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The Rise and Rise of IT Administrators

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the thorn-in-the-side dept.

Programming 686

maffstephens writes "Have you noticed how difficult it's become to develop software? Not because software is more complex, but because there seems to be an army of administrators standing in your way - sys admins, network admins, database admins, runtime admins - the list is endless. They should be there to help us, to make our lives easier, but the reality is often very different. This thought-provoking article from Software Reality is all about the emerging culture of spiteful, dog-in-the-manger prevention amongst corporate IT administrators. Software development has become so inefficient as a result, it's no wonder so many companies are outsourcing."

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648209)

First Post. w00t

Delete the above (-1, Offtopic)

DiceMe (684851) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648210)

Someone delete the first comment, please.

Re:Delete the above (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648220)

that is called censorship you fucking Hitler [cmdrtaco.net]

My wish (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648233)

I wish there was a way for me, as a Christian, as a human being, to sit down with some of you and have a pleasant, civil discussion without bitterness or sarcasm. I don't force people to believe what I believe. I don't mock others with different beliefs. I hope I can find the words to explain myself, as my life goes on. I hope I can help people to see.

Horse semen is extremely viscous, if you touch you (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648242)

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Doesn't the title sound like (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648214)

the opening line of a really bad spam?
Or have I just been drinking too much caffeine lately?

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We Need Less Planning and More Coding (4, Interesting)

sleeeper (210375) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648231)

The most important point the article makes is that the people running the systems are no longer current/former developers.

Because these "adminstrators" know little to nothing about development, I spend hours in meetings working on stifling buzz-word compliant "Enterprise Architecture" plans. If we all just sat down and coded first, our productivity would soar.

In the time it takes to argue about how we might want to do something, I could literally have implemented betas of each ideas considered.

No, we need more GOOD planning (5, Insightful)

wackybrit (321117) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648304)

I disagree. We need to focus on the quality, not the quantity. We need better planning, not just less of it.

I've been involved with companies who spend forever planning and twice as long coding, and they still produce crap. Why? Because the design is always done by committee, so no really good ideas get out there, and the design always ends up as a preoptimized mess with a few "management-approved" ideas thrown in.

I seriously think a small tag-team (2 or 3 people) should be responsible for projects, and they should take in all of the input and recommendations, and produce a solid spec by themselves.. rather than the typical '10 departments sit around a table for 20 meetings and produce a piece of shit' method.

Re:We Need Less Planning and More Coding (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648312)

We Need Less Planning and More Coding

Sounds like how they wrote Windows ME.

We need more planning and less coding. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648318)

Because these "adminstrators" know little to nothing about development, I spend hours in meetings

Because these "coders" know little to nothing about security, I spend hours in meeting trying to drill into them why the firewall is in their best interest, and why they should be using different ports for each protocol.

If we all just sat down and coded first, our productivity would soar.

And you end up with Microsoft-like products.

Re:We need more planning and less coding. (1)

RoundSparrow (341175) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648340)


Because these "coders" know little to nothing about security, I spend hours in meeting trying to drill into them why the firewall is in their best interest, and why they should be using different ports for each protocol.


And we still have a long way to go. Some will say the port battle is over. Most common is port 80 - and if developers don't understand how their code and user interaction needs to be secure - the protocol is least of your worry.

Re:We need more planning and less coding. (5, Insightful)

nbvb (32836) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648386)

Well, there you go.

My developers tend to want to run their web servers on port 80. I won't let them.

Why not? Because then they have to have root privs to start/stop the app.

No dice.

What's my solution?

Run the webserver on a high port (I tend to use 8000, but that's arbitrary)

Put the systems (Yes, each app has to have at least two for redundancy) behind a pair of load balancers. Let the load balancer do the work. While we're at it, make sure the load balancers have SSL accelerators too, so we can offload that from the CPUs...

Much saner architecture than letting a developer download Apache from Sunfreeware and running it on port 80.

And then people wonder why we have sysadmins?

Re:We need more planning and less coding. (5, Insightful)

sleeeper (210375) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648364)

As a developer, I do the intial system administration of the deployed system on a dedicated network, including configuring the firewall.

This pushes me to take responsibility for having an overall understanding of how the application fits into a larger security context, and that the application works in the real world/under load.

Only then is the app dumped onto the larger network. I think all developers should do some real-life system adminstration, and system administrators should do some development.

Re:We Need Less Planning and More Coding (4, Insightful)

antarctican (301636) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648320)

If we all just sat down and coded first, our productivity would soar.

Umm, first you say the problem with these administrators is their not developers, then you say we should just sit down and code?

Any good developer who paid attention in their software engineering course would know the further down the development cycle you get when you discover a problem with your specifications the more expensive it becomes to repair the problem.

Make prototypes I can see, show the basic functionality and flow of the software. But before developing any large software project one must design the specifications and requirements.

Any developer who doesn't understand this would fall into the same boat as these "non-developer administrators" in my opinion. Go pick up a software engineering book and re-read it. And make sure it's not eXtreme Programming, that book is how Windows-like disasters are made.

Re:We Need Less Planning and More Coding (3, Interesting)

sleeeper (210375) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648413)

I agree that marching off to program with no planning would be silly. But I am a big believer in pathfinding programming, where you spend no more than a day building just enough of an application to illustrate the underlying design and/or interface.

Then, come back and demontrate your idea to the larger group, with the expectation that more than likley you will throw the whole thing away.

After a basic model has been developed that makes sense, only then sit down in meeting to flesh out the spec.

Re:We Need Less Planning and More Coding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648482)

I agree that marching off to program with no planning would be silly. But I am a big believer in pathfinding programming, where you spend no more than a day building just enough of an application to illustrate the underlying design and/or interface.

Then, come back and demontrate your idea to the larger group, with the expectation that more than likley you will throw the whole thing away.

After a basic model has been developed that makes sense, only then sit down in meeting to flesh out the spec.


And that's what I meant by prototypes, yes they're very useful, I just wrote one yesterday. I wrote a small proof of concept about some enhancements to Psort [psort.org] and on Monday I'll sit down and do it right - determining how to write the code without jamming it in with a shoe horn.

And prototypes should be thrown away, most likely they're done with very poor quality. I recall one of my old profs when teaching us this made us write out prototype in a different language from what he wanted the final product in to "force us to not reuse it." Perhaps that's a bit extreme, but it illustrated the point. :)

Re:We Need Less Planning and More Coding (3, Insightful)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648334)

The further along through the development cycle you are, the harder (and more expensive) the change is. Sitting down and coding is a foolish way to think that productivity gains will happen. It'll simply cause ill-thought out and badly interoperating enterprise systems.

And despite your sniff at "enterprise architecture" let's keep one thing in mind; both the coding and the planning are there not as an end in itself, but as a means for the enterprise to make more money so that you can continue to code. If you're not doing anything useful for the enterprise, then it has a way of meting out retribution (in the form of closed companies and layoffs.)

