A little while back, we featured a story on RackerTalent about Travis Runty, and what it means to work in Linux at Rackspace. Not to be outdone, it’s time to introduce the world to our equally impressive and dedicated Windows gang.
Trey Fischer is an eight-year veteran of Rackspace and a paragon of what it means to be a great Windows Admin: a dedication to service, expertise in his field and being really, really, really flippin’ smart. We asked him a few questions about the work he does and why Windows matters to Rackspace.
How did you get to Rackspace?
I started out in the banking industry and worked with one of the largest banks running a small mainframe, wrote Pl/Sql and was a Database Analysts. From the banking industry I moved into the travel industry and was a Systems Analyst. This was in 2002, I had interviewed at Rackspace and at the travel company and decided to take the position with the travel company thinking it was a better opportunity. I still kick myself today for making that bad decision.
Forward to 2004 and I interviewed again at the Rack and accepted a position working 3rd shift down at Broadway bank building as a level 2 windows sys admin. From Broadway Bank, we moved over to Datapoint and I moved up to level 3 and into a Senior Systems Engineer running a team of about 7 technicians. At the time I managed the largest customer at Rackspace and also helped mentor my fellow technicians.
When I look back at what brought me to the Rack, it was the aspects of being on a team of experts and that there was lots of opportunity to learn and grow. Today, I am part of the next evolution of hosting in cloud computing. The flexibility and scale that cloud computing has makes me wish that the evolution would have happened sooner.
Windows has kind of a bad rep in some circles – I mean, with Apple fanboys and Linux lovers. Why does Windows matter?
Great question, I don’t like koolaid (for all the fanboys) that much and (Linux)beards are scratchy. Windows is still the most dominate operating system out there, it was built for the enterprise to run mission critical workloads. For a lot of corporation they need vendors to stand behind their products when something goes wrong. With some of the other alternatives out there the only support that they can get is by using forums or trying to figure it out yourself.
The other aspect to this is that the alternative operating systems are either too complicated for most of your end users and/or the vendor locks you into their hardware. My truce in all of this is that they all have there place in the ecosystem and create competition amongst one another, which is good for everyone. The funny thing about this is I know a lot of linux and Mac guys that love PC gaming/Xbox. They may joke about windows until its time for them to play some games…
Rackspace got voted Microsoft’s Hosting Partner of the Year in 2012. What does that mean to you? What does it represent in the industry?
I think the award represents all of the hard work that we have done to make our Window’s offering a success and it shows our leadership as the best for windows hosting. From an industry standpoint it shows that we have been chosen because of our strength in deploying a windows platform.
What’s cool about the work you do for your customers?
You never know what kind of question you may get when talking with a customer. It can range from can I get another ip to giving your advice on how to scale out an environment for this weekend’s fantasy football that is going to be on TV. The questions can challenge you because of all the different ways customers will implement a technology and at what scale at which they need something to operate.
I get to help my customers’ businesses succeed. I can be a part of helping them setup their platforms so that they can sell their products. I think it’s cool to be part of the economic engine. The other cool aspect is that if I have an idea on how to make something more efficient for my customer or for Rackspace, I can create it.
“Culture” is a huge deal around Rackspace. What does that mean to you and your team?
Rackspace’s culture is one that feeds excitement about the opportunity to do something great as a company and for our customers. The mind share at Rackspace is amazing and there are always new things to learn. I don’t think you ever stop learning here. There is always something new to do or learn. The great thing about the culture is that you have the freedom to explore different opportunities and if you have a great idea, you can build it.
Every windows team I have been on is a little different because each team member brings their own thoughts and ideas to the team. Right now our team is experimenting with hot sauce. We are trying to see who can eat the hottest sauce, these are some of the things that keep the job fun. There is a comradery between teammates and that is what makes the culture so great. The culture on a windows team, has its quirks, but is probably no different than the other teams throughout the company.
We all share a bond of wanting to serve our customers to the best of our ability–working hard and playing hard.
How do you lead a technical Windows / MSSQL Team?
You have to understand how each of the technicians learns best. I have found that most technicians like the hands-on approach of labs. I have also found that giving technicians break-fixes challenges them and inspires them to try and move their skills up to the next level. The other aspects of leading a technical team is to lead by example, or do as you would like others to do. When you say that you are going to do something, make sure that you follow through with your promises.
Rackspace is the Open Cloud Company. What does that mean to you and your work?
Being the open cloud company means that we are making our own path to greatness. We are not tied to any one vendor and can innovate without having to be restrained from a particular vendor’s timeframes or development. Working on a platform that is ever-evolving means that you are constantly in learning mode and things change often. The environment is very dynamic. There are always challenges and there is always something new to learn.
What makes a great Windows/SQL admin?
A hunger to learn and experiment when someone says that a problem can’t be solved. The ability to not take no for an answer and the determination to crack a seemingly unsolvable problem.
What could a candidate do to earn a place on one of your teams? Skills, certs, culture-fit stuff, beer preference?
They have to show that they are ready to work hard, have a desire to learn and serve customers, are genuinely excited about technology and are driven to succeed. Those are the keys components that make a great technical Racker.
To see a listing of Windows Admin jobs currently open at Rackspace, follow this link to our jobs portal.Category: Rackers Tags: Fanatical Support, mssql, Service, Windows