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Brad Hart is the Chief Technology officer for Perforce. Before getting in the tech industry, Brad had a completely different career in Mechanical Engineering in aviation and his itch for working with computers turned from a hobby to him selling his first

Brandon Pham, Blogger

May 28, 2019

12 Min Read

(This is an interview conducted on the Game Dev Unchained podcast)

“I’ve been dealing with companies where if the software fails, a rocket crashes. It’s different. So those are the kinds of customers I love and I love seeing those really complicated problems.”- Brad Hart


“My name is Brad Hart and I'm the CTO at Perforce. We've been in the version control space for a little over 20 years. I started a company with some other guys called AccuRev that was later acquired and have since become MicroFocus. My whole career has been around helping companies go faster. Helping developers and people create software. Providing and building tools to help them do their job. So we're sort of in the backend providing the infrastructure that they need to go faster. I've been with Perforce for about four months now. Came onboard with an acquisition of this company called Perfecto Software. Again that was in the mobile application and web-based application DevOps testing. So pretty cool stuff. It's all about helping people like you guys. So you can do your job better.”

Being Acquired by Perforce

“I was running a product for this mobile dev company and I was in the version control space configuration management for almost 20 years. I wanted to transition into the mobile app and testing space with the cloud provider that we had at Perfecto. It was kind of funny when we went through the acquisition process. I was, on the one hand, spinning the capabilities we had and showing what we can do and talk about customers and all that kind of jazz. And being part of the whole acquisition process and then the Perforce folks kind of saw my background and were like “Wait a second you used to compete with us and you know that space pretty well.” So I thought it was kind of intriguing and a bifurcated process. One was being part of the acquisition process and the other was “Hey, is there an opportunity for me to help them out in technical level to attack the enterprise market that we’re going after so it's a really nice synergy.”

Shift Across all Industries Using Version control

“I've seen it all and I've seen companies that got directories like: dot Tuesday, dot Wednesday, Thursday, and so on. They're doing all sorts of manual versioning and I have seen a shift across all industries where they've kind of come to see the light. When your source is important, when we're companies where their data is their code. Where it is critical to the business and it's because they're building a game or they're building embedded software in a medical device or they're launching rockets... If the software is important, you have to have some control. You have to manage the process of people contributing to that code and what's gonna be released and who's doing it? Can you audit it? Can you track who's doing what, where, when, why, and how? So it's really kind of advanced from a user perspective and it's for the most part, again, it's where software is important.

I've been dealing with companies where if the software fails, a rocket crashes.  It's different. So those are the kinds of customers I love and I love seeing those really complicated problems. Sometimes it's not always life-and-death. It could be games or entertainment and it's some really cool stuff people are doing. But it's really where you see lots and lots of people that are really brilliant trying to collaborate and share their share their work effort together and build something pretty spectacular. That's where we see it really starting to become more and more important to be able to track that.”

Small Teams using Perforce

“If you’re a game developer, you're working for one of the big studios, and you're a part of one of the AAA studios then you're working with thousands of people. Like most of our customers at the beta stage, they have thousands of people working on these games and that's great. You're doing your day job that's paying your bills that's paying for your car payment and all that jazz. But what are you going to do when you get home at night? Well, it's the night times or the weekends you want to work on your own thing right? And maybe you and a couple buddies want to get together and start a little indie studio. You want to create your own thing, on your own time. Just because you're small and you might have five or less people, it doesn't mean your needs are small. There's a lot of free software out there and all that but it doesn't fit the bill with this kind of application development. Gaming requires managing big data, big assets, big binaries, and lots of data lots of files. What we wanted to do was open up the capability that Perforce has where it is the standard for gaming. Because of the nature of the large files we wanted to open that up to everybody. So if you're using perforce during the day and you're on a team of 5,000 people building the next great huge massive game. We want to give you the same capability when you're starting up your own thing with your friends or co-workers.

If there's you and you've got a partner that's in the UK and you're in California, or where I'm at in Boston, then you need replication. You need all that same stuff but you don't want to have to spend the money and buy licenses and all that. If you're just getting going so it's kind of just our way to sort of seed the market and give people the stuff they need. It kind of feels good on our end to give back and some of these indie Studios have gotten bigger and they get hundreds of users and that that works off for us as well. It's kind of a win-win for everybody.”

Switch from Mechanical Engineering in Aerospace to a Career in Tech

“My degree is in mechanical engineering and worked for an aerospace company designing jet engines and jet propulsion systems. So being an engineer is always in my mindset. I love doing that but sort of found myself at night when I was home not reading about mechanical engineering trade magazines. I was messing with computers. I was going to computer shows and putting stuff together and that was really sort of where my natural passion was. There was nothing more fun than trying to build the custom machine back in the day before when all the resources we have online now. Trying to figure out and always with the floppy drive I had to connect it upside down every single time. Literally every time. Kind of like a USB.