Re:We Need Less Planning and More Coding (4, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648400)

OTOH, there's the problem that most developers got into that line of work because they want to, you know, develop. And most administrators ... etc.

The solution, IMO, is for the developers to do exactly as much administration is needed (not nearly as much as most PHB's seem to believe) as a perhaps unpleasant but necessary ancillary duty of their job. Like cleaning out the coffeemaker at least once a week. ;) And for the wannabe administrators who don't know jack shit about anything useful to go find a job that makes use of their natural level of talent ... like, say, slinging burgers at McDonald's.

Unfortunately, in the real world, we're never going to get rid of the PHB's and their sycophants. (As satisfying as the idea of them having to trade in their suits for fast-food uniforms may be.) So developers will keep doing what the author of the article describes: working around the bullshit to actually get things done.

About the best piece of advice I can give anyone who's caught in a nightmare scenario where there's just too much bullshit to make the above practical is: look for a job at a smaller company. I've been working for a small business, with less PHB bullshit than probably 99% of the corporate development world as a whole, for about five years now, and I love it. You don't get the security you do with $Fortune_500_company_here, granted, and that does bother me sometimes. But the joy of actually being able to go into work and do my job more than makes up for it.

In all areas (4, Interesting)

ScottCanto (705723) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648235)

The high school I attend is completely saturated with technology, but only half of it works half the time. We suffer from horrible ineffiency due for the most part to our ITs/admins who got put in a job they have no idea how to do. They can't contend with all they have before them and thus adopt a horrible attitude. Nobody wants to talk to them or be around them, and nothing gets done.

Re:In all areas (3, Insightful)

g0hare (565322) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648263)

Wonder how much it pays to be an admin in your school? Probably not much.

Re:In all areas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648283)

I doubt it. Schools are known for overpaying their administrators while underpaying the teachers and giving their students a shoddy education.

Re:In all areas (1)

ScottCanto (705723) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648295)

Good point. I just find it vexing to know that I could handle things better than they. I don't want to sound arrogant (too late, I know), but their solution to everything is to reimage it or call Dell or MS, the two companies they've signed blood oaths with, and wait a week or two for a response.

Re:In all areas (1)

NightSpots (682462) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648388)

Dell and MS basically give their products away to schools.

The reason you have so much tech. hardware is because most of it was probably purchased for pennies on the dollar.

Re:In all areas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648414)

How can Dell afford to "give away" hardware that costs them without profit several hundreds of dollars per unit?

Please explain the economics behind this one.

Re:In all areas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648473)

Remember what apple did in the 80s by basically giving pc's to schools? Same thing happening here... If you don't understand it look it up on google, I'm not your teacher.

Re:In all areas (1)

ScottCanto (705723) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648484)

Our school district issued laptops to all high school students (more than 6000) from Dell. The price for these 1.7ghz Celeron, 20gb computers with a low-end ATI card and lacking a CD drive was $1300 per unit.

Re:In all areas (3, Funny)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648343)

The computer tech at my high school was so incredibly incompetent. We eventually found out why - he had a degree in ART.

Re:In all areas (5, Interesting)

BinaryJono (546830) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648346)

ditto on that.

i just got word that my ex-school district is purchasing PDAs for every student enrolled in middle school and high school. when i was in 6th grade, i could barely keep track of my lunch money, nonetheless a PDA. id hate to see the rate of these things get broken/stolen/lost.

in addition, the IT admins for our 2000+ high school didnt know what puTTY was and kept removing it from my personal storage folder out of fear of what it was. not to mention they stored their win2k domain password as one of the usernames (in the format "adminPASSWORD") in case they happened to forget it somehow.

on the bright side, if im ever desparate for a job, i know one place i can go for sure. :)

Nothing against prgrammers (3, Interesting)

NetNinja (469346) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648238)

I have nothing against programmers. We have two of them and they are a delight to work with, except when they start breaching security protocols because it makes thier life eaiser to transport data or they are given Carte Blanch over servers to do with they want. Trying to clean up after thier mess is a nightmare in most cases.

Re:Nothing against prgrammers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648337)

Do you have any specific comments about the article and the kinds of incompetencies outlined there with regard to admins?

Re:Nothing against prgrammers (1)

NetNinja (469346) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648441)

Oh yes it goes booth ways!
There are a lot of former flower arrangers who one day realized that network admins were making 60k a year to manage 1 server!
So they slammed thier flowers down and decided to take an MCSE class and now they are flower arrangers again ;)

Seriously though, I have that running battle all the time and most of the time it's management who shoots down my recomendations to use an alternative product.Yes there are really combative admins out there. I admit, I am one of them at times but I try to be just as pleasent to work with. Security is on the top of my list and if there is any programming or product that breaches it then that product or feature will not be implemented.

Re:Nothing against prgrammers (2, Insightful)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648356)

I have to agree with the above completely. Too many developers know absolutely nothing about how the systems they want access to actually work. Schools are pumping out developers who are just plain coders, who don't know, and don't care, how the domain is setup, or how our print server is administered, or how a cluster works. And many of them have no care about security protocols. In a health organization, security protocols have now become a Big Deal.

Cleaning up after code monkeys who wreck a production server is not fun.

Re:Nothing against prgrammers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648438)

Oh Please! You network "engineers" and sysadmins only exist to free the programmers up for more important tasks.

Outsourcing (3, Insightful)

eadz (412417) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648244)

Companies are outsourcing development becasue it can be cheaper, faster and better. Not becasue sys admins are in the way of developers.

Why ever hire Americans? (-1, Flamebait)

Adolph_Hitler (713286) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648335)

Why? American's are lazy. American's want more money. American's do not respect their jobs or their boss and constantly want raises or to move up the ladder. Americans are too damn ambitious and threatening. The best workers are workers who will do whatever you say whenever you say it, exactly as you say it. People who will work practically for free and work as many hours as you ask without question. The ideal worker is loyal to you and your company. American workers with their damn unions and lack of ability to be loyal to the company is why companies wont hire them. Fact is Americans are just not good workers, and the truth is we are lazy. When did the American white male ever work hard in the entire history of the USA? According to American history, most white males were bosses. The problem today is that we don't need any more bosses. We need more slave labor.

Re:Why ever hire Americans? (-1, Flamebait)

tjstork (137384) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648376)


Sorry, but slavish attention to a company is a lie and anyone that believes in company loyalty is a lie. If you want to go and be loyal to your company or the state, go right ahead Adolph, but I seem to remember that the last time we lazy Americans took on the hard working Germans we flattened country, kicked your ass, and then sat back and the watched the Russians deservedly rape all of your women.

