Shaking the Money Tree

  • As a "maintainor" the tools discussion can be very frustrating. The system designers have a picture in their minds around how the things are supposed to operate, and maybe some datapoints to assist in problem/performance determination. They rarely translate "cleanly" into an existing monitoring platform, so the "Tool" is either ignored, and another point solution is implemented, or the system goes into "ignore mode" until an issue demonstates the need to be more actively paying attention. I've seen several implementations fail, "The tools are too hard," "Can't do that," or "too many false positives," etc. Operational tools all do a job, but if your environment isn't clear about what the appropriate thresholds are, what important processes need to be watched, it is impossible to "automate' yourself out of that hole! Regardless of the budget!

  • The tendency I see, regardless of the size of the company, is that devs are more visible and their tools do have a more immediate and visible return-on-investment, while admins are sort of the janitors of the IT world. Nobody notices they're there, till the toilets back up.

    That is not true with the regulated industries, my team worked for almost one year there was no $200 to $900 to buy VS2005 standard or pro but there was money to put the unskilled internal employee at the Hyatt Regency. These companies waste millions to keep brother inlaws employed instead of spending money to enable employees to do the relevant job. We had Informatica while SSIS licenses are idle so much money in IT is wasted because tools purchase is not related to company needs.

    Kind regards,
    Gift Peddie

  • With the current economy, I find there is never any money for either, so its a draw!

    Ron K.

    "Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand." -- Martin Fowler

  • george sibbald (6/5/2009)


    GSquared (6/5/2009)


    The tendency I see, regardless of the size of the company, is that devs are more visible and their tools do have a more immediate and visible return-on-investment, while admins are sort of the janitors of the IT world. Nobody notices they're there, till the toilets back up.

    quote]

    I think I've just been insulted, but I'm not sure....................:-)

    george (admin thru and thru)

    Only if I'm also insulting myself. (Which I do on a very regular basis. 😀 )

    - Gus "GSquared", RSVP, OODA, MAP, NMVP, FAQ, SAT, SQL, DNA, RNA, UOI, IOU, AM, PM, AD, BC, BCE, USA, UN, CF, ROFL, LOL, ETC
    Property of The Thread

    "Nobody knows the age of the human race, but everyone agrees it's old enough to know better." - Anon

  • Gift Peddie (6/5/2009)


    The tendency I see, regardless of the size of the company, is that devs are more visible and their tools do have a more immediate and visible return-on-investment, while admins are sort of the janitors of the IT world. Nobody notices they're there, till the toilets back up.

    That is not true with the regulated industries, my team worked for almost one year there was no $200 to $900 to buy VS2005 standard or pro but there was money to put the unskilled internal employee at the Hyatt Regency. These companies waste millions to keep brother inlaws employed instead of spending money to enable employees to do the relevant job. We had Informatica while SSIS licenses are idle so much money in IT is wasted because tools purchase is not related to company needs.

    There are always exceptions. And yes, many companies are perfectly willing to waste money on politics/family/favoritism, even when unwilling to spend necessary/desireable funds on good tools or employees.

    - Gus "GSquared", RSVP, OODA, MAP, NMVP, FAQ, SAT, SQL, DNA, RNA, UOI, IOU, AM, PM, AD, BC, BCE, USA, UN, CF, ROFL, LOL, ETC
    Property of The Thread

    "Nobody knows the age of the human race, but everyone agrees it's old enough to know better." - Anon

  • GSquared (6/5/2009)


    David Fulton (6/5/2009)


    I am relatively new to IT, so my opinion is more from other areas and you may want to take it with a grain of salt. However, I think that IT development falls in the "generator" (my term) category and IT admin falls into the "maintainor" (my term) category.

    "Generators" include people/groups who's work product has a quantifiable value. They include people such as salesreps, attorneys and developers. Their work product either directly generates revenue for the company, or is essential to the business. For example, software developers might deliver a product that a client is purchasing, or one that will improve a group's ability to perform their jobs. They are high-profile and often risk takers.

    "Maintainors" include people/groups who's work product has a value that is not easily quantifiable. They are the grunts who perform a myriad of tasks, some of which might be mundane. Their work product is essential to continued business operations, but it is difficult to measure that value. They tend to be low-profile.

    In my experience, companies generally invest the most resources (tools, salaries, etc.) in the high-profile, risk taking, "generators" who's contribution to the bottom line is easily quantifiable.

    For what it's worth.

    Best regards,

    Dave Fulton

    That's a really good way of expressing it.

    High-profile, risk takers and mundane grunts are a hasty generalization and a choice of attitude. Businesses are all about the bottom line.

    It really depends on the nature of the business. If you have a pure development business where the server's (and db admin's) sole purpose is to support development, that is true.

    If, on the other hand, your business generates revenue from your production servers, you will buy the best tools you can to keep them running smoothly. If your production servers go down, you stop making money. If you have no money coming in, it won't matter what kind of tools the developers or the db admins have because you won't be able to pay them. In this case, developers are important for the future of the business but they are still overhead. The db admins who are responsible for the production servers are the revenue generators.

