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You need ops

09 June 2013

I stumbled across the short blog post Who needs ops anyway, which is a sarcastic comment on another companies failure to acknowledge their need for ops. Besides my distaste to relabel administrators as ops, he absolutely has a point. It’s been more times than is healthy that executives decided they could do away with dedicated admins and just have developers run their infrastructure “on the side” or, even worse, do it themselves. In my experience, something like that happening is a sure sign of that company’s decay. It’s not so much that employees would need great amounts of training, it’s experience that counts (just like in development or any. other. field.) or wouldn’t be able to do administration, but they simply aren’t as effective at that. The point of having specialized people for maintenance and incident response is to manage recurring or emergency tasks in the most efficient way without interrupting normal business operations. When your business critical service goes down at noon, do you really want to send one of your developers into the wonderful land of learning-critical-infrastructure-as-you-go or do you want someone who does nothing else all day besides knowing your systems and keeping them running?

I know I’m as biased as it gets but think about it: there is a reason systems administration has been a trade for decades. When the Enterprise is in trouble, Kirk doesn’t want to read the manual. That’s what Scotty is for.