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I have very recently started a new job as a Software Engineer.

Hardware consists of a pretty good windows 10 notebook (i7, 1TB SSD, 32RAM, 3 x 24" screen) in a "dev network" independent from the regular company network. In order to access the resources from that regular company network we have to open a Citrix connection to it which has to stay open the entire time because this is were we have access to our emails and other intranet stuff.

In order to do some actual programming (99% of the time), we have to launch a CentOS VM over Virtualbox.

The problem: having constantly open a Citrix connection and 3 VM windows ("displays" option at VM) is VERY resource consuming and our development environment is constantly lagging making it very difficult and exhausting to work with, making us very inefficient and very ineffective.

I want to talk about this with my (very friendly and very approachable) superior and explain to him that this is not optimal. I want to suggest that we need to either migrate our programming tools to run natively on Win10 (without the need of starting the VM), or to install CentOS as the primary OS on the computer and then run a single VM with a Win10 guest in the company's network. This would represent a pretty big work...

What would be a good strategy for approaching him about this? Since I'm very new at the company I don't want him to think that I will be difficult to work with. My coworker shares my thoughts but doesn't need a change because he "relaxes until the system is responsive again".

TL;DR

There is a lot of room for improvement in my development environment which will make me a lot more effective and efficient, not to mention happier in the workplace. How do I approach my boss about it? It's a new job I've been in for 3 weeks and I don't want my boss to think I'm a "difficult one" that is always complaining.

marked as duplicate by gnat, Jim G., Twyxz, Michael Grubey, solarflare Oct 24 '18 at 1:37

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    Is your boss technical, and if yes, does he have to subject himself to the same torture? – rath Oct 19 '18 at 13:55
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    Do you know what the reason for this is? In my previous job a new team lead prepared a dev VM and instructed all the new people to use it, in order to save time with setup / onboarding. We brought it up a couple of times but he was adamant that we use it. The new hires did and the old colleagues low-key ignored it. Eventually we switched to developing natively due to a combination of licensing issues and constant nagging. The point is the reason you're using this setup will have a huge influence on whether or not you succeed with this – rath Oct 19 '18 at 13:58
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The way to approach such a situation (no matter how senior you may be) is to present the problem, alongside some solutions. In other words, don't simply complain, but constructively offer some options for a fix.

This is not a red flag coming from "the new guy", because sometimes it takes an outsider to "see" issues that those working within the environment are simply accustomed to, and overlook.

Record a video of the IDE lagging, and explain that it impacts your performance. Then outline your two possible solutions in an email/document, and explain - roughly - what it would take to implement those solutions, and what the benefits may be (perform a simple cost benefit analysis).

At that point approach your boss, and make him aware of the issue. Engage in a conversation, and express your desire to be more productive.

He may or may not take you up on your proposed changes, but you will not look bad either way.

  • And how many developers do you know that can come up to a solution to what is a not exactly non complex network scenario? Which is realistic? Because if you ahve a team of 20, chances are that NONE of them has the know how for this. Sad, but true. – TomTom Oct 19 '18 at 14:09
  • @TomTom - I don't understand your comment, would you care to elaborate? – AndreiROM Oct 19 '18 at 14:14
  • "is to present the problem, alongside some solutions" - first line. Not realistic in many cases. – TomTom Oct 19 '18 at 14:19
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    @TomTom How is that not realistic? Not only is it realistic, its expected. No one will every listen to you if you just say "this sucks". Unless you have a way to change it, you're just better off not saying anything. In this case, OP was come up with solutions. – SaggingRufus Oct 19 '18 at 14:28
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    @TomTom - You're overthinking it, and also being quite negative for no reason. Realizing that the dev tools lag because of the Citrix connection + VM combo is pretty straightforward. Recommending that a different OS be installed in order to remove the VM from the equation is also very obvious, and not particularly complicated. Last but not least, an expert can be contracted to analyze the options available, and recommend a fix. But if no one points out the issue, and offers a possible fix (such that management knows that options are available), nothing will ever be done. – AndreiROM Oct 19 '18 at 14:35
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You're new there. There were reasons to set up the environment that way. They may not be good reasons, and they may not still apply, but there are reasons and you don't know them.

Therefore, you need to ask your boss what the reasons are. Something like "Working natively, whether on Windows or CentOS would be more efficient. Why aren't we doing it that way?" There may be a good reason. There may be a bad reason that your boss can't do anything about. It's also possible that your boss will be willing to change things. You can also tell your boss that you think the environment could be better and ask if your boss would like some suggestions.

Basically, you want to look like you're asking questions as opposed to just complaining. It may also help to phrase things as proposals for improvement rather than complaints.

You definitely want to check on your boss's reaction to your suggestions, and back off if your boss doesn't seem to appreciate them.

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3 weeks isn't long enough to be challenging the way things are done in any major way. These changes you suggest are huge and probably have reasons behind them.

Citrix connections are not cheap, licencing is substantial, so there would be a good reason, probably security behind it. Same with the VM's. This is not something you want to argue against at this stage, you'll not only probably come off with nothing but you will be perceived as someone who will make waves with incomplete knowledge.

Don't do this before you even finish your first month. The impression you're creating in these early days can stick with you your whole time at a company. No one knows you from a bar of soap except by your actions in the last three weeks.

My advice is to focus on creating a good impression of yourself until you have proved your worth. Don't try and restructure the company procedures just yet.

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