Ralf Hack

Location:Luton, Bedfordshire, UK
Mobile:(0 79 66) 16 74 44


Ralf Hack works at expert level in a wide range of subjects from system engineering, software development, networking, security and project management. He is self motivated and approaches work professionally and dedicated.


Weighted by number of projects applied to
  • Programming: PrologCVSBasicTclUnix shellSubversionActionscriptJavaPerlPhpC
  • Applications: PuppetVagrantVirtual BoxPicture DeskNFSSambaSquid ProxyPostgresText MiningApache Solr IndexingSSL SecurityWeb Content ManagementJBoss ASSalesforceJiraIMAPPerl CatalystOracleZeusMicrosoft FrontpageFTPHTTPSMTPPOP3DNS BindMysqlApache
  • Roles: 3rd line supportConsultantDeployment engineerInternal SystemsOut of hours supportPre-sales SupportSoftware DevelopmentResearch and DevelopmentSecurity OfficerAll line supportTeaching
  • Technologies: Analogue electronicsBilling SystemsClassificationClustered/HA SystemsDigital electronicsDiscreet electronicsECMImage ProcessingLocal Loop UnbundlingRF Equipment OperatorSOAP ServiceVPN networkingXMLXSLT

Professional activities

09/2008 - now: Senior Consultant
Nstein, now Open Text
St. Albans,UK
Systems design, architecture, solutions design and software development. Primary role focus is hardware, OS, FOSS, proprietary and third party systems integration.

Software solutions for electronic content management (ECM), digital asset management (DAM), web content management (WCM), asset syndication and text mining engine (TME) systems. Reverse engineer and support legacy systems for customers ranging from government, police, travel to the publishing industry. Install, monitor and servicing systems for disaster recovery (DR) and business continuation (BC).

  • IT consultancy services for asset management system
    Consultancy services around the ECM solution for publishers.
    Working with the customer and our project managers to collect customer requirements, estimate cost, effort and duration. Implement the approved schedule and execute the work either on a fixed cost or times and material basis either during business or out of hours. Involves migration from/to legacy systems and 3rd party systems, virtualisation of legacy systems.
  • Proprietary asset ingestion, asset publishing workflow and asset management systems deployment.
    Installation, maintenance and performance tuning DAM systems based on Media Mogul (MM) and Content Hub (CHP) technology ranging to several terrabytes of assets of critical production systems.
    Supporting, monitoring and maintenance of Picture Management Systems with picture feeds from agencies and individuals. Integration with various 3rd party systems using web services for transfers, audit, syndication including testing and performance tuning.
    Configuration and installation of asset ingestion via SMTP, FTP and Hotfolders handling in excess of 100,000 items daily.
    First to third-line and escalation support of customer systems, including out of hours support (ITSM, JIRA, Confluence).
    Support for both application server centric and thick client deployments.
  • JBoss AS based asset library and asset management systems, installation and maintenance.
    New installations, upgrades and maintenance of digital asset management installations based on JBoss, CHP a proprietary DAM system.
    Capacity planning, installation and securing for customer site and hosted DAM systems for a variety of industries backed by RDBMS systems using Oracle, MSSql or Postgresql.
    Design DAM syndication systems for the publishing industry.
    Maintain, support and performance tune asset storage systems up to terabyte size with millions of assets.
    Configure workflows for indexing, archiving and replication to business continuation and disaster recovery systems.
  • Open Text formerly Nstein text mining engine (OTCA) product specialist.
    Java 6 based TME, capacity planning, performance tuning, system integrations and integration support.
    On-site and off-site customer consultant for the proprietary TME production. Performance testing and tuning for mission critical installations.
  • Web content management systems product specialist.
    LAMP based web content management system infrastructure consultant.
    Planning, installation, maintenance, performance tuning and integration of the WCM. Performance testing, tuning and support for mission critical installations.
    Installation and configuration of a WCM system for a publishing customer.
    Created handover and customer support process for the new software.
  • Internal systems design and maintenance.
    Support the company's infrastructure and internal systems.
    Maintenance of the VMWare host (ESXi) and guests, email servers, web servers and storage solutions. Maintenance and support of all required internal systems for both internal and customer facing hosted systems.
    Virtualised and maintain the office and development infrastructur due to office move.
07/2004 - 09/2008: Application Engineer
Tiscali, now Talk Talk
Project lead, architectural support engineer, 4th line support and development.

Analysis, definition, design, construction, testing, installation and adaption of systems used for ADSL services and provisioning based on object orientation design patterns.

