“The role of a SysOps Engineer allows me to work on complex and challenging solutions, to learn and evolve.” - Questers

“The role of a SysOps Engineer allows me to work on complex and challenging solutions, to learn and evolve.”

Asen Bakalov, SysOps Engineer at TPXimpact

We are celebrating International Sysadmin Day with an insightful conversation with our colleague Asen Bakalov from the TPXimpact team. We talked about the importance of the SysAdmin role and how it has changed over the years. We also discussed the necessary skills for this job and also what the career opportunities in the field are. Read on:

Tell us a bit about yourself and your professional background?

I started my career over 10 years ago in a small IT company that was selling personal computers and offering IT infrastructure support services to customers ranging from home users to small and medium-sized businesses.

As a SysAdmin there, I was responsible for running and maintaining the customers’ IT infrastructure, consulting them on and engaging in their ongoing IT projects, as well as supporting and repairing different devices. In this fast-paced environment, the roles of a SysAdmin and IT consultant have mixed, effectively turning me into a jack-of-all-trades.

After that, I worked for a variety of companies such as IBM and HP. I even did some freelance work. This allowed me to broaden my horizons and exposed me to different styles of working and larger and more complex IT infrastructures.

Currently, you are a SysOps Engineer at the TPXimpact team at Questers, tell us more about your role and main responsibilities?

In a few words, I manage the internal IT infrastructure and tools within the company. This includes GSuite, Azure, AWS, GCP, Pipedrive, the marketing website provisioned on Craft CMS, and many other tools and products we use within the company.

What does your typical day at TPXimpact look like?

Is there such a thing as a typical day in IT? One day, I may create cloud-based infrastructure for the development team, maintain scripts to spin up and spin down instances required for applications on demand, and maintain company-followed security compliances like passwords or key rotation policies. On the next day, I may focus on cost optimization activities such as tagging and monitoring running instances, and if anything shouldn't be running, shut it down and figure out why it hasn't been terminated properly. Sometimes there might be a migration that I need to assist, or I may be required to work with the dev team to deploy newer versions of software in the Cloud. And all of this while staying well caffeinated and hydrated.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Probably, learning new technologies, especially if I have never heard of them before or if they lack documentation.

And the most exciting?

Honestly, the same as the previous point. Learning new technologies is really exciting. I think anyone in the industry would share this opinion. There is nothing more exciting than the process of learning something new and chasing that intense feeling of euphoria when something you’ve been trying to understand for hours finally clicks in your head, and you feel like a genius for a few brief moments until the next error shows up.

And this loop repeats again and again, until you finally get it all.

Today we celebrate International SysAdmin Day, in your opinion, how important is this profession, and how has it changed over the years?

There are many things in business that we take for granted because they are invisible to us. Every day we get up and go through our morning routine. Eventually, we head to our computers and start work. We check our emails and tasks for the day. When we need access to a document, we connect to the network and pull them from a server somewhere. When something goes wrong, we send a support ticket, and suddenly it stops being our problem. Then we receive a call or a message “It’s fixed!” and our day goes back to normal again.

It just happens, and we don’t really put much thought into it. But someone must be behind this magical “just happens”. This person is the System Administrator.

The SysAdmin job has been evolving over the years along with the tech industry. Today, there is less logic in hardware and more in software. With so many things now offered in software, SysAdmins have to be better coders, a shift away from being the infrastructure person in a company. Nowadays, SysAdmins have to be more development-minded, so they can better communicate with developers in order to build scalable and manageable production environments.

What are the necessary skills and qualifications for a SysAdmin?

System administrators need to have a mixture of hard and soft skills. Here are some skills that companies look for:

  • Knowledge of different operating systems (Microsoft, Unix, Linux, etc.)
  • Basic programming skills - (PHP, JavaScript, etc.)
  • Hardware knowledge
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem-solving mindset
  • Critical thinking

The most important skill for a SysAdmin is the ability to solve problems under pressure. Every minute is critical when something goes wrong. The SysAdmin should be able to quickly diagnose what is wrong and how best to fix it.

What are the career development opportunities in this field?

The SysAdmin is an amazing role to start your career with. It allows you to face various challenges which the IT world can offer. It allows you to work with hardware, software and networks. Nowadays, you will also work with code, virtualization and even security regulations. The role also provides direct contact with all employees in a company.

With regards to career development, there are a wide variety of opportunities for a SysAdmin. To name a few, as a SysAdmin, you can branch out into System Engineering, DevOps, DevSecOps, Virtualization, Cloud Engineering and even CyberSecurity.

What does the role of a SysOps give you personally?

It allows me to work on complex and challenging solutions, to continue learning and evolving within my position and even outside of it. That is the most important thing for me.

Within the IT industry, skills can obsolesce very quickly. Whatever is relevant today might become obsolete tomorrow, so it is particularly important to stay on top of it and keep improving yourself.

Looking for new opportunities in the field of System Administration and DevOps? Check out our current vacancies here.