Alexander “Zan” Bassi – Systems Engineer
Professional System and DevOps Engineer with over 14 years experience administering servers, automating and documenting processes. Engaging in CI/CD, data analytics, and cross-team/client communications.
DevOps Engineer – 2021-2023
- Managed Nomad clusters and Traefik configs
- Collaborated and maintained CircleCI and GithubActions pipelines
- Maintained Terraform, Python, Packer (etc) code
- Authored scripts to audit Github repos, CircleCI projects, and AWS resources
- Authored Lambda functions and Docker images
- Onboard developers in AWS IAM
- Performed on-call duties
- Managed change communications to both lab and production pipelines
- Managed several AWS resources, including EC2 instances, Route 53 zones, VPCs, IAM policies, security groups, and Subnets
- Configured logging pipeline logic with Vector
- Managed OpenSearch domains
DevOps Engineer – 2019-2021
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
- Collaborated on GitLab pipelines
- Handled upgrade/rehydration logistics for our GitLab/AWS environment.
- Automated GitLab server processes with Bash scripts
- Authored several run-books and documented guidelines
- Managed AWS EC2 instances
- Reviewed and maintained Terraform IaC
Systems Engineer – 2011-2021
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
- Lead efforts to build Splunk Enterprise instances and Splunk agents on multiple sites in the US.
- Configured and deployed Splunk forwarder and Heavy Forwarder endpoints.
- Met customer and Information Security SLA’s by authoring custom alerts, dashboards, searches, and user interface elements for customer’s Splunk application interface
- On-boarded new customer data and provisioned customer access to managed applications
- Authored custom endpoint scripts to pull metrics (uptime, list of applications/versions, etc) into Splunk
Python , Bash , Terraform , Nomad , Docker , DataDog , Splunk , Jira , AWS , Ansible , Apache , Nginx , Packer , SQL , No-SQL , No-SQL , ElasticSearch , OpenSearch , Git , SecretsManager
Clear communicator. Team worker. Autonomous. Speaker. Researcher. Problem solver. Planner. Analytics. Decision maker. Team leader. Communications deployer. Clean and efficient programmer.
Certifications & Courses
- AWS Certified Practitioner
- Splunk: Advanced Search & Reporting
- Jira Administration for Data Center and Server
- Red Hat Server Administration
- Mac OS X Server Essentials
Around 2003 one of the first online games was released for the PlayStation 2 and I wanted to create custom email addresses for me and my gaming friends. Back then, one-click custom domains, webmail, and website hosting really wasn’t a thing – at least, not for cheap. On top of that, I wanted a web host that would give me more disk space and network throughput, as the $10/mo plan gave you only 25MB of disk space to use for a blog or maybe a forum, which wasn’t nearly enough for me. I wanted to host videos and install lots of cool web software.
I chose to rent out my host’s cheapest Virtual Private Server (VPS) plan and quickly found out that their VPS did not come with a built-in configured mail server, web server, or database. When I asked support on what I could do, their answer was “go buy a book, kid”.
So I went out and bout my first book on how to administer a FreeBSD server.
I learned how to configure multiple mail server systems (most notably SquirrelMail), setting up DNS, opening up ports, restricting SSH, configuring custom zones with Apache, and downloading and compiling source code for MySQL and PHP so that I could install a PHP-based forum.
My grand intentions at that time was to move to Chicago to get a Mechanical Engineering degree, so I didn’t think to keep going in the direction of doing “computer stuff”. However, in 2004, I found that job opportunities were pretty limited when I arrived in an Illinois suburb.
Eventually I found a small little computer store that sold Apple computers. Once I got my foot in the door, I started learning all about Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server, and soon started working in their service department. I started writing Bash and AppleScript programs to automate processes and eventually started tinkering with writing Mac OS X GUI applications. I eventually got promoted to one of their server engineers, installing SAN systems along with racks of XServers for video editing departments, and massive file servers for print shops, etc.
Around the late 00s I left that company to start my own consulting business, but unfortunately at that time, I was just over the peak of the housing crisis and a lot of people stopped spending money on things like IT and hiring a boutique Mac specialist to automate processes for their SOHOs and print/design offices. Suffice to say, I earned money by selling support contracts to small businesses, but it wasn’t enough to live reliably. I hoped to go back to a job with more security.
Then, one day in the early 2010s, I got a call from the Federal Reserve Bank saying they were looking for a specialist in Macs to set up some servers for an experimental project. Just like that I became an official Systems Engineer.
I wrote custom network “heartbeat” scripts, security hardening scripts, and even wrote a piece of software that acted like the “CTRL+ALT+DELETE” prompt Windows users would use to reset their Active Directory password (something the Apple desktop operating system has always lacked). However, a few years later the “Mac Project” was killed and my responsibilities were divided between the Linux Server Admin team and the folks that administered the Mac endpoints.
I learned about Linux tools and configurations to integrate with Windows environments, which included Single Sign-On tools, file sharing protocol configurations, and apache modules. Another team at another Federal Reserve branch started reaching out to me on how to reverse-engineer some legacy Mac management tools in order to patch some security flaws. I continued worked closely with the InfoSec team to help define security standards and practices for certain pieces of Mac software – and even wrote custom reporting tools, so that the InfoSec team could see every non-system application, script, and executable binary in the user’s home folder; along with application version, Last Modified dates, and SHA hashes of the executables.
In the late 2010s, the Fed started moving into the DevOps/Cloud space, which gave me a chance to start learning Docker, Terraform, Git, GitLab, Jira, and Confluence. We started taking training on the Agile methodology and how to use Scrum to organize our sets of tasks into sprints, etc. To say the least, this process was not easy, as government agencies do not like to move fast – which was the antithesis of Agile. Thus, after 10 years at the Fed, I started to look at other jobs that could match the pace of a typical DevOps environment. Or at the very least, give me more opportunities to grow and challenge myself.
In late 2021 I started working for Density as a DevOps Engineer. I was exposed to more than could have ever asked for: Docker publishing, Terraform authoring, reviewing production Python code, and learning new languages like Go and Rust. I got my hands deep in AWS and Hashicorp services – way deeper than I could have possibly imagined when I signed on.
I kicked off the new year in 2022 by writing scripts to automate processes that were still being done by hand and joined “code jams” with my teammates to learn and improve upon our infrastructure code (e.g. using expressions in local terraform variables, rather than copy/pasting a long and hard-to-read string of vars over multiple lines). I soon became recognized as one of the DevOps people who were quick to respond to requests and as someone who communicated often to our Engineering team when changes were coming down the pipeline.
I then started taking sole ownership of some of our services – one of which was our logging endpoints that stored some of our application data – and participating in hack-a-thons. Then 2023 rolled around and I got a message that there was a reduction in our workforce and me, along with 44 other people, were being laid off.
I am eagerly looking to join a team of enthusiastic engineers in my next DevOps/Platform adventure!