|By Lori MacVittie||
|May 14, 2009 09:00 AM EDT||
My brother (yes, it does run in the family) has a degree in computer science which, by most definitions, makes him a developer. That’s the focus of most computer science focused degree programs, much to the chagrin of the myriad other IT-focused specialties like networking, security, and operations.
Interestingly enough, he worked his way through college as a sysadmin and his first job out of college was as a sysadmin. And now he’s doing a little of both. That’s not unlike my own experience in which I often did “dual duty” as both sysadmin and developer, depending on where I was and what the organization needed.
Listening to my brother and drawing on my own experience, it sure seems There are a lot of similarities between the two seemingly disparate roles of administrator and developer; perhaps a lot more than we are usually willing to admit. After all, if you’re a developer then they just don’t understand what you do. If you’re an administrator, then they don’t understand you or the complexity involved in just getting through the day. Organizational silos cause a lot more “us”and “them” than is actually found in reality.
But let’s take a closer look at the definition of a "developer.” Notice it concerns itself primarily around the creation of programs:
A person or organization that designs software and writes the programs. Software development includes the design of the user interface and the program architecture as well as programming the source code.
But anyone who has been a network or system administrator for more than 0.5 minutes knows that this definition applies just as easily to folks who would not traditionally be considered a “developer.”
SCRIPT, SCRIPT, SCRIPT TO MY LOU
There have always been scripting languages. There is Ruby and PHP and ASP and JSP. Command-line focused scripting languages, too, abound from bash to PowerShell to TCL to PERL and Python. The biggest difference between most scripting languages and other development languages like C/C++ and Java is that there is rarely an explicit “entry point” into a script. There’s no “main” function that kicks things off because the entry point is implicit; it starts at the top of the script (excluding functions, of course) and starts executing.
But there are many similarities, too. Whether it’s the ability to define functions or the use of conditional statements (if…then, for, while) or handling of variables (pass by reference? pass by value) the similarities between the scripting languages utilized on a daily basis by system administrators and those used by developers far outweigh the number of differences. Scripting, no matter what the language, like programming in compiled languages requires an understanding of syntax, functions, variables, structure, and order of operations. The skills needed are very similar and the result is, if you ignore the focus on operational versus business, very much the same.
And network and system administrators make extensive use of scripting languages to automate tasks, perform specific functions “on-demand”, and even create reports with eye-candy for management on a daily or weekly basis. The difference between the development done by a network or system administrator and that done by an application developer is truthfully only distinguished by the intended end-user and the focus. The network and system administrator’s goal is to create an application that codifies an operational task, the application developer focuses on creating an application that codifies some business process.
They both must design the solution and write the “program”, e.g. script. They design a user-interface – even though it is almost always command line – and they “program the source code”. Network and system administrators do just about everything an application developer does. The admin is just lucky enough to be both end-user and developer; they don’t generally have to deal with business analysts or actual customers.
And while application developers may need to understand and be able to manipulate system configurations in order to develop and test their applications, they generally don’t deal with the network or myriad systems that make up a production infrastructure. They leave that chore to the administrators. But the introduction of Infrastructure 2.0 with its requirement for collaboration not just between infrastructure systems but with applications, too, may blur the line between developer and admin even further.
THE EFFECT OF NETWORK as a SERVICE ON THE DIVIDE BETWEEN OPS AND DEVELOPMENT
The net effect of the “network as a service” has been and will continue to be the evolution of the developer side of the system and network administrator. The availability of service-enabled APIs and script-enabled APIs through which network and application network infrastructure can be controlled, configured, and managed is pushing system and network administrators into increasingly application-oriented, business process type scripting (applications).
It does not seem such a leap to assume that administrators, used to scripting complex tasks in a variety of languages and environments, could be expected to implement more integrated, collaborative “applications”. Nor does it seem a leap to assume that developers will need to better understand and collaborate with the network and systems required to deliver their applications in a dynamic infrastructure. The feedback from applications are critical to the success of a dynamic infrastructure (a.k.a. an internal cloud architecture) as is the intricate dance required of network and application network infrastructure to keep those applications available and performing as expected by the business. To achieve that may require administrators to fire up an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) and take up the tools of traditional “developers” in order to leverage Infrastructure 2.0 enabled systems. The ever extensible and flexible Eclipse environment has been used for programming languages, management consoles, graphing environments – you name it and it’s probably been implemented as an Eclipse plug-in. And admins have probably used it; probably have it installed on their desktops. That means it’s easy enough for them to adapt to the environment when it’s used for development tasks.
