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Customer interview: Andrew from Stirling University, Scotland

[caption id=“attachment_1982” align=“aligncenter” width=“640”] The view at Stirling University, Scotland.[/caption]

PaperCut is used in over 100 countries. As a result, we get to speak to System Administrators from all over the world, in all sorts of different organisations. Every site is unique, and it seems like everyone has great IT/Computer/Software stories (war stories) to tell. This post is the second in our ongoing series of customer interviews.

This interview is with Andrew Forbes, from Stirling University in Scotland! Andrew uses PaperCut in his school to control student and staff printing and copier use.

PaperCut: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Andrew: I’m Andrew Forbes from Central Scotland. The perception of Scotland is that it rains quite a bit and can be very cold (which is true) but when the weather’s nice it truly is spectacular. I’m one in a team of IT Client System Specialists here at the University. As a whole we provide desktop support to the University. My particular area of support is Staff Print, hence my involvement in the PaperCut project. The University of Stirling is a fantastic place to work. The campus surroundings are truly outstanding! I can’t think of a better place to work.

When it comes to PCs I’m purely a Microsoft man, Windows all the way. My background is based on IT Support within the Secondary Education sector and has been since 2001. Outside of work I guess you could say I’m a little obsessive when it comes to home entertainment, in particular audio quality. I go through surround sound systems like chocolate, regularly replacing with something better. Currently I’m running a Sony system that puts out a nice 1000watts of 5.1 digital clarity, but it’s three years old now so am thinking about changing to a BOSE 7.1 system. Obviously my other love, Xbox 360 (Gears of War 3 Edition), is connected to this for the ultimate gaming audio. First/third person shooters are my game type of choice followed closely by Forza Motorsport 4. :)

PaperCut: Which parts of PaperCut do you use the most?

Andrew: Currently, I’m in and out of all aspects of PaperCut on quite a regular basis, apart from the ‘Options’ section. I’ve removed access to this from all administrators (including myself) to ensure we don’t inadvertently change something in our Production environment that doesn’t need to be changed. :) But I suppose you could say I’m in the ‘Dashboard’ and ‘App Log’ screens the most monitoring what’s going on, followed closely by the ‘Jobs Pending Release’.

My immediate task is setting up of the monthly scheduled reports so am in that section quite heavily right now.

PaperCut: Everyone has their own system administration related horror story. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Andrew: Prior to working at the University I was very fortunate to have been the IT Services Manager for a brand new Secondary School in Northamptonshire, England.  The school opened in 2008 and was very cutting edge in terms of the technology we had at our disposal compared to most other schools.  Purely Cisco switch gear, Citrix thin client, VMware, pull printing, in excess of 24TB of SAN storage, etc.  It was a school Network Manager’s dream as the schools I had worked in previously had very modest IT investments.  However, I was learning all these different systems as I was going, but given everything was new to all staff and students most of my time during the early days was spent heavily supporting everyone else rather than fully learning the new systems.

[caption id=“attachment_1985” align=“aligncenter” width=“300”] Proof that a tidy mind doesn’t equate to a tidy desk.[/caption]

Then one morning about three weeks in we had a school wide power cut.  It had turned out that building contractors had accidently cut the main electrical lines for the entire business park.  We were informed not to expect any sign of getting power back for at least 3-4 hours.  I had put no thought into a planned system shutdown in the server room for all this new kit until then and did I regret that. We had about 28+ servers (my previous school had 3!), 3 VMware hosts (hosting about a third of said servers) not to mention the SAN disk shelves and controllers that were totally new to me.

I “believed” the UPSes would keep things running for approximately 20-25 minutes.  I had already spent 5 minutes trying to find out what had happened and what the likelihood was of power coming back within this time.  Worried that the UPS’s would fail and everything would just power off in an uncontrolled fashion I gave myself 10-15 minutes to get everything shutdown.

It was probably the most stressful time during my working life but fortunately I got everything off in time.  And when it was all powered back on everything worked perfectly.  But it taught me a valuable lesson never to just put something on the back burners just because I don’t perceive it to be of immediate importance.

Thanks to Andrew for taking the time to tell us the PaperCut story for Stirling University!

We’d love to hear from more PaperCut System Administrators from around the globe. If you’ve got an interesting print management or system administration story to tell, or just want to show the world your workplace then we’d love to hear from you! Just email us here in support and we’ll get in contact with you as soon as we can.