Ed Stafford

Who Am I?

EdA Memphis Area native, I have spent the last 18 years of my professional career servicing some of the area’s largest, global operations with software development, systems and networking administration, and architecture including Disaster Recovery implementations and testing.

I started my career in a local ISP performing call-in tech support for Macintosh customers.  From there, I was able to move into a developer position after 6 months where I began to improve my programming skills in Perl, JavaScript, C, and eventually Java 1.1.  I then moved into the engineering department where I spent much of my initial time writing administration interfaces for maintaining customers, email accounts, password files, NFS mounts, and ended with spending much of my time maintaining whatever systems customers brought be they Linux, HPUX, Solaris, and Windows NT.  I also gained a strong introduction to installing, operating, and maintaining databases from miniSQL and Postgres95 to Sybase, Oracle, and MS SQL.  Towards the end of my time, we had either built or hosted numerous sites such as Budget, AutoTrader and the several thousand dealerships that advertised through it, OneKey Child Safe search engine, ServiceMaster and it’s affiliates, an  Akamai node, and Playboy.com.  iXL ended some years later as a company split apart, sold off and eventually dissolved as an entity.  It’s local data center, or what was shut down and customers had to find other avenues of hosting their sites.

During my time at iXL, I had come into contact and joined a budding local Linux Users Group, and as Linux had become a very large interest of mine, I spent much of my free time providing lectures on software releases, development methods, systems operation, and helped other local admins when they were stuck or needed ideas on improving internal processes or updating to newer technologies.  The group, GOLUM, became a passion of mine for the seven years, maintaining my membership for another 3 years until the community at large was no longer necessary.  Though I still host the website, it is maintained by another group of local people who need to reach out to each other from time to time.

I left iXL after nearly three years for an opportunity with Concord EFS to build a new eCommerce web hosting facility.  In 4 months time, I had designed and built the entire infrastructure, installed systems, switches, and routers; and I had also received training on Open Market’s TransAct eCommerce system which would provide the horsepower for payment processing and cart handling for the entire web farm.  This project ended after 2 years as there was tons of infrastructure, but little in the way of marketing to sell such features.  It was simply ahead of it’s time and as such, I ended up maintaining the rest of the company’s UNIX infrastructure on DGUX, Solaris, and SCO Openserver.  Concord EFS, the 2nd largest credit card processor in the country was bought out by First Data Corporation 6 years ago, and is now owned by a privately held company.  The Memphis data center still exists today.

After several more years, I was contacted by a local owner of another, smaller, ISP and I was eager to go back to the multi-platform experiences of the ISP world.  I was hired as the senior administrator of Synapse.  I maintained the websites, run on both Linux, Irix, and Windows while maintaining connectivity with Cisco networking gear both in house and at customer locations.  I advised the development staff on web technologies and languages with regards to both style and security and trained the help desk so that they could better serve our customer base.  Unfortunately, the ownership of the company defaulted on their purchase of the company and it was repurchased by another local company of which I had no desire to work for as I found their practices to be spurious as best and separated myself as quickly as possible.

Since I had spent the better part of 6 years of my career in administration, I wanted to go back and do some programming to keep my skills sharp.  My grandfather had always told me that to be truly good, you must understand ALL the parts of what you are working on.  Through a good friend through GOLUM, I landed at IGS (International Gaming Systems) to do some embedded gaming systems for bingo halls and casinos.  Their existing system was Windows based and they were looking at Linux as a prime spot to use for their new handheld systems.  I spent a lot of time custom building Linux kernels with ARM and x86-based processors to boot a handheld, which from button press to game was a final 7 seconds.  The software itself was originally in Visual Basic, so myself and the head developer rewrote the application in C++ using the QT Commercial libraries, some proprietary wireless networking, and even SSL encryption towards the end to produce a new and great product.  The company had produced a product that had finally caught the eye of one of it’s largest competitors.  Unfortunately, this company was based in Reno, NV and as I had just bought a new home 3 weeks prior; I opted to stay here and leave the company.  Memphis has been my home, and though I have traveled all over, I have no desire to leave it.

I contracted for several companies as a developer and admin when I had another hit from GOLUM where AutoZone was looking for an administrator.  More on that later, but nearly 7 years after being hired, I left with many lessons on how you can get sucked into a sweat shop.

I currently work for a local marketing company in Collierville called National Safety Associates as a Senior Systems Administrator along side 6 others in various administrative capacities.  Specializing in web architecture, I have spent the past 3 years rebuilding and redesigning the existing infrastructure to bring critical web systems from uptimes of 70% to 99.5+% with a minimal of systems in a single facility.  I am also working on infrastructure to place in a new data center in Europe which, in time, should provide a solid 99.99% uptime using combinations of enterprise level architecture, software, and most importantly, a knowledgeable staff to maintain.