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Walk on the Wild Side

October 23, 2012
lou reed walk on the wild side

Have you ever worked on the other side of your shop?

In my career, I’ve worked in a variety of environments and positions. I’ve been a developer, and a production DBA, sometimes at the same time. Many of us aren’t working in environments where we are strictly performing one job. We often flex our work to meet the needs of our organizations, doing whatever is needed to get the job done.

However many of us spend most of our time either producing software or supporting it, sometimes separated from the other side by internal rules or even regulatory requirements. Those of us that are successful usually learn to make friends with the people doing the other kind of job and these relationships allow us to bend rules and regulations to get things done quickly. That can be a good thing, but it often doesn’t really give us any appreciation for the job that others do on a regular basis.

In a few large companies I’ve worked in, management felt it was important that the developers or engineers spent some time in the operations area. People would rotate out of their area for a month and spend time working in another area, gaining skills that might allow them to provide support in an emergency, but more as a way of helping them understand the impact of their work and how they might go back to their job with a new perspective in the future. The ultimate goal was for design and development to proceed more efficiently and at a higher quality level. It worked well at times, but often failed if the developer didn’t embrace the temporary assignment with a positive attitude.

I’ve rarely seen administrators sent to work with development groups. Usually an administrator has to have an interest in development and is interested in making a career change. However I think that there is value from giving administrators some exposure to the development process. They might realize how complex and tedious it can be, how seemingly obvious problems slip through, and perhaps most important, they might learn how to better troubleshoot issues in production systems.

Steve Jones


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