Guiding server and storage solutions at Princeton

Charles

Senior Director, Enterprise Infrastructure Services

By the numbers

  • 4 major areas of responsibility: Servers, Storage, and Service Process Management  (Change Management and Major Incident) 
  • A team of 12 infrastructure specialists provide server and storage expertise and services to campus
  • The team manages 1,420 servers
  • The team manages 4 petabytes of storage
  • Work on-premises across 3 data centers and in cloud options

A day in the life 

I'm deeply involved in thinking about the strategy and directions that need to be taken across Enterprise Infrastructure Services—whether it’s for the servers and storage groups that I manage directly or how the Change Management service is working across campus. Since I have a 16-year history here at Princeton, I have the benefit of having seen how our architectures have changed and matured over the years. Looking ahead, we want to make sure that the IT infrastructure we provide continues to meet campus needs, and that it’s robust, secure, and highly available. The less time University faculty, students, and staff have to spend keeping infrastructure running, the more they can spend on research and strategic planning. My team of experts can handle the scale. We free up others to do that next order of work—and the cloud is the next evolution of providing infrastructure services even faster. We keep eliminating steps to make it simpler for people to quickly secure the platform they need.

OIT is at that inflection point when we’re making a heavy push towards the cloud. That changes everything we’ve done for many years. When there are those types of changes, it’s a very exciting time to be involved.

Path to Princeton OIT 

I studied math in college, with computer science courses and an English minor. People say: “Well, how does English match to computer science?” I like to investigate a book and look for patterns. We’ll call it troubleshooting. What’s behind the scenes? It’s sleuthing. When you’re running infrastructure, that’s an important thing to have: curiosity and a desire to understand. 

My first job out of college happened to be selling computers. What I found most interesting was learning about them. I then moved to an organization where I was doing programming, but ultimately ended up running the infrastructure. I was drawn into that role: solving people’s problems, keeping systems up and running. I continued that work with increased responsibilities in a corporate environment. Yet, Princeton has a different mission than a bottom line. That’s in part what drew me here. I was excited to work for an organization that makes the sort of difference that Princeton does.

OIT, through the IT resources and services we provide, helps Princeton achieve its mission and succeed in "being in the nation's service and the service of humanity.” That makes me proud.

OIT and my career 

Time at Princeton OIT: 16 years

Roles within OIT:  UNIX Systems Manager > Associate Director Enterprise Servers and Storage > Senior Director Enterprise Infrastructure Services

In a short video recorded at a recent Thrive conference for black alumni, I heard Michelle Obama say, “No matter what direction you’re headed, nobody gets there alone.” To me, that resonates with how we’re working in OIT. Everyone is here to support one another. We’re all in it together. We have different areas of expertise, but it’s not a zero-sum game. 

An ongoing commitment and funds to support professional development also allow us to focus on building our strengths. That’s key to keeping staff engaged and learning about the new things that are coming. I’ve gone to numerous symposiums on infrastructure to get a better strategic view of IT infrastructure. I was also chosen to participate in an 8-month MOR Leadership Program with colleagues in IT leadership roles in OIT and at our peer institutions. This was a tremendous opportunity.