Re:Why ever hire Americans? (0, Flamebait)

Adolph_Hitler (713286) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648436)

Bullshit, American's were always Lazy. When was slavery used to build up Germany? Or the Soviet Union? You didn't even build up your own country! Everyone else built it for you and you claimed credit. I admit Americans do come up with the best ideas, they just are too lazy to use them. You invented electronics and you let the Japanese companies like Sony out work you. You invent the car and you let every country including Germany make better cars than you? You invent the computer and then you let India and China out work you and make better products? Thats lazy.

Re:Outsourcing (4, Funny)

paranoic (126081) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648465)

Sorry, you don't get all three: cheaper, faster and better.

You only get to pick 2.

Let me work (1)

hckrdave (588951) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648250)

Dont you just want to scream LET ME DO MY GOD DAMN JOB!? on a seconday note i will attempt to fulfill the daily quote of $$ in the word Micro$oft. There

Developers (5, Insightful)

Joe U (443617) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648254)

Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers...
(That's all I hear these days, thank you Steve Ballmer)

As a sysadmin, the Devs need to learn how to play nice and keep the system stable. As a developer, I want total access to everything.

Solution? Developer network off the main network. If they blow it up, it's their fault and they fix it. Sounds good in theory. I think programs like Ghost will play a big role in this type of setup.

Re:Developers (1)

sleeeper (210375) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648306)

I agree. Developers should have their own network, so they can fearlessly experiment.

I have my own network to do development on, AND initial deployment. I do the admin until I'm satisfied it is stable/secure under load in an actual deployment.

Only then does it go on the larger network maintained by system administrator/DB administrator types.

Re:Developers (1)

baggins2001 (697667) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648384)

Here, here I agree. We tried to set it up so that it would be Dev on some systems and production on some others. Then the developers just couldn't live with that constraint. Servers crashed, "I don't know why, couldn't be anything that we are doing". Silently they moved their development code back to the development server. It began to crash. But by then they had discussed or told upper management that using a development server was to cumbersome so guess what happened during the budget crunch. We needed another server and now the development server is pushed into a production role and it crashes twice a week. Despite the song it's not us, I believe that people are beginning to realize that development should not be done on production systems.

Reminiscent (0)

DiceMe (684851) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648257)

This is awfully reminiscent of that MIT article on /. a few days ago. What's the difference between 'outsourcing' and 'offshoring'?

power corrupts (4, Insightful)

fulana_lover (652004) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648258)

absolutely. i work in a f500 corporation and as the dev manager i spend half my time convincing the program manager to convince the IT guys to let our stuff trickle out. i can totally see the IT managers point, that his job is to keep everything up all the time and if everything is changing underneath him, he can't do that! i am at least happy we have our own sandbox (which we manage, the IT folks will only swap out hardware, apply security patches, or format, nothing else), and we hand over new software releases on a quarterly basis. I don't think there really is any other way to do it, can't have random groups deploying software to production servers, i don't think the CEO or CIO would want to hear the finger pointing blame game when something goes wrong. gotta be a better way tho...

the solution is easy for programmers.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648262)

int i;
for (i = 0; i < ADMIN_LIST_SIZE; ++i) {
delete admins[i];
}

Re:the solution is easy for programmers.. (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648445)

funny, if that were a linked list, it would break halfway through.. should be:

int i;
for (i = ADMIN_LIST_SIZE; i >= 0; i--) {
delete admins[i];
}

Re:the solution is easy for programmers.. (1)

scotch (102596) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648483)

Written like someone who learned to program with MS Visual Studio 6.

Outsiders can see the flaws better, so outsource (2, Interesting)

wackybrit (321117) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648264)

I've noticed that in-house development is harder too, but I blame a few different things. Politics and the work climate. Nowadays, admins know they can lose their job at the drop of a hat, and as such, they're getting a lot more defensive. Particularly with programmers whose systems might make their jobs a whole lot easier, making them more replaceable!

When you outsource coding, this problem is highlighted more, meaning management can finally do something. In-house programmers are more likely to sit around playing Solitaire and twiddling thumbs when they get a frosty reception from the admins. Freelancers and external people need to show progress before they get their paycheck, so they aren't scared to call out the BS within an organization, or grass up sloppy admins to their bosses.

This is why I'm a freelance programmer. I get to work for lots of different clients, but I also get to see the internal politics from a higher level. I can tell management about the BS going on at the lower levels, and look like I'm doing my job while I'm at it (because I am).

Re:Outsiders can see the flaws better, so outsourc (0, Troll)

Adolph_Hitler (713286) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648372)

Politics and the work climate. Nowadays, admins know they can lose their job at the drop of a hat, and as such, they're getting a lot more defensive. Particularly with programmers whose systems might make their jobs a whole lot easier, making them more replaceable!

And we need to just get rid of the whole system of labor and give all of you lazy American workers temp jobs. You idiots are too busy playing politics when you could be working. Maybe if you worked harder and developed better code than people in India you'd keep your job.

I don't see Indians being hired for game development and perhaps this is because game developers actually write programs that everyday joes dont write. Maybe you should brush up on your calculus and get a job at NASA or learn a bit about AI and work on something more innovative.

Anyone can make a Winamp/Mozilla/(insert easy to write open source app)

But most people cannot write a 3d engine, a kernel of the quality of the Linux kernel, an xfree86.

If you want your jobs, learn to work harder and longer hours, or work smarter.

Excuse me? (4, Informative)

antarctican (301636) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648271)

We're a cancer?

I think it's more that the software development cycle is becoming move evolved, as happened to engineering a few decades ago. The days of slapping things together and getting it out the door are gone, and good thing, we all see what occurred at Microsoft when quality wasn't a top priority. Buggy software with huge security holes.

IF we want the public to trust software and computers more we have to develop a more "engineering" like mentality. Otherwise the public will think rebooting your computer three times a day is normal and acceptable.

I say this from the point of few as both a system administrator and developer. There were times in my old company I would highly object to certain courses of action because they might have compromised security. This forced the developers to go back and rethink things. However the developer side of me usually had a better suggestion anyhow.

Which brings us to the next point, part of the developer "get it out the door" mentality involves a lack of understanding by said developers of how systems work. They learn their C++ or Java in school, but they fail to learn how the underlaying OS and hardware work. IT training has become job training rather then creating computer scientists. Perhaps things would flow better if all invlved better understood the fundamentals of computers.

I for one am not said to see the development cycle slow down. Far too many times have I see bosses go, "Just get it done, we'll worry about cleaning it up later." Do you want the software controlling your car or the X-ray machine at the hospital being managed by such a manager? I certainly don't.

Survival of the fittest you lazy bastards. (0, Troll)

Adolph_Hitler (713286) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648396)

If you cant work harder than Indians and Chinese why do you deserve the jobs? I mean damn, maybe if you were as smart or as hard working as others you'd never have to worry about being fired. Bosses do not fire people who are productive, stop taking lunch breaks, start working 12-13 hour days, work 6-7 days a week, and stop taking damn coffee breaks. Work 12-13 hours straight with no breaks, code as much as possible within that time frame. The people who code fastest in the least amount of time should keep their jobs and the ones who only write a few hundred lines should be fired immediately.