  • In my experience, it's VERY difficult to get $$ for Admin tools. Developers seem to get the bigger monitors, faster machines, and definitely all the software tools they want & need while the "janitor Admins" go begging. I've found that to be true in all sizes of companies, from 35,000 employees.

  • Reading the posts in response to this question is interesting - everyone is talking about developers and admins, but I didn't see anyone talking about the sales guys!

    I work for a conglomerate and we have four separate companies all vying for $$$ from our parent company. I think we are a bit odd, maybe backwards because development has a very tight budgetary leash sorted out and laid in place at the beginning of each FY. Admin is a bit more loose over the course of the year, but every major purchase has to be okayed. That said, the sales guys, well, we like to tease them because if one of our sales guys needs a trip to Fiji, luxury cruise and daily massages included, they always seem to get it - as long as they bring home the bacon (so to speak).

    But I guess what embarrasses me the most about today's post is that I did buy a plunger when I bought my first house, and now on my third house, I still have the same plunger! Does this make me wise? Cheap? ...maybe both? :w00t:

    There's no such thing as dumb questions, only poorly thought-out answers...
  • James Rochez

    High-profile, risk takers and mundane grunts are a hasty generalization and a choice of attitude. Businesses are all about the bottom line.

    Hi James,

    I don't think it's a hasty generalization, and if you go back a read it again, you'll see that I am talking about impact on the bottom line.

    The "generators" work product has an affect on the bottom line that is direct, and quantifiable. The "maintainors" also have an affect on the bottom line, but is not as direct, nor as easily measured. Admin of any type is generally seen as a cost of doing business.

    Management is more likely to invest in additional/new resources for a group that generates revenue, than a group that is a cost of business (Revenue-Costs=Profit).

    Regards,

    Dave

  • blandry (6/5/2009)


    Reading the posts in response to this question is interesting - everyone is talking about developers and admins, but I didn't see anyone talking about the sales guys!

    ...

    But I guess what embarrasses me the most about today's post is that I did buy a plunger when I bought my first house, and now on my third house, I still have the same plunger! Does this make me wise? Cheap? ...maybe both? :w00t:

    Since the editorial and question were about dev tools vs admin tools, we've pretty much left out the tools in Sales. (Double-meaning very much intended.)

    On the second bit, I'm going to have to go with "yes". 🙂

    - Gus "GSquared", RSVP, OODA, MAP, NMVP, FAQ, SAT, SQL, DNA, RNA, UOI, IOU, AM, PM, AD, BC, BCE, USA, UN, CF, ROFL, LOL, ETC
    Property of The Thread

    "Nobody knows the age of the human race, but everyone agrees it's old enough to know better." - Anon

  • James Rochez (6/5/2009)


    GSquared (6/5/2009)


    David Fulton (6/5/2009)


    I am relatively new to IT, so my opinion is more from other areas and you may want to take it with a grain of salt. However, I think that IT development falls in the "generator" (my term) category and IT admin falls into the "maintainor" (my term) category.

    "Generators" include people/groups who's work product has a quantifiable value. They include people such as salesreps, attorneys and developers. Their work product either directly generates revenue for the company, or is essential to the business. For example, software developers might deliver a product that a client is purchasing, or one that will improve a group's ability to perform their jobs. They are high-profile and often risk takers.

    "Maintainors" include people/groups who's work product has a value that is not easily quantifiable. They are the grunts who perform a myriad of tasks, some of which might be mundane. Their work product is essential to continued business operations, but it is difficult to measure that value. They tend to be low-profile.

    In my experience, companies generally invest the most resources (tools, salaries, etc.) in the high-profile, risk taking, "generators" who's contribution to the bottom line is easily quantifiable.

    For what it's worth.

    Best regards,

    Dave Fulton

    That's a really good way of expressing it.

    High-profile, risk takers and mundane grunts are a hasty generalization and a choice of attitude. Businesses are all about the bottom line.

    It really depends on the nature of the business. If you have a pure development business where the server's (and db admin's) sole purpose is to support development, that is true.

    If, on the other hand, your business generates revenue from your production servers, you will buy the best tools you can to keep them running smoothly. If your production servers go down, you stop making money. If you have no money coming in, it won't matter what kind of tools the developers or the db admins have because you won't be able to pay them. In this case, developers are important for the future of the business but they are still overhead. The db admins who are responsible for the production servers are the revenue generators.

    As in just about everything, yes, there are exceptions.

    My experiences have not been in companies where IT was the business, so I can't speak for companies that do things like host database servers for others, nor for companies that develope and sell software.

    But, in businesses where IT supports the rest of the business, even providing mission-critical services (like sales web pages, or CRM), most of the Line-of-Business personnel and managers have more visibility of the people who build the web pages or automate the CRM than of the sys admins and DBAs.

    As a database admin, I'm generally invisible till something goes wrong. As I like to say, "One of the primary goals of a DBA is to have as boring a workday as humanly possible." It's not actually true, but it expresses something important.

    As a dev (which I have done), my work has been highly visible, and people have routinely granted me either respect or contempt based on their most recent experience with the applications I've built. I've had plenty of people walk up to my desk and tell me, "hey, that new feature really rocks/sucks", but I've never had anyone walk up to my desk and tell me, "hey, the daily full and hourly transaction log backups really rock/suck". In the normal course of affairs, if someone ever did, I think I would look at them funny and wonder what had been added to their coffee.

