5 minutes with... Martin Meldrum, enterprise storage technician, Norwich Union Australia

Q: How did you get into IT?

At school I was interested in PCs, but we only had 10, and were not allowed to play with them much. When I went to uni (Assoc Diploma in Computers) I got a part-time job with a small computer shop building PCs and fault finding on their return systems. I developed an interest in computing and all the "gadgets" that could be attached to them. After uni, I moved to Melbourne, and got a job with a small company selling PC and network items to market research companies and large corporations. I then moved to Norwich Union, on the helpdesk, and have been involved with computers and peripherals ever since.

Q: What does your current role involve?

Monitoring of nightly backups, maintenance, configuration of SAN (Hitachi 9970V) and Fibre networks, AS/400 admin functions, admin of several NT/200 application servers (including cluster configurations), on-call for environmental problems, admin of version control software for IT programming areas.

Q: What projects are you working now?

Update to the Tivoli Storage Manager (backup software) server and clients software. Update of Optical Jukebox server and software to W2K platform. Upgrade of Optical Jukebox to increase capacity and storage slots. Update AS/400 OS software. No major issues at present, just normal day-to-day admin functions.

Q: What is the greatest challenge?

Juggling on0call and after hours work and weekend work with a "normal" life.

Q: How many IT professionals in your team?

Eleven.

Q: Who do you report to, and who reports to you?

I report to the SIS manager; no one reports to me. Yet!

Q: What is the most pressing issue?

Keeping systems available for end-user use.

Q: Where is your organisation's Australian head office, and how many end users are there?

Melbourne; we have about 850 end users.

Q: What's your average week like?

Most days follow the same pattern. First thing of morning, check overnight backups, and go through system checklist to make sure all systems are available for end-user access. Plan any weekend or out-of-hours work that needs to be done. Follow up on any problems that have occurred. In the afternoon, continue with project work. Nightly/weekend, be ready to come in for any overnight or weekend system problems. Most of these are minor, and can be fixed simply by dialling into work.

Q: If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be?

Cut down on the out-of-hours work. Most of the systems I am responsible for can only be bought down after hours for maintenance or upgrades, usually between midnight and 3am.

Q: What's been the most difficult IT decision?

The last company I worked for (eight staff), the boss went overseas on a holiday, and I was left in charge of the company for three months.

Q: What is your company Web strategy?

Norwich is endeavouring to offer more and more product information on the Web. Norwich has a strong Web presence and is continuing to develop it.

Q: Do you plan additional training courses?

Yes, Advanced Tivoli Storage Manager 5.1 and disaster recovery. Windows 2000 Cluster training, vendor organised SAN (9970V) and Fibre (Brocade 12000 switch) training, configuration and problem shooting.

Q: What potential IT disaster worries you?

While I was at the last company I worked for, we supplied computer systems to a market research company. They got a power spike in their building and blew 53 power supplies in their computers late on a Saturday night. We had to get them up and running over the Sunday, ready for business on Monday.

Q: What is your IT prediction for this year?

Continued system development, and additional Web presence.

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