Meet the Team: Peter Gilson

What is your work background?
I have been working in IT for 22 years now. I have worked for manufacturing companies and financial institutions; software houses and consulting shops; 100 year old companies and start-ups. I’ve spent most of my career programming in some language or another, either attempting to get systems working or trying to break them. After writing this short summary I feel nicely rounded, but also very old!

How did you come to be a part of the AD RMS team? How long have you worked with the team?
I have been part of the AD RMS team since it formed in 2001. Before working on RMS I worked on various other projects at Microsoft including eBooks and MSN.

What is your role?
I work on the team that tests how AD RMS features function in various scenarios. We work as advocates for customers during design discussions with developers and program managers. Then we create tools that simulate how real customers will make use of new features when they ship. We spend a lot of our time pushing the AD RMS product to its limits, both from performance and scenario perspectives. We also get to play hacker, trying to break into pre-release AD RMS bits before the real bad guys get a chance.

If you worked on previous versions of AD RMS, what did you work on?
I have worked on lots of different aspects of the AD RMS product, but I’ve spent most of my time working on the server-side components. The last major release I worked on was an update to the version of RMS that runs in the cloud and uses Windows Live ID as an identity provider.

What is your favorite aspect of the technology?
One of my favorite aspects of AD RMS Server is often overlooked: the logging database. This database got a major overhaul in version 2 of RMS when it shipped with Windows Server 2008. The database now has a highly normalized schema, which makes it both more efficient and easier to query.

It’s probably a reflection on the quality of my social life, but I really enjoy an evening of digging into a fully populated AD RMS logging database! It’s amazing how much one can learn by slicing and dicing this data in different ways. For example, here at Microsoft we spotted a defect in an AD RMS enabled application by observing an unusual pattern of user transactions. This defect was almost imperceptible by end users, but had a big impact on the server deployment (in case you are wondering, the bug has since been fixed).  

What’s your favorite breakfast cereal? ;)
Kellogg's Power Puff Girls Cereal: Rice Krispies featuring "power-packed clusters that fizz in your mouth" (pop rocks). Sadly discontinued.

Any last words?
Live long and prosper.