Teh spoke to nowhere (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648278)

Well we know where we're posting
But we don't know when we've forst porst
And we know what we're trolling
But we can't say what we've modpoints lost
And we're not little crapflooders
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out

We're on teh spoke to nowhere, troll on inside
Taking that post to nowhere, we'll take that ride
Feeling okay this morning, and you know
We're on teh spoke to minus one, here we go, here we go

We're on teh spoke to nowhere, troll on inside
Taking that post to nowhere, we'll take that ride
Maybe you wonder where you troll, I don't care
Here is where time is on our side, take you there
Take you there

We're on teh spoke to nowhere, ha, ha
We're on teh spoke to nowhere, ha, ha
We're on teh spoke to nowhere, ha, ha, whoo

There's a troll post in my mind
Come along and take that ride
And it's all right, baby it's all right
And it's very far away
But it's growing day by day
And it's all right, baby it's all right

Would you like to troll all red
You can help me troll this thread
And it's all right, baby it's all right
We can tell you what to do
But they'll make a -1 overrated of you
And it's all right, baby it's all right

There's a troll post in my mind...

Would you like to troll all red
We can help you troll this thread
And it's all right, baby it's all right
They can tell you what to do
But they'll make a -1 overrated of you
And it's all right, baby it's all right

We're on teh spoke to nowhere, hey
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We're on teh spoke to nowhere

Work For Yourself (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648286)

I'm a self-employed software engineer / web programmer, and no one hedges my way or makes poorly informed decisions here...

I highly recommend it.

Re:Work For Yourself (2, Funny)

Harald Paulsen (621759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648477)

The biggest problems with being self-employed is that the manager is an idiot and the employees are lazy shitheads that don't do any work.

On the positive side: good chance of being employee-of-the-year.

Declare independance (5, Interesting)

raider_red (156642) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648287)

I work for a government agency in the U.S., and as you can imagine, it's saturated with sysadmins who watch over security, resource allocations, etc. Our solution was to build our own network infrastructure. We purchased two servers, cross-trained about six of us to work as admins on those servers, and completely bypassed the regular admins. The result is that we're one of the most productive organizations in our industry, because we were willing to put in a little extra effort to get around the problem.

Companies will outsource no matter what. (0, Troll)

Adolph_Hitler (713286) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648296)

Its always cheaper to hire and overwork an Indian or Chinese than to hire a typical snobby White American Male who will want overtime pay and a fair wage. Think about it, if you wanted to save money would you really hire your own? Hell no.

Have you ever stopped to think ... (5, Insightful)

nbvb (32836) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648300)

I'm not defending all the admins, because there ARE a lot of clueless ones out there, but have you ever stopped to think that we're here as subject matter experts?

I'm a UNIX system administrator. My responsibility is to ensure my systems perform well. This includes actual performance statistics (I/O, CPU, memory), security, reliability, scalability.

It also means I need to scale up the hardware as applications grow. I need to keep tabs on what my systems are doing, and why.

I'm the "guy who gets in your way" because my responsibility is to the system, not to you.

I don't work for you. I work for the systems. They are my "customers" if you will.

Sure, I slow you down when I tell you "No, your app can't run as root."

I slow you down when I make you diagram your database so we can lay out the I/O correctly.

I slow you down when I make you tell me what you're doing with shared memory so I can tune my kernel.

I slow you down when I ask for projections over the next year so I can plan the hardware and scale appropriately.

I slow you down when I shut off telnet, ftp, r services, and every other plaintext protocol. You b*tch and moan because your expect script from 1994 needs to be rewritten, but too bad.

I slow you down when I ask for a detailed list of which ports your application uses, who they communicate with, and what IP blocks I need to permit access from.

Yep, I'm in your way.

That's my job.

And if you don't like it, well, too bad. I *DON'T* ask you why you're using C instead of Java. That's not my business.

I'm a systems subject matter expert. I don't pretend to be a code expert.

Your a coding expert. Don't pretend to be a systems expert.

Let me do my job, and I'll let you do yours. We need to work *together* and understand the interactions between your code and my systems.

Systems are NOT simple. They're very complex; you need to understand all the interactions here, from the kernel through the disk management (whether it be VxVM, LVM, or whathaveyou), through the network drives, through the firmware, through the HBA drivers...

Let me do my job. Yep, it'll "slow you down" a bit, but in the end, we'll actually have a complete SYSTEM that functions. Code, OS, hardware.

So you can't roll things out in an hour anymore. At least it works now.

Re:Have you ever stopped to think ... (4, Interesting)

juuri (7678) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648362)

A common misconception amoung admins is that your responsibility is to the system or that the system is your customer. Unfortunately that isn't correct, you need to take a step back. Your customer is the "availability of the application/utility provided by the system".

With that said, many programmers have no idea what is really involved with keeping up highly available large scale apps across entire corporations. As an admin you are responsible for tons of applications and functions being readily accessible, in many cases 24 hours a day. Just like you don't argue with the way they implement low level aspects of their code they should respect your decisions and choices when it comes to systems, networks and security.

The linked article sounds like a case of having inept admins and assuming the rest of the world works like that. It was also typical in someone assuming they know what is best across every strata of a corporation.

Re:Have you ever stopped to think ... (3, Insightful)

nbvb (32836) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648432)

Quite frankly, when people ask my what my objective is, it's a very simple one:

"Don't get paged."

My customer is the system, my objective is the availability of said system.

Like you said, most developers have no idea really what goes on behind the scenes. They don't understand why building a cluster is difficult, let alone what quorum is, failure fencing algorithms and the like.

They have no idea why it's perfectly OK for a cluster node to shut itself down, given the right circumstances ...

But I digress ...

The article sounds like a guy who's never worked in a real enterprise shop, and is upset because they didn't give him admin rights on his PC ... :)

Re:Have you ever stopped to think ... (1)

spanielrage (250784) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648402)

Well, then you are not the type of admin that the article was talking about. The author was writing about admins who provide NO benefit, other than superficial ones like naming standards and acting as an interface to a database.

I just came off a gig where this was the case. The DBA would only be allowed to execute queries against an acceptance-testing database (and prod, but that's OK). But we come up with the SQL to run and he just ran it - nothing else! We could give him anything and he would run it. Even queries that joined 20 tables... wouldn't even take a close look at the SQL.

How is this better from a developer's standpoint? Waiting for a DBA to get around to use the same tool that you use to run queries against development environments, only with user/password to run against higher environments.

Re:Have you ever stopped to think ... (1)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648425)

I'm the "guy who gets in your way" because my responsibility is to the system, not to you.

