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Journey Through the Jungle

By Chris (Rain) Avila
Jun 25, 2018

In 2013, I joined the Jungle Disk team from inside Rackspace and was a member of the front-line support team. I worked second shift and started at the bottom of the ladder. At the time there were only three of us on the support team: Jonathan, Paul and myself. We had a massive undertaking working on the team at the time, the volume of things that needed to be done as far as writing articles, answering tickets and troubleshooting bugs that were piling up and there were still gaps in knowledge that we had as we had very little documentation to reference.

We learned a bit about HTML and CSS and tried to revamp the support site into something that was slightly more usable than it was before with documents that were at least more relevant than the ones we had and updated the screenshots. Many of our documents still had screenshots from the Windows XP era and Windows 8.1 had already been on the market for some time at this point. So, we spent a while working on revamping the documentation, both public and private, to have some written record for both customers and ourselves. Whenever we encountered a new problem and a solution, we would try to write an article about it in between tickets, chats and calls. If there were no articles or tickets to work, which was incredibly rare, we would spend the rest of our time researching improvements to the layout of the support site.

None of us at the time were very familiar with Linux, other than having installed it on a virtual machine at the time, so I took it upon myself to reformat my Windows PC with a Linux distribution so we could get better at troubleshooting Linux issues (and selfishly to get experience myself). Learning to effectively maneuver Terminal and VIM and do basic things was a serious challenge in the beginning, but after about a week or two I had a good enough foundation of understanding that I could operate without ever needing a graphical user interface, unless I needed to use a web browser. It was around this time I was able to get access to a cloud account we had, so I could spin up servers to test various distributions of Linux quickly.

After some more months of studying Linux and learning a bit of Python to work simple(r) tasks that would be too tedious to do manually, I started studying under our operations team to learn how our infrastructure really worked. If this bug happens, why? What happened to cause it? If there wasn’t an answer, I would attempt to reproduce the problem myself using my host file and a cloud server. After a few months of me bugging them with questions and asking for more and more access to things so I could look into problems myself, it was announced that Jungle Disk was being sold by Rackspace and we were moving under our current CEO Bret Piatt and was offered a job as a junior systems administrator once the sale was finalized.

Studying with Trey and Tom for these many months now, I’ve learned a great deal about managing a massive environment and learned a lot from my colleague, Ryan, about Ruby. I’ve picked up skills on Ansible, Kubernetes, Terraform, Jenkins and can competently navigate and maintain environments hosted in all of the big cloud providers. Right now is the most exciting time for me in the history of my time with this company. With the addition of Team Password and SafetyNet, Jungle Disk has transformed from a company focused purely on backups to a broader security focus and we look forward to making further improvements to our existing products and always keeping our eyes on what’s coming next.