Home > #SysAdminDay Get to know a SysAdmin: Robert

#SysAdminDay Get to know a SysAdmin: Robert

Faye Tandog
By Faye Tandog on Jul 31, 2020

It's SysAdmin Appreciation Day today and we have prepared some content and activities involving the SysAdmin community!

To start the celebrations, we wanted to give you a primer on what SysAdmins do – from real SysAdmins!

Missed the other stories? Read about Andreas and Neeloj. Today we have Robert, another veteran in the field working as a senior consultant. He shares how he got into the field, and an ‘oops!’ moment on how an environment became infested with Bitcoin miners.

 

Can you tell us about your work?

Currently I am a senior consultant at Heinlein Support GmbH supporting a wide range of customers. We also run our own data center in Berlin hosting customer machines and our own (e.g. for mailbox.org).

Most of my daily work and projects is with checkmk (est. 75%), but topics like Ceph, Proxmox, BGP networking and storage also keep me busy. My team members have other specialities like Postfix and Dovecot mail systems.

For my customers I plan monitoring systems, help them with the configuration, and even do some extension programming.

 

How did you get into the field?

I studied computer science at the TU Berlin and completed that with a diploma. After the uni I got a job as an IT manager at a new biotech company which helped me get into the field. Now I have been working for Heinlein for 8 years (and counting).

Most of my knowledge was self-taught in fact. I think university prepared me quite well for doing this. I like learning new things and also teaching them.

 

Can you share a ‘horror story’ that happened to you at work?

Once I prepared a training environment for an online checkmk course with too-weak root passwords. On the morning of the second day we discovered bitcoin miners on every training VM. I had to recreate the whole environment (which only took 1 hour thanks to Terraform and Ansible). This was quite embarrassing after 25 years of doing Linux.

 

What is something you would love for people outside the IT team stop/start doing?

When I remember my first level support days, I would like people to like to learn something, and not ask the same questions over and over again. But IT is sometimes still too complicated for the average person not having an IT background.

For myself I have learned that you sometimes need to say “No” to a request.

 

What keeps you excited about your work?

My team is great, and I just like working with computers and especially Linux. And with the number of different customers we have there is a new challenge nearly every day.

 

What do you think people in your field / who want to get into your field should start learning?

Install Linux on your own machine and start using it for real work. I installed my first Linux system from like, 20 floppy disks in 1995. ;) Be interested in how things work, not only on how you use them. Do not be a pure consumer of IT.

Learn automation (start with Python for more advanced scripting than Bash).

Remember that there are still humans in front of your IT systems.

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