Running a ColdFusion Shop 2

I had more to say about running a ColdFusion shop. Hopefully I’m not overstaying my welcome on the topic.

Developers are your Users

This might be an odd bit of information, and you shouldn’t forget about the users of the applications, but developers are your users. This has a few different implications:

Development servers are production servers as far as your developers are concerned. I learned this the hard way a few years back when we lost our production environment due to a compromise. (Yeah, I had a server or two hacked, don’t judge me.) We only had a single node production environment. Part of our recovery plan was, in case of emergency, use the staging environment as the production environment. This could work for a day or two, but day three came around and the complaining started. Perhaps justified, but when you are trying to get a new production environment up, you don’t want to hear “we need to work.” In the end, you want to make sure that the development servers stay up during regular working hours.

Users have their own definition of what is and is not your responsibility. “What’s that you say? You deleted your entire directory, and want me to run a backup?” Developers will eventually either accidently wipe out files, or go down a bad path with their code and want a restore. We’ve all done it, but as an administrator you’re going to want to ensure that their problems don’t become yours. Make sure they have access to a source control product. Encourage them to use it. If you’re running on Windows enable Shadow Copy. If you do regular tape backups try and have a local backup that you can easily restore from. The idea here is that at some point you will be asked to run a restore, you want to make sure that you never really have to.

Don’t be an asshole about security. I know I just said something about being hacked, but bear with me. The first of Microsoft’s Immutable Laws of Security is:

If a bad guy can persuade you to run his program on your computer, it’s not your computer anymore.

Your developers can run code on your server; by definition you are already compromised. Don’t lock down tags. Don’t prevent object creation. A smart annoyed developer will get around you. The administrator is pretty easy to get around if you can do any sort of file manipulation. Even if this doesn’t work, there are many ways a developer can outsmart you if you are unnecessarily restrictive.

Obviously this is for groups of developers that work for the same company. I hope hosting companies don’t have this attitude. Additionally, don’t ignore external security.

Be open about your standards. A few years ago people left every code review we had saying, “Why didn’t anyone tell us about these new standards?” The reason was that the central group of administrators trolled the blogs, read articles and paid attention to what was the newest recommendations. We would talk about them, and come up with new guidelines. Problem was that we didn’t talk to the rest of the group until code reviews came up. My group started posting our standards on our Developer’s blog, and now people don’t leave code reviews feeling like they’ve been ambushed.

That’s it for now, I’m sure I remember something afterwards which can wait for an eventual part 3.

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