Sysadmin Sunday, a Response: Are admins developers too?

Lori MacVittie comes up with another one worthy of a response post. This time, she asks if admins are starting to become developers. In a nutshell: I don't think so, but we are definitely programmers.

Ah, there are those damned semantics again!

My opinion here comes from more than the simple fact that my employer has placed a "Systems Programmer" stamp on me despite the fact that my primary job duties do not include programming anything. Programmers make specialized procedural tools, while I feel that developers are a different breed entirely. Developers architect entire solutions and tie together lots of programs: usually functions and routines they've written or borrowed. Developers often collaborate with other developers on a project and usually put together something that will get used by someone other than themselves, from a single client or an internal organization all the way up to public-facing web applications available to anyone on the Internet!

Through the course of my sysadmin and infosec career, I've written literally thousands of tools in varying states of complexity and user-friendliness from object-oriented PHP behemoths to generate large reports from a database down to simple loops that copy shell scripts out to the enterprise before executing them on each system. At any given time, I have scores and scores of these little home-grown scripts and programs laying around.

Administration usually involves repetitive, mundane tasks. Analytical types will usually find a way to automate the things that can be predicted. I wouldn't confuse this process with being a developer, though. I'm not saying developers always create solutions that are more elegant, elaborate or stable. I am saying that developers have a different mind-set than admins, who usually (as Lori points out) create quick tools for themselves or their peers.

blog comments powered by Disqus