Meet Your Zenoss System Admin: Marshall Dean

SysAdmin Appreciation Day - Marshall Dean

This week at Zenoss, we’re kicking off System Administrator Appreciation Day by highlighting some rock star systems admins! We got a chance to ask Marshall Dean a few questions about his experience as a senior IT systems engineer with Zenoss.

First, what would you say is your main role as a sysadmin?

Maintaining and supporting internal infrastructure, assisting with advanced ticket issues, and completing projects to meet the needs of the company.

What’s the coolest part about your job?

Getting to play with toys every day. My passion since I was little is hardware and electronics in general. The ability to be paid to come in and work with servers and network components has me energized to come to work every day.

Would you say you play well with developers?

In everything except pingpong, developers are our brothers and sisters from another mother.

What would you say has been the best new tool for managing and pinpointing issues with computer networks and IT infrastructure?

The Zenoss product. I’ve only been here for two months, and the software has already been invaluable for pinpointing issues that would have taken hours to determine at my previous company.

Zenoss HQ is lucky to be located in Austin — a place we’d argue is one of the best in the world.  Do you have a favorite Austin spot you’d recommend?

Auditorium Shores and the surrounding greenbelt.

How careless are people with passwords and data?

A person is careful; people are reckless. The more stake you have in the data and passwords, the more care is generally put into protecting that information.

With that being said, do you have any tips for creating good passwords?

The best passwords are long but easy to remember. Phrases with special characters combine a convenience of remembering and need for security in a password.

Are there any stereotypes you’d say are true or not true of sysadmins?

Many of us are professional Googlers. Knowing what to search is invaluable in roles involving technology — affecting whether you get the answer you need or nothing.

What inspired you to become a sysadmin?

It started when I was in the first grade. There were several old Macintosh desktops in our art room, of which one was functional and one was not. I spent a few minutes looking at the back of each and noticed that they weren’t the same. I matched up the cables (some of which had been unplugged) and was able to get it working. The adrenaline and praise I got from the equipment functioning after working on it solidified my career path at an early age.

Is there anything you wish people knew about being a sysadmin?

Everyone is fighting for our time. We can often prioritize your request if you submit it in the method we request (usually a ticket system).

As a sysadmin, what would you say makes Zenoss unique or valuable?

Zenoss is made for sysadmins just like us; its monitoring capability is nearly unmatched in the market. The amount of time and effort saved by knowing what is wrong or will soon go wrong and where is invaluable. We practice what we preach; we use our own software to monitor our internal and hosted infrastructure.

If you had four extra hours in your day, what would you use them for?

I would spend three hours of it with my wife and two daughters and the last hour on gaming or personal hobbies. Family is the most important, but you have to take time for yourself as well.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

An island somewhere with a fiber connection. I love the ocean but hate slow internet.

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

My wife. Having kids is amazing, but it’s tough to take time for yourself, much less as a couple, when they’re young. (I have a 6-month-old and a 3-year-old.)

Has anyone ever given you a piece of career advice that impacted where you are today?

Don’t settle for a job you’re not passionate about. I am lucky to work in a field where I look forward to coming to work every day. The old saying, “Find your passion, and you’ll never work a day in your life,” was really key for what I wanted to do.

What advice would you give new sysadmins?

Express how you learn best and get your company to support your learning. Knowledge and experience go a long way, but things change very quickly, and you will never stop learning new things. Your company gets value out of you gaining new skills as well.

This week is System Administrator Appreciation Day  but at Zenoss, we don’t think a day is enough when it comes to the great work sysadmins do every day! Follow along with us as we highlight some rock star sysadmins we look up to and celebrate the work they do.  

At Zenoss, we know what it’s like to walk a mile in your shoes, and we want to make that a comfortable walk with a killer pair of special edition Zenoss socks. Get yours today. We have limited supply, so act fast!