Hi, I’m Greg.
I’m a Systems Engineer, DevOps evangelist, husband and father to two lovely kids. My wife is my support system and my kids are my inspiration.
Since accidentally slipping into Unix whilst working as a Technical Support Engineer in a busy call centre, I’ve really got the decent breaks that have led me to where I am today.
I was trained up with Solaris and was ready for a Unix career when the call centre was decommissioned and all technical staff was made redundant. Searching for a job as a Unix guy back then was hard when you were ‘junior’ (meaning little or no experience – just theory) but I was given a break and started working as a Unix admin at a car leasing company. This is really where I got my feel for the command line, shell programming and interacting with developers.
I fell in love with a Dutch girl and we made a deal to look for work in our respective countries and whoever got work quickest would move. She found me work first – so I moved to the Netherlands.
I became the first employee of a company that wanted to make thin-client solutions for primary schools. I created a beast of a system incorporating a desktop on Solaris that looked and felt exactly like win98 but with only 3MiB of memory per idle desktop. The major problems that I faced there were the applications all had to be in Dutch so a lot of recompilation was needed of Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice and others. After struggling financially for a couple of years (I didn’t get paid much but the work was too interesting) and, after the birth of my first child, I sadly decided to leave myself open to new opportunities. This is where the next chapter begins.
I experienced the hyper-growth of a company. Meaning that I had to work 60-70 hours a week to keep up with maintaining current systems and implementing new ones, whilst also setting up the tooling that we needed like monitoring, etc. It was tough but extremely rewarding. Software developers were being hired at a rate of 20/month but my team remained only 4 guys. I got to learn very quickly and also learned how to channel my adrenaline into quick thinking (usually why my hands shake during public speaking and stress situations that don’t require thinking). After the growth slowed, and we had much more staff, I was getting the big projects. Introducing a virtual landscape was probably the most memorable. In the end the platform had 17TiB RAM, 1440 CPU cores and 1.2PiB of storage (in 2011).
Since then I’ve been involved with many projects including migrations between datacenter providers, full operational environment setups (monitoring, configuration management, etc) and advising on how to setup CI/CD environments properly (It’s a lot harder than some people reckon).
With all that said and done my love of shell programming turned into Python programming and most of my helpers are now in Python. I also really enjoy programming applications (not necessarily web apps) with Django.