I suspect this is one of the sticking points. As far as many are concerned the job of the sysadmin is to make sure the system, and applications on it are available to them. If a developer can't do what he/she wants, then you're (in his mind) failing in your job to provide systems to him/her. Of course, often it's a greater good scenario - you make one persons access to the system a little bit harder to make sure everyone's access remains constant and stable. The pissed off developer tends to have a rather shorter term view than that though.

Jedidiah.

Re:Have you ever stopped to think ... (1)

Groovy2 (27459) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648442)

Thank You.

My favorite developer quote:
"It worked on my machine, I don't see why I doesn't work in production".

It has been my experience that these extra levels of admin control have been put in place in reaction to developers (and admins too) that make changes on the fly to production systems that cause companies thousands while the "fix" is being fixed.

Re:Have you ever stopped to think ... (4, Insightful)

Sanity (1431) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648457)

I'm the "guy who gets in your way" because my responsibility is to the system, not to you.
No, the system is a tool, not an end in itself. Your responsibility is towards users of the system.

I can't believe that even needs to be explained.

Re:Have you ever stopped to think ... (1)

The Welcome Rain (31576) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648463)

If you read the article, you'd notice several occasions on which the admins were not functioning as subject matter experts. Any admin who gives up on recovering business-critical data before thinking to use a simple undelete program is not a subject matter expert, he's an incompetent boob, and overdue for termination.

If you actually understand all of the things you just listed, you're one of the few. Most sysadmins don't. And if you present your opposition in terms of these issues, I for one would support you to the hilt. I know that developers often ignore security concerns; I've slapped down more than one of them for doing so. Don't assume that all developers are ignorant of these issues. Some of us have been sysadmins before, and a few of us have even been competent sysadmins.

This guy needs to evaluate where hes working. (1)

dieman (4814) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648305)

Instead of taking the jobs that pay the most, find someplace with sane administraton. The 'case' about administration was roaming profiles and backups.

A) DONT USE ROAMING PROFILES, USE A SAMBA SHARE ATTACHED TO A DRIVE LETTER, BACKED UP ON A UNIX BOX.
B) BACK UP THE PROFILES ANYHOW, LIMIT PROFILE SIZES TO SOMETHING SANE LIKE 30-40MB.
C) RESOLVE RESTORE REQUESTS PROMPTLY, LIKE WITHIN 6 HOURS AT WORST.

Three simple rules there. Undelete software is moot, most filesystems don't have that sort of support anymore. Having consistency on what gets backed up is easy, we have clear rules (and filesystem directories, ie: /project and /scratch) on it. Lastly, providing access to backups online is easy except for authorization. It's hard in a large system to automate the authorization for restore requests. We definately don't want one user asking for a restore of some shared project space of another group that contains data that they shouldn't have, etc.

In short, good admins know what they are doing, bad admins make your days suck. I think places with good admins end up paying their developers less because they offer a workplace where their needs are attented to easily instead of asking them to do it themselves.

Note that this has nothing to do with outsourcing, either. Outsourcing is happening because dev jobs are half-price in India, duh!

Delicate Balance (5, Insightful)

orangenormal (728999) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648308)

I my office, the IT personnel grant or deny software installation requests (among many other IT-related tasks, but software installation draws a nice example). People usually want software because it would make doing their job easier. Does this mean IT should allow any tool to be installed? If a software request is denied, the requestor will sometimes complain loudly along the lines of "Your job is to make sure I can do mine, not regulate it," to which IT will retort "but if we allow any software, it will result in incompatabilities between departments ultimately reducing productivity and increasing maitenance costs." Both are right; this sometimes results in a bitter relationship, but lets face it, they're keeping checks on each other. A successful development company needs to find a balance between the two.

Re:Delicate Balance (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648399)

I work in a place like that, where one of my developer's requests to get Vi installed on his Windows workstation was denied because "it may make his system image incompatible"

Yet when the IT staff went into cover-your-ass mode after the Welchia worm debacle, they had no problem fucking up hundreds of computers with 3 years worth of service packs and hotfixes.

Arrogant developer crap (5, Insightful)

flinxmeister (601654) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648344)

For too long developers have been held up as the ultimate in computing knowledge, while administration has been seen as some monkeyboy sitting in a computer room swapping tapes out.

As a result, nearly every end user of a developed system is given attention before system administrators and operators. The secondary result is SA's and operators are left with big piles of innefficient crap to wade through, and much of the pressure of making said piece of crap work. How many folks here have had to work in huge, bloated teams of SA's all to support an ill-concieved and poorly developed (but gee whiz does it look greeeat!) product, getting paged and phoned all night to come in an slap more duct tape? How many people here have had to manage a bunch of boot-camp MCSE's trying to do 400 manual processes an hour because "that's the way it was developed"? How many people here have had to explain to a customer that some piece of code written by a fresh off the MIS degree train VB developer isn't RFC compliant and therefore 45 percent of the people in the world won't be able to interface with it? How many SAs here have had to tune the crap out of boxes and networks because a login page makes 75+ ODBC database calls? How many security consultants have had to go in and basically tell a company that they'll have to repartition and reinstall every server because someone found SQL injection in an app that required superuser privileges?

The list goes on and on. Administrators aren't there to make life easier for developers, they are there to make things work--and make them work better, more reliably, and more securely. I'd suggest that this whiny ivory tower developer wake up and realize that coporations have gotten smart to the crap he's been turning out and further realized that the people who run the stuff are just as important as the people who write it and use it.

In short, he needs to learn how to work on a team.

Developers are smart, but they aren't the top of the computing pyramid. There are many other groups of people that are just as smart in different areas.

savannah.gnu.org compromised (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648349)

They had been rooted for a month [gnu.org] before they realized anything. Have you installed any software from projects hosted there in the last month?

My Situation (1)

Trimbo2 (661670) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648361)

Where I work (I won't name where) the situation is ridicules.

As a developer I am required to help install / support software on our clients network (hint: think large, think uk, think health related). Mostly unix (aix) boxes.

For me to be able to do this I have to have access (and typically root access) to a LARGE number of our clients systems. However, despite being trusted enough to have this access to our clients substantial network, I am NOT allowed admin privileges to my own work station! (win2k).

So, I *could* rm -rf * (as root) some critical client box, but I do *not* have access to adjust the system time on my development PC! Totally crazy.

The worst part is it requires me to contact our admins to get an basic admin performed on my PC (install new software for example).

Lots of admins here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648365)

based on the asinine responses I'm seeing. "Its my job to get in your way" is basically what most of these posts seem to be saying. Know what? If you were technically inclined, you'd be a software engineer, not a fucking administrator. So get the fuck out of our way and let the smart people get the job done.

Re:Lots of admins here (4, Insightful)

smitty45 (657682) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648446)

be careful there. developers don't automatically equal smart, and admins don automatically equal dumb.

to say any different reveals your ignorance about either field.