    That doesn't make the job less important. Garbage men perform an absolutely vital service that most people don't want to do, and are generally well-paid for it, but nobody gets excited about their work, unless they don't do it, or mess it up. Database admins perform a vital service that most people don't want to do, are generally well-paid for it, but nobody gets excited about it, unless it blows up.

    - Gus "GSquared", RSVP, OODA, MAP, NMVP, FAQ, SAT, SQL, DNA, RNA, UOI, IOU, AM, PM, AD, BC, BCE, USA, UN, CF, ROFL, LOL, ETC
    Property of The Thread

    "Nobody knows the age of the human race, but everyone agrees it's old enough to know better." - Anon

  • GSquared (6/5/2009)


    How many homeowners buy a plunger till that occurs at least once? "Well, honey, we just bought our new dream home, and we need to shop for furniture, decorations, and a plunger."

    Too funny.

    With the housing crash, perhaps the next thing we will see is ads for new homes touting "FREE PLUNGER with purchase!"

  • Bob Abernethy (6/5/2009)


    GSquared (6/5/2009)


    How many homeowners buy a plunger till that occurs at least once? "Well, honey, we just bought our new dream home, and we need to shop for furniture, decorations, and a plunger."

    Too funny.

    With the housing crash, perhaps the next thing we will see is ads for new homes touting "FREE PLUNGER with purchase!"

    Sounds great! Most folks don't realize that the plunger is a PULL tool and not a PUSH tool. You put it in and depress slowly to get the air out of the cup and then pull rapidly to pull the clog loose. Wait till you are confronted with a situation where someone before you has used the tool (just like SQL Server) wrongly and only made matter worse. (See Steve's editorial on "The Problem Is You") I still remember cutting the check for having the plumber show me how to use my very own plunger correctly. SQL consultants: Does this sound somehow familiar?

    ATBCharles Kincaid

  • Heh...

    What I have found is that whatever managment thinks is "sexy" will get the dollars. That usually means GUI dev tools or some chunk of hardware with lots of flashing lights that they can put behind the glass window in the server room for visitors to see even if it doesn't really do anything but flash lights. A new flat screen TV in the lobby or some bloody chunk of 3rd party software that draws one pretty graph has more of a chance of being purchased than a good solid tape drive or the software to make compressed backups. The only exception to that rule is if some accident occurs and only if it somehow costs them money. But only after the accident occurs because until then, it hasn't cost them any money.

    I've also found that people squawk about "slow the server is" and are quick they are to jump on the DBA when it's really the front end code that those "sexy" tools built that's causing the latency problem.

    It all boils back down to the old saw of people knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing. It doesn't matter what the truth is if it sells papers.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)
    Intro to Tally Tables and Functions

  • Jeff Moden (6/5/2009)


    Heh...

    What I have found is that whatever managment thinks is "sexy" will get the dollars. That usually means GUI dev tools or some chunk of hardware with lots of flashing lights that they can put behind the glass window in the server room for visitors to see even if it doesn't really do anything but flash lights. A new flat screen TV in the lobby or some bloody chunk of 3rd party software that draws one pretty graph has more of a chance of being purchased than a good solid tape drive or the software to make compressed backups. The only exception to that rule is if some accident occurs and only if it somehow costs them money. But only after the accident occurs because until then, it hasn't cost them any money.

    I've also found that people squawk about "slow the server is" and are quick they are to jump on the DBA when it's really the front end code that those "sexy" tools built that's causing the latency problem.

    It all boils back down to the old saw of people knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing. It doesn't matter what the truth is if it sells papers.

    All true.

    When I was being trained for sales and marketing, the key datum was, "make it cool, make it scarce, it'll sell". People will buy all kinds of stuff they don't need, so long as it has some sort of "exclusiveness" to it.

    It's the same thing in this. If you really need to get backup compression software (for example), you need to convince management that either (a) all of their competitors have it and they're going to look like fools if they don't, and/or (b) none of their competitors have it, and they can be the only one and the first. If you go with option (b), you have to make yourself actually excited about it. Don't fake it, create real excitement. That's easier than you might think.

    There's more to sales technique than that, but that's the core datum.

    Keep in mind that most managers are just as bored by their jobs as you are. They'd rather be home watching TV, out playing golf, spending time with their mistress/girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife, than be at work. Especially if being at work means they have to read some dry piece of paper about the technical advantages of backup compression (or whatever), which is probably outside their interest zone anyway (never imply it's over their head, unless you can make that into a compliment sincerely). A little vicarious excitement goes a long ways towards making the workday interesting.

    - Gus "GSquared", RSVP, OODA, MAP, NMVP, FAQ, SAT, SQL, DNA, RNA, UOI, IOU, AM, PM, AD, BC, BCE, USA, UN, CF, ROFL, LOL, ETC
    Property of The Thread

    "Nobody knows the age of the human race, but everyone agrees it's old enough to know better." - Anon

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