  • Service provider migrations using BT Wholesale EMP platform
    Adapting the order management system to place and accept messages from the BT EMP platform.
    Implementing order processing hooks to handle the new interface.
    Implement XML handling (creating, processing and sending) for "migrate-away" and "PSTN-cease" order types.
    Testing, rollout and monitoring of the new function.
  • Order management system development
    Enhancements, maintenance and upgrade of order processing system for 1.4 million xDSL customers. Maintenance and further integration of the order management application with billing, provisioning and monitoring systems.
    Reverse engineered the legacy code; upgraded, performance tuned and clustered applications.
    Provide 4th line/ongoing support (Remedy ticket based).
    Investigate ongoing problems; improved backlog monitoring and handling processes (Netcool probes, text-based logging).
    Enhancement, maintenance and trouble shooting the bespoke interface to MIS, Siebel.
    Enhancement, maintenance and trouble shooting of the customer facing GUI front-end (Apache, Perl, SSL)
    Query performance tuning (hints, indexes and query rewriting, Oracle 8-9).
    Upgraded application to integrate changes in the BT Wholesale eCo Gateway XML interface (BBCR, BBCT).
    Implemented the BT eCo Gateway service provider migration interfaces. Also emulated this interface for reseller to reseller migration between Tiscali reseller.
    Moved to a software maintenance using structured rollout process (using CVS).
    Maintenance of BRAS and VISP provisioning interface (Radius, Telnet)
    Monitored and guided offshore teams for integration of bespoke software, ongoing support.
  • Reseller facing XML interface
    Specification and design of the 3rd party XML interface for order processing and self administration functions for resellers or VISPs; future proof for upcoming BT Wholesale and BT Openreach interface systems.
    Designed, developed and implemented the reseller facing XML order processing and status tracking interface. My design includes a sand box environment for integration testing and development. It provides a version based generic framework to enable enhancement of the API functionality with minimal customer impact.
    Designed a simple to use XML specification for a full order management; targeting SMEs as well as wholesale customers.
    Integrated operational interfaces and line pre-qualification systems (SOAP, bespoke XML/ HTTP POST).
    Implemented a fully modular code base that supporting multiple concurrent versions of the XML specification to allow for fast growth of functionality.
    Implemented a stand-alone sandbox system for multiple resellers to integrate 3rd party CRM systems.
    Implemented a stand-alone sandbox system for multiple development teams (onshore/offshore) to develop on.
    Designed and implemented the order status presentation that was forward-looking towards the new EMP platform of BT Wholesale.
  • BT Wholesales Max product provisioning
    Implemented provisioning logic for the BT line rate adaptive ADSL service as well as the BT report (BBCR) polling.
    Enabled the order management system to process ``Max'' products. Provided line historical and statistical data base on the ``Max'' product BBCR reports
    Enabled the BT product for ``Max'' product subject to business rules and capacity.
    Enabled internal Reseller migrations for ``Max''
    Created a polling interface to capture BT line data
    Created XML services to allow support systems for ``Max'' speed data in Perl (Catalyst)
    Provided a prototype solution using Flash to plot the line data (Actionscript, MTASC).
  • LLU unbundling order processing
    Developed and implemented the LLU unbundling process based on BT Wholesale LiSA.
    Designed the SMPF product ordering system using tactical BT Wholesale interface based on the previously existing bulk migration order flow, network configuration and bulk migration interface.
    Developed interface to a bespoke network infrastructure management (NIM) SOAP interface in Perl.
    Designed, developed and integrated a database configurable BT product selector (IPStream, DataStream and SMPF) (Perl, Oracle) based on object-oriented principles.
    Designed, developed and supported the non bulk procurement of SMPF lines with BT LiSA.
    Provide end to end support during initial rollout phase of 3 months.
  • Offline bill printing system
    Changing the bill printing system to convert xml to pdf more efficient.
    Created a plug-in for the bespoke billing system to deal with call record itemisation without parsing the complete file.
    Established a new bill template.
    Created an XML to HTML conversion for this template using a purpose build XML parser.
    Applied htmldoc to convert from HTML to PDF; adapted htmldoc to allow for multiple images (ANSI C).
  • Online quotation system
    Create an online quotation system for VPN solution of resellers
    The online quotation system allows for automatic budgetary quotes with approval workflow. Implemented a supplemental audit system based on Java junit derived acceptance testing framework.
    Designed, developed and implemented a hierarchical product database including cost, margins and offer prices subject to the reseller and other criteria on MySQL, Perl, Template Toolkit.
    Designed, developed and implemented a simple workflow and tracking system for orders.
    Developed a validation process using audited spreadsheets based on Java.
    Created and applied acceptance test framework (Fitnesse, based on junit) for result validation; developed necessary Java based plug-in for HTTP requests, spread sheet test conversion, result validation and test harness.
    Complete source code documentation using Perl POD.
  • B2B web service clustering
    Migrated existing web service into a clustered environment
    The existing solution was a single web service system running Zeus on FreeBSD using a Netapp backend for customer data. Migration of 1200+ web sites with a variety of custom CGI scripts using Microsoft Frontpage, Perl and/or Php into a secured environment.
12/1999 - 07/2004: Advanced Project Manager
Pipex Communications, now Talk Talk
Project Manager, Software Developer, 4th line support and Application Engineer.

