Inspiring the next generation of Linux trainees: Part 2

Neil Haywood, 48, works as a security specialist for British Telecom, a busy and demanding role, but a fantastic job within IT. It’s a job in which Linux plays a vital role. Here, Neil talks to us about his LPI training and why young people should work in the tech industry.


What encouraged you into a career in IT?

Money initially, and then I found that I could do the Unix and enjoyed it. The Unix then morphed into securing systems such as AIX HPUX and Solaris, then Linux and information Security. It has been a great career for me.

What LPI Certification have you taken and why did you decide to take LPI exams?

I took the two exams for the LPIC-1, mainly to cover gaps in my knowledge, which it did. I thought I knew Linux pretty well, but doing the certification boosts your knowledge and confidence somewhat.

What does your job entail? And what do you use Linux for within your role?

I worked on firewalls for many years as a Cisco and Checkpoint firewall engineer as well as IDS/IPS systems.

An early CCNA helped a great deal for networking skills, and knowing first principles of Unix and Networking helps a great deal in troubleshooting. Underneath many systems there is Linux lurking there. Knowing how to examine interface, routing tables, find logs, filter logs and knowing your way around configuration files.

Many colleagues have commented they wish they knew Linux and are always asking me for advice. I now work on a protective monitoring team using Splunk as a SIEM. I am used more for the backend configuration for a very large complex deployment. Linux knowledge here is an essential skill. In this case checking data connections between the deployments of Search Heads, Indexers and Forwarders, re-configuring and maintaining filesystems.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

Security incidents, most of which are false positives. I use command line techniques a lot of the time.

What has Linux Certification done for your learning and career development?

Certification got me the position I am in now and a promotion, with extra salary.

Why should young people consider a career in the tech industry?

For the reasons above such as good career progression and good pay. Linux also guides you by first principles on how to troubleshoot. I am no programmer at all, if you are not a coder, maybe the OS is for you. Security is a great area to work in at the moment, System administration is changing, which you need to be aware of. By that I mean Puppet and Docker, Virtualisation and Containers and definitely securing them. For a future in IT I personally think this is the direction to go in. Get the basics down and then aggressively look at Cloud Services. The future seems to be going DevOps but System Administration on Linux is a key knowledge you should have.