What Developers Think Of Operations

Development and Operations are both critical to IS/IT usage in an organization, but developers often look at operations as something alien – from another planet (and operations have the same view on developers). Having worked in both development and operations I often claim that development doesn’t know operations and operations doesn’t know development.

Let’s have a look at some common developer opinions about operations.

  1. They don’t understand deployment.
  2. What they do is unqualified compared to what we do.
  3. How hard is it really to build a proper backup solution?
  4. Just get those firewall rules right!

They Don’t Understand deployment

Deploying a web application is simple. Operations has prepared the web and database servers so now it’s just to copy the content files, fix the connection string in web.config, run the database creation script and we’re done.
In a production environment, operations often don’t allow the developers to have access. The developers hand over a set of installation files and an instruction. More often than not, things go wrong. There are dependencies missing on the production machine (why does the server only have .NET 4.0.0 and not 4.0.3?). Operations can’t find out what’s wrong from the error messages. They often don’t know how to reconfigure the connection string in web.config.

What They Do is Unqualified Compared to what We Do

Developing a large system is complex, there are often 100.000 lines of code or more. For developers, that’s the daily life. Even if the operations staff has done some programming during there basic training, that’s small and trivial compared to real life applications. Operations is just about installing machines (my Mom can boot a Windows CD) and updating them (or rather, let Windows Update do the job).

How Hard is it Really to Build a Proper Backup Solution?

Backup is obviously one of the key responsibilities of operations. The developers usually doesn’t care about how backups are done, they just assume that it works. If there is a crash and the system has to be restored it is surprising how often the developers need to be involved again to get the system back up running. How hard can it be to do complete backups?

Just get Those Firewall Rules Right!

A good operations department of course splits the network into different security zones. When a system is first deployed there are often problems with the firewall configuration. Even though the operations have set up both the web and database servers, the connectivity from the web server to the database still fails. How hard can it be?

Operations is different from Development

Any developer working in a professional organization with separate development and operations organizations have probably faced at least one of these problems. Let’s recap the list:

  1. They don’t understand deployment.
  2. What they do is unqualified compared to what we do.
  3. How hard is it really to build a proper backup solution?
  4. Just get those firewall rules right!

Next week it’s time to look at the issue from the other direction, to see what operations think about development:

  1. They don’t understand deployment.
  2. What they do is unqualified compared to what we do.
  3. How hard is it really to build a proper backup solution?
  4. Just get those firewall rules right!

Yes, that’s right, it’s exactly the same list…

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  • Bjorn Andersson on 2012-07-05

    Harsh words. It will be interesting to see next week’s post. :)

    I was at Microsoft TechEd last week. There were about 30% of all participants from the developer side and about 70% from the operating side. So it was quite a large imbalance, but there are still a will from Microsoft to bring together these two different parts.

    I also spoke with a number of companies that have merged entities for the operation and development. However, there is a conflict between the operation and development. Just as there is an inherent conflict between the management of code and further development of the code.
    Management and operations would really see as little as possible is changed from one day to another. But development and even infrastructure consultants live on it to be changes.

    So I think the whole thing is i beqause of two different ways of seeing the issue:
    – If we stop making changes so we will have a stable environment => (Management and Operating)
    or:
    – By making this change so the environment will be much better => (development and infrastructure consultants)

    //Bjorn Andersson (@DiverseTips)

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Software Development is a Job – Coding is a Passion

I'm Anders Abel, a systems architect and developer working for Kentor in Stockholm, Sweden.

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