An Interview with Trey, our Newest System Administrator

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Trey, our Newest System Administrator. He's been in Systems now for two weeks, and here's a little of what he's had to say about the experience thus far.


What's your best quality you think has helped you rise from Tier 1 Tech Support to System Administration?
When I was in college I worked at a call center so I had that type of experience already. While in college I also answered a lot of email and organized my own type of online forum. While I didn't have experience with Linux, in general my experience with the internet and Microsoft products was helpful, even though it was like learning a different language.

I know personally there are several people within the company that I owe a great deal to for sharing their knowledge and guidance with me. There are so many skills and so much knowledge that must be known to move up, is there anyone here specifically that helped you gain that knowledge?
Yeah, Brandon was my Tier2 and he was great at making me phrase my question in a way that it was something he could teach me, or actually do himself.  Like when you Google, sometimes you have to phrase things in just the right way so you can get the right results back. I think sometimes that can be difficult for a Tier 1 .Tim, in Systems at the time, was also great with advice on how to get things done that were not necessarily obvious or documented internally.

You've now been in Systems for 2 weeks. What has been your toughest task so far in your new role?
It is a complete kind of 180. There are certain things you have to do, and its like putting 3 things together, some of which are steps you just learned how to do. It can be easy to leave something out, so you have to follow a checklist.


NAGIOS: In order to maintain the best quality of service, we monitor our network and our servers very closely, ALL THE TIME. One of the tools we use in doing so is a great application called Nagios. Nagios notifies us immediately when there is an issue (or a problem may occur) on a server that needs to be addressed. It requires a finely skilled Admin to resolve these issues in a timely manner, and monitoring Nagios can become especially difficult when more than one server at once needs attention.

Have you waged war against the Nagios Beast yet? If not, are you scared?
No. I'm not sure about it though, whether it's a fun thing or a painful thing. It definitely seems to be a "think on your feet" type of thing that can be exciting if you can get a handle on it. The conversation in the Systems room is dominated by Nagios, and it is amazing how much of the work is dedicated to it (besides other things like our Support Ticket Queues).

Besides being the best web host ever, providing excellent customer service is key to what we do everyday. How has customer service changed for you after joining Systems?
It is different. Because you're in Systems, right from the get go you have more credibility. Sometimes its actually easier because users feel like they're not having to go through someone who hasn't been trained adequately to deal with their issues, whether that's true or not. Unlike Tier 1 where most of your calls are inbound, I find System's calls much more comfortable as instead I'm calling customers, its more of an outreach thing.

Any advice for someone just getting started in our company in tech support?
I would recommend they do what I did after training. There is a lot to take in, for example the different tools and interfaces. Its not really technical knowledge, its getting use to the environment, and that can be tricky. We're trained on specific tasks that we're going to have to do almost 90% of the time. There will be other things that come in, but I bookmarked all of the documentation and organized it in a rational way so that I could quickly find what I needed to ensure I was on track. From there its a matter of repetition, and after a while it becomes sort of like a mail room, in a good way. You're sorting the issues to where they need to go.