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Meet Movio: A Day In The Life Of A Systems Administrator

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I’m Pavel, and I've been working at Movio as a System Administrator for almost three years. After starting as a member of one of the smaller squads, I've since become involved in the whole company's infrastructure, research, and security activities. Since I started at Movio, we have expanded from a single US-based datacenter to one that also covers Europe and Asia. This fast growth, and the company’s early adoption of new technologies, is what makes working at Movio most exciting for me. The following is how a typical day looks like in my role.

9AM - I enjoy having a big breakfast at home, so when I get into the office I’m ready to dive in straight away. To start, I'll go through my emails and Slack - which usually results in a bunch of jobs required for the Los Angeles and London offices. These can range from helping to set up new customers and fixing issues with existing ones, to planning timelines for getting new services out in those regions.

10AM - A lot of the developer squads have meetings, or ‘stand-ups’, around this time, and they will often pull me in when they have infrastructure or security topics to discuss. They usually need my help with getting new services up in our Kubernetes cluster and exposing them to the customers, fine-tuning the performance of our servers, setting up backup strategies, and planning the budget for new services.

Systems Admin in blog 1

11AM - In the mornings, there’s often an urgent task for me to focus on - which I always try to solve by lunch. Some of the tasks I may need to work on are; networking issues in our Chinese datacenter, customers unable to connect to our services, losing Apache Kafka nodes (for no apparent reason), Elasticsearch being slow (although eating up all the available memory), our Chief Executive freaking out after seeing our Amazon Web Services (AWS) invoice, colleagues forgetting their very strong passwords, the list goes on.. You name it, I’ll most likely have encountered it - and it certainly keeps my mornings varied!

12PM - At lunchtime, I spend 15 minutes explaining to all of the curious Movio Crew members what the vegan ingredients of my huge lunch are - shout out to my awesome wife for preparing it! If I haven’t brought food, I enjoy going out to the new vegan food places nearby and eating outside in the sun.

1PM - In the afternoons, I switch my focus to bigger projects, and the Operations squad’s roadmap. Something that I think makes Movio unique compared to other places I’ve worked at is that each squad gets to determine their own roadmap and share it with everyone at the WIP, our company-wide meeting. This is a great opportunity to get the entire Movio Crew on the same page. As I'm currently the only member of the Operations squad, it is quite easy for me to get new things and ideas accepted on the Operations roadmap - I usually vote yes for my own ideas, and the team usually vote unanimously in favour of those ideas.

As I've mentioned before, Movio has seen a big growth in the last few years and, as every other company experiencing this, we have a lot of legacy systems and technologies around the place. This can be a challenge, so my main focus recently is on migrating these legacy systems into Docker and Kubernetes cluster. This sometimes involves detective-like work to find out how the old systems work and what they affect, plus a lot of talking and interacting with other teams.

3PM - Other big tasks I’m involved in include keeping up with AWS new developments. Since we started with AWS six years ago, their services and offerings have evolved many times. My tasks here tend to be migrating our servers to new hardware, studying and implementing the latest best practices in the AWS security world, and finding ways to leverage the high-availability nature of the cloud services with our current systems.

A nice example would be setting up live replicas of our big Mariadb servers in other availability zones in our AWS regions. This would involve leveraging the new I3 instances with NVMe disks. I would plan a couple of hours of downtime with our customers, during their night hours if possible, then stream the few terabytes of data to the new nodes and restart the Mariadb servers in a master-slave setup. This would decrease the time of recovery from days to hours, should a disaster happen.

After 5pm I usually make my friend Mariano very happy by losing to him in foosball. Depending on what day it is, I’ll either join in on our company touch rugby team (which rocks in the bottom league) or I’ll join my colleagues in a small game of either Colonising Mars, Magic the Gathering or a friendly poker session.

Systems Admin in blog 2

My role gives me the opportunity to work on a range of challenging issues that arise across our offices. It’s important to me to have the flexibility and freedom to try new technologies and figure out how to make them work for our company, and that’s something I definitely get at Movio. Being so involved in the decision-making, direction and progression of Movio’s systems is a huge plus that you don’t get in a lot of other companies - and I love being able to contribute.

We're currently on the hunt for Senior DevOps Engineer to join Pavel in the Operations squad, so check out our openings on the career page for more information.

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