That was kind of fun and then I took some more courses and got into the software side of things. My first job in the software was kind of weird, switching industries. I went up getting into software and the first job I had was at Rational Software and support for clearcase, which is old school, but it was like the the big dog back in the day. Clearcase kind of changed the game from an enterprise level. So I was in support and doing version control there and I loved it because it was hard. I'm a little messed up like that. I like these really complicated, weird challenges and version control at scale is extraordinarily complicated. When you're dealing with thousands of developers and you know hundreds of thousands of files and thousands of you simultaneous parallel branches of development and namespace versioning. It's really complicated algorithms involved and it was just a lot of fun.

It was really hard and after I left there I started in support and became an Account Manager and then I went into sales engineering so it was kind of fun to get on the sales side of the house and then I went off and did consulting. I worked at a couple companies and I did some private consulting in the space and then joined up with some other folks that had started a small company and we built this company called AccuRev It was pretty successful. We sold in 2013 to Microfocus and, I felt, had completed my version control journey, if you will. I was out for a couple years and like The Godfather 3 they pulled me back in. But it's cool stuff. I feel the market still is underserved. I mean there's  github , gitlab, bit buckets in the world. They're great products serving the majority of people that are writing code. But the minority in numbers are people that are working on complicated stuff that need Perforce.

Big huge monolith, big gains. Complicated things,  medical devices, financial systems, and that's sort of the market that we're after. I feel like they're underserved. This is a lot of problems we can solve and that’s where we're working on right now.”

Pursuing a Passion Career with a Family

“I don't think a lot of people really appreciate how hard that is. At the time, I had a decent career and things were going pretty well and when I decided to go down this startup route, I had three kids. My youngest was less than a year old. That’s when I talked to my wife and I said “Hey listen, I think there's a better way to do what I'm doing. I'm really good at this job and I was very uniquely qualified to manage and wield clearcase.” There was no option to not get a job. It was a requirement as a dad and a husband. It was a little bit of a leap of faith and it's like I was so sure that it was gonna work. Basically at the end of the day, I really felt like the success and failure was gonna be dependent on me. That's the kind of thing that you get when you work at a small company. I'm sure some of your readers get frustrated working at some of the bigger companies that they might be working at where they're a voice. But they're just a voice or another number and when it's you know the success or failure is on your shoulders. It's a little intimidating but it's kind of exciting. It's kind of cool to have that level of control if you really believe in what you're doing, and I really did. It was, again, a little bit of a leap of faith but I really felt like I couldn't not succeed. That's because I knew the problems that were out there and I knew there was a better way. I trusted that for the first time in my career that the success or failure was based on my personal actions. That I would have a huge impact not hoping that somebody above me was making good decisions.

Obviously, that doesn't always work out. The success rate of startups and all that is not great. But when it works it's a cool lesson and then there was quite a few people that launched careers in this space at my company. To this day they're working in these fields and now they've gone off to work and other companies. They've got great jobs and it's probably one of the things I feel most proud about. I help a lot of customers but being able to help build a company and launch some other careers and do it the way I wanted to do it, gives me a great level of satisfaction.”

Shoutouts and Closing Statement

“Give us a check out right we go to the website at Perforce and download the trial download. The free indie studio edition for five users is totally free and you get everything. If you have five users and you want to have them located at five different sites across the globe. You can set up our world-class replicas and all that. You get the full kit and kaboodle. Every IDE integration, graphic tools integration, everything we got you can have for free for those five user teams. We are laser focused on making these environments easy for the people that are in the game development world. That really is our sweet spot. We've got a tremendous record if you're coming out of school and you haven't used perforce yet and you're gonna get a job at a game company...Guess what? You’re gonna use perforce. So you might as well start learning it now. The documentation is there. We're happy to answer questions and help you out. We really look into helping that market succeed and grow and be strong. It's the same principles applied, no matter what industry you're in. If you're working on big important software, you got to use Perforce. We're there. Don't think just because you're using git that it's either/or. We work in these hybrid environments very well so we're more than happy to add again. Those are the kinds of things that you can download and use and try it out. We’re happy to get feedback and answer questions and again I'm just super excited to keep scaling. I want to figure out how we can scale to have a hundred thousand users working on the same thing. It's never been done before by anybody and we want to make it happen. So petabytes of data, millions of files, that's the kind of stuff that we're working on.”

[this is a repost from www.gamedevunchained.com- the original article can be found here with resources and links]

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