“And off our left wing, the Grand Canyon!”


Has it really been over three months since I said I’d provide “more information for y’all when we reach our cruising altitude…

Time, it does fly.

Astute stalkers observers may have noticed my LinkedIn profile a few weeks ago: I’m now a Principal Release Engineer in Symantec’s Data Loss Prevention division.1

It may seem like a large shift for someone coming from a sub-20 person startup or an environment like Mozilla, both of whom are focused on short release-cycle, consumer software products. And in some ways, it is a huge change: DLP is very much an “enterprisey product” with the associated long release cycles (and even longer support cycles).

What I’ve found really interesting as I’ve come up to speed is how my new team has been moving itself toward a “lean,” agile organization, just like Songbird is and Mozilla is becoming. The requirements, size, and final products are very different, but the path all three take to ship have striking similarities.

It’s also been nice to step back into designing solutions for enterprise release engineering requirements; it was often a hard sell to get resourcing for certain aspects when “the next big release” was two or three months away. But when you have to support a version for three or four years, those conversations tend to go much more quickly. It reminds me a lot of life back in my VMware days, which perhaps also has to do with the fact that I’m on a release team again, which is something I didn’t realize how much I missed and am ecstatic about2. Plus, I get to use Perforce again3.

Of course, as with anything change, there’s been some amount of “Y U NO WORK?!“, but the change in technology stacks—an interesting mix of native C++ on multiple platforms and multi-platform Java-based server components4—has me looking at new things that I haven’t worked with since college. In software, a change of scenery is pretty much always a good thing.

DLP is one of those technologies that churns away quietly in the background, keeping credit card numbers and mothers’ maiden names safe. It does so day in, day out, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It’s not the sexiest of technologies and you can’t script it with Coffeescript. Most people aren’t even aware it exists, but they’d feel the effects if it didn’t.

Not unlike, perhaps ironically, good release engineering teams, infrastructure, and processes.

1 Some may also know this division by its pre-acquisition name, “Vontu”
2 Someone whose job it is to also know how to run an official build?! YES PLZ!
3 Which, despite what certain ex-VMware coworkers think, I really did miss
4 Amusingly, I saw a copy of the Gecko SDK kicking around in the source tree the other day…