Skip navigation

It's not often you get to meet a veteran in hi-tech, but in this post I have the honor of interviewing Sandra Henry-Stocker. She is an Information security and systems administration professional with more than thirty five years experience in managing networks and Unix systems. She has a fascinating background having lived on both coasts, living on a 42 foot boat and taking the ferry across the bay to San Francisco (what a commute) to moving to a 45 acre farm in Maryland. Along the way having worked for both government and corporate America she hasn't lost her sense of humor, technical wizardry or her singing voice.

Sandra at the Farm.jpg


  • Q1  In brief can you share your SysAdmin background?


I've been working as a Unix/Linux systems administrator since 1983. That includes positions where I was the only admin for the staff I supported (managing servers, the network, the firewall, the printers, and the web site) to those in which I was one of a number of admins on a team that managed only the Unix systems. I worked for one company that had only four employees and others that had many thousands of people on staff. I've worked for a government agency, a prestigious university, and a number of corporations always with a focus on Unix and system security.



  • Q2 What Systems are you/have been responsible for (OS, Hardware, Apps?)


Lots of Sun Microsystems servers (before Sun was purchased by Oracle) and a variety of Linux servers, most recently running Red Hat and Suse on Dell servers. The most recent application that I supported started out as Aveksa IAM (Identity Access Management) and is now part of RSA's product line. That application helped monitor and manage who had access to systems and resources – and what kind of access they had.



  • Q3 Do you have any goto sites you go for answers or to hang out for things relating to issues or challenges you face as a SysAdmin?


Not really. I depend on Google to locate answers to questions that I have. That said, I probably land on sites like StackExchange, theGeekStuff, howtogeek, and even ComputerWorld more often than not.



  • Q4  Do you have any preferences about articles vs video vs forums vs blogs and what you go to them for?


That depends on what I'm looking for. Sometimes a video that shows precisely what needs to be done is just right. But I strongly prefer short pieces that are written with a “how to” orientation. When I'm looking for an answer to a question, I don't want to read page after page about how the system is supposed to be working.



  • Q5 Are there any rules you live by as a SysAdmin?


Lots!!! Here are some:

10 Rules every SysAdmin should live by.png


  • Q6. Given technology is always getting faster, cheaper, smaller, what has not changed in your role


The variety of problems I run into, the sense of urgency that surrounds the work, and the discipline required



  • Q7. What is the most frustrating thing about being a SysAdmin?

In general, you work long hours, are often on call, and rarely get to climb the corporate ladder. You may also have trouble getting all the resources you need to do a really good job.



  • Q8. What is the most satisfying thing about being a SysAdmin?


Resolving difficult problems. The big “Aha!” that comes once I've finally understood the underlying cause of a nagging issue can leave me feeling good for weeks. I also actually like that it's important to keep learning. Picking up new skills and putting them to use is very satisfying.



  • Q9. Given that Security is a critical part of a SysAdmins role, and with daily barrage of breaches and intrusion, how do you know when your IT/Data Centers are safe?


You really don't. But if you're using good tools – modern firewalls, intrusion detection systems, exfiltration checks – and monitoring both access permissions and user activities, you have a good chance of protecting your data and your users' productivity.



  • Q10. Do you think SysAdmin Day which takes place in the day of July is giving SysAdmins some well deserved recognition that they did not in the past?


Absolutely. I think a lot of people are taking note of the day and making a point of thanking their sysadmins for their tireless work.

As the Rio Olympics have come to a close, it's interesting to reflect on the role of technology in the greatest sports event of the world.

Just a brief look at the numbers, 17 days, 32 competition venues,  42 different sports, 306 gold medals, 11,000 athletes, 140,000 support staff (local and remote)/volunteers.

Island from the sky.jpg


It is hard to describe the performance and artistry of athletes like Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, Usain Bolt, and all the other athletes who participated at Rio. The preparation, focus, commitment, and execution is beyond words.  The word "awesome,"  is used a lot in conversation but they are the most deserving of it. However, what may not be obvious about both the athletes and the events is that science and technology also play a critical role in their success.


New technologies like 3D Printing and Body Scanning, as well as new use cases for existing technologies, eg GPS, Underwater lap counters to motion tracking wearables show that the need to sense, process, store, display, and analyze data is infinite. Payment wearables for both athletes and visitors at over 4,000 point-of-sale terminals, plus all email, mobile, social media and walkie-talky traffic required sizable IT infrastructure to support them.


Using 3D printed mounting sensors, eg on swimmers, every major joint can be tracked from wrists, elbow, shoulder to neck, hips, knees, ankles and toes. This can be done both in real time as well as after the event, coaches and athletes can work together to analyze the data and adapt. They will be able to compare themselves using hard data to their competitors.The next generation of athletes will not only be able to enhance their performance but break new Olympic and world records. Even spectators can more engaged with the teams and athletes they are fans of, by being able to view certain performance data through second-screen applications.