Initially employed as application engineer for Unix services, promoted to advanced application engineer and project manager role and then to the role of systems architect. Main function was third-line support for Unix hosting architectures, LAN SLA and CIR issues for 180 hosted customers, GNU/Linux applications and kernel problems.

  • Upgrade and integration of ticket system (Request Tracker - RT)
    Development and Administration.
    Providing Perl programs to propagate provisioning information off Remedy (running on Solaris/Oracle) to the ticket system (running Solaris/Postgres).
    Reverse engineering the bespoke legacy ticket system.
    Integration with provisioning system and various configuration databases (Oracle, Postgres and MySQL).
    Using Perl DBI to extract provisioning information and update the ticket system database.
  • Secure jumphost development.
    Developer and Administrator of a secure access portal to the company LAN.
    Design, development and testing of PAM modules based on OPIE, openldap, PAM LDAP and nsswitch, Perl CGI administrative interfaces on FreeBSD and GNU/Linux. Designed client-server architecture to allow for privilege separation between the PAM modules, slapd and Apache. Implemented nsswitch emulation for FreeBSD 4.7
    Adapted OTP system OPIE to authenticate using LDAP services.
    Design and implementation of the web-based administration interface.
    Design and implementation a nsswitch layer emulation for FreeBSD 4.7 to allow for PAM LDAP based accounts.
  • Proprietary QoS bandwidth management system based on GNU/Linux, RedHat 6.2
    Project manager and technological lead for managing the core infrastructure system.
    A GNU/Linux kernel 2.2 based system enhanced with bidirectional queuing and bursting capabilities to provision the bandwidth per VLAN. I upgraded the hardware and software. The system also distinguishes headroom traffic (national traffic) using a BGP feed. I developed the substitute for the GNU/Linux routing subsystem for large routing tables and near line rate. Also, I am maintaining the MySQL and Perl based provisioning systems configuring the routers.
    Enhanced, testing, configure, manage and document system to route and rate limiting network traffic according to the committed information rate purchased, hosting about 200 hosting customers. It is a customised GNU/Linux 2.2 kernel on Compaq hardware with bespoke extensions for VLAN, VRRP and bandwidth quota support. Testing tool is the IXIA 400 traffic generator.
    Enhancements are bug fixes to various use space tools, performance bottlenecks, hardening against DoS attacks.
    Build prototype routing code that will replace IP layer FIB with a simple Patricia Tree structure to improve routing performance.
    Maintainer and developer of the administration interface based on Perl and Apache.
    3rd line support and security role to manage the impact of worms, viruses and (D)DoS.
  • Evaluation ADSL appliances
    Performance and reliability testing of ADSL router/appliances.
    I evaluated several ADSL router and appliances for use with the BT wires-only ADSL product. I also provided the load testing infrastructure for BIND, VPN, HTTP, POP3, SMTP, throughput and firewall testing.
    Designing and documenting the test specifications.
    Testing and selecting appliances for ADSL CPE (Interjak, Inty, D-Link, Zyxel and Arescom).
    Establishing a test network to compare ADSL appliances.
  • Shared hosting environment
    Lead project, design and development
    Architectural study for shared hosting environment (HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, SMTP, POP3, DNS, MySQL) with customisable storage, network bandwidth and CPU provision.
    Proposed and evaluated two off-the-shelf products, Zeus Web-hosting and Ensim virtual server, for scalability and redundancy.
    Compared commercial applications against in-house solution of the US parent company at the time (XO Hosting).
    Design and architecture development to manage the sites: online sign-up, fully automatic provisioning.
    Dedicated customer database, authentication services and online service upgrades.
    The design requires high availability as well as scalability.
    Designed for European rollout with language and currency independence.
  • RedHat GNU/Linux or Solaris provisioning server
    Technical lead, developing and testing.
    Configuration and rollout of a provisioning system that automatically installs product specific software, system specific security updates. I created a repository of dozens of specific packaged GNU tools for both RedHat GNU/Linux and Sun Solaris. Also packaged various commercial applications for automatic rollout within the package framework.
    Kickstart server for RedHat via NFS and post install hardening, securing and configuration.
    Jumpstart server for Solaris via NFS and post install hardening, securing and configuration.
    Rollout of production and customer systems.
    Creation and rollout of custom packages from proprietary (binaries only) software.
    Rollout of open-source programs with the aim of version tracking and hands off rebuild and testing.
    Hands off security patches and packages tracking.
    Automatic configuration, hardening and security patching during hands-off rollout.
  • Added value for UNIX dedicated serves.
    Upgrade and update the existing dedicated server product.
    Evaluate, testing and rollout of new hardware and software.
    Evaluation, bundling and testing of Coldfusion, Intershop, Oracle (8.0) and Actinic.
    Testing and rollout of Sun Enterprise E420, E220 and Netra T1 with Solaris 7.
  • File integrity checker evaluation
    Host security management.
    Evaluation, testing and recommending of an open source file integrity checker for Unix hosts.
12/1998 - 12/1999: European Application Engineer
Datacube (UK), Ltd.
ceased trading,was UK
Design, development and prototype inspection systems based on proprietary parallel real-time image processing hardware.

