06. 06. 2024

6 min

Author: null

Interview with Infrastructure Specialist, Vojtěch Mikulec

Please meet Vojtěch Mikulec – our Infrastructure Specialist. In today's brief interview, we will discuss what motivated Vojtěch to become an Infrastructure Specialist, which technologies are key to his work, and how he handles unexpected issues that may arise in his daily tasks. 

1. Vojtěch, what led you to become an Infrastructure Specialist and what do you find most interesting about this role?

I started working at Navmatix during my final year of school, where I studied telecommunications and information technology. Despite having some coding experience from my thesis projects, I knew that coding was not the path I wanted to take. Therefore, I was eyeing other IT areas. After my first interview at Navmatix, this more systems-oriented position seemed like a perfect match. And it was!

Every day, we work on elevating our infrastructure and associated systems to a new level, but the most interesting part for me is discovering and implementing new solutions. Since we are a smaller company and still growing, I have unlimited opportunities to advance the company from a systems perspective. Whether it’s a new technology for management, monitoring, server security, or just some automation, searching new paths is what I enjoy the most.

2. How do you handle unexpected issues or outages in the infrastructure? Can you describe a specific incident?

For these purposes, we have monitoring that allows us to track all critical elements of the infrastructure. From the network availability of the servers themselves to the load and the health of their individual components, we can see everything in near real-time.

Incident resolution is never easy, partly because these situations are handled under pressure and partly because you never know what happened right away, you have to investigate. We operate high-availability services that are under SLAs, and every minute of unavailability is crucial for our customers. We are also doing our best to know about a problem before it causes an incident — this typically correlates with faulty drives but could be whatever.

One incident that comes to mind is from last Christmas holidays. We were alerted that one of our solutions was not available and users could not log in, so we started to investigate. At that time, the problem was with the primary database server where two processes crucial for its function (background parallel worker, logical replication launcher) unexpectedly crashed. There were some attempts from the database itself to restart it, but all attempts failed, resulting in the database system terminating all connections and shutting down. We went through our monitoring to see what caused this issue but there was nothing indicating a hardware problem. We also checked the logs and we saw some excessively long queries there. We were not sure if this was the core cause as this particular issue can have many causes but in this case, the resolution was a database restart to ensure availability and the optimization of the problematic query. You also have to ensure that all other conjoined components as for example database replication and backups run correctly but fortunately, we managed this one pretty quickly. Incidents just happen; it's not a question of if, but when. It can be a software bug, configuration issue, query complexity or some hardware issue, but we always try to prevent them as best we can. In the end, these "under pressure" tasks are what push you further the most as an individual and also as a team member.

3. How does Navmatix ensure that its infrastructure or the infrastructure of the projects you work on remain secure and up-to-date? Are there any innovative methods you use?

To secure our infrastructure even more, I would rather not answer this question as it could reveal some information for the attacker's social engineering process. But we are constantly pushing to stay ready and up-to-date :)

4. What technologies or tools do you consider essential for effective infrastructure management?

This question is difficult to answer briefly because there are many tools that can maximize the potential between an administrator and the system. Additionally, the term infrastructure encompasses many areas, and for each, something different is essential. However, the tools and areas I would highlight include, for monitoring and logging, Nagios, Prometheus together with Grafana, and Loki. For configuration management, automatic deployment, and task automation, I have taken a liking to Ansible. For container orchestration, Kubernetes is the king for me. Furthermore, we use various tools for documentation, service desk, version control, database management, backups, or CI/CD.

5. Finally, our usual question: How do you spend your free time? Do you have any hobbies that help you relax outside of work?

In my free time, I enjoy a variety of activities that help me relax and recharge. The one I like the most is probably the most basic one - spending time with my family and being in the moment with them. My wife and I love to travel, and whenever there is a chance, we just go. Now it will probably be a bit more difficult, as we are expecting a new addition to the family, but we would like to maintain this travel spirit as much as possible for the next generation aswell. This helps me not only relax in an active way but also get to know different places, foods, and open new horizons in general. I also enjoy photography, as I am a proud owner of a mirrorless camera, and sometimes, I do shoot wedding videos. However, since this is really time-consuming, I try to only pick a few per year (typically for family or friends). From sports, I like to play table tennis to remind myself of my "professional" career from primary school, and sometimes I hit the gym, which we’ve built with my cousin. Occasionally, I also play the piano, but since there is less and less free time, it’s really just occasionally now.

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