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WeAreDelphix: Meet Nate Burnett

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Hear from Nate Burnett, senior staff engineer on the Development Engineering team, in our newly-launched employee spotlight series about what it’s like to work at the Delphix and what he does on and off the clock. 

We’re programmers, designers, security experts, cloud junkies, tech support superheroes and more. We’re kicking off our new employee spotlight series called WeAreDelphix to highlight our dynamic and diverse group of staff across our global offices.

Hear from Nate Burnett, senior staff engineer on the Development Engineering team, about what it’s like to work at the company and learn what he does on and off the clock. 

What do you do at Delphix and what inspired you to join the company? 

I am the technical lead for the Delphix’s masking product. Interestingly, I was originally hired to work on the scalability of Delphix’s virtualization product. But shortly after I started, Delphix acquired Axis Software Technology, and I had the opportunity to dive into something new as part of a newly formed team designed to build out our masking capabilities. I had never even heard of data masking at the time, but I was able to bring my experience to the team and help engineer it to the amazing, rich product we have today.

After my previous two companies, I was looking to work for a company that had an interesting product as well as a solid engineering culture, where I would be surrounded by people who are not only smart and driven but teamwork oriented, supportive and fun. I found a surprising number of people who I had worked with prior to coming here, and I knew them all well enough to know we all had similar ideas about what makes a great place to work. 

With that peace of mind, I could look at the problems Delphix is solving and how the product solves them. It became immediately clear that the problems were real and not easy to solve. I have a long background in scalable storage systems, so while I had worked on storage and storage management systems before, data virtualization presented a new set of problems to try and tackle using my past experience (although I didn’t end up working much on virtualization aspect of the product). 

You can ask me anything about…?

Static data masking. Static data masking is replacing the sensitive information in a dataset, such as names, addresses, credit card numbers, and more, with similar but fictitious data. It is “static” because it produces an actual masked copy of the data while “dynamic” masking masks the data when it is queried and never physically writes the masked data back to disk. Static masking has the advantage that the masked copy of the data can be examined before being released to anyone and does not require any connectivity to the unmasked data source to be used. You can read more in-depth in one of my blog posts that explains how one of our masking algorithms achieves this.

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on at Delphix? 

The project I’m most proud of at Delphix is building the masking team. While the masking product wasn’t developed at Delphix but acquired a few years back, it’s been an incredible experience taking what’s been built, figuring out how it works, building the right team around it, and turning it into a legitimate piece of enterprise software that now represents a significant chunk of Delphix’s business. A big part of this has allowed me to help a handful of phenomenal new college grads we’ve hired onto the team learn the ropes and become some of the best engineers I’ve worked with.

As for technical projects, the second is the Masking Engine Synchronization feature. One of the limitations of our masking product architecture is that it’s a monolithic Java application, so it doesn’t scale up or out very easily. With Engine Synchronization, users can export a masking job and all of its dependencies from one engine, import it into another and we guarantee that those two jobs will produce the same results. As a result, when the dataset being masked is too large for one engine to handle, it’s very easy to replicate that job to as many engines as necessary to get the job done.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

Always make a graph. A picture is going to drive your point home much more effectively than a bunch of numbers or bullet points on a slide.

What’s your secret talent?

Biking through Boston rush hour traffic and surviving. This truly is a mindfulness exercise. You can either be extremely in the moment and pay attention to everything that is going on around you, or you can get hit by a car. Those are pretty much the choices.

What song instantly puts you in a good mood? 

"Élan" by Nightwish. In the tech industry, we sometimes focus far too much on our jobs. Élan reminds me to spend time enjoying everything else life has to offer. 

“Come, taste the wine.”🎶

The live recording from their 2015 concert at Wembley Arena is the best version to listen to.

What drives you everyday? 

The subway operator.

Seriously though, it’s different every day. Some days, it’s the people I work with. Other days, it’s the technology itself and making Delphix successful. And on bad days, it’s the paycheck, though those days are pretty rare. I’ve never really been driven by one singular thing. Whenever I’m doing something, whether it’s work or outside of work, there is always a list of reasons for doing it.

Interested in working at Delphix? Apply today. Visit our blog to hear more from staff across our offices in Redwood City, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, Colorado, UK, Germany, Tokyo, Singapore and São Paulo.

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