From a security perspective, the use of surveillance balloons, high resolution satellite earth imagery, video and image curation/analysis, intrusion detection, along with select virtual reality programming of events created a plethora of use cases of technology at Rio. An IT perspective on all this hi-tech wizardry reveals that we still rely on basic Systems, like servers, networks, storage and software. However, there is an interesting shift taking place. In the London 2012 Olympics, the Atos IT Operations Center used 719 servers. To reduce the carbon footprint and for other benefits including scalability and flexibility, by moving to the Cloud, Rio  only required 250 servers, along with virtualization technologies.


Although we bid farewell to Rio and will greet Tokyo in 2020, the need to collect, distribute and share big data will continue unabated. Just as great athletes fine-tune their performance, so is the need to fine-tune  data processing. Engineered Systems from Oracle are eg optimized in both hardware and software to process large database transactions and offer cloud services. Designed for performance, Oracle's  Engineered Systems support x86 and SPARC architectures and a variety of workloads such as Oracle Linux, Windows and Oracle Solaris that offer low latency I/O and high throughput. Along with Sever Virtualization, cloud technologies will continue to be the wave of the future.

Welcome dear OTN Systems Hub readers to the first of many interviews that provide insights into the world of Systems. In this blog post I interview Oracle ACE Diego Aguirre,  who specializes in Systems Technologies and is a Sr. Technical Support Specialist Solaris platform based in Argentina.

Diego ACE.jpg



1. In brief can you share your SysAdmin background?


- I have worked with Solaris for more than 18 years. I was invited to join to Argentina Oracle User Group(, to coordinate the section of operating systems and virtualization. Together with the Oracle people and Oracle user groups we organized events about Solaris software and hardware



2. What Systems are you responsible for (OS, Hardware, Apps?)


- I have worked with several releases of Solaris OS , like 2.6 , 7, 8, 9 10 and 11, also with obsolete hardware like e3000 , E25K and latest technology like M series m5-32 m6-32 m7. Over 90% of my job, consists in demonstrating that the OS works perfectly, the rest is installation, configuration , migration, and virtualization.



3. Do you have any go to sites you go for answers or to hang out for things relating to issues or challenges you face as a SysAdmin?


- Generally I use the How-to's of the oracle community, manuals and some blogs.



4. Do you have any preferences about articles vs video vs forums vs blogs and what you go to them for?

- I like the blogs that explain and include some pictures when they need it.  In respect to videos, I liked the videos from OTN, Rick Ramsey interviews with Solaris engineers, or people in direct contact with processor , servers.



5. Are there any rules you live by as a SysAdmin?


- I am lucky to integrate with a working group of professionals. So we analyze and investigate each situation and we discuss. We  have a rule that we don't implement solutions without being previously tested by us. Keep reading manuals as we did years ago, before the Internet 



6. What is the most frustrating thing about being a SysAdmin?

- For me, the most frustrating thing is having to open a case/ticket in Oracle, without having time to analyze it, due to work pressure. We come to the same conclusion that the engineer who attends our case if we would have enough time.



7. What is the most satisfying thing about being a SysAdmin?

- The most satisfying thing is for me, to find a solution for a complex situation and I am able to write the tips in my Spanish blog

Hopefully many of you saw the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics, Friday night. There was the speeches, flag-raising, the lighting of the Olympic cauldron,

yes the Gisele Bündchen catwalk and the parade of nations athletes. The Olympics are in playing in full force with the rush for gold.



In six weeks time, Oracle too will be having it's yearly Olympic like event, Oracle OpenWorld 2016. We will have the keynotes, presentations, and after-parties. As the Systems Community Manager, I wanted to make you aware that The Oracle Technology Network (OTN) will have an OTN Lounge at the Moscone Center. We will be recording and live-streaming CommunityCast sessions there, and this is a great opportunity for select customers/users/partners to be seen as thought leaders, to get their brand out, and have a fun engaging conversation, with yours truly and my other Community Manager peers.



Here are some common questions and answers regarding the CommunityCast:



Who is a right fit to do an interview?

Anyone with a IT, Sys Admin, Developer or related background who is knowledgeable, communicates well and can take complex subjects and present them in interesting and simple ways.



What are you looking to discuss?

Subjects that relate to and  overlap of Oracle Linux/VM, popular themes like Big Data, Security, Cloud,... and how their product, service, deployment, helps to bring new use cases or insights to a technical audience. We can discuss the talking points in a followup.



How Long will the interview be?

We book 30 min time slots, some of that time will be in doing the setup and the rest anywhere from 10-20 minutes will be for the actual interview.



When will it be?

The general timings are Sun 9/18 (1-4pm), Mon-Wed (9am-5pm) and Thur (9-2pm). The Community Cast schedule is already filling up, once we agree on a speaker and subject we can work out a mutually agreeable time based on what is available.



What's in it for me?



·         To be seen as a thought leader among your peers on a high-profile site.


·         To be recognized as a subject matter expert


·         To engage with Oracle's community of tech decision makers. Great networking opportunity!


·         To help peers learn from your lessons and take advantage of what you've learned in the process.


If you or anyone you know feel you have something to share, please feel free to reach out to your Oracle contact or me at