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I've worked in several jobs, and there is usually a time when the sysadmin(s) and the developers should have "the talk" about the IT infrastructure.

From the sysadmins viewpoint, most of the users need Office apps on Win10, with access to the web and a mail server. The responsibility is to make all that work securely, that is with backups and without malwares.

From the developers viewpoint, they need performance, low-level access to their hardware (ex: direct access to USB), admin-level rights for some tasks, sometimes on another OS.

How to find a solution that fits everyone (both sysadmins and developers)?

Most of the time, what I see is developers doing what they want on their side, until either:

  • the sysadmin asking for admin access to "control the whole infrastructure"
  • the sysadmin asking for complete reinstallation of another kind of this OS (e.g. change of Linux distribution, so "everyone has the same system")
  • the sysadmin asking to virtualize the developers environment, so that they run their OS on top of a monitored "workplace approved" OS.

This leads to some arguments, as the developers don't see any benefit for them to change their whole work system. I've seen a "split" when the developers refuse and are then isolated on a subnetwork of the company with one of the developers in charge.

Do you know some acceptable compromise that permits both side to work together without split or resentment from any side?

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    Who is "everyone"? Are you looking for a single tech solution that keeps sysadmins, devs AND regular users happy?
    – Erik
    Jun 8 at 10:43
  • Are devs working for internal or external clients?
    – Mołot
    Jun 8 at 10:46
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    "I've seen a "split" when the developers refuse and are then isolated on a subnetwork of the company with one of the developers in charge." How sure are you that this is a "bad consequence", as opposed to a way to keep everyone happy? Development environments tend to be notably different from end user environment, and if neither party can easily compromise towards the other...
    – Flater
    Jun 8 at 11:31
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    If a company employs developers, it makes no sense to employ system administrators who don't want to support development tools and environments.
    – jiheison
    Jun 9 at 0:35
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    A lot of this will depend on the type of company this is in. For instance, an hospital and an investment bank will have vastly different security requirements than other types of organizations. Also, this will depend on the work that is done by the developers. If the work the developers are doing is high visibility, or drives the economic engine of the company, then the company will find a way to accommodate their requests, even if it has to bypass the IT department completely. If you want a good answer, please give us more details. Jun 9 at 8:58
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There is no one-size-fits-all solution. There are many viable ways of doing it some of which you already know.

The important thing is that sysadmin and developers (or any other group) have good communication and professional respect. There is no need to be butting heads.

A good sysadmin knows the needs of everyone on the networks and makes sure they're met. If they're not sure, they consult with the departments before implementing and testing the new environment. It should never be an arbitrary change.

Sometimes the 'split' is absolutely necessary because the developers need control over software and have a fluidity to their needs which is not compatible or easily maintainable with the rest of the infrastructure. In those cases sysadmin still has some control but gives up responsibility for the operating environment.

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the sysadmin asking for complete re-installation of another kind of this OS (e.g. change of Linux distribution, so "everyone has the same system")

  • Transparency - What level of work is required so that apps are tested and QCd on this new environment. Why is this beneficial?
  • Inspection - How could this derail other on-going BAU and projects?
  • Adaption - Could we plan these changes so as to minimize disruption?

the sysadmin asking to virtualize the developers environment, so that they run their OS on top of a monitored "workplace approved" OS.

  • Openness - What stakeholder is pushing "workplace approved"?
  • Courage - Does "workplace approved" environment help or hinder the delivery of value?
  • Transparency - What are the risks to "unapproved workplace" environment?
  • Focus - What methods are available to minimized "risks" and what these risks are?

Your devs/sysadmins/stakeholders/managers are free to continue asking these questions and more.

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I've been trying to answer this from my experience with both a good and bad system.

It essentially boils down to having your sysadmin(s) and other IT infrastructure people being well qualified, having time to learn and maintain systems and facilities in place to request flexibility when needed. And the money to invest in a well thought out system that works. Good communication ensures people's needs are met, and everyone understands any restrictions which are in place.

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Pick a direction you need to go most, prioritize what's needed, and then pick a solution. In the end it is neither sysadmins or developers who have the last laugh, but $$$ which makes the decision. Let it settle and then enforce the decision. If someone disagrees, then they're either right or they're wrong. Figure out which one of these first, and then go with the "right" decision.

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