Time may not fly, but it sure can go quickly. December is rapidly sneaking away from us and I’m only really now starting to think about what I will do in my two weeks break over Christmas. Really looking forward to the pilgrimage back up north and the opportunity to catch up with the people I’ve been missing ever since moving to Canberra.

I don’t really have much in the way of news to report as usual, so I thought it would be as good a time as any to reflect back on the year. Namely I might try and detail exactly what it is I am doing down here.

As many people know, I ended up on the wrong side of some layoffs last year from my previous employer that had been hit by the financial crisis. In fact, it has been one year and a week almost to the day since I was made redundant there with a few others. In hindsight it wasn’t the worst thing to ever happen. In some respects it was one of the best things to have happened to me actually. I had already been playing with the idea of looking for work elsewhere so getting shown the door made the decision for me – probably well before I would have myself.

Being December I decided to put off looking for work too seriously until the new year. I figured there was no point stressing about it at a time when companies are more likely to be shutting down for a few weeks than trying to recruit new staff. It also was the longest vacation I had had since starting any form of work part way into university and the break was very much appreciated. It allowed me to dump over 100 hours into Dragon Age.

In mid to late January I got a call from a recruiter who I had applied for positions in Brisbane through asking whether I would consider moving to Canberra for work. This caught me completely off guard. I had considered moving to the US if a job there presented itself but at no point had I given a second thought to working elsewhere in Australia. After much deliberation and on advice from family and a few friends it was made obvious I didn’t have a lot holding me back and that this was as good an opportunity as any to get out there and try something different. There was always the chance other work wouldn’t present itself either and worst case scenario I quit and return to QLD.

UNIFY Solutions

UNIFY Solutions

With that I attended an interview and ultimately accepted a job offer as an Identity Access and Management Specialist at the relatively small company UNIFY Solutions. I started a day after my 25th birthday and with a months training under my belt in the Brisbane branch I set off to Canberra that April. Eight months and one week later and here I am.

I have previously expressed my delight with how the job has panned out and I can honestly say nothing much has changed. In eight months I’ve managed to work first hand with a number of large and well known clients with more in the pipeline. These consist of various government agencies along with some very large international firms.

As above, the position I am fulfilling is of an ‘Identity and Access Management Specialist’. Since that makes about as much sense as curdling, I’ll do my best to explain. Essentially the role and company as a whole specialise in integrating various systems that an organisation may have, particularly any that manage users in some way. This may include Active Directory, HR systems, web applications, databases or whatever else. The integration generally revolves around, but is not limited to, the synchronisation of identity data between the systems. You change your name in the Payroll system, it automatically updates in the corporate directory. Along with synchronisation is account creation, termination as well as handling temporal data (expiring contracts etc).

While data synchronisation is the main service provided, there are a number of other areas that may require development such as web services to enable single sign on, interfaces to data etc. This all falls under the umbrella of the job and along with support makes up the bulk of the work I have been performing in the past year.

While on paper it is quite a dull field, it does have a lot of depth to it. It’s a fairly niche segment of the market even amongst larger clients. As my boss mentioned in my interview and over time I have come to realise myself, despite the role being very specialised there is a huge reliance on being able to understand technologies across the board. Every single system we integrate will be different, with even the same system at one client likely being quite differently configured at another site. To paint an illustration, a co-worker was looking into single sign-on for a SAP system. The documentation for that listed not one, two, but fifteen different ways that single sign-on could be implemented. While not all are applicable, half the task was going through that list to find an appropriate one.

It’s a challenge at times and if you had been in the office yesterday you would have likely heard a few nasty things coming from my end of the room regarding PowerShell. Other times it may be javascript, html or whatever I have to use that day. At the same time I’m developing a much broader set of skills than I ever did at my previous employer, with the most vital piece that was missing previously being client interaction. I have no doubt that that aspect alone will be invaluable in years to come.

Thats essentially it in a nutshell. I do hope that gives people an idea of why exactly I am here and why I have no intention of coming back just yet. That said, if you are reading this then chances are I’ll be close to you in a few weeks so do hit me up for a drink and I’ll endeavour to try and organise a night out at some point during that break.