James Rochez (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.
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.
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