Today is my fourth day at the new job.
In some ways I feel I have taken a step back perhaps. It feels very much like many of the companies I worked for before DHL. Medium-to-small IT departments, medium-to-small user base. A lot of overlap between the roles of helpdesk (that they called the "frontoffice" here), and systems administration.
They department consists of 8 permament staff, including me, and 3 temporary guys. The department head of IT, 3 application administrators, 2 part-time people in the servicedesk, and 2 systems administrators (including me), including myself. The team supports about 120 users, most of them at this location. The temporary guys are here to help with the extra workload they are currently suffering, and help out with both servicedesk and sysadmin stuff.
The role-devision between the servicedesk and the sysadmin team is not clear at all, meaning that a lot of stuff is being loaded on to me and my collegue. We also share the function as second-line desktop support, meaning we support the users directly with their enviroment. This last part is not something I am particularly happy about, I had hoped to have left that kind of stuff behind me.
However, I do know that the best kind of IT support I could possibly give users is my own hands-on approach. I am confident in my ability to approach and talk to users, and I can usually figure out their story just by listening. I speak clearly, I act professionally, I am good at this. However, I dont like interacting with users. But you know, and this is what I am telling myself right now. 120 users is not a big group. Its a group of intelligent people, patent lawyers many of them. Its a far cry from the average warehouse employee at DHL. Right now its pretty hectic, and a lot of relatively simple second lien work is being piled into my collegue, the only other sysadmin. He is very gratefull I am here, and I have already taken on some responsibilities to ease his burden.
I expect therefore that once there is a bit of order in the chaos, and I get the chance to work with the more interesting stuff, I wont mind that second-line stuff as much.
The environment they are running is interesting.
- 120 clients, many thin clients.
- 4 VMWare ESX servers running about 30 Application and Database servers
- About 20 other production servers with 7 Citrix Metaframe 4.5 servers that provide users with a standard desktop
- RES Powerfuse as a scripting layer on top of Citrix
- RES Wisdom as a client management tool for installations, etc.
- Microsoft Softgrid for application streaming to the Citrix servers (keeping them clean) and to some clients.
- HP SAN
- HP Blades
- The usual infrastructure stuff like a Windows domain, WSUS, HPSIM, Windows Deployment Server, etc.
Of the above Enterprise technologies, the only one I am really familiar with is RES powerfuse and the infrastructure side. All the other specific third-party stuff I am either completely unfamiliar with, or familiar with older versions.
The enviroment is brand new, having been designed and set up for them by a consulting company, and there are many many loose ends that still need tying up, mostly from a procedural standpoint.
This is specifically why I was hired. Its obvious to me I need to take a lead role in laying out and implementing some standards, as they have more or less none at the moment.
To this end, I have already discussed using Microsoft Sharepoint as a department collaboration tool, starting with nothing more complicated that change logging. So I will soon be setting up a server for this, I rolled out a new virtual server this afternoon.
In the meantime though, my job is first and foremost to take some presure of the other sysadmin. I have been given a list of long-time, but asyet unsolved common problems users are facing, most of them related to the Citrix desktop. I will be analysing this list tomorrow and seeing if there are any quick wins amungst them.
Its hard not to feel overwhelmed by the barrage of work that these guys are getting piled on top of them. my collegue has to spend most of his time on a number of important projects that are currently being rolled out, this while all this other stuff is still lying around. I have to remind myself to work at my own pace, and not get caught up in the near-panic around me.
A more simple quick win today, was that I took it apon myself to clear out the server/network rooms, that where clogged with boxes and other junk. Me and the facilities manager spent the afternoon clearing about a dozen boxes of junk, and I managed to sqeeze what was left into the storage closet.
This may sound like a silly job, but it was really nagging on my collegues mind. It was just one of dozens of other things he cannot get round to sorting out. After he showed me what could go and what to keep, I just told him to relax and that I would take care of it. He looked incredibly relieved. I think he has really missed the ability to be able to offload some responsibility onto someone else.
This kind of thing also makes a good impression on the manager of course. I am not explicitly setting out to impress, but hey, it cant hurt can it?
Here are some more pics I made this afternoon. They are a little crappy but I will promise to make many high quality pics as usual, eventually. My Cano G9 is a little harder to hide than my G1 phone of course 😉
I have create a new set on Flickr, called "Current Work", where you will be able to find all these pictures and many more to come