This is how many services we host…

Last week, a collegue and I attended LARV (a career day for students at Luleå university in Sweden) and met a lot of curious students. It was a day with many rewarding conversations with the students. Who knows, we might meet in the future again?

319860_499138873469762_1921350678_n

During the day we arranged a competition at our booth where the students would answer the question: “How many sites does Basefarm hosts?” That means how many services we host throughout Basefarm, including Norway and The Netherlands. You who attended the competition is certainly curious to know who won? Many students participated in the competition, but the one who guessed closest was Maxime Koitsalu who guessed 40 000. The exact number of services are currently 34 689! Since we have customers in 23 countries and every customer often have more than one service, it becomes a lot in total.

Congratulations Maxime and hope you will like your subscription on Filmnet! 🙂

The competition from D-dagen at KTH

For a while ago, we visited D-dagen, a yearly career day at the technology school KTH in Stockholm. We had many rewarding conversations with the students and hope to meet you again in the future! Many students took part in a competition we arranged at D-dagen, where you could win headphones. I guess you are certainly curious about who won the competition?

In the competition the students should answer the question: “How many servers have Basefarm overall in the datacenters in Stockholm? We received 51 responses and the correct answer is that we currently have 1348 servers overall in the datacenters in Stockholm! Christoffer Dahlgren and Daniel Swensson guessed closest on 1342 servers, which was really close! Since both Christopher and Daniel had the same response, we have invited them to the office in Stockholm to answer a tiebreaker and make up for the first place 🙂 This will be done shortly and we will then present who won. Keep an eye on the blog!

D-dagen på KTH

A day in the life of a Technical Account Manager

Basefarm is of course constantly on the look out for new talents to join our company, both technical and non-technical.
I’m personally working as a Technical Account Manager (TAM) for Linux customers in Sweden, and thought some of you might find it interesting to read about what it is we do. First of all, let me explain a little bit about what a TAM is.

The role

On our website, you can find the following information:

“As a systems consultant at Basefarm you will be responsible for application management on the Linux platforms for our customers. That means handling monitoring, maintenance, optimization and troubleshooting of applications and OS. The focus is often on the Java-based solutions. We work with open source products, including JBoss, Resin, Tomcat, and php applications sush as wordpress, joomla and drupal. As a systems consultant, you can become a Technical Account Manager for some of the largest and most complex internet sites in Sweden. This means very varied assignments and a fast pace. You will naturally have a close, regular contact with your customers and you are responsible for both further development and maintenance of your customers technology platforms. This requires proactivity and that you and your customers is at the forefront of technology. In your role as a Technical Account Manager you are a key for business success!”

That text, albeit very true, does in my personal opinion boil down to two specific things; that a TAM is someone who is very customer oriented and has a deep wish to constantly evolve and learn new things. These two traits are the key to your success as a TAM. Basically, your days will more than often revolve around these two, because you have a very deep level of cooperation with your customers, and often they will come with a new application or system that you might not have heard about in the past. In our field, personally having previous knowledge is most often not the most important thing, as there will always be applications that almost nobody has heard of. What’s important is that you are able to learn the new things being tossed at you!

The challenge

I work a lot with media companies, who are always on the bleeding edge when it comes to software and technology they use. The applications they want to run are vast, and constantly changing. What you learned today might not be used tomorrow. Due to this, it’s impossible to know everything beforehand. Nobody can know everything, but what’s important is being able to quickly learn as well as adapt to this new technology which they present to you. The same goes with setting up new customers, and this is also one of the tasks I enjoy the most as it offers such a diversity. No new customer is the same, which means there’s always something new to learn!

That said, we do have a very diverse and large team at Basefarm, and there will without doubt be a few people who has worked with the new application your customer has provided you with. This means what the knowledge you’ll need is always around the corner or at most a phone call away (if the knowledge resides in our Norwegian office), and everyone is always more than happy to take a moment to assist you. It is however important to keep in mind that it will be your task to quickly learn this new application, as you will be responsible over it in your customer’s environment.

Can’t be prepared for what’s going to come your way

Customer contact is, as I said, just as important. Each day, you will be speaking with different people at the customer’s which you are TAM for. These conversations can range from anything from presenting ideas on how to improve their current platform, having customer meetings, hosting workshops or discussing issues with developers. I find this very interesting, and also extremely important in order to keep the platform well managed for monitoring and similar tasks.

The job as a Technical Account Manager can be both very challenging and rewarding, mainly because your scope is so big. You will for example work with pre-sale customer meetings, designing customer platforms, be part of implementing that platform, and then also have the on-going responsibility of making sure that the technical platform works as great as it can be. You will also take part of on-going meetings with your customers regarding the technical platform and your suggestions for the future.

