Wasting programmers as sysadmins

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If I understood correctly, Joel will be spending 2 days doing some system administration. Since he claimed that programmer time is one of the most valuable things a company has, why would he waste his time sysadmining instead of hiring a professional sysadmin to take care of ./configure randomness?

-- Anonymous, December 10, 2000


(a) I think unix system administration is one of the few things MORE expensive than programmers.

(b) we're "between clients" and so my time is not worth so much :)

(c) we're way to small for a full-time professional sysadmin...

When we get more busy, I'll use outsourcing sysadmins like tech square. When we get big enough, we'll hire our own.

-- Anonymous, December 10, 2000

Maybe because he is running a small company and the sysadmin stuff doesn't require a full-time employee.

Maybe he should hire someone to write his email and go to the bathroom for him since his programming time is so valuable.

-- Anonymous, December 10, 2000

Sysadmins - good ones, anyway - aren't that cheap, and they're non- revenue generating staff, unless you find a sysadmin who's also billable (either because you hire out sytems expertise, or because - like me - your sysadmin can also act as a developer/pre-sales monkey/etc.

So say a halfway decent sysadmin in New York costs, I dunno, US$60- 80k per annum (I have no idea whether this is too high or too low), you now have just increased your overheads; you require, at $2k a shot, 30-40 site license sales of FogBugz per annum just to pay that admins salary.

As FogCreek gets bigger, 30-40 site license sales will probably seem like nothing, but I'm betting that at the moment hiring a sysadmin seems like hiring an office admin to answer the phones, buy coffee and order stationary, or hiring someone to water the plants. Sure, it would be neat, but one of the reasons so many companies are going titsup.com is because they blew all their startup money on luxuries like non-billing support staff instead of hiring people who can generate revenue.

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2000

Sys Admin, easily forgotten when things are going well. If you get your platform (sysadminy stuff) right, your programmers don't get interupted from what they do best. (which is breaking the system if they're both "just learning" and "really good". :)

I've spent a bit of time doing sysadmin stuff recently. I think it's a very handy talent for programmers to have, being able to jump on the server & make things right. It also means the "big picture" is in your head when making all the little decisions as you code/hack away, which I believe is good.
It also means your able to offer an end to end solution with the systems you build.

I've also been giving our new "trainer wheels included" sysadmin some training. I think it's been making her a heaps better sysadmin as she gets to see some of the reasons behind all the things being the way they are. Nothing bugs me more than programmers who have no idea of what's going on with the machines they're putting stuff on. I think it greatly restricts they're creative prowess.
It also goe's hand in hand with my make it right, make it once philosophy (well, except for when you're exploring anyway ;).
that's why I think a bit of sysadmining is good for programmers. Ray

-- Anonymous, January 16, 2001

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