It ain't the sys admins, it's Microsoft (1)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648370)

What's causing ME problems is Microsoft Visual Studio. With each new version, the damned thing gets more and more difficult to use, and the documentation (if that's what you can call it) gets harder to obtain an answer from. (Yeah, yeah: use Linux. I'd love to, but my customers want it done in Visual Studio.)

Re:It ain't the sys admins, it's Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648449)

What planet are you from? Linux has NO decent IDE to speak of - nothing that even compares to VS.

What is it about VS that you find so difficult?

IT Differences (4, Informative)

jdhutchins (559010) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648374)

There are a world of difference from what the normal marketing person, executive, etc needs from a computer and what a programmer needs. Most people don't need much in the way of room to play around, and they shouldn't have that room.

Programmers are different. I write code, I need to test it. Maybe it needs root to run. You, as the sysadmin controlling my stuff, need to let me do that. In reality, there almost needs to be a different network for programmers, where they have the room that they need to mess with their code and see how it works. Sysadmins need to understand this difference. Programmers don't need root access to the network's servers, but they might need root access to a testing server, and it's the sysadmin's job to make sure that he can have a testing server running on a network.

Nice mindset. Here's the flip side. (5, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648379)

Have you noticed how difficult it's become to develop software? Not because software is more complex, but because there seems to be an army of administrators standing in your way - sys admins, network admins, database admins, runtime admins - the list is endless

Nice mindset there; you're a real team player. The reason we are there(network/sysadmin here) is to HELP you.

However, we're also there to make sure you don't do stupid things. While you say "these IT people get in our way", I point to a laundry list of really, really, REALLY stupid things developers have done at every company I've ever worked for; they just don't THINK about anything besides code, and they get Great Ideas without thinking through the consequences, either technology or business-wise. Some of it is just sheer laziness, and I've been faced with developers who act liked goddamn 5 year old spoiled rotten BRATS- this was particularly bad a few years ago when anyone who knew what "printf()" meant, got a 75k+ job.

Prime examples of stupid things I've seen: logging into machines using the root account because you're too lazy to use su. Or not allowing you to ssh directly into a system from your home PC without a VPN. Or yelling at you when you use temp tablespace for permanent data. Or not letting you move production functionality to some desktop system underneath your desk. Or using the database admin account for your application, instead of a seperate account?Or not implementing your latest code changes until you're willing to put down on paper that you actually did your job properly and TESTED the damn changes(do you know how many times I've seen developers just push code out without testing? Guess who gets blamed first. Guess who gets PAGED first, at 3am when it crashes. Management doesn't distinguish between a misnamed variable and a "Internal Server Error 500"; they're both production problems, and you're not in charge of production).

We're part of the team, and we're here to stay. You can either work with us, and clearly communicate to OUR supervisors(not just us) what your needs are...or you can make us the enemy, always try to do things half-assed, and get nothing done. Your choice- but management usually sides with safety, and we're the ones saying "that's not safe", and even if management doesn't side with us- when things blow up, we simply point to the emails we sent saying "that wasn't safe", and let you sweat it out while we restore from backups and clean up your mess.

Sometimes it's simply not our choice; it's "do it this way, tell Development that". You have no idea how frustrating it can be sometimes for even us- I once worked at a place where root passwords were changed on us sysadmins, and we were told "use sudo". The incompetent assholes a few levels up didn't realize that gee, guess what, if the machine crashes and fsck fails, you need the root password.

Both sides of the story (1)

boschmorden (610937) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648394)

I think this article does a good job presenting the "developer" or delivery-oriented perspective. I've had the unfortunate pleasure of being on both sides of the fence. What I want to say is that there should be a counter-point article written for the "administrator" point of view. I've come to these conclusions after spending a years at Fortune 150 company: * Most developers cannot be trusted to follow procedures and to write code or perform deployments that work on the first try. * Most roject managers don't give a shit about security and will circumvent any sort of enterprise or application security if it will save them time in their delivery schedule. The IT admin's role (which is the hat I'm currently wearing) is CONTAINTMENT. When you have a 800 person development organization delivering three PeopleSoft modules, two PeopleSoft upgrades, 26 web applications (J2EE on websphere and weblogic, .NET and ASP on Win2k), several 3rd party datawarehousing projcets, you need containment. Containment is key to preserving your production environment. If you can't hold developers, business analysts and project managers accountable through the test, QA and UAT process you are F*CKED. Sure, if your company has literally hundreds of millions of dollars to spend so that each of your applications can get their own 32 processor IBM p690, then by all means don't care about process. But until quantum computing comes along, IT admins are responsible for keeping prod pristine and functioning properly. What if you don't? You're going to have thousands of screaming users that they can't get their reports because some dumbass developer didn't follow procedure and put in a cartesian join when a certain line of code was executed. Worse yet, you may have your CIO called into the CEO's office to explain why the Finance dept. received bad data that was then in turn reported to the SEC and that a correction would be necessary. That's not fun. In order to run a successful enterprise in this day and age, you need a multi pronged approach: * good IT admins * developers who write solid code and can package their software appropriately * project managers who know how to do workplans and deal with scope creep * SME's performing extensive QA (that are NOT in the project teams) * documented (published in an easily readable format) policies and procedures * change control (controlled by a change control board) * organizational change management (helping users and business owners deal with IT change) * enterprise security team that knows best practices (Confidentiality*Integrity*Availability) * DBA and UNIX teams you can trust I know I've forgotten some stuff but in my experience, large companies never have a perfect IT organization. Oh, and this isn't meant to be a slight against developers. I am also a developer, and I'm not perfect. It's not the developers who read /. that I'm pointing the finger at, I'm talking about the guy who has coded VB all his life and is now trying to get into Java who thinks it's just as simple as copying his file to the Weblogic server not knowing about PROCESS. Now I'm angry....obviously the user who wrote that article is a pissed off developer who can't seem to it through their head that processes and procedures are there to protect the server environment, end users and to ensure the validity, and security of corporate data.

Re:Both sides of the story (1)

boschmorden (610937) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648417)

APOLOGIES, I posted this because I didn't use the preview button and formatted it so it's easily readable. Unlike my previous post which is a garbled mess.

I think this article does a good job presenting the "developer" or delivery-oriented perspective. I've had the unfortunate pleasure of being on both sides of the fence.

What I want to say is that there should be a counter-point article written for the "administrator" point of view. I've come to these conclusions after spending a years at Fortune 150 company:

* Most developers cannot be trusted to follow procedures and to write code or perform deployments that work on the first try.
* Most roject managers don't give a shit about security and will circumvent any sort of enterprise or application security if it will save them time in their delivery schedule.

