Dirty IT job No. 5: On-site reboot specialist
Seeking individuals for on-site support of end-users. Must be familiar with three-fingered Ctrl-Alt-Del salute and power cord reconfiguration. Ability to withstand a variety of environments and personality types; concealed-weapons permit a plus. Individuals with anger management issues need not apply.
Closely related to the help desk zombie, but even lower on the totem pole, is the on-site reboot specialist, says Scott Crawford, research director at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo. Unlike help desk or support vampires, the on-site rebootnik must venture out into the physical world and deal with actual people.
[ For more fear and loathing of end-user interaction, check out the original "Stupid user tricks: Eleven IT horror stories" ]
Joel Bomgar worked his way through college as an on-site support specialist. He recalls hot sticky summers spent driving Mississippi back roads in 100-degree heat, providing "sweatnical" support to clueless end-users.
"First there's the heat," Bomgar says. "Then you show up at the customer site, and the server room is a closet. Loud, dusty, dingy, and there's nowhere to sit down. You end up standing wedged between the server and the wall for hours at a time. It's like flying on a regional jet. Everything about it is uninviting."
It was this experience, Bomgar says, that ultimately inspired him to start Bomgar Corp. (formerly Network Streaming), a Ridgeland, Miss.-based provider of remote service solutions for SMBs. By adding a Bomgar Box appliance to a company's network, remote technicians anywhere in the world can access an end-user's PC and troubleshoot it.
Providing non-site support also puts some welcome physical distance between techie and customer.
"What makes on-site support dirty is interfacing with the user," Bomgar says. "People's workstations are often a nightmarish wreck. They issue you into a tiny room covered with dust, grit, and grime. The keyboard's broken and the mouse doesn't work, but they're used to it."
For their part, customers don't have to stop working while the tech takes over their machines (or stand near some college kid who's just been driving in 100-degree heat).
"Tech support becomes so much cleaner when you don't have to go deal with all those environmental variables," Bomgar says. "You get to interface with the technology without the grit, grime, and dirt associated with support."