|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:
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Nov. 28, 2015 01:00 PM EST Reads: 473
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Nov. 28, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 333
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound cha...
Nov. 28, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 548
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
Nov. 28, 2015 11:45 AM EST Reads: 400
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
Nov. 28, 2015 11:15 AM EST Reads: 412
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Nov. 28, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 512
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Nov. 28, 2015 10:30 AM EST Reads: 309
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Nov. 28, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 191
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Nov. 28, 2015 08:45 AM EST Reads: 434
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
Nov. 28, 2015 08:45 AM EST Reads: 331
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Nov. 28, 2015 06:00 AM EST Reads: 246
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Nov. 28, 2015 05:30 AM EST Reads: 731
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Nov. 28, 2015 05:00 AM EST Reads: 361
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Nov. 28, 2015 04:00 AM EST Reads: 541
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Nov. 28, 2015 03:30 AM EST Reads: 475
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Nov. 28, 2015 03:00 AM EST Reads: 482
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Nov. 28, 2015 03:00 AM EST Reads: 451
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Nov. 28, 2015 02:00 AM EST Reads: 329
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at Built.io, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Nov. 28, 2015 02:00 AM EST Reads: 361
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
Nov. 28, 2015 02:00 AM EST Reads: 580