The IT admin's role (which is the hat I'm currently wearing) is CONTAINTMENT. When you have a 800 person development organization delivering three PeopleSoft modules, two PeopleSoft upgrades, 26 web applications (J2EE on websphere and weblogic, .NET and ASP on Win2k), several 3rd party datawarehousing projcets, you need containment. Containment is key to preserving your production environment. If you can't hold developers, business analysts and project managers accountable through the test, QA and UAT process you are F*CKED.

Sure, if your company has literally hundreds of millions of dollars to spend so that each of your applications can get their own 32 processor IBM p690, then by all means don't care about process. But until quantum computing comes along, IT admins are responsible for keeping prod pristine and functioning properly.

What if you don't? You're going to have thousands of screaming users that they can't get their reports because some dumbass developer didn't follow procedure and put in a cartesian join when a certain line of code was executed. Worse yet, you may have your CIO called into the CEO's office to explain why the Finance dept. received bad data that was then in turn reported to the SEC and that a correction would be necessary. That's not fun.

In order to run a successful enterprise in this day and age, you need a multi pronged approach:
* good IT admins
* developers who write solid code and can package their software appropriately * project managers who know how to do workplans and deal with scope creep
* SME's performing extensive QA (that are NOT in the project teams)
* documented (published in an easily readable format) policies and procedures
* change control (controlled by a change control board)
* organizational change management (helping users and business owners deal with IT change)
* enterprise security team that knows best practices (Confidentiality*Integrity*Availability)
* DBA and UNIX teams you can trust I know I've forgotten some stuff but in my experience, large companies never have a perfect IT organization.

Oh, and this isn't meant to be a slight against developers. I am also a developer, and I'm not perfect. It's not the developers who read /. that I'm pointing the finger at, I'm talking about the guy who has coded VB all his life and is now trying to get into Java who thinks it's just as simple as copying his file to the Weblogic server not knowing about PROCESS.

Now I'm angry....obviously the user who wrote that article is a pissed off developer who can't seem to it through their head that processes and procedures are there to protect the server environment, end users and to ensure the validity, and security of corporate data.

Mixed reactions (2)

The Welcome Rain (31576) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648398)

On the one hand, I can understand the frustration of developers who have been arbitrarily undercut by surly, inefficient sysadmins. I've been there. A lot. On the other hand, the author of the article mentions at least one case in which he probably deserved to lose: software licensing. I'm glad you can deal with an InstallShield, bud, but that doesn't equate to knowing the terms of a license or how it will affect the company. And the fact that you don't acknowledge this issue suggests that you shouldn't be allowed to make such judgment calls.

Yes, we developers are a sanguine lot, continually making risky improvements with blithe optimism that they will work and actually improve things. And on occasion we are disastrously wrong -- that's what test systems are for. However, that's no justification for making it impossible to do our jobs.

After all, it's not as if most sysadmins are competent to pass judgment on our proposed changes. How many times have you heard an admin claim that he went into his line of work because programming was too hard? The odds are that his problem was with thinking things through and designing them carefully. In fact, most sysadmins do not appear to appreciate the basic concepts of scalable design, code reuse, or even revision control. And this is who wants to vet my software changes? No wonder they take all year -- they're too stupid to understand them.

If you do employ an admin who can do all of these thigns correctly, hold onto him, whatever he costs. Treat him kindly. Make his life as easy as possible. He is a rare specimen.

Did anyone else reado the link... (0)

Reziac (43301) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648405)

... "http://www.whosoffshoring.co.uk/" as "http://www.whosoffwhoring.co.uk/" ??

Walk a mile in the other guy's shoes? (4, Insightful)

fw3 (523647) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648408)

Jezuz I haven't read such a pile of crud in ages.

Are there sysadmins who've never coded, not highly skilled at what they do who are a drag to work with? Of course. Sysadmins run the gamut, the best (and probably most productive) have enough coding experience to know and work with the dev side also. The very best can run circles around the average dev imx. Naturally the very best devs are int the same class.

There are just as many 'developers' who don't have the first idea how to perform adequate testing, let along consider the constraints of running in a production environment let alone writing portable, consistent or maintainable code.

The author of this article is quick to bitch about a sysadmin losing his working files. Sure it happens. What the hell is with a developer who doesn't bother to keep any working copies of 2 weeks work? (In my own time managing a corp. network I'm pleased to be able to say I had exactly one instance of unrecoverable data loss -- where two users hadn't realized that NFS did not provide pc clients with any form of locking)

As a distribution maintainer (lunar) [lunar-linux.org] I see several OSS packages a week breaking reasonble build schemes or changing thier tarballs, (breaking MD5/PGP checks) without updating version info. So I'm sorry but there are no shortage of sloppy developers out there.

In my own engineering practice I've found over the years that all work goes better if the people doing it know they'll be held accountable for it over the long haul. Too many devs are allowed to get away with a 'throw it over the wall' mentality, going on to the next project and never having to deal with some of their cruft. Of course the same logic applies to the sysadms, I've seen lots of the behaviors the article rants about it but I gotta say ranting and pointing fingers ain't the solution.

Paranoia is a good thing (1)

BillsPetMonkey (654200) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648409)

Here's a quick test to try out on your systems administrator. Choose a tecchie topic like how a SAN works. ask them to explain it in terms a non-technical person can understand.

If they can't explain it in really simple terms, it's because they don't really know how it works themselves. Prepare to be dissappointed.

Remember, there are still a lot of sysadmins around who were employed at the height of the tech boom when all they needed was an interest in computers and penchant for manga to get hired.

Re:Paranoia is a good thing (1)

rchiav (413880) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648448)

And do the same thing with developers. You'll get the same result. There's just as many (read: a lot) of developers that have just as little of a clue about what they're doing.

So my job as an administrator is to field calls where a clueless developer says the server is causing problems with their app. Now in order to fix this supposed server problem, I need actually debug their code and prove to them that it's their incompitence that's actually causing the problem.

As usual, the server is guilty until proven innocent.

This comes years too late... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648416)

1) The great prison of groupwork has always been a innovation killer.
2) Programming open source is more fun (even if the money is zero).

I came to both conclusions about 5 or 6 years ago when everyone (mnaybe) still was thinking that IT is not entirely about consulting.

Sorry, but in these "anti-programming" days IT *IS* entirely about consulting.

Another thing that has changed (1)

Gumber (17306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648418)

I think your typical corporate IT project is rather larger now that it was 10 years ago. Software or not, most large projects bring with them increacing amounts of overhead.

The trick, of course, it to be smart about it, and I have no doubt that many organizations have far more overhead than they need.

Not sure where you're from but... (4, Insightful)

Necron69 (35644) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648419)

I've been one of those evil System and Network administrators for over a decade now. Most of that time has been spent supporting software development labs.

I don't know what planet you or the author of that article live on, but I've seen a steady increase in the quality of software development and maturity in the development models used in the last decade. This may have slowed our development a bit, but you can see the results in our defect find rates. We're delivering a much better product than we used to.

