Five features that make an exceptional System Engineer by Adomas
System Engineers, SRE, DevOps, Infrastructure Engineers – same same, but different?
According to BankingLab head of IT Infrastructure Adomas Lukšys, nowadays all these mentioned titles vary in each organisation, but in general… They are identical! “Only the scope of responsibility differs, depending on the organisation size and maturity level. We prefer to call this position System Engineer at BankingLab, since we think this is the broadest of them all”, – Adomas says. As we’ve already got that elephant out of the room (the reason why this article is called “Five features that make an exceptional System Engineer ”) we can proceed. To begin with, Adomas has good and bad news under this topic: good is that everything you need to succeed in this role you can learn. All you need is just to have a clear personal development plan and a good mentor. Bad news is that this field evolves so fast – you simply won’t be able to stop learning. Therefore, those who are eager to learn and have a steep learning curve are more likely to succeed.
So, an exceptional System Engineer according to Adomas is the one who:
Always thinks about the big picture even while implementing the smallest tasks
New deployments, change requests, patches, bug fixes, workarounds – all these types of daily tasks can be massive or extremely small. Regardless of the task volume engineer must always think how his or her work will impact the infrastructure on a higher level. How will it work on newer software? Is this solution scalable? Is it redundant? Is this backwards compatible? Does it meet your organisation security standards? How will you recover in case of disaster? All these and similar questions must be raised before implementing any change in infrastructure. Some would say that change management is here to solve this, but even though the change can technically look all right – in the long term it still can lead to expensive maintenance, technical debt and so on. Of course, it is extremely hard to understand the big picture when you are only scratching the surface of System Engineering, but it is better to start asking yourself those questions sooner than later.
Knows how to script and can read the code
It’s not something new that the gap between System Engineering and app development is getting thinner. Even tools and terminology that System Engineer uses are more and more like what developers use. Infrastructure as Code is something that we take for granted. Because of that, knowing how to script with Bash, Terraform, Ansible is mandatory. This skill brings the mindset of automation. Automating repetitive tasks give speedy deliveries and eliminate human error, making our job easy and escorting service quality to a new level. On the other hand, knowing how to code is a “nice to have” skill. What is mandatory is to be able to read the code. We built our infrastructure so it could run the code. Therefore, reading application logs or the code itself is more or less a daily maintenance task. Moreover, understanding the code and its structure makes our lives easy when building and maintaining CI/CD for developers.
Understands IT security basics
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and a few minutes of cyber-incident to ruin it.” – Stephane Nappo said. Data is everything these days. Companies spend lots of money to secure their data, but sometimes it is not enough. According to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breaches Investigations Report, 82% of data breaches involved a human element. This includes incidents in which employees expose information directly (for example, by misconfiguring databases) or by making a mistake that enables cyber criminals to access the organisation’s systems. Because of that it is very important to raise security awareness inside the organisation and to begin training the System Engineering team. One small configuration mistake can lead to a huge data leak. Moreover, most of the organisations are under regulations or some data protection security standards that they must comply with. Even though heavy lifting is usually done by the security team, this still leaves a System Engineer with a need to understand at least security basics, so she or he can work in such environments.
Has deep knowledge in his area, but keeps wide perspective
This is something that is highly appreciated in small or mid-size companies but also considered as an advantage in large enterprises. A System Engineer usually has a specialisation in one of the fields – Linux/Windows OS, database management, networks, application management, automation and so on. Those who are open-minded and try to understand how their work impacts infrastructure from a broader perspective, those are who succeed. Adomas personal suggestion would be to work in a smaller company for at least a couple of years – in an enterprise company you won’t be able to have hands on different parts of infrastructure, but only deep dive in one direction. Don’t get it wrong – deep knowledge in one area is an asset, but you must understand how your work impacts others to be the best at what you do.
Enjoys the work
Being happy at work and loving what you do is an overall productivity booster and enhances performance. People who enjoy their jobs are more likely to be optimistic, motivated, learn faster, make fewer mistakes, and make better business decisions. Even though it sounds like a cliché, Adomas guarantees it is true. Since System Engineering has lots of different areas to cover, try to steer yourself towards what you find the most interesting. After trying out different things, one must become an expert of something to have a long and happy career in this interesting and challenging IT field! When you love what you do every day and come home feeling enthusiastic about what you’ve contributed to the world, it makes you passionate and positive about other areas in your life as well. It’s a snowball effect, and it can work the opposite way as well.
Did you find yourself in these features? Or maybe it helped you to change your attitude and you understand your professional path better now? Anyway, whatever you are, be a good one. If you do some similar or any other work, do it with the passion and you never have to work a day in your life, but enjoy. If you do so – BankingLab together with Adomas are always open to meet such people, all you need is to check our offers and give us a sign.
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