Interview with Rafael Ameijeiras, Project Manager at Pandora FMS

Stories in Pandora FMS are endless. Perhaps not in terms of length, but depth. And today we are going to get closer to the story of Rafael Ameijeiras, our Project Manager, who came from afar to give us all the love of a Care Bear raised in the plains and all the professionalism of an ambitious executive from the big city.

It’s funny, despite being in charge, everyone loves him and says hi whenever they run into him outside. This does not happen very often in this carnivorous and threatening jungle that is usually the world of work, so we consider that we have a treasure at home. One the size of a villa downtown, the 11 million gold doubloons sunk next to the San José Galleon in the Caribbean or the explosive combat shotgun from Fallout 4 (that thing was almost impossible to get…).

For all of this we would like to briefly interview Rafa, so that both you and me can get to know him more. Maybe we will learn his secret… how does he always manage to wear his ponytail perfectly in a bun without a single hair out? No. That of being one of the cores of our software company.

Where do you come from, Rafa?

I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. I grew up in a small suburban dormitory town called Guarenas, about 25 km from Caracas, with the advantages and disadvantages of growing up in a small suburban city.

How did you find out that you wanted to devote yourself to the world of technology?

According to my mother I have always been very curious since I was born, and any toy I got, I ended up taking it apart to see what was inside and how it worked. She always tells the anecdote when she found little Rafa, about four or five years old, in the living room, with the only TV in at home completely disarmed, to see where the cartoons came from.

Now, consciously, I believe that since I was very young. When I was about nine or ten years old, my uncles had a computer with Windows 95 and Encarta 98 (nothing more, the Internet was a dream in those days). I spent hours stuck to that computer while the other children played hide and seek and things like that.

A few years later, when I was 13 or 14 years old, the first computer came home, a brand new Pentium 1 (already a hulk at the time). It lasted two weeks or so, I took it apart to see how it worked and broke one of the memory modules. I asked a cousin to help me buy another one with the little money I had saved and fix it so my parents wouldn’t find out. I think that was the moment when I decided to devote myself to this.

How did you find out about Pandora FMS?

In my first job here, I had to inventory and restructure the entire IT department of the company I was in, and one of the tasks I needed to do when the restructuring was finished was doing maintenance and monitoring the environment. I remember I was evaluating Pandora FMS vs Zabbix. Who won? At that time no one, I left there before deploying the monitoring. All of that was a year before I started working here.

What exactly do you do in Pandora FMS?

Short answer: I lead the project department. It is more difficult to define what this department does.

The project department, together with the commercial department, is the spearhead in our business process. We do all of the presale stage tasks: demos, calls, meetings with leads and environment analysis. After this stage we are also responsible for the deployment of the tool in new clients. But, in addition, we provide consulting services for current clients who want to enlarge or improve their environment.

Outside the main project tasks, we also have a series of responsibilities that are not directly related to sales and deployments. Among them: keeping the content of product documentation updated, videos for Pandora FMS channel, giving the official training for certifications PAT and PAE, managing the installation packages and ISOs of Pandora FMS, investigating and developing monitoring plugins and, even, some other changes/additions directly added to the product.

We also offer customized support and Pandora FMS management for some clients who want to outsource the tool’s management and hire us directly for that purpose.

Last, this is not a department task, although the team is always involved with the product and we discuss many of the needs. I belong to the product committee, where we discuss and decide on new features and tool troubleshooting.

What do you think is the most important lesson you have learned working in IT?

The most important thing for me is teamwork and in many cases this translates into documentation. Yes I know, it sounds boring. But, although it is a bit burdensome, the most important thing is to document well what has been done. Trust me, it will save your entire team a lot of time and trouble. Well-documented procedures improve workflow and allow the entire team to draw on the experiences of other members.

Secondly, of course automating. Everything that can be automated should be. The less human interaction there is, the fewer the possible errors.

What has been the most important moment of your professional life in Pandora FMS?

I cannot say which one was the most important. There are many, and usually the most recent one is usually the one we appreciate the most, but, now that you mention it, I remember a moment that I think I will never forget.

I will try to summarize it. We had to visit a client in the US to deploy a new infrastructure, quite large, more than 30 servers, with an alternative installation method that was, let’s say, “delicate”.

It was my turn to make that visit, we had a week, which was just enough for the task at hand. I had a stopover in Philadelphia. There was a storm and all flights were canceled just when I was doing the stopover.

So all passengers stopping there got stuck in Philadelphia, and there weren’t too many hotels available at 2 AM either. On top of that, they rescheduled my flight for Wednesday of that week… Yes, that meant three days stuck there.

In order not to go into much detail, I will just say that the deployment was largely done with my laptop from the Philadelphia airport and we finished it, on site, when I was finally able to reach the client.

And if you wonder how it all ended, it was a success, we did everything we had planned to do and the customer was satisfied, but what a trip !!!

What advice would you give youngsters starting out in the world of technology?

To be passionate about all this. There is nothing more powerful than motivation and passion for what you do.

Well yes, passion and knowing how to use a device. The more comfortable you feel with a CLI, the more efficient your workflow will be.

And if you don’t know where to start, on this website you can see different roadmaps that can help.

Who do you follow daily on social media? Tell us your top gurus…

I’m not really into “classic” social networks, but I do spend many hours on YouTube and I follow certain YouTubers who are wonderful to stay updated in this world:

Pelado Nerd: Everything related to containers, Docker, Kubernetes and the SRE.

TechWorld with Nana: Very good quality tutorials and explanations.

Just me and Opensource: Practical tutorials and labs.

Corey Schafer: Python oriented channel, very good.

Scott Hanselman: Lots of information at all levels about the world of technology in general, a Microsoft guru.

Destination Linux Network: Open source to the max, highly recommended for the Linux world.

What would you do if you didn’t have to work?

It depends, I’m going to assume that I have a lot of money and that’s why I don’t have to work, since it’s the alternative I like the most.

I think I would start an IT project with people who have the same passion for technology as me. I haven’t really thought about it either, but I’m sure I would continue to devote myself to technology. I took this path because this is what I like, I do not think I will ever leave it.

What do you want that you still don’t have?

I don’t know, I feel pretty fulfilled in general. But if I had to ask… Perhaps it would be the classic house with a garden and garage for weekend projects, because apart from computing I also like mechanics and tinkering with everything that comes my way in general.

Tell me the first thing that comes to mind when I say these words:

* Pandora: Commitment to the project.
* Friday night: Netflix and chill.
* Code: Everything, absolutely everything, is code.
* Sunday evening: Video games, comics, books, YT or just sofa and TV.

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