As a team that supports production networks that need to be up and running all day, every day, the GlobalNOC is constantly striving to improve our customers’ lives by making our services even better, and more innovative.
In a nod to this weighty goal, we are happy to announce a new role we’ve just created and filled: A member of our systems and software group who is dedicated entirely to our automation initiatives. John Ratliff, who has been on GlobalNOC’s network data collection analysis team for two years, was hired after interviewing a variety of candidates.
“We wanted the best possible person we could get for this role, and John is clearly incredibly qualified. Automation is an area he’s shown a lot of interest in while here,” said David Ripley, GlobalNOC’s director of software and systems. “We want to provide our staff with opportunities to grow their careers at GlobalNOC, and so we’re really happy to have John take on this new challenge.”
Why, exactly, are we bringing an automation engineer on board? It’s been brewing for a couple of years, since we moved away from individual, physical servers to virtual servers that live in a private cloud environment. “this strategy opened the door for us to start thinking seriously about changing the way we do things like releases of new software products, how we deploy them in the field, and how we perform upgrades or other maintenances,” Ripley explained.
We want to make the methods we use to build and deploy our software quicker, more effective, and more reliable - which in turn improves the resiliency, and availability of our services. The best way to do all of these things? By building systems that automate these processes. At a very basic level: we want the machines to do the things machines are good at (boring, repeatitive tasks, like running tests on a software suite), which in turn frees up our people to do the things people are good at (like chatting with customers to find out the challenges they’re facing and figure out solutions).
This new automation engineer position keeps our automation efforts moving forward. For his part, Ratliff will look at automating a variety of services: deployment, how we build out new systems, how we update our existing systems, and more—all of which move us toward our goal of pervasive continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) and automating everything it makes sense for us to automate.
“I really do enjoy automation projects,” Ratliff said. “And when you’re trying to do CI/CD, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes work that has to happen for it to go well. You don't want to push out something that is detrimental to your client. For us to be able to make sure that doesn't happen, we need test environments, and we need to make sure we have automated processes to drive them. The best way to do this kind of work is to have a computer do it for us.”