Rather than just hacking out some code, doing a perfunctory test, and throwing it over the wall to be released, our developers are actually managed these days and do this cool thing called "planning." Yes, they actually investigate, propose, design, implement, and test code on a schedule. We even have teams dedicated to testing the systems to make sure they work. Oh, the horror!

In a decent software lab, which I consider mine to be, most of our management is also made up of engineers who rose through the ranks. These people know their stuff and trust the engineers beneath them.

In my area at least, we've also seen a large increase in the complexity of systems as well. No longer are our engineers programming a lone application to slap on a PC or a server. Our projects are large and distributed across multiple networks and servers. We have to traverse firewalls and worry about security trust domains and lots of other things that nobody cared about a decade ago.

I think that this increase in complexity of projects is likely responsible for the entire list of negative consequences that the article attributes to 'role fragmentation'. The only one I'd leave out is "de-skilling of the workforce". That may have been true in 2000, but the layoffs of the last few years have forced everyone to do work that was once done by multiple people.

All of that requires more attention to detail, and requires more effort to get right. I don't see that as good or bad, it simply is. Get used to it and stop whining about having to actually plan something and coordinate with others.

- Necron69

Not admins, not developers (5, Interesting)

Monoman (8745) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648420)

What I often see is the people who least understand the big picture when it comes to technology are the ones who feel held back.

The people I see getting mad just don't understand the impact or implications their "simple requests" may have on others.

"Can't you just open up ports 135-139 in the firewall for everybody"?

"It works fine on my system, something must be wrong with the server"

and my all time favorite when people don't have a clue why their system isn't working ...

"It must be the network"

They really don't understand how their system works.

As an admin (LAN, WAN, firewall, server, email, etc... you get the idea) for a med size (3000 users) organization I often have to learn other peoples jobs just to figure out what the heck they are really trying to accomplish. It usually goes something like....

Customer: "We need ..."

Me: "Why?"

Customer: Pick one:
1) Vendor says so
2) We tried everything else
3) Thats what someone else said
4) ?

Me: "What are you really trying to do?"

Customer: "What do you mean?"

Me: "Don't tell me what you think you need, tell me what you are trying to do?"

Once I understand what someone is trying to accomplish then I can often work somethign out for them.

Outsourcing developed for a reason: regulations (1)

SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648426)

Offshoring/outsourcing anything developed for a reason: to escape regulations. The whole idea of taking advantage of low-wage workers is all a part of that, as third world countries have no unions, no minimum-wage laws, no worker compensation, or anything like that, in addition to no environmental laws and no corruption, extortion, or bribery laws.

Likewise, they have no real bureaucracy in the corporate world, mostly due to distance and the lack of regular face-to-face communication and personal issues. They don't have a team telling them what not to do -- they just do it, and it often works. They don't spend all their time in useless meetings, either, and often code all day for what amounts to pocket change for a US programmer.

Unless not only the government but also the corporations shape up and get rid of red tape and regulations, those 14 million jobs scheduled to go overseas by 2010 will arrive there ahead of time. Don't ever expect a populist political uprising to stop outsourcing, as that isn't going to happen in corporate USA, but deregulation is possible.

What is wrong with outsourcing? (4, Insightful)

pirhana (577758) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648429)

I know I am going to get modded down terribly for this. I dont care. Because this is my sincere opinion. I want to ask these average americans who bitch about outsouring , what is wrong with outsouring ? its part of globalization which is something america initiated, perpetuated and benefited MOSTLY. Giant american multinational corporations went and screwed up virtually every local industries and firms in developing countries. As a result of this american economy benefited a lot(whether it was just for a few rich or not is open to debate). Heavily subsidized american agricultural products resulted in devastation of un-subsidized farmers in the developing countries. All these time, these guys who bitch about outsourcing were happy with these. But when the same trend of globalization continued and resulted in so called "outsourcing" , all hell broke loose !!!. So where were you all when a HELL LOOOOT of farmers and other industry workers in developing countries like india were loosing jobs becoz of globalization ? Or is it that "anything is OK as long as we are at the receiving end" ? Why there is a hypocrisy when its outsouring ?

They should be there to help us (5, Funny)

Sevn (12012) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648450)

No truer words have been said.

They need to wake up and understand that us developers are the true brains behind the enterprise. We walk on water. We are GODS I tell you. I can't count the number of times I've had to yell at my sysadmins for making the coffee too strong, not popping grapes in my mouth fast enough, or moving the hand-fans too slowly. The fuckers. It's as if they don't understand that their purpose in life is to serve me. That the entire company exists not as a profit generating entity, but as my personal support system. Heaven forbid I do something smart like suggest or create a decent PROJECT LIFE CYCLE to avoid conflicts with other departments. I'd much rather whine on slashdot. Now I have to go. My 3 o'clock rubdown is coming up and I need at least another 2 hours of slashdot reading time before that. I mean christ, what do they pay me for.

Ahh.. easy answer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7648469)

Maybe it's just more fun to write your own fancy open source project the world has been waiting for instead of wasting time on a bloated, stupid, closed source project your incompetent, non-programming and hurtful restrictive projectadmin has pulled out of his ass because he was able to connect so many IT buzzwords to it.

Not a rant against administrators... (2, Insightful)

rob_from_ca (118788) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648478)

This article has some of the symptoms right, but it's got the root cause wrong. All of those things mentioned are problems caused by poor quality administrators (or just as often, poor policies that the admins have no control over).

Just as low quality developers with no sensitivity for production issues cause problems for talented admins, low quality admins with no knowledge of development cause problems for the developers. Talented administrators help your development team build bad-ass production ready apps and don't get in your way.

Mostly though, it's IT management and corporate higher ups that have created this sprawling bureaucracy, for a variety of reasons. The admins would love to change it, but really have no say.

As with anything, hire talented people and things will run more smoothly (as long as you don't shackle them with process developed by and for the untalented people :-) ). The best sysadmins are those that understand development and the best developers are those that understand the production environments.

I programmed for 10 years ... (2, Insightful)

xyote (598794) | more than 10 years ago | (#7648487)

Actually more like 16, and then switched to sysadmin (which was supposed to be temporary dammit! WTF is it with the only last job counts as far as skills go). Most progammers have no idea what is involved in system support. It's a major pain, which is why I've been trying to get back into development. Trying to explain to a user why something isn't as simple as when they just fool with their own machine is equivalent to a programmer trying to explain to a non-programmer why a quick and dirty script isn't generally applicable. You have to do error checking, make sure it applies generally not just specific cases, and is thoroughly tested. Same thing with system administration. You have to figure out how to make something work for all users, and above all else test the hell out of it before rolling out the change. Last bit is important because unlike programmers, sysadmin customers know who you are and how to find you if something goes wrong.


And yeah, there are BOFHs. Even sysadmin run into them themselves if the organization is large enough.

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