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Communications In the Cloud Blog

Meet Levi Ilyes, Tech Team Lead

April 9, 2018
Levi-Ilyes-Tech-Team-Lead

At one point in time, S-NET’s SD-WAN guru used to pride himself in playing 9 different musical instruments. Now he spends his days troubleshooting complex customer issues, maintaining and upgrading S-NET’s core infrastructure, and evaluating, testing and deploying new technologies. Read on to get to know him better.

How long have you worked at S-NET Communications?

I started on February 14th 2013, on Valentin’s Day. It’s hard to believe it was a little over 5 years ago! Time flies by so fast when you are busy.

What is your educational background?

Both my Bachelor’s and my Master’s degrees are in Computer Engineering with a focus in Computer Networking. I am also trying to find the time to expand my Cisco Certification portfolio.

What made you choose this career path?

I always loved technology and was exposed to computers at a very young age by building and repairing PCs in my dad’s computer service and repair shop. I started studying different programing languages in high school, but while I felt at home in coding, I still missed working with hardware. I stumbled across computer networking in my junior year in college, which allowed me to use both my hardware and software skills, and I knew right away that this was the right field for me. I haven’t looked back since.

Where did you work before starting at S-NET?

After college, I got my first job in my hometown of Marosvasarhely, Romania at a local networking and communications service provider, very similar to S-NET. After a few years of work I moved to the U.S. to pursue my master’s degree at Purdue University, and got hired by S-NET shortly after graduation.

What are your primary responsibilities at S-NET?

My main responsibility is to keep S-NET’s cloud network infrastructure running, up to date and secure. The better I do my job, the fewer outages and network-related problems impact our services and hence our customers. It’s a job that requires a lot of attention to detail, planning, caution, many late night and weekend hours and sometimes a bit of luck. But I find it to be very rewarding. Hearing customers congratulating S-NET on exceptionally reliable and high-quality voice and data service makes all the hard work worth it.

Another part of my job that I really enjoy is evaluating, adapting and deploying new technologies such as SD-WAN. Since I love the field of networking, I am always very excited to learn about innovations in this field and actually have the opportunity to deploy, test and eventually introduce them as an S-NET product offering.

How often do you interact with clients?

In my first couple of years at S-NET, I was interacting with clients on a daily basis. But since I started focusing on infrastructure and adapting new network technologies, I became more of a background figure. However, I still get involved in more complex troubleshooting sessions, which do require me to work directly with the customer’s IT personnel. I also participate in several design meetings and I am part of the implementation and deployment process when we are building large and complex networks for our enterprise clients.

What do you enjoy most about your collaborations with clients?

I enjoy helping people solve their problems and make their IT life easier. I know how frustrating technology can be sometimes, even for someone who thoroughly enjoys it. So I always imagine how much harder it must be for someone who is not as comfortable with it as we are, yet relies on it on a daily basis. Helping clients get through a tough situation feels quite rewarding.

What do you enjoy most about your work in general?

I love the field of computer networking and I really like that it’s such a large field that there is always something new to explore, experience and learn. Growth is very important to me. I couldn’t imagine myself being stagnant and doing the same job at the same level for years on end. I also love having the opportunity to get my hands on the latest and greatest technologies out there and actually using them to build a product that positively impacts on people’s work.

Are there moments when you feel challenged?

Absolutely! Resolving issues with our core infrastructure or dealing with multiple time-sensitive problems at the same time can definitely feel challenging. If a critical piece of equipment breaks in one of our Cloud Data Centers, anything I have going on in my professional or private life is put on hold to fix the problem, because every minute of downtime equals to revenue lost for our clients and our company. It requires great focus and effort to isolate the issue from affecting our customers or to get services back up and running ASAP if our clients have been impacted.

What have been your favorite S-NET projects so far?

My favorite project to this day is the first big one I led as an engineer.  It involved a redesign of one of our largest customers’ multi-site network to include redundancy for their voice and data services. I had never worked on a project that size before, but I managed to figure it out on my own. I pre-tested everything and the deployment was seamless. The most impressive result was that they did not have one minute of voice or data outage for 3 straight years thanks to my design.

