I've always been a programmer. Then I learned enough about shipping software products at Convex and Dazel, and then global collaboration at W3C. I have always respected the people who keep the servers running—the W3C systems team rocks!—and now I'm learning a bit of that stuff too.
I mostly taught myself to program as a teenager. Then I worked at Convex, developing software supercomputers. It was a mature engineering organization; a great place to learn about shipping software products. Then I helped set up the engineering organization at a startup company, Dazel. Between these jobs, I learned the difference between a program and a product: a program works for the one who wrote it, while a product works for users. For the same set of features, developing a product is about a hundred times as much work as developing a program.
My job at W3C struck a nice balance between research and development for a good long while. In my short stint at Science Commons, I wrote "writing software to support research" in a status update, and I have hung on to that since. That's pretty much what I do at KUMC.
We're building a data repository for clinical researchers. It has just a handful of users now, but we're gearing up for more. So it's time to think about server operations. I did a little bit of system administration at W3C... it was something of a tradition that each new hire on the technical staff played that role... but eventually we grew up and hired real system administrators. Since then I have managed to avoid responsibility for server operations.
The informatics group isn't big enough for that yet, so I spent a few days learning the state of the art in open source monitoring tools. Getting ahead of the ball with service monitoring is a happy result.
It's certainly happier than the feedback I've been getting while trying to learn about Oracle administration. (Frank isn't the name this guy used, but he was very frank.)