Michael G. Noll

I am a computer scientist turned product manager based in Switzerland, working 100% from home. Since the early 2000’s I have been an active member of the open source software community and a frequent speaker at conferences and meetups such as Strata/Hadoop World, ApacheCon, and Kafka Summit. In 2015 I joined Confluent (US), founded by the creators of Apache Kafka, as one of the first employees. Currently, I am working in the Office of the CTO on strategy, product, and thought leadership. Previously, from 2016 to 2018, I led our product work on distributed real-time/stream processing with Kafka’s Streams API and KSQL from inception to general availability and mass adoption.

At Confluent we are building a streaming data platform to help companies transition into a world where business is conducted in real-time and where business events flow as streams of data. More than a third of Fortune 500 companies are already powering their products and services with Kafka and Confluent, with companies such as Netflix, Microsoft, and LinkedIn processing trillions of business events every day (in numbers that’s more than 1,000,000,000,000 events/day). In fact, it is very likely that a lot of your own daily activities are powered by Kafka behind the scenes – whether that’s shopping online, listening to music, sending an email or text message, ordering a taxi, booking a hotel or flight, making a payment, reading a newspaper, playing a video game or mobile game, social networking, receiving a shipment, and much much more.

Before joining Confluent I was the technical lead of the Big Data platform of .COM/.NET DNS operator Verisign (VRSN), where I grew the Hadoop, Kafka, and Storm based infrastructure from zero to PetaByte-sized production clusters spanning multiple globally distributed data centers – one of the largest Big Data infrastructures operated from Europe at that time. The use cases focused on cyber security and network intelligence, and I also continued with applied research in this space, e.g. as described in my patent detecting co-occurrence patterns in DNS for analyzing bot nets and malware. It was in my work at Verisign where I realized that streams of data (powered by Confluent and Kafka) could easily have as big of an impact on our industry as databases (powered by the likes of Oracle and Microsoft), and this was one of the reasons why I subsequently decided to join Confluent.

On the academic side I received a bi-national Doctor of Natural Sciences (Ph.D.) summa cum laude in computer science from the Hasso Plattner Institute at the University of Potsdam, Germany, and the University of Luxembourg. As described in my Ph.D. thesis my research focused on how user-generated Web content can be understood and leveraged for information retrieval. I have published and been a speaker at international scientific conferences such as ACM SIGIR and Web Science, and my research work has been covered by news media such as Technology Review and Communications of the ACM.

In my spare time I enjoy giving back to the tech community by open sourcing my own set of tools and by contributing to existing open source projects, for instance as contributor to Apache Kafka or as a PMC member and committer of Apache Storm. Next to that I enjoy the teaching and learning aspects of sharing my personal experience with distributed systems and related technology with fellow engineers and scientists by the writing I do on this website.

My Objectives

A. Acting socially responsible.
B. Doing things that haven't been done before.
C. Working at a place where I can both contribute and learn.
D. Doing A, B, and C in the company of like-minded people.