The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) is seeking qualified candidates for the position of IT Senior Systems Engineer.

Purpose: Research, design, build and deploy IT services to NRF standards

Key Responsibilities:

  • Research, design, build and deploy IT services required by the organization and to meet NRF standards.

  • Assist in administering IT Operation on Cape Town campus, as well as support of remote office.

  • Standby support one week per month for after hours and Sutherland.

  • Manage ticketing queue for internal IT related issues ensuring timely and accurate troubleshooting of issues.

  • Ensure the security of data, network access and license management.

  • Harden linux servers for security

  • Install, troubleshoot and maintain hardware and peripheral components.

  • Oversee network and system infrastructure to ensure optimal performance.

  • Assist with various IT projects such as procurement, documentation, and reconciliation of IT systems.

  • Work with external vendors to resolve issues regarding systems.

  • Manage Docker environment.

  • Engage with NRF IT to ensure standards and policies are maintained.

  • Assist in building cloud and on prem infrastructure and services using Docker, Kubernetes or OpenStack

Key Requirements:


  • Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in IT, Computer Science or related field.

  • Drivers licence (Code EB or similar


  • 8 years of proven Linux systems administration or similar experience with at least 4 years in a production environment.

  • Experience with the setup, managing and documentation of WAN and LAN.

  • Experience with server cluster setups.

  • Experience with working with 3rd party vendors for software/hardware procurement.

  • Experience with VPN server and client configuration (across different platforms) and printer configurations.

  • Experience with LDAP or Active directory, Docker, instant messaging services.

  • Proxmox or VMWare, third-party cloud providers, SSO, SSH.

  • Experience in monitoring and management of large, complex systems using Nagios (check_mk), Zabbix or Prometheus.

  • Experience with mikrotik, PFSense or Fortigate firewalls.


  • Apache or Nginx

  • A solid understanding of relational databases, such MySQL, MS SQL, PostgreSQL or Oracle.

  • Configuration management

  • Email systems

  • Knowledge of Docker, Kubernetes or OpenStack

  • Ability to program in a scripting language (e.g. Bash, Perl, Python, VBScript, PowerShell)

Additional Notes:


  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills.

  • Experience with troubleshooting, setting up, and managing macOS, Windows and Linux machines. Experience with working in on-prem and public cloud environments.

  • Attention to detail, ability to see a task through to completion, passion for excellent client service, self-motivation, ability to work.

  • unsupervised, curiosity, persistence, dedication.

  • Ability to solve problems quickly and automate processes.

  • In-depth troubleshooting of technical problems as well as solving of more complex software and hardware problems.

  • Familiarity with the principles and practice of system configuration management.

  • A solid understanding of an operating system; understanding of paging and swapping, inter-process communications, devices and
  • what device drivers do, filesystem concepts (inodes, clustering, logical partitions), ability to use performance analysis to tune systems.
  • A solid understanding of networking. Routing and switching.
  • A solid understanding of storage systems.
  • Ability to works well alone or on a team.
  • CCNA CCNE A+ , Net+ , Sec is a plus.
  • Technical certification (e.g. Microsoft certification, Linux certification, other professional qualifications).
  • No criminal record


The website [URL Removed] provides more details on the NRF initiatives and activities


Applicants should submit a comprehensive CV by logging to [URL Removed] and apply online. Applications
should be accompanied by a letter of motivation indicating the applicant
– s suitability for the position. The names and contact details of
at least three referees should be provided.

Closing Date: 04 June 2024

The NRF offers a challenging career and competitive remuneration package which is commensurate with qualifications and experience.

The NRF is committed to employment equity and redress and the appointment to the position will be made in line with the NRF
Employment Equity Plan.

The NRF reserves the right not to make an appointment.

Correspondence will be sent to short-listed candidates only

Desired Skills:

  • Apache
  • Nginx
  • Email Sytems

Desired Qualification Level:

  • Degree

About The Employer:

The National Research Foundation (NRF) supports and promotes research and human capital development through funding, the
provision of National Research Facilities and science outreach platforms and programmes to the broader community in all fields of
science and technology, including natural sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities.

The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) is the National Facility for Optical and Infrared Astronomy of the National
Research Foundation (NRF). Its headquarters are in Cape Town, while its telescopes are at Sutherland in the Northern Cape.
Distributed between the two sites, SAAO employs roughly 130 people, many of them scientists and engineers, and is contracted to
operate SALT (the Southern African Large Telescope) on behalf of the international SALT Foundation. SAAO is the premier
optical/infrared research facility on the African continent, with global research and outreach collaborations, and contributing to
human capital development for South Africa.

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