This month, we will meet Mathieu Guillaume, Nuxeo's Systems and Network Admin. He is the man who makes sure that the network and systems are working well, so that our developers can build new and cool stuff every day!
When did you join Nuxeo and how did you land in this job?
It's going to be four years at Nuxeo this August. I found Nuxeo through my brother, who's the head of the R&D department here. I had been in my former job for almost 9 years and I was getting bored and wanted a change. My brother said he needed a sysadmin. So, after a few interviews with Nuxeo, here I am.
What you think about the company culture and work environment here?
People at Nuxeo are all doing the work that interests them. So, no one thinks twice before putting in more time outside of the regular hours for their work, be it in the evenings or weekends. Since everyone is interested in what they do here, it doesn't feel like hard work. It’s work, but it’s leisure time too.(in moderate amounts...)
As for the work environment, it’s really good. But, I must admit that I liked my office in my previous job. There I had my own separate office but Nuxeo has a big open office space. It was a big change for me at the beginning, but i don't mind it because I can still work on things that are sensitive without being disturbed too much. So it works out well.
As a sysadmin at Nuxeo, what do your daily responsibilities include?
First and foremost, I have to make sure that things work. We have a lot of servers, physical and virtual machines, and lots of people rely on them for their work, so they have to be operational. Usually it’s not a problem and it just involves some maintenance work now and then. Some network maintenance is also involved as I have to make sure that the internet connectivity is up and running at all times. I also did a bit of work on the platform initially. I had to expand it and initiate a few changes when I found some things that were not very convenient from a sysadmin point of view. Now, I work a lot in monitoring them.
Tell me about a challenge you have faced at Nuxeo that required a creative, out-of-the-box solution.
Well, we always think out-of-the-box (laughs)! Since we build our own software and don't really use a lot of pre-packaged stuff, we have to research solutions, see what exists, what other people use, figure out what works for us and find a way to put it all together.
Would you like to tell us a little about your work prior to joining Nuxeo?
Before Nuxeo, my work included a little bit of server maintenance, and a lot of help desk tasks which were pretty boring. I had some weird requests sometimes, like people asking for help with Excel macros, and I used to think "How would I know, I never use Excel" (laughs)! Apart from that, I did some infrastructure work. Even though it was a software company, it was very different because it was not open source, the projects and clients were very different from those of Nuxeo, people there used Windows more, and the overall company culture was different. Nuxeo's developers are much more tech-savvy than the people I used to work with.
How is it different to be a sysadmin for a software vendor, than say an insurance company, airline, or a museum?
I would make two distinctions here. One would be working for an IT company versus a non IT one, and the other would be the small companies versus big mainstream companies, where people have very little idea of how the computer works.
In a big company, you usually get less decision making power because orders and decisions pass through, maybe, five levels of hierarchy and you have to just follow orders.
In an IT company, even if sometimes people don't know how things work, they try to learn more about it, understand it, and come to you with questions. So, as a sysadmin, it’s a different kind of experience in both the segments - the work is different, interaction is different, and probably the work is more boring in a big company because you would be one little sysadmin within an army of sysadmins, the specialization would be very specific and you would get to explore less.
This is my just uninformed opinion anyway.
The stereotype of a sysadmin is that their automatic response to everything is “No.” Rumor has it that you like to wear a tshirt that says “I’m not deaf, I'm just ignoring you.” Any correlation?
Well, yes there is this stereotype. People come to you and ask you to do stuff and from a sysadmin point of view, you know that it’s not correct. Mostly, they would not know how the network or the infrastructure works. But still they need some work done and you would definitely not want to break your infrastructure. So, I have to say "no" at that time. A good sysadmin would ask why they need that and what are they trying to do to come to the correct solution. And maybe some are just lazy and they say "No". But I am a good sysadmin you know.
And my tshirt is just for fun. Sometimes you like to play on your stereotypes. That's what I am doing.
Why would sysadmins need to say “No” more than, say, developers or marketers?
Generally, with developers or marketers, people don't usually come to you with preconceived solutions. People don't tell them, "Hey, I want this and that.", just “Fix this bug” or “I want more viewers on the web site, make it happen” So, probably they don't have to say no to people that often.
For me there have been times when people say "Hi!' and I say a "No!". I know that they would want something done, so it’s my “pre-emptive No.” (laughs) But of course, later I listen to their questions and do the necessary stuff.
You have always lived and worked in Paris. Would you like the idea of moving to the U.S. and working from any the Nuxeo offices there?
Worked in Paris, yes. But I haven't lived here since childhood, I grew up in the countryside, Champagne. I came to Paris for school and never really left. It’s been around 20 years. I have never visited the U.S., so I have no idea at all how the country is, how the environment is or how the work culture is. If I visit U.S. and like it, possibly I would work there. But for my work as a sysadmin, it’s more convenient for me to work in Paris because we have the servers here and I work with the developers a lot. So, for now it’s Paris, but I don't know about the future.
What do you like to do in your free time?
At the moment, I am into online gaming. Sometimes I spend all my time reading, mostly sci-fi and fantasy, or watching series. I read every night before going to bed and in the subway. I am not a very outdoorsy person I would say. I like my apartment; it has food, drinks, warmth and my cat. So, I don't go out at the first chance I get.
I have heard that you built a cat tree in a weekend. How many cats do you have? Do they use it?
I have one cat and her name is Lilith, like the queen of Succubi. The cat tree is just something I bought from the market. All I had to do was fit five screws and it was ready. Why build one from scratch when you can buy it easily and inexpensively.
I have placed the cat tree near the window, so that Lilith can look at the activity outside. She stays in the apartment the whole time so this gives her something animated to look at. And she sleeps in it too mostly.
Where was this picture taken?
It’s La Terrasse. It’s the only restaurant near Nuxeo I go to. There are not a lot of restaurants nearby and I prefer my French food. The food at La Terrasse is pretty decent, people are nice there and it’s close to my office. So, why go anywhere else?