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Q. I've been working for the past 12 years as an IT manager of a bank's systems development group. Recently I made the big move to join a large telco company as a data operations manager. The salary is pretty good; it is way above average. I have been in this job for almost three months now, but I still long for a role where I manage system development tasks rather than the routine world of data operations supporting our marketing group.
Have I made a mistake? Should I go back to IT? There is an opening for an IT manager position. Do you think I should grab it? Or should I give this job a chance before I move back to programming again? Most of my colleagues are still on the systems development side, and I think they will retire as programmers. Some say that being in operations is actually simpler, but personally, I think it's a more dangerous job since you take control of production systems, compared to programming where you test applications before they are launched to production. I don't want to be deemed as a failure, so should I give this new job a chance, and for how long?
Career advice from Miko Matsumura, deputy chief technology officer at Software AG, who is also a Java and SOA expert: As you may have discovered, the operations side of the house can really be a more dangerous place to work! The operational team is the one that gets the blame when systems fail and that response has to be 24 hours, so you end up with a pager that buzzes in the wee hours of the morning. That said, the business places a clear value on operational IT, and that it's an important stage of the software service lifecycle. This may be why the salary is above average. Therefore, you are playing with fire: if you are held responsible for a major outage, you could be fired, or your reputation could be tarnished.
I think the answer depends heavily on your situation and how long you can stand it! Having operational experience will make you a much better development person overall, and will position your resume better for a "service-oriented" world where there is no artificial distinction between design time and run time, so a service is the total of all things that go into providing capabilities for business users and customers.
So my advice to you would be to watch out for any looming catastrophes and be sure you are not going to be blamed for any service outages. If it looks inevitable, try to get a job back on the development side to dodge the bullet, but experience gained in the operations side will make you a better developer and a more mature candidate for the future of software as a service (Saas) as well as SOA.