In the end, what I like most about the position is that you can’t always be prepared for what’s going to come your way. There are usually no guide lines for how to solve something beforehand, and you have a very close connection to the customer on a day to day basis. Being able to take on new platforms and applications that you have not worked with in the past is a big requirement, as this happens very often. If you feel this challange sounds fun and interesting, send us a mail at rekrytering-se@basefarm.se !

For more information about positions available in Sweden, please visit https://www.basefarm.com/sv/jobb/

Kista Arbetsmarknadsdag – Basefarm Competition winner

For those of you who came to our stand at KTH earlier in the week you may have noticed (and entered) our competition to win some very cool wireless headphone by guessing the Basefarm bandwidth we serve from our Stockholm data center.

As with all such calculations there are slightly different ways to calculate it depending on how often your sample size is and what period you average over and things like that, but the network team tell me that the correct answer is 546 Gbps (averaged on a daily basis over the year).

The lucky winner was Jennie Johansson (who guessed closest with 500), so watch out for her wearing her nice new headphones in coming days. The prize is in the post Jennie.

Follow up to Kista Arbetsmarknadsdag

As we mentioned earlier this week several Basefarm employees were onsite at the Kista Arbetsmarknadsdag yesterday speaking about careers in the IT sector. It was a really enjoyable day and we met some really interesting and intelligent people. We took away a good number of CVs and applications but we’d still like to receive more.

As a reminder if you want to apply through the website you can see the official list of open positions here (only in Swedish)

https://www.basefarm.com/sv/jobb/Lediga-tjanster-Sverige/

and you can see the referral address of applications on this page:

https://www.basefarm.com/sv/jobb/

Please note that you must send to the

rekrytering-se@basefarm.se

mail address to be considered for roles in Sweden.

The list of available roles does not officially mention internships and the like but as I explained to many of the attendees yesterday we do actively offer these type of positions and in fact we have an intern in the windows group at the moment in Stockholm, who we met at another careers day back in 2011. If you are interested in this type of position you should send in an application to the above address telling us what you are after.

We will aim to respond to all applications and CVs received, but please bear with us as we received quite a few and please don’t be disappointed if we can’t take you on, as we do have a limited number of positions available. Whatever happens I hope that our conversations were of interest and use to everyone, and good luck with your career searches. I hope to meet some of you again at the next stage of the process in the future 🙂

Compete with Basefarm on KAM 2012: Win headphones from Beats by dr. dre!

This Wednesday representatives from Basefarm will attend the career day Kista arbetsmarknadsdag (KAM) in Stockholm. We will arrange a competition in our booth where you studentens can compete to win awesome beatspro headphones from Beats by dr. dre. Come by our booth to find out how to win them! Wonder how you can find us? Just listen to the music and you will see us in our Basefarm t-shirts. We have created a playlist on Spotify that will be played in the booth. If you want to listen to the playlist already today, the playlist is called Musik@Basefarm.

My colleague Graham has previously written that he will hold a lecture on KAM about career opportunities in the IT-industry. The lecture starts at 2.30 PM, so be sure to attend the lecture if you want tips and advice in your career.

See you on Wednesday!

Basefarm will be at Kista Arbetsmarknadsdag next week – come and meet us

A selection of Basefarm employees will be at Kista Arbetsmarknadsdag next week on 28th March. Details are here:

http://kam.ictcontact.se/se/about-kam

We’ll be on the conference floor all day available to chat, but also myself and another colleague will be doing a talk about IT career development at 1430.

We regularly try to take on graduates for both internships and full time employment (in fact we have an intern working in the windows group currently who joined as a result of the talk that myself and Andreas did last year at KYH in Stockholm), so if you’re interested in seeing what we’ve got to say, please do pop along and say hello.

How to succeed in the IT industry

Yesterday, two of our employees had a career discussion with the students at KYH in Stockholm. They shared their career-related experience in the IT industry, shared their lessons learned from recent career choices and how it’s like to work at Basefarm. We at Basefarm are currently looking for new staff and are always interested in getting in touch with new talent who are passionate about technology as much as we are. We thought that you who are students or young professionals also can benefit of what we discussed:

Tips for you who seeks a career in the IT industry:

  • Have a 3-5 year plan
  • Some adversities are inevitable
  • Working with support is good to learn, even if it’s not your long-term goal in your career
  • Variety is the spice of life, you might need to move/change work to develop
  • You need to find out what you want to do
  • Large companies controls you more, but you can use them to many benefits, both financial and personal
  • Small companies can often develop you more if you are prepared to get involved – Basefarm example
  • Money is not everything, but it helps

Thanks to everyone at KYH who attened our career discussion yesterday and thank’s for all the rewarding conversations afterwards. We hope to see you in the future!

