February 22nd, 2000.
I was 20 when I started working as Junior Database Administrator for the service provider SemaGroup, who was born as a branch of the dying Olivetti.
20 years ago, tomorrow! In 20 years, I went through quite a few professional changes. For the records, I would like to write down the main ones.
2000-2003: the years of Sema @ Infostrada
My main customer, for the few next years, was Infostrada, a Telco company who over the years has been merged with Wind Telecomunicazioni and finally acquired by Hutchinson. At that time, I was in a team responsible for the operations, monitoring and availability of all the DB systems of the customer (mostly Digital and HP-UX): Oracle 7.3, 8, 8i, 9i and a few Sybase ASE. We had to respond to all incidents 24/7, including Alert errors, tablespace metrics, etc. It was very demanding, it took me not that much to become confident with the main Oracle technologies. I had the chance to know many colleagues who helped me growing up both technically and personally.
2003-2010: many customers, big projects and new technologies
In 2003, my managers decided to move me back to the main Data center, where Sema Group was providing hosting and managed operations for several big Italian companies.
Different customers mean different technologies. I had to study Microsoft SQL Server (6.5, 7.0 and 2000 at that time), some DB2, and install the first production MySQL (4.0, although I was already playing with it since 3.23). I have also had to become very confident with middle-tier technologies: Oracle Application Server (9 and 10g), Tomcat, Jboss, Apache, but more than this, I have had full responsibility on big projects: Disaster Recovery implementations of big customer environments, data center moving, re-platform, and absolutely heterogeneous customer environments (Windows, Linux, AIX, HP, Compaq, Solaris… SAN, NAS, DAS, Fiber Channels, FCoE, Gigabit Ethernet… Networker, Tivoli, Data Protector… do a cartesian join of all of them and you get the idea.) Among the big customers, I have worked with Costa Crociere, Lavazza, Illy, Fiat, Banca d’Italia, Fila, AirLiquide, Credit Agricole, Carrefour, International Olympic Committee, Heineken, Enel, Banco Popolare S.C., Piaggio, Pagine Gialle, European Space Agency, several public administrations (Regions, Ministries, Cities…)… I am sure I miss many, as they were more than 100.
During these years, I had to deal with incredibly hard on-call rotations (several calls per night) and high customer expectations, who helped giving me confidence and “seniority”.
Over the years, SemaGroup has been acquired/merged a few times. It became Sema, SchlumbergerSema, Schlumberger, AtosOrigin, Engineering.IT, then Engineering.
2010-2012: the team lead experience @ Engineering
In 2010 I became team lead, at the beginning just of a team of 5, then gradually of the whole Engineering Managed Operations DBA team (23 including employees and external collaborators). Sadly, in Italy it is very uncommon to have a technical career: as soon as you are good enough, you have to switch to the management side (either completely or partially). Being team lead, I understood the difference between technical problems and people problems. With the increase of customers and projects, and with the many company acquisitions, we were understaffed, most of us underpaid: working days, nights and week-ends without the chance to recover properly. It took me just a few months to realize that that was the time to say goodbye to the IT market in Italy and seek a better opportunity, abroad.
2012-2018: Senior Consultant @ Trivadis
I still remember perfectly the first call I have got from Trivadis, the very next day after I applied for a position for Oracle Consultant. Four months later I moved to Switzerland: different country, different language and completely different working culture despite the very short distance from my home region (less than 200 KM!).
There I have had many important customers and cool projects: everything was quality-driven rather than quantity-driven. Being part of that company has been a pure joy for me: company culture, colleagues, side-activities, conferences… results!
I have learnt to be outgoing and communicative, and I have kept enriching my technical knowledge (mostly on Oracle and PostgreSQL).
2018-2020: The CERN experience
Once I have got the contract proposal from CERN, it was hard to say no. Awesome conditions (pension, holidays, healthcare, dress code, flexibility…) and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join the geekiest place in the world.
Here I have been working exclusively with Oracle RAC on Linux. There are incredibly large databases (from a few TBs to 1 PB) and interesting technologies, but the vast majority of my time is dealing with legacy database schemas and methodologies. I am trying hard to improve things, but the inertia of such big projects does not allow me to innovate as fast as I would like. So what’s next?
2020- : Back to Trivadis
Last December Trivadis contacted me back and tried to convince me to go back… with success 🙂
Next April 1st I will start back in Trivadis as Principal Consultant. Initially, I will be working on a couple of critical projects: it will be very interesting! Other than that, I am excited to go back to the company (and colleagues) that I have loved so much!
To end this quite long post… I would like to paste here one of the quotes that well represents my feelings since I have moved in Switzerland…
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
– Terry Pratchett