While those tasks could, ostensibly, be handed over to the application developers, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to place yet another task on their plate when network and system administrators are likely as capable and already have a firm grasp of “programming” and how the infrastructure needs to collaborate in order to provide the kind of dynamism necessary to achieve a more efficient, flexible data center.
Administrators already are developers in their own right, they just aren’t necessarily application developers. Infrastructure 2.0 and the drive toward internal cloud architectures will almost certainly bring this heretofore secret skills of admins to the fore and take them one step closer to being recognized as the developers they already are.
system,sysadmin,architecture,cloud,infrastructure 2.0,dynamic infrastructure,
Related blogs & articles:
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
May. 30, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 6,531
Collecting data in the field and configuring multitudes of unique devices is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that can stretch IT resources. Horan & Bird [H&B], Australia’s fifth-largest Solar Panel Installer, wanted to automate sensor data collection and monitoring from its solar panels and integrate the data with its business and marketing systems. After data was collected and structured, two major areas needed to be addressed: improving developer workflows and extending access to a business application to multiple users (multi-tenancy). Docker, a container technology, was used to ...
May. 30, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,800
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust IT industrialization – allowing customers to provide amazing user experiences with optimized IT per...
May. 29, 2015 11:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,753
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
May. 29, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,544
2015 predictions circa 1970: houses anticipate our needs and adapt, city infrastructure is citizen and situation aware, office buildings identify and preprocess you. Today smart buildings have no such collective conscience, no shared set of fundamental services to identify, predict and synchronize around us. LiveSpace and M2Mi are changing that. LiveSpace Smart Environment devices deliver over the M2Mi IoT Platform real time presence, awareness and intent analytics as a service to local connected devices. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Sarah Cooper, VP Business of Development at M2Mi, will d...
May. 29, 2015 04:27 PM EDT Reads: 875
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
May. 29, 2015 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 5,121
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In this session, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, will describe how to revolutionize your architecture and...
May. 29, 2015 02:33 PM EDT Reads: 868
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
May. 29, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,900
We’re entering a new era of computing technology that many are calling the Internet of Things (IoT). Machine to machine, machine to infrastructure, machine to environment, the Internet of Everything, the Internet of Intelligent Things, intelligent systems – call it what you want, but it’s happening, and its potential is huge. IoT is comprised of smart machines interacting and communicating with other machines, objects, environments and infrastructures. As a result, huge volumes of data are being generated, and that data is being processed into useful actions that can “command and control” thi...
May. 29, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,387
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be
May. 29, 2015 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 3,105
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
May. 29, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 7,544
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
May. 29, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,802
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
May. 29, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,500
Thanks to widespread Internet adoption and more than 10 billion connected devices around the world, companies became more excited than ever about the Internet of Things in 2014. Add in the hype around Google Glass and the Nest Thermostat, and nearly every business, including those from traditionally low-tech industries, wanted in. But despite the buzz, some very real business questions emerged – mainly, not if a device can be connected, or even when, but why? Why does connecting to the cloud create greater value for the user? Why do connected features improve the overall experience? And why do...
May. 29, 2015 12:42 PM EDT Reads: 1,001
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participa...
May. 29, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,397
Imagine a world where targeting, attribution, and analytics are just as intrinsic to the physical world as they currently are to display advertising. Advances in technologies and changes in consumer behavior have opened the door to a whole new category of personalized marketing experience based on direct interactions with products. The products themselves now have a voice. What will they say? Who will control it? And what does it take for brands to win in this new world? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zack Bennett, Vice President of Customer Success at EVRYTHNG, will answer these questions a...
May. 29, 2015 12:13 PM EDT Reads: 896
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
May. 29, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,703
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
May. 29, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,506
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
May. 29, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 6,200
The multi-trillion economic opportunity around the "Internet of Things" (IoT) is emerging as the hottest topic for investors in 2015. As we connect the physical world with information technology, data from actions, processes and the environment can increase sales, improve efficiencies, automate daily activities and minimize risk. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ed Maguire, Senior Analyst at CLSA Americas, will describe what is new and different about IoT, explore financial, technological and real-world impact across consumer and business use cases. Why now? Significant corporate and venture...
May. 29, 2015 10:50 AM EDT Reads: 972