Would you also like us to visit your school or are you interested in a future at Basefarm? Contact us at rekrytering-se@basefarm.se

 

Thoughts on interviewing technical candidates and running technical tests

(We’re hiring – https://www.basefarm.com/sv/jobb/Lediga-tjanster-Sverige/ Drop us a line if you’d like to come and try our technical test!)

We’ve been expanding quite a lot recently, which is a good thing of course, but also means that you often need to spend a fair amount of time doing recruitment and interviews. I find this side of the business extremely interesting, and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed being involved in throughout my career. There are many schools of thought surrounding this topic, but here are some points which I like to cover when I recruit technical people for support and operational roles.

I always try to do a technical test. This may sound like a given, but in my experience it’s not always the case. Technical tests mean different things to different people, but I like to do technical tests where candidates get the opportunity to demonstrate in a real situation that they know how to troubleshoot things. I’m only in the business of recruiting operational and support staff and I think that this is a very specific field but one that is hard to test people on specific skills for. Therefore I like to watch someone fix something that is broken. I have all my candidates for the role to do the same technical test as well, so that I can compare and contrast.

Normally I tend to do my interviews like this:

1. CV reading – if it’s more than 2 pages I get bored and you’re unlikely to get through. This is a huge topic all of its own, but I’ll just say this: listing out every programming language, tool, script engine and piece of software you have ever been in the same room as does not impress me.

2. first interview – 1 hour usually and can be done by phone if appropriate. Are you generally appropriate for the role?

3. second interview – technical test (see more below)

4. third interview – meet managers and other team members (this could actually be more than one meeting)

5. make an offer

I am extremely passionate about recruiting the right people first time, and there are really no short cuts in this process. You need to be prepared to invest the time up front or you’ll be paying it back for years with the wrong candidate on board. (I learnt this the painful way when having candidates imposed on me much earlier in my career in the early 90’s, and I resolved to do all I could to avoid this situation as soon as I reached a level of seniority where I was allowed to recruit for myself.)

There’s enough literature out there about the interviewing process as a whole, but here are some more thoughts on the technical test side of things.

I like my technical tests to follow this theme:

a) simple theory closed questions about the main technical topics – these questions should have fixed answers. I think of these as textbook questions. (which to me means that you can parrot learn them so I don’t actually hold the results in that high a regard) A typical example might be:

What does ACID mean in terms of RDBMS?

b) more complex open questions about techniques or principals involved in the job. This should give the candidate the opportunity to give a lengthy full answer demonstrating their full knowledge of the topic. For example I usually ask about 10 questions of the following nature:

A customer complains that their website is running slow. Explain how you would go about troubleshooting this problem.

c) a practical test  – sit the candidate down in front of a computer and get them to attempt to do something which replicates what their day to day job might be. This can be painful at first as you need to spend time on creating a reproducible scenario that you want repeated candidates to test on, but it tends to be time extremely well spent.

I was challenged this week by the thought of writing a new technical test for candidates to our windows team. The stuff I wrote is certainly not going to win any design awards as the web pages it’s based upon look like this

techtest

 

 

(don’t you wish all webpages were this clean Smile – all my web development looks like this by the way)

 

 

anyway I’m not interviewing for people writing HTML, CSS or equivalents, I’m looking for operational people who can sort out why when I click the above button my website doesn’t work (amongst many other things)

The roles we are looking to fill here currently require quite broad experience and you need be a “jack of all trades” within the windows world. At any time you might be asked to troubleshoot Windows OS, SQL Server, IIS, BizTalk or innumerable other components. We have deep specialists in all these areas of course who can help with the most serious escalated problems , but the TAM roles we are looking to fill at the moment are much broader and you often need a working knowledge of all the components your customers are running.

My point being that this was a slightly more difficult test to write than some I’d done before, as just how do you cover all of these areas? The answer is that you can’t really, so in the end I just tried to cover the basics and allow the candidate to prove that she knew her way around windows troubleshooting generally across some of the major components. I covered such topics as troubleshooting an IIS server which wouldn’t serve a page correctly in a .NET application, simple SQL Server administrative tasks, windows ACLs and so forth.

After all I’m looking for a candidate who displays the correct attitude to troubleshooting a problem, and who displays a logical and methodical approach to problems presented to them. Solving the actual problem within a short interview timescale is actually irrelevant (although obviously it doesn’t do any harm). The other good thing is that you get to watch people do the test and I find you can often infer a lot about someone’s overall approach to this situation, especially if get them to talk you through what they are thinking. It’s worth remembering that the test is a means to an end, and as such you could test someone on a completely separate piece of technology, just to see how they handle the troubleshooting process and being put on the spot as well.

So don’t be surprised if you come and interview for us and get given something to fix.

Graham