Whether you work for a small company or a large enterprise, there’s no doubt you rely on a systems administrator to keep your IT network performing at its best. I recently talked with Stephen, a sysadmin in our Information Systems and Technology group, about his role and what keeps him at Esri.
How long have you been with Esri?
I’ve been here 18 years. I didn’t realize when I first joined Esri what opportunities I’d have to continue growing and learning. I started as a desktop technician and grew into a lead position on that team before becoming a systems administrator supporting Product Development. Now I’m team lead for the Compute Team; we support all the backend servers that power Esri’s infrastructure such as Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, and our development environments.
What are some of the cool things about being a sysadmin at Esri?
There’s a lot of variety in what we do; every day can be different. We’re given the opportunity to present ideas and take on new projects, unlike at some other organizations. When you have a good idea, often you will end up leading the effort to carry it through. As a team lead, I find out what people want to do and work with them to get there.
Also, our department is heavily involved in the annual Esri User Conference, attended by about 16,000 customers and partners. Our sysadmins help get 1,200+ machines set up for the conference. We start about two months prior, getting them configured and ready to ship to San Diego, then we go on-site to get them all set up. A lot of organizations use contractors to do the IT setup for their big events, but we do all the work ourselves. It’s an interesting change of venue and pace and a neat thing to be part of every year.
In terms of technology, we’re always looking at the cutting edge. If the industry is moving a certain way, we ask ourselves what we can do to get there. Some of the things we ask of our systems are fairly complex. We tend to stretch things to the limit, sometimes to the point of puzzling the third-party vendor we’re working with. They usually haven’t thought out what we’re asking their system to do. It’s challenging work; you have to come up with unique ways of solving problems. For example, to support our customers running various versions of Esri software, we have an internal cloud that provides 13 different versions of Windows, each available in up to 22 different languages, as well as three different variants of Linux, each with multiple versions. Creating the automation to allow this in a self-service portal is one of the kinds of challenges we come across.
Other than technical skills, describe your ideal candidate.
Someone who loves what they’re working on and has the drive to find solutions. When they see something that’s not working, I don’t want them to just tell me about it—come to me with a solution and the drive to get it resolved. I look for those who have initiative and are willing to find a better way to do things.
What do you like about living in the Redlands area?
I love the small town feel of Redlands. And there are a lot of things to do nearby—it’s less than an hour to the mountains and about an hour to the beach. You can do so many things from here—get away and completely break free from your normal day-to-day in a short period of time.
I’ve been at Esri so long because I’ve had enormous opportunities here—Esri provides a huge breadth of technologies and experience. The work might be different if I went somewhere else, but I don’t feel I’ve missed anything by staying here. There’s no reason for me to go somewhere else.
Want to know more?
- We’re hiring systems administrators and other IT professionals! Check out current openings and apply online.
- Get to know us during the Dice Technical and Engineering Virtual Career Fair September 24
- Tune in to #EsriJobChat on Twitter October 9
- See what Southern California has to offer!