Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Administrators v. Developers: Round 1

For years, I have been administering the Windows OS and various server products that run on it. Some of these include Exchange, SQL Server, BackupExec, Blackberry Enterprise Server, etc. During this time I have found it necessary, and admittedly a little dangerous, to update these products in a timely fashion. The updates provided by Microsoft are most often security updates, critical updates, and service packs. Now, within this list are some additional products like the .Net framework. The .Net framework also has updates and changes. As with many other programming languages, some properties, methods, and/or built-in classes are either depricated and removed, or the number of arguments are changed, or whatever. Here is the question:

Is it the responsibility of the administrator (the person applying the updates) to know what code the updates will potentially cause problems/changes with?

OR

Is it the responsibility of the developer to be up-to-date on the framework they are using to develop applications with, the changes that are being made to that framework by the company (in this case Microsoft) that provides said framework?

OR

Should the updates not be applied for fear of breaking something, thus potentially leaving gaping security holes in your servers?

In my opinion, it would be the responsibility of the developer to understand when changes are going to be made to the framework. I do believe the administrator holds some responsibility in this scenario, and here they are:
  1. Schedule updates for regular, off-hours intervals
  2. Notify everyone that could potentially be affected by any problems that the updates are being applied
  3. Apply the updates and make sure the services are still working properly
With that said, below is a list of things that I feel the developer should be responsible for:
  1. Be aware of the changes that are coming with the different frameworks that you use to develop (Microsoft is currently up to version 3.5 for the .Net framework)
  2. Be aware of the updates that are going to be released that may affect your work (maybe, subscribing to the MS Update feed, email notification, or just read the site!)
  3. Make the appropriate changes to your code when there is a change to the framework

1 comment:

Lee said...

I couldnt agree more. Developers need to be help accountable for their programming and stay current with technologies. It is not the responsability of the admin to ensure the programmer is up to speed with their code.