Editor’s note: This is part one of a five-part series profiling a handful of INAP’s talented NOC employees who are responsible for delivering “Better Engineered Support”. At the bottom of the profile, find links to explore more interviews.
Name: Mike Palladino
Title: VP of Network and Support
When did you start at INAP? August of 2004, I was hired as an IP Support Engineer.
Can you tell us about your career progression at INAP? Started as an IP Support Engineer in the NOC…loved it there. Got to learn a bunch of different technologies and be responsible for them. It was immediate gratification. You got to see immediate change, a customer has an issue and you were able to resolve it right there. It was very rewarding.
Part of the reason our NOC is so special is that it’s staffed by Engineers, so typically the person that answers your call is the one who resolves your issue. So the cool part about that was I got a lot of variety, no two calls were ever the same. It kept me on my toes!
Did that for two years, then began being a tier two support engineer in ’06. In 2007 I was the Tier 2 lead, then in ’08 I began managing the tier two team. After ‘08, I started managing IP Operations, the senior network engineering team which is responsible for the global network. I loved doing that. The IP Ops team is responsible for platform and product deployments and overall cost management of the network. I got to experience a different side of the company. Not just fixing it when network issues arose, but building the network in a scalable, cost-efficient and timely fashion.
In 2010 I added Architecture, which is the forward-looking network products, services, software and tools, and in 2013 Software Engineering and Systems also joined my group.
Today, I’m responsible for customer-facing IP network and Colo support, network infrastructure and architecture, systems architecture and infrastructure, and capacity planning.
What was it like being in your mid-20’s managing the NOC support? It was cool because I was still an engineer at heart and had a great team. I did a lot of managing the network which was very fulfilling from a technical perspective. I was able to continue to learn and gain experience and knowledge from the network side. One of the things managers often talk about is losing the technical edge when they go into management and I was fortunate not to have that happen as we did very little people management as I just didn’t have to.
The team had grown their own talent and had “grown up” at INAP. They were a good fit for the team and understood internal expectations and what type of customer experience we were trying to provide.
What do you like about your job now? I get a mile wide, but a half-mile deep on an enormous range of challenges.
What’s the most challenging thing about your job? There are so many moving parts, it’s sometimes a challenging thing to keep up with everything. Managing the ramifications. When I make a change in the architecture team, it also affects other teams and ultimately our customers. Staying cognizant of the global picture and how everything is tied together is challenging but critical to what I do here.
Family? Married to Samantha in 2011. My daughter Violet is three. Timber is our dog—she’s a half-pointer half-Dalmatian. She’s good at nothing [laughs]…except for jumping on visitors.
Hobbies: Playing the drums, video games, watching Superhero and dark comedy movies.
Favorite Movie: The Prestige
Favorite Musician or musical group? Guns ‘n Roses
Why do you think someone should do business with INAP? Our NOC and Support team is unlike any other. The person who answers your call is the person who fixes your problem. They are empowered to do whatever they need to do to make the customer happy. We take a lot of pride in being customer-focused, not stats focused. Is the customer happy? We view ourselves as a technical support team with a customer support focus. Usually you just get one or the other.
Outside of INAP, what is important to you? I care about lot of different things, but the common thing in being a father, husband, leading a non-profit org, as an employee, etc; I’m driven to make it better. I am driven internally to affect positive change. That’s what gets me up in the morning, what makes me tick.
Is it difficult to be hired? Yes. We look for people who not only have a wide range of technical skills, but are also customer focused with good communications skills and capable of being a strong team player. It’s tough to find someone who has all of those. It’s intimidating to come in here and have this level of responsibility and product breath. It’s not for the timid. To find people who want that challenge and thrive in that environment is challenging. But those who do are a great cultural fit and raise the bar for everyone.
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