European support role on-site and off-site. Developed technical specifications and surveys. Installed, configured and maintained inspection equipment. Tested and evaluated new systems and upgrades for the metal web inspection products.

  • Sheet-glass inspection systems
    Design and project
    Proposed inspection system for non-stop production of glass at Pilkington based on Windows NT, MaxPCI hardware and VC++/VB. Client/Server configuration with remote (dial-up) clients for monitoring off-site.
  • Defect classifier
    Pre-sales support
    Evaluation and test of the in-house classifier engine with rule based, nearest neighbour or neural net engines. Installing and training the classifier at customer site of Hoogovens, Germany.
  • Sheet metal inspection system
    Pre-sales and after sale support
    Support for sheet metal surface inspection systems Black Widow. The system uses VME and Datacube hardware and designed as an off-the-shelf camera and other sensor hardware. Supported customers on site in the US, Germany and the UK.
  • Development support
    Pre- and post sales support
    Graphical programming environment Datacube WIT, running on Windows NT. Alpha and beta testing the product and performance evaluation
04/1998 - 12/1998: Software Developer
University of Wales, Cardiff
GUI design and development. Application development and prototyping (C, Tcl, apache)

  • Prototyping the WWW based GUI for electronic document delivery system.
    Lead engineer for GUI development
    Design and development of web-based GUI to the underlying library and order management database systems.
    Tcl/Tk and C on GNU/Linux and Apache for administration and user management.
    SMTP based order processing infrastructure.
    Custom build database backend.
07/1994 - 12/1994: Research Assistant
Hochschule Reutlingen
Systems supervisor, technical assistant.

    07/1988 - 09/1989: Security and communication officer
    Bundeswehr Luftwaffe
    Mandatory military service

      02/1988 - 06/1988: Quality control technician
      Wandel und Goltermann, now Willtek
      Eningen, u. A.,Germany
      Quality control inspector, responsible for inspection before shipping

      Tested measurement sets for technical and production faults according to test plans provided. Processed measurement sets through standard test, such as functional test and temperature stress tests.

      • Quality Control Technician
        Final stage quality control and compliance approval.

      Educational activities

      01/1995 - 03/1998:
      University of Wales
      Design, development and publishing PIP.PIP is an image-processing library accessible through various programming languages, initially designed for Prolog.
      Computing Science Department
      • Prolog image processing (PIP)
        Design and implementation of image processing predicates.
        Using MacOS Component technology, I created a fully operational image processing subsystem that can be used with standard MacOS system calls.
        Design, development and publishing PIP, an image-processing library accessible through various programming languages but designed for MacProlog.
      • Flexible Inspection Cell (FIC)
        Development of a flexible inspection cell with various lighting, camera and positioning options remotely controlled using RS232.
        Install a RS232 DTE controlling the camera choice, positioning, X/Y table positioning, design remote controllable brightness control, designed and implemented the necessary software in C/Prolog to control DTE.
        Interfacing and integrating external hardware and lighting system to the image processing system using RS232 protocol and an external custom-built Intel 8086 based controller unit.
        Designing an expert system to select illumination setup for a given object.
      10/1989 - 06/1995:
      Hochschule Reutlingen
      Automation Technology at Polytechnic Reutlingen (MSc equivalent)Training: 1/3 computer science, 1/3 electronics, 1/3 other; supplemental subjects: image processing and production technology.
      • Training seminar in teamwork and presentation.
        Beginner course for cooperative working.
      • Consultancy: 3M Germany product unit for inspection application
        Sampling and algorithm prototyping
        Counting and classification of bacteria growth
      • Thesis: Set-up of a work-cell and implementation of image processing algorithms
        Placement at University of Cardiff. Research into applied machine vision.
        Designed, developed and implemented a gantry robot program assisted by a camera to play Domino interactively in Prolog, ANSI C.
      • Course work: Analogue sun position tracker using a 4 quadrant diode
        Project work
      • Industry placement: Sensor interfacing for soil humidity control in green houses.
        Installation and monitoring.
      07/1985 - 01/1988:
      Wandel und Goltermann, now Willtek
      Eningen, u. A.,Germany
      Apprenticeship training.German standard industry degree for radio electronics measurement electronics.