May 12, 2016

The Community of MERGE

MERGE User Conference
‘Merge’ is a word. It means to combine, to bring together, to unite otherwise disparate parts into a mereological whole in one sense or another. It’s also the name given to the conferences that Perforce periodically hosts for our partners, customers, and other interested parties.
As such, it’s well chosen for several reasons. Developers, of course, use our tools to help them merge code changes every day, often relying entirely on the automation to do it for them. But that’s not the sense I have in mind today. Today I want to talk to you about community, and more specifically the astounding diversity thereof I witnessed at MERGE 2016.
In my last blog about the conference, I shared some amazing numbers from our customers. Of course, it’s easy to call out companies like NVIDIA or EA Games as they’re essentially household names among certain demographics. Yet even so, they were just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Let me try to give you a sense of the larger community.
Imagine sitting at a table, breaking bread with a literal rocket scientist, sitting next to someone managing huge catalogs of part data for aircraft, sitting next to a fellow whose company provides visualizations of the contents of human bodies, sitting next to a video game designer. I ask you to imagine because I don’t have to, and that was just a few of the people at the table.
Seriously, I also enjoyed meeting and conversing with folks doing professional mathematics, manufacturing processes, chip manufacturers, and all manner of developers, DevOps practitioners, and admins. I got the “inside baseball” perspective on some exciting new hardware and software. And I collected all sorts of valuable feedback for us, most of it positive but perhaps even more importantly the complaints. I say that because we listen; that’s how we improve our products for you.
I continue to work for Perforce because I believe in the technology, the product, and the people. I became a fan some years back because of the myriad ways the company’s products helped me do my job. But it’s positively humbling to see all the ways Perforce Helix helps so many different customers in such varied industries—sometimes in ways I could never even have anticipated.
It helped me realize something. The assembly line and notions of mass production transformed the twentieth century, when the most significant products being manufactured were physical property. Today the most game-changing products being produced are (arguably) intellectual property, and Perforce Helix is the most powerful DevOps-friendly assembly line for cranking them out.
Only unlike mass production methods for physical products, Helix qua assembly line carries out its automated tasks at the speed of modern computing. The result is products that have often been built, tested, torn down and evaluated, and iterated hundreds, even thousands of times, before delighting a single customer.
For a few brief days we all merged together in one place as a community. We shared our experiences and took away valuable insights and feedback. That’s the community of MERGE. If you’re a customer who didn’t make it this time, I heartily encourage you to attend the next conference—hit me up if you do! If you’re not a customer yet, please give our free trial of Perforce Helix a spin and see if perhaps it’s the digital assembly line for your future. It’d be our privilege to welcome you to our community.