Category Archives: Technology

Stretching the Limits of Technology: Systems Administrators at Esri

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.

Final thoughts?
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.

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SIGGRAPH—“A Creative Recharge of Epic Proportions”

This is an actual quote from a recent SIGGRAPH attendee: “Think of everything that has ever made you geek out and feel so passionate about something in your whole life and put it into one feeling … That, my friend, is the feeling you get when being at SIGGRAPH.”

We couldn’t agree more! Once again, Esri will have a strong presence at SIGGRAPH, on the main exhibit floor as well as in the job fair. I sat down with HR team members Shawn and Jennifer to talk about what people who stop by our booth in the job fair can expect.

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You Never Stop Learning

On Wednesday, interns had the chance to sit in on a brown bag presentation from two employees in Esri’s Professional Services Division. Chad Helm, who works in the extended support programs group, gave us a brief overview of the vast department, telling us about the various projects done by 600 employees all over the world. The Professional Services team supports customers and partners in effectively implementing and applying Esri software products. This may include short-term, in-house technical work or more long-term solutions projects.

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Interns Go High-Tech with the Applications Prototype Lab

During the last week of June, interns were given the opportunity to sit in on some demonstrations in the Esri Applications Prototype Lab. These demos included looking at real-time social media trend maps, environmental habitat maps, and some 3D responsive design. For those of us not working in the APL this summer, these demonstrations were incredible to see. Just another cool piece of Esri that interns got a peek of.

A big thank you to Hugh Keegan and his team for taking the time to show us their stuff!

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Esri User Experience Architect Shows the Layers of a Successful Application

In the scheme of things, the terms user experience and user interface are relatively new to the technology world. Even the job title User Experience Architect is unfamiliar to many of us. But for Steven Nelson, it’s his nine-to-five.

Steve works in the Creative Lab, or the “creative arm of Esri,” as he likes to call it. Simply put, his job in user experience is to help map out applications that are intuitive and simple to use for consumers with various technology skill levels. Steve works closely with user interface (UI) architects who work on an application’s “front end” to make it both visually appealing and easy to follow. Together these two groups take an application from a simple idea to a useful end product.

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Are You on Instagram? Esri Is!

With its amusing play on the app’s name, esrigram has taken the company to the popular photo-sharing service. With over 200 million users, many businesses included, Instagram has become a mobile sensation. How does Esri fit in? esrigram is a way to visually represent what’s going on around campus, post pictures of maps (of course) and fun Throwback Thursday memories, and much more. There are even posts talking about the upcoming Esri International User Conference and pictures of our new building on campus.

esrigram is a space for geogeeks and all things Esri. Tag your own #geophotos and you may just see your pictures on the esrigram feed!

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A Lesson in Location Analytics from Chief Technology Officer Art Haddad

One of the great things about being an intern at Esri is getting to experience and learn about things that are going on throughout the company. One of the ways they expose us to that information is through the Intern Brown Bag Series, where employees from various teams present the cool things they’ve been working on. This week we had the pleasure of being joined by Art Haddad, Chief Technology Officer at Esri.

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Investing in STEM Education: Free Mapping Software for Public Schools

By Katherine, Strategic Marketing Intern

Recently President Obama called for businesses to create new opportunities for students through classroom technology. In his speech at the White House Science Fair this week, he spoke about some of the amazing innovations young students have created in the past year and emphasized there is still significant talent to be tapped.

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Business Analysts at Esri: Influencing Decisions, Sharing Knowledge, Always Evolving

I recently had the opportunity to get to know two members of our IST Division, Diana and Dimitri. We talked about what it’s like being a business analyst at Esri, what motivates them, and what skills are most valued in new recruits.

How long have you been with Esri?
Diana: I’ve been here over 14 years; the last 8 have been in IST. Before that, I was in the US Air Force.
Dimitri: I started January 2012, and prior to that I was an SAP consultant for 16 years.

Do you each have a specialty within the business analyst role?
Diana: It’s expected that we have the general skills of a business analyst—requirements gathering, processes, communications—that type of collaboration is needed. But we each also have specialized skills where we understand a particular product—in my case, Salesforce—and can take those requirements and figure out how to build them into the system.
Dimitri: When I got hired, I had the HR background from both the business and the SAP side, so it was easy for me to transition into my role here. Additionally, my prior consulting experience gave me the skills I needed to be a successful business analyst at Esri.

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Where is Alagiri Now?

Alagiri, Product Engineer

I’m on the Location Analytics team in Product Development. I work closely with developers and the Developer Lead to ensure that features are implemented as per the specification and that they make sense from the user’s perspective.

I started as a Support Analyst back when the SDK Team was the Developer Support Group. After two years, I transitioned into the role of a Group Lead. I was in Support Services for five years before I moved to my current role in Product Development.

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