Allow Me to Introduce Myself

My name is Tom Stewart and if you are viewing this then I have probably applied to work for you in some way whether that be a full time position or a contract/freelance type of agreement. My life motto is “stay busy.” I am not a person that enjoys down time. If I am not actively engaged in a project, I will be working on planning the next one. And when the work is done and there is nothing for me to do, I fill my remaining time with creative pursuits. I would like to apply this enthusiasm to focus on a project and work until I reach satisfactory completion to your company.

I enjoy challenges and a unique work experience, I am great at diving into complex environments and figuring out how they work and then finding ways to improve them for the company’s and customers satisfaction. My attitude towards getting great work accomplished in a speedy manor plus my background in large diverse (mostly Linux) system administration, scripting, and devops, make me a great asset to any team. I am a flexible worker that can work independently and achieve great results, but I also love a strong team focused environment for those times when things are not working well, it is paramount to have trust in my colleagues that we can solve any probelm together.

I am currently working at Blackboard, Inc., as a Senior DevOps/Systems Administrator within their K-12 Content Management Services Division, with my primary focus on five legacy products housed in a separate datacenter. At Blackboard, I have learned a great deal and been taught how crucial uptime is to a business’s image and overall success. The environments I work with still support thousands of daily visitors and users. This is a huge environment with many complexities, non-standard oddities, all with constant threat of being a high visibility DDoS target. In my pursuit of keeping with Blackboard’s goal of near perfect uptime, I have turned a hard situation into a great learning experience for me. There is barely a day that goes by that we are not fixing some new issue, it can be very overwhelming at times as we are in charge of everything from server layer to storage to network and virtualization, but also extremely rewarding. I tell you all this, because I want you to understand that I have taken this environment as a personal challenge to improve my own skills. To that end, I have built Ansible and Bash scripts to automate the environment such as setting up LDAP on over 200 Linux hosts. I have wrote a Python script that self heals a flaw in one of our High-Availability file storing solutions. When I joined in July of 2017, I discovered their Nagios instance that had over 600 critical errors, I’ve fixed all those issues so that now our Nagios is down to only 2 outstanding problems. When we repeatedly were taken down by DDoS and had no logging infrastructure to review what occurred, I took it upon myself to install Logstash and record all traffic, which led to us being able to defend ourselves much more effectively, while shutting down a lot of dangerous internal communication that did not need to be occurring. Within a few months of working in this position, I have become a primary source of knowledge and taken on a leadership role within our small group. There are many people that would look at a situation like this and run away, or bury their head in the sand and just wait until the product is shut down, but I reject that line of thinking. The only way to make my job easier, was to fix the problems, nothing else would suffice and nothing else would meet the goal of providing as close to perfect uptime as possible. I look forward to the next challenge out their on my life’s journey.

Before joining Blackboard, I worked at ZedX Inc, a high-precision meteorological/agricultural based information systems company, as a Systems Administrator. As of December 2015, I became the systems manager, responsible for all parts of our network, Linux servers, and desktops. Previously, in the year I had taken on the sole responsibility of compiling, managing and maintaining all of our MySQL and PostgreSQL databases. At ZedX we almost exclusively use Linux and open source technology to make our products and meet our business needs. Despite being a small company, I manage an enterprise level data center comprised of over 100 Virtual and physical machines. We also store over 100 TBs of data for our applications, the majority of that resides on our Netapp SAN. We are able to guarantee over 99.9% uptime to all of our customers using our 24/7 web products while keeping a heavy hand in research and development of new technologies. At ZedX, I have worked extensively to implement automation, auto-recovery, smart alerts, industry-standard security practices, and increase the ability for our developers to do their work. I love the challenge of working for a small company that forces one to be flexible and learn many different technologies, positions, and responsibilities. I believe it has given me a rock solid foundation and an incredible aptitude to take on any challenge that comes my way.

I am a 2011 graduate of Pennsylvania State University’s Information Science and Technology program.

What I’m hoping to achieve by creating this digital resume is to add the URL of this website to my usual one page resume in hopes that employers will check it out. And if they do, hopefully they will get a better appreciation of my personality, my work ethic, and how I would mesh within their company. I am a dedicated worker who is willing to travel, move across the world, work overtime, take classes, or most anything if that would help guarantee a relatively safe position, with an acceptable pay range.

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