Amazon diagnosis

James Smith thepacketmaster at
Tue May 3 03:30:38 UTC 2011

It's always interesting (in a sad way) when a programmer or DBA comes to me with a basic networking or Unix question that any CCNA or RedHat candidate could answer.  Then I get a very safe feeling about my job security when they start asking me if I could look at their code.  This has happened too many times in my career.  

People seem to equate broad knowledge to mean you're a jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none.  These are usually the same Comp Sci PhDs that have no clue why they just got fired for saying something totally inappropriate in front of HR. 

The more knowledge you have about anything and everything that your systems interact with then the better you will be at your specialty.

Sent from my "contract free" BlackBerry® smartphone on the WIND network.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeroen van Aart <jeroen at>
Date: Mon, 2 May 2011 19:27:34 
To: <nanog at>
Subject: Re: Amazon diagnosis

Jeff Wheeler wrote:
> IT managers would do well to understand that a few smart programmers,
> who understand how all their tools (web servers, databases,
> filesystems, load-balancers, etc.) actually work, can often do more to

I fully agree.

But much to my dismay and surprise I have learned that developers know 
very little above and beyond their field of interest, say java 
programming. And I bet this is vice versa.

It surprised me because I, perhaps naively, assumed IT workers in 
general have a rather broad knowledge because in general they're 
interested in many aspects of IT, try to find out as much as possible 
and if they do not know something they make an effort learning it. Also 
considering many (practical) things just aren't taught in university, 
which is to be expected since the idea is to develop an academic way of 

Maybe this "hacker" mentality is less prevalent than I, naively, assumed.

So I believe it's just really hard to find someone who is smart and who 
understands all or most of the aspects of IT, i.e. servers, databases, 
file systems, load balancers, networks etc. And it's easier and cheaper 
in the short term to just open a can of <insert random IT job> and hope 
for the best.



More information about the NANOG mailing list