Server Support Engineers – Who are they? 3 tips to choose the best SSEs
Servers are amazing machines. They hum along 24/7 executing millions of transactions a week.
But like any machine, it needs management and upkeep.
In fact, depending on your workload, the machine specs and application settings need to be carefully calculated and maintained.
That kind of job requires an in-depth understanding of how servers work, how operating systems are designed, and how applications are built.
In many companies this job of designing, building, monitoring and maintaining servers is done by a Server Support Engineer.
Who is a Server Support Engineer?
A server support engineer (SSE) is an expert on server hardware, network, application software and management protocols.
A Server Support Engineer calculates the hardware & software specs needed for a business solution, builds the server (physical or virtual), takes care of server security & performance, maintains backups, keeps the server up-to-date, and resolves tech support issues.
Server Support Engineer : Hire inhouse or outsource?
Many large companies hire server support engineers inhouse to maintain their servers. But it can be quite costly.
SSE salaries can range from $6000 to $9000 per month depending upon the business location.
For SME businesses like web hosts, digital developers and online shops, this cost is too steep to remain profitable.
Administration software to the rescue?
Many server providers such as GoDaddy provide server administration tools to automate many things for web hosting as a replacement to hiring a server experts.
Using these tools, server owners can setup websites, configure mail accounts and update their software using a web based UI.
But for all its convenience, administration tools are also systems that fail from time to time.
From mail bounces to kernel errors, many things can still disrupt business, and there just isn’t enough time to go hunting for a server administrator.
Which is why, many established web hosts still use server experts to maintain their servers.
But then how do they keep costs low?
By outsourcing server support.
Why outsource server support?
Unless you have a large farm of servers, you don’t need a full time server support engineer. For a single or two server company (which is the vast majority), these are the typical requirements:
- Software updates – Apply new software, firewall and anti-virus updates once a week.
- On-demand support – Troubleshoot & fix occasional pesky issues like website errors, mail bounces, spamming, etc.
- Server audits – Systematically check the performance & security of the server once a month.
- Emergency patching – Apply server patches if a new vulnerability is disclosed.
- Backup management – Monitor and test backups to make sure it’s reliable.
- 24/7 monitoring & rescue – Monitor services round the clock and rescue if the server is slow or unresponsive.
You can get all this for as low as $149.99 per month.
That’s a far cry from the $6000 bill for an inhouse expert, which is why most web hosts employ an outside agency to take care of their servers.
How to choose the best Server Support Engineers
Your server support engineer is practically responsible to keep your business online.
You need them to be reliable, available and at the top of their game.
So, how do you find out the best SSEs for your company?
1. Company vs Freelancer
Many companies employ freelancers they meet in the internet. But they can be quite unreliable.
Individuals can become sick, be unreachable (due to poor infrastructure), or even just vanish one day without a trace.
In contrast, a registered company with a physical office is more predictable and reliable. Even if one Server Support Engineer becomes unavailable, they can quickly provide you with a backup.
Here at Bobcares, we provide server management services to online companies. We have an experienced pool of server experts who is available 24/7 to monitor and maintain our customer servers.
Every engineer is backed by their teammates so that our customers get instant access to support any time around the clock, 7 days a week.
So, when choosing an SSE provider,
- Check how long this company has been in existence. The longer a company has been in the industry, the more mature their systems will be to deliver 24/7 service.
- Look at their reviews in niche industry forums (eg. web hosting forums).
2. Experience in your technology
There are a hundred ways in which a server can fail or perform poorly.
In times of an emergency, you need your server support engineer to get to the bottom of an issue within minutes, and fix it before the customers are affected.
A company with years (or decades) of experience in your business and technology has a better chance of doing that compared to a new company or a freelancer.
Bobcares has over 16 years of experience in server management and hosting industry.
Every month we resolve close to 47,000 support tickets which helps us identify and fix server errors as soon as they come.
Banking on this experience, we also advise our customers how best to organize their infrastructure, and make the best use of available resources.
So, when choosing an SSE provider,
- Look at how long this company has been in existence.
- Look for a company that has specific expertise in your business technology (eg. Suse Linux, Windows 2016, etc.)
- Ask for a free consultation on how to resolve your business problems. If you get insightful, practical advice, you know you are in the right company.
3. Depth of expertise
Not every server issue has a documented solution.
Some server owners and server administrators rely exclusively on administration tools and its manuals to troubleshoot common issues.
But in real life, server issues do not come in neat packages as described in a document.
Suggested fixes may not work. There won’t be a relevant doc for your specific issue. Or the doc could even be too hard to understand.
That is why you need your DSE to be an expert who has more than a superficial knowledge about your business technology.
Your DSE should have a fundamental understanding of how computer systems work, how operating systems are built, the differences between them, and how to build one from scratch.
Every server support engineer at Bobcares is a computer science graduate who goes through 4 years of intensive training in Operating systems, Networking and Programming.
So, when the suggested solutions don’t work or are inefficient, our engineers dig deep and build solutions at the operating system level.
If a particular business problem does not have a ready solution, we build it from scratch. All issues gets a resolution at Bobcares, usually within minutes.
So, when choosing an SSE provider,
- Ask if the engineer is a Computer Science Engineering graduate.
- Ask for the work experience and resume.
- Request a free consultation to evaluate the knowledge of the DSE before you hire them.
Running an online business is hard. You need a competent server expert to keep your services fast, safe and stable. Today we’ve seen the top 3 qualities of a Server Support Engineer that you should look for when hiring a support person.