Programmers with network engineering skills

Justin M. Streiner streiner at cluebyfour.org
Mon Mar 5 18:09:15 CST 2012


On Mon, 5 Mar 2012, Owen DeLong wrote:
> However, the bigger problem (from my experience-driven POV) is that it 
> is not so intuitively obvious that developing a network-based product 
> using a team consisting entirely of developers who view the network as 
> an unnecessarily complicated serial port (which, really is about the 
> approach most developers seem to take to networking) is also doomed to a 
> certain amount of failure.

I'd also add that many software developers are either ignorant of how 
protocols operate, or they take a "meh, it's close enough, XYZ gets 
through, doesn't it?" approach.  That's not to say that those developers 
aren't good at what they do - they just might not be accustomed to working 
the way that people with a more network-centric (or task-agnostic) view 
would likely choose to work.  This would include things like digesting 
RFCs/standards/BCPs, boiling those down to finite-state machines and then 
writing code to execute the machine.

Admittedly we (the 'network guys') don't always make it easy for them. 
RFCs get obsoleted by newer RFCs, but the newer RFCs might still reference 
items from the original RFC, etc.  This can turn into developing for 
something that is still a moving target (DHCPv6, anyone?), which can turn 
into scope creep, and ultimately, frustrated developers (see: "meh, it's 
close enough, XYZ gets through, doesn't it?").

> For example, most apps designed to work with consumer electronics make 
> the assumption that everything in a given household will be within the 
> same broadcast domain as the device on which the app  is running. 
> However, in my household, the wireless network and the wired network are 
> in separate broadcast domains. The consumer electronics are by and large 
> on the wired network. The iPad, iPhone, and other portable 
> network-capable electronics are not.

Other common, but misguided assumptions (even in 2012):
1. You will be using IPv4.  We have no idea what this IPv6 nonsense is. 
Looks complicated and scary.
2. 255.255.255.0 is the only valid netmask.
3. You are using Internet Explorer, and our web management interface has 
ActiveX controls that require you to do so.
4. You will be assimilated.  Resistance is futile.

jms



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