Division of Labor
With server consolidation on the horizon, it's time—with Redmond's help—to break out of your mold and expand your skill set.
In the always-interesting world of Microsoft certification, we MCPs find
ourselves divided into categories: system engineers, developers and DBAs.
That's been useful, to date, for a variety of reasons, most of which have
to do with division of labor. System admins, developers and DBAs, a way
of thinking goes, have separate functions and should be treated as separate
workgroups. But it doesn't work anymore.
Why the neat, clean model of organization falls apart is a function of
our buddies in Redmond exercising their "freedom to innovate." The more
Windows evolves—into XP and 2002 and the down-the-road Windows XXL, Windows
for Left-Handers, Windows 2007-1/2 Advanced Server with Fries, and so
on—the more functions become part of the operating system and the more
useless it is to be an admin without a clue as to how applications are
built or to be a developer with no training or credentials in operating
Auntie's serious here. Listen up. Applications are the reason businesses
run Windows of any flavor. If your company simply uses computers for file
and print services, you might as well be running NetWare. Similarly, Windows
development leverages the increasing quantity of APIs built into the operating
system itself. When you write code calling the most basic of Win32 API
functions, you're invoking the OS itself and will eventually have to come
to grips with the effects of your code on the operating environment.
You might ask why an ex-super-model and currently accomplished bowler
would get so cranked up on this particular topic. Well, kids, it's because
of a little issue called server consolidation, moving an enterprise's
servers into fewer, larger data centers with fewer, larger servers. It's
on the agendas of many large enterprises with expensive, global IT infrastructures—which
means it eventually trickles down to our customers.
It's the process of consolidating application servers that presents the
biggest challenge—and which is impossible to accomplish on anything other
than an application-by-application basis. Forget about Web servers—you
don't want fewer Web servers. If anything, you want more. But what do
you do with the business rule and data tiers in your n-tier apps? How
many SQL databases can you safely run concurrently on a system with given
hardware specs? How about Oracle? How can you test an app for consolidation
when your company never bought the source code and the developers are
all retired onto their own Pacific atolls?
An enterprise-quality operating system—which is what Windows has finally,
painfully evolved into—requires enterprise-quality certification. The
existing Microsoft certifications are useful, but the material they individually
encompass is no longer broad enough to provide the perspective required
for an IT professional to architect enterprise-wide solutions. No, Auntie's
not the first to bring it up—not by a long shot. But the time has come
for a new, master Microsoft certification tied to the skills needed to
use Redmond's technologies to implement solutions at the enterprise level
and integrate the expertise we MCSEs, MCSDs and MCDBAs bring to the table.
Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.