy, and manufacturing. Throughout my career, I've adopted various roles, from development to customer relations, often serving as a bridge between Product and Engineering teams. I sought a new challenge and the opportunity to enhance my skills in system scaling in larger production environments, leading me to join MongoDB. Now, I serve as the Director of Engineering for the APIx team.

Tasos Piotopoulos: In my nearly two-decade journey in the tech industry, I've explored a wide array of domains including gaming, consulting, healthcare, logistics, and site reliability. MongoDB invited me to join as a Lead Engineer for one of the APIx teams, an exciting role that combines management with hands-on technical work. This opportunity allowed me to utilize my expertise in large-scale distributed systems while nurturing my passion for fostering professional growth in others. The MongoDB interview process impressed me because I actually got to meet the team members I’d be working with, and everyone was friendly, knowledgeable, and great to collaborate with.

Bianca Lisle: My experience as a software engineer has been diverse and exciting, and includes experience in IoT, automotive networks, and Android development. Additionally, I’ve worked extensively with the Control Plane of Redis and in-memory databases cloud services. MongoDB’s recruitment process and culture were delightful and positively influenced my decision to join. Currently, I work as a software engineer on the APIx team.

JD: Thanks for the overviews! Tell me more about the APIx team. What types of projects does the team work on?

CQ: In the APIx team, we strive to build a reliable and predictable API platform that caters to both external customers and our internal teams. A key part of our role is meeting customers where they are, considering their DevOps world, and integrating access into their platforms. We work closely together on different aspects of the API, which allows for comprehensive internal testing before the updates reach the customers.

TP: The APIx team consists of three distinct units, one of which is the newly formed API Integrations. Collectively, we’re responsible for providing a world-class experience for users who interact programmatically and automate against Atlas, our cloud-native data platform. Two of our APIx units shoulder an array of Atlas API-related responsibilities. These range from the auto-generation of technical specifications and Software Development Kits, managing API versioning to shield customer applications from disruption due to platform updates, creating a comprehensive command-line interface enabling customers to interface with Atlas from their terminals, and more. Operating on a more overarching scale, the APIx Integrations unit designs a range of products that elegantly integrate with Atlas APIs, facilitating customer automation against Atlas's functionalities using leading infrastructure as code solutions.

BL: The APIx team is in a unique position as an interface between the Atlas product and the customers. We work to protect customers from breaking changes in the API and also to assist our developers in avoiding breaking changes. Recently, we worked on a project related to versioning which allows the introduction of new features without impacting the customer experience.

JD: APIx Integrations is a new team at MongoDB. What does the product direction look like?

CQ: Our initial challenge was to ensure a consistent journey across all our integrations. That includes ensuring that different tools like AWS CloudFormation and HashiCorp TerraForm work in a consistent manner, are idiomatic, and follow similar documentation styles. Going forward, we aim to understand the DevOps ecosystem trends and the tools our customers want to use. We want to enhance our product offerings by going deeper, offering specific features for each platform that address common pain points. We're also seeking to broaden our scope by supporting more integrations based on market needs while maintaining consistency and ease of maintenance. Finally, we aim to improve our platform by automating and building tooling to keep pace with market changes. If you want to build systems, come do it with us!

JD: What is the engineering team hoping to achieve with APIx Integrations?

CQ: Our main goal is to increase the quality of existing and new integrations. We focus a significant part of our automation effort on maintaining consistent quality and preventing regressions in the system. We're also focused on user acquisition and gaining insights into how customers use the integrations, which can help us design better integrations in the future. We're dedicated to empathizing with our users, understanding their pain points, and working towards alleviating them. This work involves scaling up and improving our automation. It's also a great opportunity for our team members to develop their skills and grow, which aligns with our team culture.

JD: Tell me about the APIx team culture.

BL: I've found that we have a culture that strongly encourages questioning and learning. We've established a safe environment where everyone feels comfortable asking questions, regardless of their complexity or nature. We publicly communicate, and this openness allows the whole team to benefit from the shared information. It's an incredibly supportive group - we're never blocked for long periods due to obstacles, as there's always someone ready to help. The team's culture also gives everyone a voice. Even as a new hire, I felt encouraged to propose changes. We're open to experimentation and willing to adjust our processes based on what works best for the team. We also get the opportunity to share our work and ideas with the community, like collaborating on this blog post or participating in podcast discussions. It's an incredibly open, supportive, and dynamic team to be a part of.

