Development and Managed Hosting
ANEXIA
OCT
17
2018

Markus Nödl: Sharing is Caring – Everyone can learn everything!

Written on October 17, 2018 by Lucia Schöpfer

Talking is his passion! Markus is Senior Storage Architect, and he is often on stage for Anexia and has a talent for describing complex things in simple words. His motto: Everyone can learn everything. While he was in school becoming a mechanical engineer, he already started to educate himself further to an IT professional. Today, he is responsible for everything related to storage at Anexia.

Read the #joinourrevolution interview to find out how Markus became a storage expert and which cars he is working on in his spare time.

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Would you be so kind to introduce yourself: Who are you and what are you doing at Anexia?
My name is Markus Nödl. I am 35 years old and Senior Storage Architect at Anexia. Basically, I am responsible for everything that has to do with saving data.

What do you do as a storage architect?
As the name implies, storage systems are what I deal with, i.e. the planning of concepts or improvements of standards. But I also take care of the technical implementation. Another part that falls within my area of responsibility is the automation of the systems. We now have over 100 systems distributed across 90 locations that belong to Anexia, so it makes sense to automate standard tasks.

Can you give us an example?
An example I am currently working on: A customer needs more storage space. This requires opening a ticket with ‘I need more storage space’. Not only does it take time to write this ticket, it must also be processed. Through automation, we can give the tool directly to the customer. He logs into the Anexia Engine (Cloud Management Platform, ed.) and can independently increase his drives by x. This takes work off our hands and above all, the customer has implemented the change immediately and does not have to wait for the ticket to be processed.

When you talk about planning concepts, can your work be compared to a building project, where you – the architect – makes the theoretical plans and the technicians and engineers make sure that it works as planned?
Yes, that’s comparable. We consider how things should be designed in order to be as efficient as possible. I work out the concept like an architect on construction sites and the execution is then partly on me and partly on some of my colleagues. For example, with a location concept, I’m not the one who travels across the world and installs new hard drives. Of course, it happens that I just go to the data center in Vienna, but all in all I define the general conditions and the colleagues at the respective location implement it.

At Anexia I like that I can contribute my experience and get the opportunity to help where I am needed.

Automation, planning of concepts, improvement of standards: Sounds like your duties span many departments.
Yes, I generally have this ‘hybrid’ role, but that’s exactly what I like. On the one hand, I’m in the System Operations department, but the automation and integration of the Anexia Engine would be the Platform Solutions department. It’s not like I just sit around in my office all day. For example, we build highly available solutions. I have a lot of knowledge in that area of my previous job, so we don’t need to find an external expert in Vienna to implement it, I can also go down a few floors and install stuff at the data center and configure it. But that’s exactly what I like. I like to call it a hybrid role, because I am not responsible for only one thing. I like that I can contribute my experience and get the opportunity to help where I am needed.

You are also working on a standardized storage solution. How do you approach such a project?
Basically, there are always several roads leading to Rome. For example: We’re setting up a new location somewhere. At this new location we will not have 5,000 customers at the beginning. However, it should be able to grow and offer space for so many at some point. That’s where I step in. I plan how to get a small initial investment, but still have a scalable system. That’s important because if the rush comes and it doesn’t fit, then I have to redo the entire architecture and start all over again. That’s why I create a solution that starts small and can grow infinitely.

Are you sitting in front of your PC and googling how to do stuff or how do you know which hardware you need or which storage system is the best?
There are different storage systems. Basically all have advantages and disadvantages and my job is to find the best compromise. I get the information by googling, but more by the daily flow of information. I often visit events to see what new products are available. If I see new products there that may be interesting for us, then I try to get them as a test position to see the solution in detail. Then it goes off to the data center where I get everything installed and tested thoroughly. This is how I see whether the theory can also be put into practice.

