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[Cloud && Java ]Sys[tems ]Admin[istrator]

Contract duration: Permanent part time, or Consultancy basis
Salary: KES90,000 – KES160,000 monthly pro rata before deductions ($13k-23k p.a.), depending on experience
Hours: Part-time initially
Location: Nairobi or remote after initial set up meeting
Reporting to: CTO
How to apply: CV and cover note to a

The Job

We operate a DevOps team structure when it comes to organising as a development team.  This means that every one of the SIMLab developers working on FrontlineSMS and FrontlineCloud have an amount of sysadmin responsibility; this is not something we are planning on changing.

Where you come in…. we are looking at adding some specialist knowledge and experience to the team so that we can learn at a constantly fast pace and be ahead of the game with our technical configuration and infrastructure.  We’ll probably start with a full audit of what we have set up for all of our apps, cloud hosting and tools.  From then we’ll look at implementing improvements, optimising processes, planning future states and managing the regular maintenance tasks.

Maybe you’ll be more of a Sys Ops or Systems Engineer.

You will be an experienced sysadmin who can walk in and start to help out with advice and critical assessments from day 1.  You might be in a job and looking at moving, or you may be freelance or part time and looking at expanding your client base.  We are flexible and will talk to anyone who has the capacity to do the job.

It’s part time to start with, but certainly we plan the future to hold a full time requirement for this role.


What’s happening at SIMLab is pretty exciting.  You won’t truly understand the full power of our ambitions until you see inside our minds and hard drives, but trust us.  This role is an incredible opportunity to take on a once-in-job-board challenge that will see you fulfilling your professional aspirations and hitting exciting goals.

The Social Impact Lab (SIMLab) lowers the barriers to social change using mobile technologies. Our main product, FrontlineSMS, has become one of the best-known ‘ICT4D’, or ICT for development initiatives in the world, used in everything from election monitoring, to healthcare, to disaster response, to climate change research, and it continues to grow at an unprecedented rate.

We have an ambitious and exciting product roadmap, managed by product owners with input from our clients, \o/ heroes (our faithful volunteers), users and the development team. Our Cloud beta launch marks a shift from chiefly grant-funded Foundation to full-service SAAS firm with a strong product-based revenue stream – with all that means for the pressure on us to deliver consistent software and support.

FrontlineCloud and FrontlineSMS are produced by our dedicated agile development team in Kenya. Our whole development team is colocated in a single office in Nairobi and other areas of the company are run currently in Washington DC.


SIMLab’s SysAdmin is a role based in Nairobi, Kenya. It may be that, after an initial set up period, the role is a remotely located one.  It requires someone with experience of running a high-availability cloud-hosted app.

Currently the SysAdmin would be responsible for the configuration, deployment process and management of a desktop application (FrontlineSMS) and a cloud-hosted app (FrontlineCloud). In the future this will expand to managing production and staging servers, variously geo-located mirrors, auto-scaling infrastructures and improved installation procedures.

As part of any support and maintenances, detailed dashboard and monitoring systems will be required which will ensure high availability and the possibility to generate useful reports.

  • Responsible for (>3 9s) uptime on our cloud-hosted systems.
  • Will handle the deployment process and scripts.
  • AWS architecture and configuration of FrontlineCloud.
  • Supporting the DevOps team in pushing code to servers.
  • Monitoring and support of systems.
  • Load testing and helping with the optimising of our full stack from Tomcat to Java and client-side JS.
  • Supporting hosting arrangements for static content such as Desktop installation files.
  • Assessing and contributing to all and any scripts used in our deployment, support and maintenance process.
  • Responding to scaling proposals and quoting.
  • Providing quotes and options for bespoke hosting to address client-specific requirements, such as geographical data location and data privacy restrictions.
  • Owning the policies and implementations of data privacy and data security.
  • Handling of data privacy and security questions.
  • Other duties as reasonably requested by the CTO.

Applicant Specification


  • Some years of experience running professional systems in small or medium-sized teams.
  • Strong knowledge in Linux administration in combination with Apache and Tomcat.
  • Solid programming experience in scripting languages such as Bash, and Java.
  • Configuring Java apps to run efficiently with optimum memory, CPU, sensible logging etc.
  • Load testing, performance analysis and data retention.
  • Data security and privacy practices.
  • Web server memory and performance profiling.
  • Exposure to Amazon Web Services (EC2, RDS).


  • Experience running cloud hosted web services.
  • System administration experience in a small web-app software team.
  • Hibernate, Java stack management experience.
  • JMX monitoring experience.
  • Java profiling.
  • Experience deploying to, managing and optimising for AWS environments.

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