CQ: Our team culture is extremely collaborative. We work closely with each other, and our relationships with product managers foster a lot of ideation and discussion. Our approach to work involves rapid ideation, swift documentation, and making sure we're all on the same page before proceeding with development. We are a remote-friendly team, prioritizing support for people wherever they work. Quality is a critical aspect of our work; we prefer to delay a feature to meet our quality bar, and this results in high-quality work that the team members appreciate and take pride in. We also strive to enjoy what we do and the environment we work in. This is a reflection of MongoDB's overall culture, which is open, inviting, and encouraging for everyone to be themselves at work. We respect diversity and different viewpoints, as these contribute to better feedback and conversations.

JD: Tell me more about your experience with the overall engineering culture at MongoDB. What has your experience working with the greater engineering team been like?

TP: MongoDB's engineering culture embodies a profound commitment to technology as the driving force behind our work. It is refreshing to witness the genuine understanding and appreciation of technology at all levels of leadership. Also, working alongside exceptionally talented individuals at MongoDB has been a constant inspiration and motivation. The people at MongoDB are truly outstanding, making collaboration an absolute pleasure.

BL: The engineering culture at MongoDB is transparent. Regular all-hands meetings with the company's leadership, including the CEO, keep everyone updated about the company's plans and direction. I also like that technical competence that runs across all leadership levels. This technical grounding allows realistic expectations and strategic trade-offs, protecting our high-quality output.

CQ: The engineering culture at MongoDB has technical acuity across all levels, including senior management. The depth of technical discussions, whether it involves engineers, product managers or even salespeople, is something that pleasantly surprised me when I joined. With our primary audience being developers, we need a team with a strong set of technical skills. The work culture is incredibly friendly and supportive.

TP: Additionally, our strong product management organization significantly enriches our engineering work output. MongoDB’s product managers are excellent at listening to customer needs, conducting market research, and holding user interviews before and after we develop a product. This provides us with invaluable insights to gauge interest, understand user needs, produce highly-impactful features, and allows us to continue refining our products post-development. The constant high-quality collaboration between these two areas has been a real growth opportunity.

JD: What learning and growth opportunities are there for someone who joins the APIx team?

CQ: Our team is constantly growing, and with this growth comes many chances to explore new areas and hone our skills. We have a targeted focus within the team to dedicate time to areas we're interested in, and we even have policies like no-meeting Wednesdays to make room for learning and growth. We also engage with the open-source community, with over half of our contributions being open-source. This allows us to integrate with a wider community, share ideas, and even speak at conferences.

TP: We place a significant emphasis on growth as a central aspect of our engineering experience. We aim to provide a workspace where engineers have ample opportunities to think, read, experiment, and learn. We offer systematic coaching, weekly learning opportunities, discussions, and personal development plans. Our leads encourage each engineer to spend time on self-learning and development as part of their work. It's not just about delivering work but also about creating a nurturing environment where engineers can continuously grow with explicit support and guidance from their leads.

BL: If you’re new to the APIx team, we want you to feel comfortable being yourself. Don't hesitate to ask questions, no matter how trivial they might seem. Your unique perspective could lead to improvements in our team. We encourage open communication, expressing your thoughts, and being proactive in learning about our challenges. By collaborating to solve our problems, we can elevate our team to the next level.

JD: What advice would you give to someone considering applying to an open position on the APIx team?

CQ: Initially, I'm interested in understanding how you've made an impact in your previous roles. When you’re in the interview process, remember that everyone in the room wants you to succeed. We’re looking for alignment in terms of how you approach situations and whether you would be happy on our team. The best way for you to succeed is to find a role where you'll genuinely enjoy the work. We’re hoping you find that place on our team!

TP: MongoDB operates at an immense scale, a characteristic that might initially appear daunting, especially if you've not worked on systems of such a magnitude. Don’t let the scale discourage you from applying. We provide comprehensive onboarding training, ensuring you acquire familiarity with our practices and establish effective collaboration with colleagues. It's an incredible learning opportunity that allows you to grow both personally and professionally, and make an impact.

Learn more about what our APIx team is working on:

Interested in transforming your career at MongoDB? Find open roles on our engineering team.