A Day in the Life of: A Senior Build and Release Manager

Welcome back to the GREE blog! Today’s “Day in the Life” features Brian Johnson, Senior Build and Release Manager in the Engineering Operations team at our San Francisco studio. Brian is here to talk about what he does at GREE, what makese the Engineering Operations team interesting and what cool things have come out of their team this year. Enjoy!

1. What is your role at GREE?

I am a Senior Build and Release Manager working in the Engineering Operations group at GREE International.

2. What does your team do and how is it different from the rest of Engineering?

Our team is focused on reliability engineering for [GREE’s games]. We ensure that GREE games are available and can scale to accommodate millions of players. To do so, we constantly monitor our cloud infrastructure to ensure that our games are highly available and prevent outages. We are also the subject matter experts in testing and build environments for GREE games.

We are different from the rest of Engineering in that we focus more on provisioning, monitoring, scaling, and operating the GREE titles. However, we work closely with the other engineers and share responsibility to ensure the continual success of our games. In this way, we are very much practicing the dev-ops mindset.

3. What has come out of the Engineering Ops team so far?

The Engineering Operations team has developed more efficient autoscaling for our games. This means that new cloud instances are automatically launched to deal with added load on the game services and removed when no longer needed.  We have been instrumental in helping our partners avoid pitfalls when working with cloud infrastructure. We’ve also provided tools to the rest of GREE’s engineering organization to deploy server code and data to support our daily operations.

In addition, we try to contribute to upstream open source software as much as possible. We have made many contributions to various modules for Puppet, an open source configuration management system we use quite extensively. We have also contributed code to other open source projects, including Vagrant and Packer. We are very interested in expanding our open source contributions going forward and encourage and support these types of contributions within the organization.

4. How do you work with 2nd party/ outside vendors?

We share our knowledge of how to run games at scale with our second party partners. This can be simple advice, or can include providing and operating components for our second partners that have been successful for GREE games in the past. Our second party partners often use different technology stacks than GREE, so it gives us a chance to work with a broader range of software. It also requires us to think quickly and to adapt existing best practices to new scenarios.

5. Describe a typical day for you - what do you do?

Most days are spent working on projects designed to support new game features, new games, and the more efficient use and scaling of existing games. We spend a fair amount of time writing code for tools and automation. At GREE, we utilize Amazon’s cloud which provides a great number of new tools to deliver games and reduce costs. We also research new technologies, and are currently looking with interest at some new ones that we’re pretty excited about. In addition, we support other engineers in building, maintaining, and deploying code for games and their supporting services.

6. What makes your work exciting?

I get to work on new technologies to add capabilities and efficiency to new and existing games. We are working at a large scale so there are many opportunities to make a real difference. Working with talented engineers from different backgrounds provides some great learning opportunities. It’s great to come in every day and work with the talented and motivated people at GREE.  

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