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J. Daniel Ashton

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Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, —Ecclesiastes 9:10a NIV
The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands:
"See that justice is done,
let mercy be your first concern,
and humbly obey your God." —Micah 6:8, CEV
With all your heart you must trust the LORD and not your own judgment.
Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow. —Proverbs 3:5,6 CEV

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Name: Daniel Ashton
Location: Germantown, Maryland, United States

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Monday, August 30, 2004

Interview Update

This afternoon I had an interview for an opening in IBM's Gaithersburg office. This would be for the Business Continuity and Recovery Services group, a part of IBM Global Services. BCRS is a group that provides off-site hardware for businesses to use in case of a disaster in their own data centers. Our local recovery center is described here.

The vast majority of the systems here are IBM, of course. However, all of Global Services is agressive in supporting systems from any vendor as needed by the customer, and BCRS is no exception. At this point they have a small team of Sun technician-administrators, and that's the opening I interviewed for.

The job would have several interesting facets. I seem to work well with the day-to-day interrupts of supporting users, although it sounds like this team is less focused on daily users and more focused on recovery checklists. I've done hardware and OS configuration in the past, especially at McKee Foods. I'm very comfortable with Linux and AIX (which are internally very similar to Solaris), and I did a couple of Solaris installations while working in Atlanta. I would need to study the Sun/Solaris way of doing things, which I would probably enjoy, especially if it resulted in obtaining Sun certifications. And there could be some room to grow into another of the groups, perhaps if I wanted to develop mainframe skills.

There are some drawbacks, of course. It's not clear how any member of this team could work from home. While working in Gaithersburg is my second-favorite option (after work-at-home), we have been hoping for a reason, even just the freedom, to move closer to our friends and our church. Landing an office job in IBM's Gaithersburg office would be a compelling reason to stay in this immediate area.

This job sounds like it would be much less user-oriented, and much more focused on planning. I'm not sure that's a great fit for my skills and interests. There's also the question of my involvement with various musical groups, and of Sabbath work: this team works around the clock during disaster recovery test runs, and (of course) during real emergencies. While the interviewer expressed willingness to be cooperative in these areas, I would feel awkward if a disaster recovery became necessary at a time when I could not help my team. And I value my free time: I'm not eager to sign-up for shift work. I see these as potential sore spots.

Disaster recovery is definitely a critical effort for the businesses involved. Being a part of that would be something to be proud of, a little bit like being a firefighter or ambulance driver. However, I like to imagine my contributions to computing to be a little more mainstream, helping to improve IBM's software, perhaps, like DB2 or MQSeries, or contributing to some major open-source project.

In summary, I think this is wait-and-see. If the team interviews all the other candidates and still finds me the most compelling, I think I could be content to work here for a few months or years. Given my comparative lack of Solaris experience, I'll be surprised to be offered this position. But it could be a good place to be helpful for a little while, and to pick up some new skills.


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