A day in the life of Jon Lickiss, lab engineer and beginner IT pro


I’m a student intern here at Microsoft, spending the academic year working as a lab engineer in the Microsoft Technology Centre (MTC). I’m between my second and third years of a BSc in Computing at Coventry University - I suppose I’d probably describe myself as a beginner IT professional!

What we do in the MTC is help enterprise businesses and independent software vendors solve complex business problems using Microsoft’s platforms and partner technology. We have incredible people and state of the art facilities to help us do this.  We provide a range of offerings to educate customers and partners and help them to adopt the latest Microsoft technologies.

A typical day for me normally starts early at 7:30am when I head to the onsite gym for a workout to get ready for the day ahead. At 9am it’s down to business, making sure all eight rooms in the MTC are set up with network, server and development workstations ready for use.

I spend most of my day building environments for Proof of Concepts (POCs). POCs are three week engagements during which one of the MTC architects lead a small team of customer and Microsoft specialists to develop a bespoke solution to a problem using our platforms and technology partners (among them AMD, APC, Brocade, EMC, Dell, Emulex, HP, Intel, NetApp and Avocent). As a member of the MTC lab team, my role is to build an environment that emulates what infrastructure the customer/partner already has or will have in the future. We have a wide range of hardware in our datacentre ranging from blade systems to traditional rack servers which we can use as Domain Controllers, powerful SQL Database servers, SharePoint servers and Exchange servers to name a few.

It’s not just about the Windows Servers though, we also manage the Storage Area Networks and Local Area Networks and make the best use out of the latest virtualisation technologies using Hyper-V.

As if that wasn’t enough to keep me busy, I also help out with day-to-day datacentre maintenance and give demos to customers of Microsoft products and technologies, including Surface, Kinect, Windows Phone 7, SQL Server, BizTalk, SharePoint, Outlook and Exchange 2010, Lync, System Center, Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio.


My biggest accomplishment so far has been to produce an Unattend.xml file designed to perform a zero touch installation of our desktop operating systems and do things like join the domain automatically. This has greatly improved efficiency and probably saves me about two hours work each week. Every day is a challenge, though, it’s not a typical 9-5. I’m constantly working with different customers and different systems, and one of the biggest treats for me is that I’m always around the latest technology, getting to see the new stuff before most people! Of all the new technology I get to play with, I’m most interested in the great work happening around Surface 2 and I really hope I get to see it before I finish my internship.

While I’m here I’m also taking advantage of the fantastic resources available for studying. You can see me talk more about that in this video I made for the TechNet Flash newsletter last year.

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