Systems Administrator

Tepper School of Business

Overview

As the Systems Administrator at the Tepper School of Business, I have had many different responsibilities since I started working at Tepper in November of 2017. I've included a brief overview of some of the bigger projects that I have been involved in as well as my day-to-day responsibilities.

While the Systems Administrator role had historically not had much customer interaction (mostly behind-the-scenes), I have changed this historical precedent to get more face time with our end users. I do this by taking working on some help desk tickets from time-to-time and also going with our help desk support staff to office calls. This interaction ultimately makes me a better systems administrator as I see how our customers use the technology that I manage.

Day-to-Day Responsibilities

  • Ensure the stability of our enterprise servers in a VMWare environment

  • Responds to all security incidents and either works the incident myself (for servers and services) or provides support to other internal teams during the incident (for end-user workstations) under consultation of the Information Security Office.

  • Maintain continuous operations of physical and virtual faculty research servers

  • Work with faculty to create and implement data protection plans for research data sets

  • Facilitate changes to Google Workspace applications and policies (ie. requirement of 2-Step Verification)

  • Audit compliance with internal Google Workspace policies and procedures

  • Maintain management infrastructure for our managed laptop programs and coordinate with teams that run parts of the systems when there are issues (SCCM/JAMF)

  • Configure Single Sign On Service Providers to work with Carnegie Mellon's Identity Provider (Shibboleth) or the InCommon Federation

  • Coordinate physical server operating locations within the University Data Center

  • Proactively monitor and ensure the security of enterprise servers and services

  • Monitor and maintain the ZoomRoom environment for our distance learning studios

  • Maintain digital signage systems including Brightsign and Visix as well as automated PowerPoint slideshow changes for Tepper building signage

  • Configure and maintain Mersive Solstice Pods for wireless display in classrooms and conference rooms using Solstice Dashboard and Solstice Discovery Server

  • Document the Tepper Technology infrastructure in Confluence

  • Configure and maintain Creston touch panels for room scheduling that interfaces with 25 Live

Current Projects

Image courtesy of Microsoft

Windows Server 2012R2 Retirement Project

I am currently working on upgrading around a dozen Windows Server 2012R2 servers to Windows Server 2019 to ensure that we meet the October 2023 end of support life date.

Digital Signage Consolidation Project

I am in the process of converting all of Tepper's digital signage from two different systems (BrightSigns and Visix) that were difficult to manage into one unified platform, OptiSigns. The digital signage in the building was not something that historically had been part of the System Administrator role until after the opening of the new Tepper Quad, so there had been no input from a technical standpoint. Now that we have the opportunity to make changes to the platform, we have decided on a web-based digital signage solution to allow for ease of use by our stakeholders and to allow for a unified platform for all of the digital signage in the building.

Image courtesy of OptiSigns

Awards

Image copyright Carnegie Mellon University

2022 Andy Awards Nominee: Teamwork and Collaboration, Standing Team

Tepper Technology Services has been nominated for an Andy Award in the Teamwork and Collaboration category.

"This award honors staff teams who exemplify collaboration and cooperation with colleagues, students and the university community and recognizes its transformative impact. The team has developed new approaches, methods and systems to improve organizational effectiveness or has improved the student experience and/or students' learning opportunities. It has demonstrated imagination and creativity in solving problems or fostering change that benefits the university community. "

2020 Tepper Staff Awards, Team Award

Tepper Technology Services won the 2020 Tepper Staff Awards, Team Award, for excellence in service and supporting the Tepper's School Mission. We also were honored due to our response to the COVID Pandemic and the resulting changes in day-to-day operations throughout the entire school and helping the other groups on campus make the transition to remote work.

Past Projects

Move to the Tepper Quad

My first major project at Tepper was the move from the old GSIA/Posner Hall complex to the brand new Tepper Quad. This was a multi-phase project. The first of my responsibilities for this was to coordinate the decommissioning of two server rooms and migrating the still-running servers to the university data center. After that project was completed, the entire Tepper Technology Services team worked to move the end-user machines and technology to the Tepper Quad over a 4-week period. After this process was complete, the final part of the project was to get the rest of the systems up and running in the Tepper Quad, such as the digital signage (Using a PowerPoint solution at the time, moved to Visix), Mersive Solstice Pods, and working with the University Events group to get the building grand-opening ready. Grand Opening happened in September 2018.

Google Workspace Management

Throughout my time at Tepper, my role has expanded to include the management of Tepper's Google Workspace for Education. I've worked closely with my manager and other stakeholders to refine policies and procedures for account creation, deprovisioning, and system access levels.

Part of this process also included the addition of a 2-Step Verification requirement for all Tepper accounts. This had been an optional security feature that we enabled in 2018, but we started to mandate the use of 2SV in waves starting with the current students and then moving onto the accounts of our alumni.

There is still more work to do with our Google Workspace instance, and we continue to work through these tasks.

Image courtesy of Tech Radar

Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Managed Laptop Project

During my tenure at Tepper, I spearheaded the project to get all of our staff laptops centrally managed. Before I started at Tepper, all the machines were added to an Active Directory domain, but there was no management, all users were administrators on their computer.

Now, our staff machines are managed either by Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (For PCs) or JAMF (For Macs). We utilized the infrastructure provided by the university's Foundation Services group to set up our own policies, configurations, and deployments. Our staff no longer have administrative rights, and all updates are managed by the management platforms and myself.

I've also had to troubleshoot the underlying infrastructure when it failed to push updates to Tepper Windows machines. This required me to work closely with the Foundation Services and Windows Services team on campus to troubleshoot areas of the system that I didn't have access to. Ultimately, this issue was tracked to a bug in Microsoft's code.

I continue to fine-tune process and procedures and manage the day-to-day operations of the Tepper configurations and deployments within the management platforms.

Exchange Email Consolidation

I served as a migration coordinator for the Tepper School of Business while Carnegie Mellon University migrated all Exchange Mailboxes to Google Workspace. This role required me to work with our faculty and staff to coordinate the migration of individual mailboxes, shared mailboxes, and resource accounts. I served as the point of contact between Computing Services and the Tepper School of Business' user base. This project was completed for Tepper in July of 2022.

Image courtesy of Google

Short-term Projects

  • Migrated on-premise authority server for Code42 Crashplan (data backup) to the Cloud and reconfigured it to store keys in an on-premise key vault as mandated by Code42 and the CMU Information Security Office.

  • Configured a password manager solution for infrastructure and development team using Password Manager Pro

  • Implemented proactive monitoring on all Tepper managed servers with Nagios

  • Transitioned distance learning studios from using Vidyo to using ZoomRoom software.

  • Implemented a new knowledge base solution for internal Tepper Technology documentation using Confluence.

  • Assisted in updating Mersive Solstice Pods from Generation 2i to Generation 3.

Training Courses Completed

  • Red Hat Certified Systems Administrator (RHCSA) Rapid Track - RH199 by Red Hat. Completed October 2018

  • CompTIA Certmaster Learn and Practice for Security+ by CompTIA. Completed June 2020.

  • Windows Server 2019 Essential Training by LinkedIn Learning. Completed December 2020

  • Windows Server 2019: Manage, Monitor, and Maintain Servers by LinkedIn Learning. Completed December 2020

  • CompTIA Certmaster Learn and Practice for Server+ by CompTIA. Completed August 2022.

  • CompTIA Certmaster CE: Security Plus SY0-601 by CompTIA. Completed September 2022.