Perforce Software (previously ZeroTurnaround) is the leading provider of enterprise-scale software for technology developers and development operations teams. Their services are for teams who require productivity, visibility, and scale throughout all phases of the development lifecycle.
We interviewed Hannes Linno, Director of Software Engineering, who told us about the maturity of the DevOps field and how Perforce’s innovation helps developers around the world work smarter. Among other things, we talked about career opportunities in a team consisting mainly of senior level engineers and the challenges of developing a range of products in various stages of maturity.
🔵 ZeroTurnaround originally developed JRebel and XRebel before being acquired by Perforce back in 2017. What organisational changes, if any, did the acquisition bring as both products are still developed in Estonia?
After the acquisition, Estonia has become the European strategic development centre for Perforce, a talent hub for multiple products. In Estonia, we went from being a Java-only company to a company that offers tools for the entire DevOps cycle.
The acquisition brought organisational changes, as would be expected, but Rebels are still a key part of the Perforce family. However, the product portfolio here keeps growing, as does Perforce globally, via new acquisitions. Our newest acquisition is Puppet, a leading software configuration management tool.
🔵 As you mentioned, Perforce is building many products for the DevOps field. Before we dive into more details, could you clarify what you mean by DevOps in your context?
To answer this question, I would start with what it is not. In recent years there has been a huge increase in job openings for DevOps engineers. Sadly, it is often simply considered a nicer name for system and application administrators when more and more infrastructure orchestration is done via coding and scripting. In reality, DevOps is a wider area, so it is not simply taking care of servers and infrastructure on public clouds or on-premise infrastructure.
So, what is DevOps? It involves Development and Operations tools and processes covering the full spectrum of areas from product planning, development and quality control to execution and stability in production environments.
DevOps is totally focused on doing things smarter and automating wherever possible to have higher quality and shorter development cycles. While DevOps as an area includes both tools and processes, Perforce’s focus is on building the best tools that support DevOps processes.
Our product portfolio already covers all main phases of the DevOps cycle, so we have tools for planning, development, quality control and operating customer solutions.
🔵 How mature is the DevOps market currently and where it is heading in the next few years?
In software development, the digitalization wave is still picking up speed immensely. In Estonia, we are used to everything being digitalized, but the rest of the world is still lagging behind.
In the next several years, more and more traditional companies must increase their IT investments to keep up with stiff competition. To manage the extra complexity, companies that want to remain relevant in ten years must increasingly focus on the full cycle of the DevOps flow.
We can already see the huge gap in the available software engineering workforce and increasing demands will only add to the pressure. In addition to growing digitalization, the new emerging technologies like AI, virtual reality and quantum computing increase the complexity to the next level.
This means that development and operations must improve automation so that developers work smarter and spend less time doing repetitive tasks. Continuing in the same way as we have built software so far is not possible. There are simply not enough software engineers in the world.
At Perforce our focus is to build tools that aid software engineers (developers, QA, system administrators, and tech support) to decrease development time and ensure the quality of the results.
🔵 Who are the users of your products?
At Perforce, we are building tools for other engineers. I would say it is a unique opportunity because, often, we are solving problems that most developers, including ourselves, are facing.
Our engineers have access to all the tools we are building in-house, allowing our employees to work together across products to find insights and provide quick feedback on what to improve. Whether it is about the functionality, usability or simply the documentation that is available for using the products and tools. It also allows us to build the features that fill the gaps between our different products so that the full cycle of tools works together efficiently.
Having a wide selection of products in our portfolio enables us to focus on areas that otherwise could fall between different products or solutions, especially where the market is too small for anyone wanting to invest there. In other words, we fill the gaps to save our customers time, money and reduce stress!
When speaking to our candidates, we often hear that they are coming from industries where the company’s purpose is not interesting for them, or they don’t really understand the problem their product is trying to solve. In our case, it is the opposite: Most engineers love the area they are working in and are eager to have better tools that help them work smarter.
🔵 Let’s talk a little about your organisation. What best describes your engineering teams?
Our teams are mainly built around senior level engineers. The advantage is that even if a team member has been in the industry for 10 or 20 years, they still have interesting challenges and can continue their learning path, as they can discuss the issues and solutions with like-minded people. It allows our teams to be agile, move faster, make quicker decisions and have the greatest innovation potential.
We also try to focus our benefits package on senior engineers. The emphasis is on work-life balance and extra time off because we know how important it is to take time for yourself or spend it with your family and friends. Happy people are best positioned to create innovation.
People and teams have a lot of independence and trust. We also have flexitime where each person manages their own working time, and each team can agree what is the best work routine for their team, like how many meetings they want to have, what kind of meetings, how much office time and what are the team’s working hours in general.
🔵 What kind of technologies can one expect to work with when joining Perforce?
As we have a wide range of products in various stages of maturity, we offer interesting challenges for different tastes.
We have products (such as Gliffy) that are end-user facing, where the focus is on usability and clean design. Then we have products where developers must work on deep tech and solve problems on a very low level, close to operating system features, like Rebel products that interact with code on the compilation level, to make it smoother and faster to execute.
We also contribute a lot to open source communities by addressing all kinds of unexpected user cases and problems. In relation to open source, not many people know that Zend, the trusted tool for PHP developers, is also developed by us. And at the same time, specifically for the semiconductor industry, we are developing an IP lifecycle management solution – Methodics.
🔵 What kind of career opportunities does Perforce offer?
Having such a wide stack of technologies provides numerous opportunities for long term growth for our people. It is common that if an engineer would like to work on a different product or with a new tech stack, they will receive support from their managers on finding another project within Perforce.
The experience we have is that people with long tenure want to stay in the company, as they love our culture and benefits, but simply want a new challenge and continue improving their skillset. And the only opportunity is not just moving between projects and technologies – since we are growing rapidly, we also have many opportunities to grow from engineering roles to management roles.
Check out Perforce’s career page and open positions:
- Senior Developer – Backend
- Senior Software Engineer – Fullstack
- Senior Developer
- Senior DevOps Engineer – Blazemeter
- Software Engineering Manager
🔵 Could you briefly describe your hiring process? Do you have any tips to be successful in the process?
After an initial quick meet and greet on the phone with our recruiter, we typically have a more in-depth interview where we look for the technical knowledge needed for the position. Assuming that goes successfully, there is a meeting with the team and the direct manager.
My primary advice is to do your research about the product and the company. The interview process is not there to find your weaknesses, but rather to see where your skillset will best advance the Perforce vision. We are looking for people who are genuinely interested in our products and the problems they are there to solve.