SkyWay insider: System Administrators

SkyWay insider: System Administrators

03 November 2018 7438

A sysadmin, a system administrator, a specialist of IT department ― we are talking about one and the same person.

The whole department in SkyWay deals with office computers, local network and software. Different specialists monitor uninterrupted computer operation, set up and control networks, support operation of the central server, provide digital security.

Given 700+ people work in SkyWay Technologies Co., you can imagine what a great job this guys do every day. Yes, the IT department has a 100% male team.

Alexey Shkoda, Head of IT support department told us why the department has no girls, and what kind of work sysadmins do every day.


- Alexey, tell us about your IT department please. What are you doing here?

- We are doing everything possible for our company’s co-workers that they can work comfortably.

- Basically you have system administrators, right?

- Yes, but our department is engaged with IT support directly. We are a technical support. Computers, networks…

- Servers?

- No. Another team is responsible for servers. But everything related to computers, their preparation, configuration, debugging, maintenance is what specialists of IT support department do.

For example, a new person comes to work and a computer is prepared for him, the necessary software is installed for specific tasks, the network and peripherals are connected. So as to enable the employee to start work and immediately join the active process.

- What daily tasks are performed by your guys? I understand that you have a 100% male team?

- Yes, unfortunately, the only girl who came to us for an interview did not pass it.

- Lack of technical skills?

- Yes. It turned out that she knows very little.

- What about training and teaching?

- When there are more competitive options in the market, you naturally choose the best. Spending time on training is generous, it’s an extra help to a person, but I want a specialist to start working and show independence and initiative as much as possible, and he didn’t need to be trained from scratch.

- Would you tell us about the department itself, how many people work in it?

- At Chebotaryov St. [project designing offices of SkyWay Technologies Co., - ed. note] 5 people are working headed by me, at Selitsky St. [experimental production facility of SkyWay Technologies Co., - ed. note] – only one. Since September, he was transferred to another department, but he also deals with the problems in our department. And at Dzerzhinsky Ave [office of the CEO, SkyWay Technologies Co., - ed. note] there is one more specialist, he also performs the functions of the system administrator of technical support. These 7 people are the IT support department.

- Let’s now talk about the team. What are your employees interested in besides work and computers?

- Our team is well coordinated. What is good, we do not have staff turnover. Everyone who came, they like to work here, no one is going to leave out of those with whom I spoke.

Of the last offers not on the job, it was playing paintball. And judging by the fact that the employee who offered it knows the price for each ball, the kind of ammunition to be given and other details, he is not just interested in this - he is clearly in the subject!

However, still the main thing we live in are computers. And even in their free time, guys come up with something useful for workflows. So, one of the employees has picked up the optimal “hardware” for the best work in 3DEXPERIENCE platform.


- This is a multi-cross platform from the company Dassault Systemes, which our company acquired. For example, designers in it can draw, and those who are engaged in engineering can draw diagrams, 3D models, and perform calculations. This is an engineering design program.

To work in it you need powerful computers, especially for those who are engaged in drawing large objects.

- Tell us more about your top computer, which is used as a disco ball. Do you turn off the lights and dance?

- Yes! In general, this is our main duty - to dance! [Laughs]

This computer is used for calculations. Our departments have an analytical program ANSYS, it performs calculations. And the fact is that no matter how many computer resources you give it, it will “eat” them all. Accordingly, the more resources a computer has, the faster the speed of the calculations will be. There are such calculations that last for 12-16 hours, and to reduce this time, you need to use as many resources as possible, in other words, power. And this “disco ball” today is the optimal ratio between its cost and performance. Now we are testing it, we are selecting the optimal settings for the hardware in order to get the maximum out of it and achieve a stable operation.

- And why do your sysadmins have 3-5 monitors on their desktop? Are they playing “World of tanks” on several monitors?

- In fact, several monitors facilitate and speed up the work greatly. On one monitor there is a remote desktop of one of the employees, and you can monitor the installation of software. On the other screen there is the desktop of the second employee, where software is also being downloaded. That is, multitasking is realized thanks to several monitors. It’s simple, because you see that you have 10% left here, and there - 50%. So you can plan your work better.

- One of your employees said that all requests should be made through applications to the technical support. He commented on these requirements quite simply: “I run around the offices all day, fixing things for everyone, installing equipment, but this is not reflected in the reports, there is no statistics, which means you cannot evaluate the work.”

- This is a really an urgent problem, because there have been several incidents. When, walking down the corridor or in a smoking room, one of my colleagues said: “The program does not work for me,” and at that time you are going to fulfill another task. Here, the system is creating this so that everything is centralized.

On the desktop of each computer in the company there is a label “Technical support”, so you need to go there and leave applications. Or you can send an email to a single e-mail address, or contact via a single internal phone number of the IT department. If the question is urgent, and a computer does not work, then it is best to make a phone call. Then the specialist will respond immediately.

- How quickly do sysadmins respond to written applications?

- It all depends on the total workload and complexity of each individual task. There are unrelated moments when applications get in one by one, and they are not simple, but you need to spend an hour or two for each of them, or there are simple applications, but there are a lot of them.

- And how are these applications organized? They fall into a shared folder and everyone chooses a task?

- Yes, each IT-support employee takes an application and sets a status so that the other one can see that it is being processed by another specialist.

- So, that is, you have no separation on network administrators, mail server administrators and other things?

- Yes, because interchangeability is important to us. Suppose one specialist is busy fulfilling a task, and only he knows how to do something. And here comes the second same urgent request. And what to do?

- But there are separate people involved in security issues, right?

- Yes, not so long ago we hired a new information security officer. Now we are introducing him in the course of affairs, what and how, to gradually delve into the infrastructure of the company.

- There is such a British TV series “Computer geeks” or “The IT Crowd”, and there, technical support staff sit in the basement and receive applications by phone. And the first thing they advise everyone to do is turn on and turn off the computer. How often do you offer such a solution?

- We advise this only to those employees with whom we have friendly relations. In such cases, we, of course, can joke and ask: “Is the computer plugged in at all?” Fortunately, we cannot do anything without humor.

- And it’s great! You can feel an easy and relaxed atmosphere when employees in the company can joke, and at the same time treat tasks and questions professionally and humanly.

What are your hobbies besides work?

- Wow ... I even confused about what to answer you.

In such a rhythm of life it is difficult to get involved in something other than your favorite work. But, of course, I still have time to arrange my life. Construction, children ...

Viacheslav Evtukh

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