The other project that I feel I have to mention is the full rebuild and upgrade of our Chicago Cloud Data Center. Knowing that every piece of equipment running our core services was planned out, configured and deployed by me feels very special.

Which accomplishment/s are you the proudest of?

I started as a Field Engineer 5 years ago installing routers and phones at customer sites, and I am very proud that by using my knowledge, skills and persistence, I worked my way up to become the Tech Team lead at S-NET. It’s a privilege to coordinate a team of installers and engineers and to have the opportunity to design and build our internal infrastructure as well as our service offering.

How has S-NET helped you grow as an engineer?

As an immigrant from Romania with no previous U.S. based work experience, I am grateful that S-NET saw potential in me and gave me an opportunity to work in the field that I love. S-NET also provided an environment where I always felt that anything was possible, that the sky is the limit, and that how far I go only depends on my persistence and willingness to grow. I have always been surrounded with helpful, intelligent people who guided me when I needed it, and I had the possibility to work with some of the best technologies out there. I could not have wished for a better environment to grow professionally.

What exciting projects are you most looking forward to at S-NET?

I am very much looking forward to further exploring the security capabilities of our SD-WAN product and implementing a few more large-scale projects using this cutting-edge technology. I am also excited to build new data centers to expand our footprint in the U.S. and to adopt new technologies that can benefit our current and future clients.

What do you enjoy the most about working on this team?

I really like the family-like atmosphere that we cultivate in our offices. We treat each other with respect; we work together as a team and help one another get better every single day. We can also have fun sharing good laughs, funny stories or arguing passionately about sports or events in the world.

How do you unwind after a long, hard day at the office?

While the occasional data center day is all about lifting, crawling on the floor or climbing ladders, most days I am sitting in front of a computer for hours on end. So in the evenings I do everything I can to stay active. I work out at least 5 times a week and I do everything from running, biking, swimming, weight lifting and basketball to winter sports like skiing, snowboarding or ice skating.

I also like to watch good movies and TV series like Game of Thrones or Westworld, and I keep up with most late-night shows as well.

What are your weekends like?

I love camping, going to events or hanging out with friends. Whenever I can get some time off, I travel the world with my lovely wife and visit places anywhere from the Philippines to Europe or Brazil. Since we started dating in high school, exploring the cultures and natural beauty of the world has been an important component of our lives, and our honeymoon to the Philippines last year was probably the most memorable trip we took. We will be traveling to Brazil in a few weeks, and I am very excited about exploring this bucket-list destination of ours.

What exciting plans are you looking forward to?

I am looking forward to buying our first home together and expanding our family in the future.

What is one thing most S-NET clients and your team members don’t know about you?

Most of our clients and many of my coworkers are unaware of the role music used to play in my life. I started my elementary school education in an intensive music program and I played the violin as my primary instrument for 8 years. At one point in time, being able to play 9 different instruments was one of my main sources of pride. During my teenage years I was also a part of a Hungarian folk music band; we went on tours and even recorded a CD. Since I never felt that music was my calling, I switched to a science-based field in high school, and it’s not hard to see that I made the right choice.

What is the most common question you get about SD-WAN technology?

SD-WAN technology is quite new and not that widespread yet, so I get lots of different questions. Clients ask about what it is exactly, how is it better than all other technologies out there and – one of my favorites – is this really something useful or just another technology hoax? But the most frequently asked questions always center around how this technology improves business productivity. The short answer I usually give is: greatly. The slightly longer response is that by intelligently and effectively utilizing all available WAN connections for data transfer and failover purposes, SD-WAN can greatly enhance your users’ experience, boost your team’s productivity and alleviate any unnecessary network outages, which all ultimately benefit your business. SD-WAN is able to recognize and control every single application that runs through your network, constantly measures network performance, recognizes network problems and reacts to those problems before they impact your applications, thus improving not only the efficiency of your network, but the efficiency of your end users as well.

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