When I first encountered HarperDB, it was because I was trying to solve a problem related to storing and analyzing high-speed IoT sensor data on edge devices with limited resources.
Traditionally, you write the data to a transactional database- often times a document store like MongoDB. Then you configure some ETL process to transform and move that data to an analytics platform like PostgreSQL or SQL Server where you run your complex analytics queries (with JOINS, SUBSELECTS, CTE, etc.).
The problem with that strategy for IoT is that you can’t run two databases on an edge device and expect to live a happy life. Constrained resources are the biggest reason, but I’ve also found that- as a developer- complexity is to be avoided if you ever want to take a day off.
So HarperDB’s core product- a database that could write and read at very high speeds AT THE SAME TIME- addressed a lot my pain points.
Fast-forward to me taking a job there.
After watching the sales engineers do demos with a terminal open in one window and Postman open in the other, I realized that one thing has remained true for the 20-some odd years I’ve been working with cool technology built by engineers:
People don’t buy your feature list, your metrics, your PoC, or your customer referrals. They buy your product’s ability to let them catch their breath.
Your customers- like all of us- have a lot to do. Selling them the fastest database in the world won’t do them any good if the very next thing out of your mouth is “You can use our built-in API to not only build your apps, but also to build all the visualization and management tools you need.”
Microsoft’s SQL Server Management Studio is- objectively- a rat’s nest chock-full of good intentions and tiny buttons. But if it didn’t exist, who on earth would buy SQL Server?
Making HarperDB easy to use meant building a management studio that anyone could use, which I think we’ve accomplished over the past few months.
We took the best bits of established solutions like SQL Server Management Studio, added the polish of tools like MongoDB’s Compass, and delivered it as a web app so anyone could access and manage all their HarperDB instances in one place- without having to get approval to install it from Enterprise IT.
The result? Customers now had something other than a terminal window to look at during a pitch. And because HarperDB Studio lets them see high-velocity data flowing into the database and run complex queries against it at the same time, they see the value immediately: license one database that does the job of two.
In the real world, of course, a database’s job is to store and deliver data in whatever manner the customer determines fits their need. It may only serve to create PowerBI dashboards, or deliver data to an AI algorithm, or power a web app.
But the value of a powerful user experience transcends how it might ultimately be used. It’s more than brochureware- it’s your customer’s first taste of how you can make their life easier.
I fight every day to reduce complexity, both professionally and personally, because simplicity creates room for important moments. Gives them a chance to breathe. Selling software is no different- if your customer can see how your product makes their life easier- how it will give them a chance to breathe- you won’t have to sell them on it.