Interview with Mathias Brugger: Linux System Administrator



Let’s start from the beginning: What is your position at Net4All and what does it entail ?

Tout comme Guillaume, Kévin et Frédéric, je suis également Administrateur système Linux.
Il s’agit d’un poste d’ingénierie où l’on fournit une expertise sur des technologies Linux et réseau. C’est un métier exigeant qui demande beaucoup de rigueur et d’investissement.

The job involves managing the Linux server computing equipment, as well as maintaining our internal and customer network. This is a lot of responsibility and just one wrong action on our part could bring down the entire infrastructure and therefore have an impact on one or more of our customers.

The role is separated into two different areas – « Build » and « Run ».

The first includes setting up customer infrastructures, while understanding what they need so that we can provide them with the necessary advice for future operations. This side of things also involves ensuring ongoing improvement from a security and new release point of view. As for the second area, this involves maintaining customer infrastructures and supporting requests made by customers.

How did you end up here? How long have you been working in this field ?

I got into it very quickly as I’ve always been very curious about computers. When I was 8 years old, I was debugging my parents’ computers and those of friends as well. When I was 12, I designed my first static website and made it dynamic.

Afterwards, I completed a general apprenticeship in computer science, while also gaining my professional qualifications at the same time. My apprenticeship training was at Net4All. I wasn’t working in the Linux division back then, but in technical support.

Being in that department made me very versatile since I ended up working with a large number of different systems (Windows, Linux, network, client and server computer parks, etc.).

All in all, I’ve been working at Net4All for 5 years now.

What is your typical day like ?

A typical day in « Build » means first of all looking through the available projects in order of priority, and then processing the next ones in the PIPE (pipeline).

At the same time, I need to look at the customer relation side of things. I do this by keeping in contact with customers so that we are providing exactly the services they both need and want, including matching up our capacities and ensuring we’re following good practice, which is essential.

While some projects are similar or we have become used to working with certain types of technology, everything does generally tend to be different since each customer has specific needs that we seek to meet in the best possible way. This is particularly the case given that many projects involve less common technologies, thereby meaning we really have to undertake research to understand and advise the customer.

A typical “Run » day is a day where I will go and get a new ticket to process. This could be any type of request or modification. It may also require actions to be taken on the internal infrastructure or a public cloud infrastructure so that a change can be made.

When it comes down to it, there is no such thing as a typical day! The demands and the problems are never the same. That’s why we’re so focused on continuous improvement.

What do you like most about this job ?

What I like most about this job is working with machines. Because fundamentally, they only do what they are asked to do. Especially on Linux! We know exactly what is going on, what they are doing, and when.

I communicate with my machine in the same way as I might communicate with somebody else. There is a certain mathematical logic behind a script or a piece of code. The way that everything is arranged and ordered means that even if you don’t know where something is, you’ll always end up finding it if you look hard.

What made you want to join Net4All ?

What made me want to join Net4All were the learning opportunities that were being offered to me, and all in an environment that interested me. I quickly realised that I they were offering me a lot of responsibility.

Even though I’ve now finished my apprenticeship, I continued working at Net4All because the company offers me more than I can find elsewhere. Every day, I discover a new technology or one with which I’m unfamiliar, and so we have this opportunity to work with these new things and bring our point of view to influence them, all of us together. It’s this combination of things along with the team spirit that makes you stay and want to stay.

That’s why I think that the most interesting question is not why I came, but more importantly, why I didn’t leave at the end of my apprenticeship..

On a personal level, what do you enjoy doing ?

Before I was such a computer geek, I was a big fan of nature. I was a scout and I was in the Alpine Club for a long time. I went mountaineering on glaciers, as well as climbing and hiking in the mountains and both wild and ordinary camping.

To be fair, that did take a back seat when I started my professional career, but it is still one of my goals to get back into it as much as I did before.