Inside Illumio is a monthly series that highlights the exceptional individuals behind Illumio’s world-class products. Each post will take a peek behind the scenes to spotlight a member of our team. Come get to know us a little better and learn more about what makes Illumio’s culture so unique.
This month, meet Rabih Sabbagh, VP of Engineering, Platforms and Product Delivery. Hear about what surprised him most in his first year with Illumio.
What compelled you to join the Illumio leadership team in 2020?
I joined Illumio in 2020, compelled by the story of the groundbreaking pioneer in Zero Trust Segmentation at a critical inflection point for global cybersecurity. Since then, I have experienced firsthand how Illumio is charting a new course in securing corporations, data centers and endpoints.
In a world where breaches have become common place, organizations are looking for innovative solutions to protect data centers and end users. If you read the headlines, you can see a glimpse of the daily cat and mouse game between the good guys and the bad guys. Enter Illumio—blazing a new trail to stay ahead of the threats, offering tools for companies to prevent these breaches from spreading into cyber disasters.
Now, there are a number of very interesting organizations out there doing fascinating work that has a meaningful impact on daily life, like Illumio. However, that impact doesn’t always translate to interesting opportunities for the engineers.
What aspect of Illumio’s Engineering Organization is unique or has surprised you in your first year?
In my time here, I have experienced many unique aspects of Illumio that foster the growth of our engineers and cultivate a thriving team. One that stands out is that we still have the benefits of a start-up ecosystem—where individuals have the opportunity to develop original solutions to global problems. We have avoided the pitfalls of unnecessary hierarchy layers and indecision that get in the way of ingenuity and exhaust people’s natural creativity. We remain adaptive to the threats we see today and the ones we anticipate in the future. Our agility allows us to collaborate, accelerate our ideation cycles, and offer enhanced solutions with continuous innovation.
You mention “continuous innovation,” can you expand on what you mean by that?
Sure, I mean specifically the introduction of new technology—inclusive of a large patent portfolio—and the option to work on cutting edge tech. Our engineering team works closely with the Office of the CTO, this translates into opportunities to research and explore progressive proof-of-concepts. If we see something that might benefit our customers in the future, even if it means deviating from our current path, we don’t hesitate to explore and see how we can adapt. Illumio is a place where you have the freedom to experiment. That experimentation usually leads to advancements for our customers. It also means our engineering team is continuously researching the latest technologies and how to leverage these technologies to offer innovative security solutions at high scale.
There are ongoing projects today taking advantage of the latest innovations in containerization, orchestration, distributed data management, and CI/CD (Continuous Integration/ Continuous Deployment) to name a few. We have engineers contributing to open source projects that automate the creation of security policies using Infrastructure as a Code (IaaS) tools for data centers and public clouds. Our users include some of the largest corporations world-wide, so our products offered as SaaS and on-prem need to be highly scalable up to millions of workloads with Supercluster, and the technical challenges for the engineering team are diverse and compelling. In addition, our customers span all the verticals and must comply with different security standards and governmental regulations—cybersecurity is applicable to every enterprise in the world—that means the engineering team gets to solve varied customer use cases and deployment challenges.
What was it like joining Illumio during a year of so much global upheaval?
Joining in the midst of a pandemic was a challenge for me. Still, everyone made an extra effort to ensure I felt welcomed, connected to the culture and the technology, and embedded in the team. In my first week, I received invitations to remote eat-lunch-clubs and 5PM social clubs—where I heard stories and learned about people’s personalities, no “work talk” allowed. Every morning, when I log-in to Slack, the first thing I see is a recognition post on one of our channels—one Illumineer recognizing another for ‘Being a masterful truth teller’ or ‘Having infectious energy’ or ‘Always being hungry for more knowledge.’ In this way, our culture of recognition persists even as we work remote, and I have come to know the more quirky and endearing qualities of my fellow Illumineers.
This team prioritizes collaboration, sparing no effort in the way they help and support each other. Everyone, from each individual engineer to the executive staff goes out of their way to remain friendly and welcoming.
What else do you think people would want to know about what it is like here at Illumio?
As a graduate of a Canadian university and a citizen, it would appear as favoritism for me to mention Illumio’s Engineering Center in Toronto. So, I won’t include this grossly partial fact about our fast-growing presence in the diverse, Canadian tech hub. Nor will I conclude by saying that this new location will offer an opportunity to have others join Illumio on this exciting journey—becoming a part of our open and welcoming culture, and coming together with a common and vital objective.
Interested in joining the team? Check out our career openings.