Adobe’s family of technology services finds common ground in GitHub.
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With a broad product line, Adobe's many teams often worked with siloed toolchains and processes, where even internal code contribution could be difficult and time-consuming.
GitHub Enterprise gives Adobe's teams a common language, accelerating everything from developer onboarding to releasing new products and deploying them on the backend.
Designing award-winning ad campaigns. Powering digital businesses. Completing the paperwork for your new place. At a glance, these activities may not seem connected. But whether you’re fixing contrast or signing the contract for your first home, you’re likely using an application powered by one of the world’s leading SaaS providers: Adobe.
Adobe is the platform of choice for the world’s creative professionals, as well as business leaders from household brands to small and medium businesses. Their employees support millions of subscribers every day—quickly scaling from a small team in a garage to industry standard.
Today, Adobe’s developers contribute to a shared family of products. Their offerings and teams are ever-expanding through new services, and that allowed the company to serve customer needs in areas like eCommerce and 3D editing. “We didn’t invent databases and infrastructure tools,” explained Senior SCM Engineer Todd O’Connor. “We invented these amazing applications. So what goes on with our PDF group is very different than what goes on with Photoshop or Magento.”
Bringing in new teams usually means combining different tools and ways of working. But as more companies joined Adobe, technical leads discovered they already had something in common: GitHub. “Sharing the same tools wasn’t always the case when we were a Perforce shop,” said O’Connor. “With GitHub, we may use it in different ways, but it’s already our lingua franca or shared language. Instead of having to force technical alignment, we get it automatically.”
Adobe leadership quickly moved to make things official, cementing GitHub as their development platform of choice. “It’s been an unintentional opportunity and a fantastic differentiator,” Dan Neff, Operations Architect, confirmed. “No matter what a local team uses—Rust, Lisp, or C++—you can still share a common interface.”
Having a unified toolset allows teams to immediately connect and begin work. Developers, IT operations, and project managers can all use GitHub to share ideas and work on open source, documentation, DevOps, and more. “We developed a self-services portal,” said O’Connor. “If I need to set up a Jenkins or CI box, I can log in, find the repositories that I’m either the owner of or that I’m contributing to, and I can set up webhooks.” Then, everything automatically happens on GitHub behind the scenes.
Internal tools follow the same model: reduce friction, release faster. Ethos—Adobe’s internal container platform—includes all the things teams need to easily deploy containers in Kubernetes, with O’Connor calling out one important exception—it’s done in Git and uses GitHub’s authentication authorization model. “Since we have a lot of this automated, we can help direct users to the expected results, versus them just trying to figure it out themselves.” Even new hires can self-serve: since new team members are already familiar with GitHub, they can log in and be productive from day one.
For Neff, built-in automation isn’t just a bonus, it’s an investment in the future. “Our philosophy is to build automation and great DevOps for the company you will be tomorrow.” Success equals scale, which equals complexity; it’s impossible for developers managing 250 products to also personally test or configure every load balancer. “The only way you’re going to be consistent is through code, automation, and a community of contributors.”
We build things so that developers can focus on the business value. With GitHub, I have a single server, and only need a single person managing it part-time.
After all, more complex isn’t always better. “We build things so that developers can focus on the business value,” said Neff. Whereas other tools require multiple servers and an entire team to manage, GitHub’s simplicity and ease of use means saving resources and actually getting those resources to do other things. “With GitHub, I have a single server, and only need a single person managing it part-time.”
Every optimization is another building block for the reliable experience Adobe’s customers expect. Although O’Connor has been in the industry for years, GitHub’s stability continues to stand out: “The uptime is just tremendous. I’ve never seen a more stable product, and that’s a benefit to our end users.”
But the benefits of sharing one platform or lingua franca extend even further. Adobe’s Open Source Program Office promotes external and internal contributions to the company’s open source projects, and the open source projects powering their software. “We work closely with a lot of organizations,” noted Simon MacDonald, Senior Software Scientist. The same friction-free philosophy still applies: “Instead of it taking two weeks to contribute to those projects, we’ve cut the legal and technical process down to half a day.”
Embracing an open developer environment exposes Adobe to fresh eyes, new ideas, and faster development. With Magento Commerce, Adobe uses GitHub to power a completely open development community. “We have an incredible community of external developers who contribute code and documentation to our core GitHub repos,” explained VP of Commerce Product & Platform Jason Woosley. “Not only do 50% of all product code changes occur through community pull requests, but we actually collaborate on and ratify technical designs this way. So, our community is designing and developing Magento with us, with GitHub as a core enabler.”
The company has hired developers who first contributed to Adobe’s own open source projects—like Brackets—and ask candidates to share their GitHub IDs so they can see the projects they’ve contributed to. MacDonald often tells younger developers who don’t have a lot of experience that “GitHub is a good way to have a resume, so people can take a look at your code.” Just like the teams that come into Adobe from other companies seamlessly pick up the GitHub flow, new graduates know the platform and can start building from day one. “I’d say 98 percent are already familiar. It’s not too frequent that I run into someone that doesn’t have experience with GitHub or Git in general.”
Whether it’s bringing in new talent or welcoming developers from an acquisition, GitHub is where anyone at Adobe can find common ground. Gone are the days of switching jobs and spending weeks trying to figure out how to find code or use the software version control system. Now, everyone starts on the same playing field. “When you have Git as the underlying source code control and GitHub where you can seamlessly switch between your public work and your private work, it’s a no-brainer,” said MacDonald.
Neff agreed: in an organization with a diverse family of products, teams, and users, one thing’s remained the same. “After using it for years, people love GitHub just as much as they did on day one. That’s a testament to the product.”
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