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Different storage systems work differently. Can you list two that differ fundamentally?
Basically, there are two different types: NAS and SAN. The technical difference between these storage systems is that SAN is a block-level protocol and NAS is a file-level protocol. In a nutshell: A hard disk is divided into blocks and if a hard disk is assigned to a server via SAN, then it is assigned to these blocks 1:1. The server can decide for itself where it wants to put data on the hard disk. With a file-level protocol, the storage system makes the decision.

What kind of training do you have? Were you already an IT professional at school?
I graduated from the HTL for mechanical engineering, so not necessarily the classic IT profession (laughs). Once I went out for a drink and met Robert, a 30-year-old IT professional, who practically gave me my basic tools. Having to repeat a grade gave me more time to deal with IT. At school we had a network with a few hundred computers and I always looked to see how far I could get. Our HTL admin once said: ‘Our network is secure’. For me, of course, this meant: ‘Challenge Accepted’. And so, at some point, I was the only admin in the school for half an hour, and the actual admin wasn’t any longer. (laughs)

Did you get punishment or respect?
A little of both. In summary, however, I have helped to find security holes or to find out in general what doesn’t fit.

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How did you hear about Anexia and how did you come to Anexia?
I became aware of Anexia through NetApp, where I worked before. Since Anexia uses NetApp for most of the systems, I have already had contact with my current boss Alex Griesser (Head of System Operations, ed.). If he ever had a problem, which happened very rarely, I tried to help him. Last November we met at a NetApp conference in Berlin. I didn’t even know he was there, but I heard my colleagues talking about Anexia and just then I’ve realized how big Anexia already is. Alex always came to me with a problem, but I never had an overall view of the whole company. He then told me what his “pains” are at the moment and strangely enough, Alex’s pain points were exactly what my focus was on at that time and what I was looking for. At some point the question arose whether I could not work on that problems for 40 hours a week and now I am here.

My philosophy: I pass on my knowledge to others so that everyone can benefit from it.

Who are these guys – your storage buddies and you? Are you guys sociable?
I’m someone who likes to talk. I don’t believe in keeping things to oneself to make oneself indispensable, because everyone can learn everything. It makes more sense if someone is good at something, that he passes his knowledge on and everyone can benefit from it. They take away my work and I have more time to acquire new knowledge. This is the only way to move forward and create something new. That’s my philosophy.

Let’s get to your hobbies: You are very interested in cars. Does this hobby also help you in your job or is this more the mechanical engineer in you?
The mechanical engineer definitely gets through there (laughs), but I think it’s a perfect balance. In IT you work primarily with your head, because you look for problems and walk around in the code. When you are restoring a car, you create something with your hands and usually at the end of the day you have a result that you can look at and admire.

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And what kind of cars do you have?
I got stuck at BMW. In restoration is just a 3.0 CSi (E9) built in 1975, which just has to be assembled. Then I have a 315 BMW (E21) built in 1983, which I got from an old lady from Upper Austria. Even if it is not the strongest or sportiest car now, I simply had to buy it because one rarely finds such a car in this condition. Two to three years ago I also bought an old motorcycle, a Jawa built in 1952, which is still waiting to be fine-tuned. I actually wanted to continue working on it in my last days of vacation, but then sleep overpowered me.

You’re based in our Vienna office. Are you originally from Vienna or what brought you here?
Originally, I come from the Weinviertel in Upper Austria. I have lived in Vienna many times before and now again. There are such nice incentives: bandwidth without end and you can order hot food around the clock – exactly what an IT person needs to live. (laughs) There’s nothing like the 4 am burger. Otherwise I am relatively independent of location. I have no obligations other than my dog.

Now, if someone wants to be something like you, what’s your background? Do you need a degree, an apprenticeship?
Everyone is the architect of his own fortune. In my opinion, it’s justified for people to study. It also makes sense if you explicitly want to improve or deepen something in any subject area. As an all-rounder, the self-interest is what takes you further, because you somehow have to acquire knowledge by yourself and thus become better. But it takes a little luck, like in my case. I was always more or less in the right place at the right time and one thing results in the other. It’s never bad to know people. The more you know, the more possibilities open up.

Thanks Markus for the interview!


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