Sentences like "nothing can really happen" or "can you fix that quickly" make experienced system administrators like Robert Buchinger, Piyanat Noosawat, Dietmar Blauensteiner and ASQS CTO Günther Syrowatka laugh. Why? Because some things seem very simple and yet take forever.
Today, on international sys admin appreciation day, we want to shed some light on the daily work of our sys admins, appreciating the work they do every day to keep things running smoothly.
System administrators generally ensure that a company's employees can use their computers and that the devices, applications and systems in use work properly and remain secure. They ensure data security by regularly updating the systems so that nobody from outside can take advantage of vulnerabilities. In short: they monitor the complete IT infrastructure to be able to quickly act in case any problems arise.
As a global provider of aviation quality and safety management software, we not only work with enormous amounts of data, but also provide our customers with a system that has to operate flawlessly and ensure that their data is handled with the utmost care at all times to guarantee its security. IQSMS is therefore hosted on ASQS servers around the globe which are maintained and serviced by us to ensure compliance and guarantee that no third party has access to the data.
With this in mind, ASQS system administrators not only enable their colleagues to work comfortably with their technical equipment and software tools, but are also responsible for ensuring that IQSMS runs smoothly at all times.
The spotlight and honor their daily work, we asked Robert, Piyanat and Dietmar about their daily tasks, server maintenance, GDPR and data security.
1) What does a Sys Admin do all day?
Piyanat: My daily tasks include monitoring the servers and making sure the system is running efficiently on a daily basis. I also carry out tasks assigned by other departments, such as the sales and support team, and ensure server security. I am also responsible for installing, configuring and maintaining various types of hardware and software, which often includes creating user accounts and restoring data for the Bangkok office as part of the coordination between the Bangkok and Vienna offices.
Robert: We usually keep everything up and running, assist developers and customer support when they get stuck, and restoring backups when necessary. One of the most important tasks is furthermore to coordinate the relevant jobs between the Vienna and the Bangkok office and to plan the next steps together with our CTO Günther Syrowatka to make sure that our customers can always comfortably work with our products.
Dietmar: My daily work consists of many different tasks. The most notable tasks are the maintenance and extension of the backup-system and low-level system-maintenance, where I have to (early) identify hardware or other dynamical problems of the system to avoid system failure. It’s also part of my duties to set up new systems and prepare them for daily work. Another part of my job is to analyze logfiles and seek for irregularities that might be indicating problems or even attacks / break-in attempts.
2) Talking about break-in attempts: What does IT security mean to you and what activities do you undertake at ASQS to ensure it?
Piyanat: IT security, from my point of view, means protecting the company’s and customer’s information, which is paramount for us. Preventing unauthorized users from accessing IQSMS systems and protecting against various infiltration malware attacks are also vital parts of IT security.
Robert: IT Security is a big player in our daily business. We need to ensure that only people who are allowed to see certain data do have access to it. However, software security is also very important. So we have to make sure that any software we use, whether we write it ourselves or use third party software, is always up-to-date and as bug-free as possible.
Dietmar: IT-Security for me means ensuring that data stored on systems and computers used by ASQS is safe and secure and cannot be accessed by unauthorized persons. My primary focus in my daily work is network security. Furthermore, system security involves techniques to prevent misuse and hijacking of software and hardware by hackers. There are many such measures, and their number is increasing every day.
3) Günther, as CTO you oversee the development of technologies for customers and the implementation and distribution of internal IT operations. What impact does the GDPR have on ASQS security and data privacy?
Günther: In our daily work, data security and data protection are top priorities, which is why we attached the utmost importance to them even before the introduction of the GDPR.
Without question, the introduction of the new Data Protection Directive has not only allowed us to gain a wider perspective on the subject, but has brought with it a new level of data protection requirements. Implementing these and coordinating them with our customers was an effort for us, as it was for many other companies, but one that we managed very well. In my opinion, data protection is an enormously important matter in today's world and, of course, especially in our industry. Thus, compliance with regulatory requirements and the protection of our customers' data is undoubtedly at the forefront of our day-to-day business.
4) How do you as CTO keep track of the management of the ASQS systems and servers?
We work very closely and well together in this area and everyone has their own area of responsibility which they take care of independently. I get the necessary overview of the status quo of our servers, systems and tools through regular team meetings, in which we update each other on all pending agendas and discuss possible new tools. To be honest, I see myself more as a team member in this respect than a supervisor. If something is needed, I take over the tasks myself and am of course always there to help if problems arise.
5) And last but not least: system administrators keep things running and solve issues for their colleagues as well. A little advice from the sys admins for colleagues with minor IT problems?
Robert: Restart is good for you! In daily work it often shows that computers run endlessly, applications are not shut down and laptops are often just in sleep mode. Data is processed endlessly. And at some point, the system finally crashes. Therefore, in case of a problem, please simply shut down the system and restart it. This clears memory areas and the system can breathe and work again. Of course, this doesn't solve all problems, but "Have you ever tried a reboot?” (laughs). If problems persist: Keep calm and call your system administrator!
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