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2014-07-01 06:53


Action Verb is looking to hire a full-time UNIX System Administrator (DevOps Engineer) to take charge of maintaining the servers and network that we use to deliver our excellent software-as-a-service and hosting products.

This is a full-time, work-from-home position.

At present, DevOps is less than a 40-hour-a-week requirement for our business, so applicants that are also willing to participate in application development and general application support are preferred! We develop primarily in Ruby, but we also have apps in Java, PHP, C++, Go, and more.

Action Verb's Story

Action Verb is a bootstrapped, profitable company founded in 2007. Action Verb offers two main products: BrickFTP, a hosted file sharing service for business, and Vae Platform, a unique web hosting platform with an integrated SaaS CMS system. Our SaaS services have several hundred paying customers and a total userbase of about 20,000 users. On the hosting side, we host about 500 domains.

We're a small company (you'll be the 5th or 6th person on the team when you join) but we're at an inflection point where we're trying to grow into a more robust team.

Our hosting environment is almost entirely operated on Amazon EC2, though we have a few external dedicated servers for things like offsite backup and access to cheaper bandwidth for asset serving. Currently, we run 3 Amazon RDS instances, about 30 EC2 instances, and about 6 off-Amazon servers.

Here's where you come in.

Our fantastic sysadmin is departing Action Verb to return to school to complete his PhD. He set the bar extremely high and is leaving Action Verb with an extremely stable operations platform.

All of our servers are defined and managed via Chef. We have an extensive monitoring stack using Statsd, Sensu, Kibana, Logstash, and Elasticsearch.

The previous sysadmin will be around to provide training as well as as-needed consulting services for the next few months should you have any questions.

You'll be responsible for:

  • Keeping our servers up-to-date and patched with the latest security updates (this is largely automated, but we do manual builds/patches to some things like nginx so this does require some manual intervention)
  • Responding to the needs of our developers and creating new servers as necessary or adding packages to servers, etc.
  • Performance tuning
  • Ensuring that we have proper backups and redundancy
  • Business-continuity planning and ensuring that we can recover from failure as quickly as possible
  • Autiting our systems for security (we currently use Nessus and OpenVAS for part of this)
  • PCI Compliance on the servers that require it
  • Monitoring our servers using a monitoring framework

We'd also be looking to you to help us out with new initiatives that we're looking to roll out on the DevOps side:

  • Better load-balancing among application servers for protocols that aren't HTTP (such as FTP and SFTP)
  • Improve functional monitoring
  • Work with the developers to identify bottlenecks and improve performance


We're looking for someone who can be on-call 24/7/365 to respond to server emergency events. While these are very rare (and we hope that you'll make them even more rare), it's important for us that we always have a sysadmin that's near a pager/phone/computer.

Last month, there were three after-hours support events that required an immediate response. We expect that to be the ongoing volume of after-hours incidents.

That's not to say that you can't travel and take vacation, etc. In fact, we offer very generous vacation policy to our SysAdmins to offset the on-call nature of the job the rest of the time.

Additionally, this is a fully remote job and we encourage you to work from home.

Our Stack

If you're going to work for us, you'd better like our stack. It's crazy that a lot of sysadmin ads don't post this stuff. Here's what we use:

  • Linux - We use Ubuntu everywhere
  • Chef
  • Amazon EC2 and Amazon RDS
  • Nginx
  • Unicorn
  • Ruby
  • PHP
  • MySQL (though open to changing this to Postgres)
  • Redis
  • Elasticsearch
  • Statsd
  • Logstash
  • Sensu
  • Postfix
  • memcached
  • Git

We're primarily a Ruby development shop now, so almost all our apps are developed in Ruby and deploying using Capistrano. We do have some older apps that use PHP, though they're also deployed with Capistrano. We try to keep our stack as standard as possible.

Experience Required

  • Experience with EC2, deploying and hosting Ruby (on Rails and otherwise) applications, and high-level Linux operations experience is basically required.
  • Chef experience, or ability to learn it.
  • Prior work for a straight up web hosting company (or dedicated server company) would be a nice plus as well.

If you don't meet all those criteria, apply anyway. We'd love to talk to as many people as we can.

What makes this opportunity unique?

A really awesome team. The founder of the company is also the development lead and comes from a strong programming background. Kevin graduated Cum Laude in Computer Science from Harvard and been programming since age 11. Additionally, he was part of the founding team of a web hosting company. We are always skeptical of tech companies that don’t have tech founders, and we would never ask you to join unless we knew that you would enjoy working with us.

The lead app developers, Michael and Jared, are equally impressive. These guys roll out servers, code, and features, faster than you can snap your fingers.

We'll be here to back you up with any problems you have.

Work from home. There’s nothing we hate more than commuting. So, we don’t have an office and would definitely like to avoid having one for as long as possible. If you have a family at home, move between locations, or even live abroad, this is a great opportunity to do all your work from home and stop wasting all that time on commuting. It’s like getting 2 free hours added back to your day.

Choose your own hours. As long as you’re available to be on call, you can shuffle around your work schedule as you see fit. Work 2 hours, then run and take the kids to lunch, come back and work another 3 hours. We work highly variable hours so we’ll be able to sync up no matter when you work.

Free travel. Because we’re a distributed team that all work from home, we go out of our way bring the team together in person a couple times a year. We speak at a number of industry conferences (think PubCon, AdTech, Affiliate Summit, etc.) and at various Internet Marketing meetups, summits, and training sessions. When it makes sense, and when we can, we’d like to bring you along.

We use these as an opportunity to get the team together to relax, work, brainstorm, and party with our customers and each other.

We also bring the whole programming team to RailsConf and maybe another Ruby conference every year and you'd be welcome to come along to that too.

Some of these trips will be in conjunction with the programming and marketing teams from our other companies, so you’ll get to meet the “extended family” as well.

Stability. Action Verb is bootstrapped, profitable, adequately capitalized, and debt-free. We are committed to continuously improving our customer experience and believe that the product will never be “finished.”

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