Big Interview

A day in the life of Vince Tran, a senior infrastructure engineer at Evocative

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Vincent Tran a senior infrastructure engineer at Evocative. He lives in Orange County, California with his wife and son. Being part of a team that builds data centres from the ground up.

I get up around 6:30am. I get myself breakfast, make breakfast for my son and take him to school. My son is very important to me, so making sure that he is ready for his day is a priority in the morning. I then head to the data centre which is about 15 minutes away from me.

Every day is a different day. We have unique projects at the data centre every day, so I go in and tackle one project at a time every day. On a given day, we have many different things happening from building and tagging dedicated bare metal servers to setting up firewalls.

I work on the critical infrastructure systems in our data centres and assist our customers with their data build outs. I manage our on site team, and we maintain our infrastructure and set up firewall switches, build servers, and any other critical systems for Evocative’s customers. 

Around 13 or 14 years ago, during the midst of the market crash, I was a production manager at a manufacturing plant. And at that time, I was just looking for something new that could further my career. I met up with the leaders at Evocative and found myself taken back with what they were doing and the possibilities of technology in the space.

In some respects this job fell on my lap. When I met with Evocative’s management, I just said, ‘Give me this opportunity and I will prove my worth.’ So, that's when it all started. I started building servers for them, and then everything just started falling into place. I've never regretted it, and it made me a better person and much more knowledgeable about the networking world.

It's an exciting industry to be part of.

In this industry, there are countless career paths. You can go into networking, system engineering, security, and much more, so there’s always more to learn. This is a very exciting field because if you're bored of one thing you can always jump to another. I work with the whole team, not a specialised team. I create the initial setup for each team, then I hand off the setup to them. So, at this point, I'm trying to learn a little bit of everything. I call myself a jack of all trades.

What I love most about my job is the people. The people that I work with are deeply knowledgeable, so I enjoy learning from them while we work. Also, I love the excitement of creating new networks for customers and seeing how everything happens.

Often, I can’t finish a project in just a few hours or even days, so I chip away at my priority items in the morning. Every day is different, but we are always customer driven. We collaborate, lay out the projects, and then just tackle whatever's on the board.

My lunch time varies because projects differ in length. If it's a difficult project where we need to get something up very quickly, I can eat earlier. Or, it'll take longer, so we have lunch a little later. Often, I take a 15 or 20 minute lunch at 2 or 3pm. As a team leader, I always make sure my team takes lunch.

We like ordering take-out. There is so much great food in California, where we are, so we rotate between Chinese food, Mexican food, pizza, Middle Eastern food, and anything else. We keep it fresh and get something different every day.

Earlier in my career, the challenge was getting to know the equipment with which I was not familiar. Now, it's the new and emerging technology and software that is becoming rapidly available. Things are constantly changing in the IT world and in my position, I must keep on my toes, keep up with the times, and keep on learning. I think that's one of the reasons why this job never has a dull moment.

I often vent to coworkers when things go wrong, and also one of our original founders is someone I frequently turn to. Even though we don’t work as closely anymore, we did work together for a long time. When you work with a person for more than 10 plus years, they become a ‘brother from another mother.’

Having a good team in place is the key to success.

Working well as a team is essential. We completed the whole move in 24 hours, which included transporting 3,000 to 4,000 servers in one night. We had a team of 16 people and we prepped everything. It was like clockwork; everyone knew what everybody else was doing, and that's why we were able to pull it off. I think that was perfect.

One thing people in this field should understand is that even when you make mistakes, you can always fix them and there are always people around you who can help.

Building data centres from the ground up is what really excites me, as is traveling to all of our different locations around the world. I'm one of the few people who’s been able to travel to Singapore, Thailand, Arizona, San Jose, and more. I’ve been to most of our data centres and get to see how they all connect, so that’s a major highlight. I’m proud of our large-scale data centre build outs. We built a facility in Sacramento from the ground up. We had a lot of fun because there were a lot of people involved. Though we had some sleepless nights, it was one of the greatest achievements that I've had.

Some days I might leave at 2pm or 8pm on any given day, depending on the projects we have on.

When I get home, I kiss my wife, hug my son, and catch up on their days. We have dinner together as a family. To relax, I read a book, and watch anime when I have time in the evening. And I try to get to bed around 10:30pm.