No this entry is NOT about flatulence. Ironically, there is a Wikipedia page that is – here. Instead my intent is to opine on the practice at my employer about developers supporting their own code – which means that if you broke something then you are going to be the one to fix it.
When I was managing the production support team at my previous employer; the team’s responsibility was to focus on the operation of key systems and ensure that they were available and meeting SLAs. This team did a good job at keeping things moving – if something broke they got to be pretty adept at fixing issues. If you look at this as an outcome with a fixed cost (which is how we structured it) then it can look pretty attractive. But in the end the people on the team had many concerns/issues/complaints/etc about the challenges they faced in sustaining this model. In the end – I feel that this model takes too short of a view of life cycle of a system and therefore is flawed.
First it is worth noting that Amazon has a list of core leadership principles that they live and breath by. I have done a lot of chin rubbing around these as of late and the more that I play with them the more I like them. When considering this post there were a few in particular that I felt applied…”Ownership”, “Invent and Simplify” and “Insist on the Highest Standards”. If you read the short descriptions for each of these they are all pointing to how separating support from development is flawed.
If developers are not responsible for keeping their own code running or seeing how it behaves in production then how they doing any of these things? Sure it is possible that you get outcomes in this direction; but it is not likely – especially without the ownership.
A related topic to this is how we work this into our Agile methodology to ensure that we still get things done on time.