Next month I will celebrate ten years working at my current job, two weeks after that I will start a new chapter of my life at a new company. Lets take this opportunity to look back ten years at some of the great stuff I have achieved.
In 2006 I had no IT experience. If you were to ask me where Event Logs could be found I wouldn’t know, and the letters DNS meant nothing to me. I was quiet and shy but hard working. The idea of making IT my career hadn’t occurred to me, this was just a job.
I started off life doing first line support and compiling health and safety files onto CD-ROMs (known by the company as Eurofiles) with HTML. At the time the company had a mix of Windows 2000 and Windows XP, using MS Office 2003. Server wise I can’t remember exactly but I think two domain controllers, a database server and a backup server using a tape drive. At this point in time I don’t believe I did a lot with the servers but I think the servers were running Windows Server 2005.
As time went on I learnt more and more about what the company did and how stuff worked.
One of my early achievements was setting up a nagios server. I have blogged about Nagios before, but it is a server monitoring system that runs on linux. I am extremely proud of what I have achieved here, no one else in the company had my knowledge of how nagios worked. Initially I even experimented with using a cheap mobile phone connected to the serial port (remember when PCs had these?) to send SMS messages to alert of down time. However this was abandoned when I burned through all the credit on this phone.
Nagios is still used today, and my current team have been shown how to extend the system as the business changes. My philosophy has always been if we have a problem that Nagios didn’t warn us about we need an extra nagios test. These days the nagios web interface is publicly available on the internet so can be checked from anywhere (assuming the office internet is up!) and a mobile app replaces the SMS idea we originally had.
At the end of 2010 the IT Manager resigned, then the Developer resigned and finally the Lead Developer resigned. I was alone. I was IT Manager. I negotiated my first pay rise since joining the company. I was IT.
Wow things were stressful back then. I had so much to learn but somehow I managed. I learnt how to Interview, yes I have employed some clangers along the way, but also some great staff. As well as internal staff I learnt to deal with contractors. We had contractors to help with our internal systems and also contractors to do development work. One thing I have learnt about contractors is that you will always have to chase them at some point to deliver what you are paying them for.
Around the start of 2011 our email server started to show its age. Exchange 2003 had a hard limit on the size of its information store and we were rapidly approaching this. Along with an IT contractor I worked to migrate to Exchange 2010, this was a huge project and caused all sorts of issues which we just worked through. Since then I have done other migrations so Windows Server 2012 and also virtualized many servers in 2013.
A major limit with our infrastructure has always been the internet connection coming in. For a while we tried to load balance three ADSL connections, but the upload speed was always a limiting factor. It was a major victory for the simplification of our network when we got a leased line installed into our head office, helped by a government grant we gave us free installation. Not content with this I did the same again for our second York office, including the free installation.
Since I started I have always been learning development stuff. But in the past few years I have learnt a massive amount helped largely by two main things. My boss passing lots of my responsibility onto others and dedicating lots of my time to development tasks, and also the opportunity to learn with our outsourced development team.
There are a few things that have been ongoing that we have wanted to change since I started which I can’t really take the credit for as they are not complete yet, but I am proud as they may be finished in the next few months.
The company stores calendar information in one giant excel spreadsheet, this is being replaced by outlook calendars.
Our last Windows Server 2003 server and tape drive is being decommissioned. This is the only server that has been running for the entire time I have been here.
The way the company keeps track of work coming in and who does what is being reviewed. Over the years many people have tried to adapt the old database that one of the directors created in Access many years ago. I did a major overhaul recently to delete unused columns and added extra invoicing functionality. What is needed is a fresh system, maybe a CRM can do everything they want. I wish them lots of luck in doing this as I know it won’t be easy but it has to be done.
There are many other projects and pieces of work that I have done that I am proud of. In 2016 I will leave a stable IT department. All clients are on Windows 10 and using Office 2010. We have virtual servers running Server 2012 and are using some great services from Azure to run our SaaS websites. There are of course things I would have liked to achieve, and things I wish I had done differently but on the whole it feels like the right time to move on, especially now long running projects are starting to conclude.
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