Traditionally systems work has been separated from development and to developers their main role seemed to be to say “No” in a variety of ways.
At the Guardian we try to ensure all the development teams have access to dedicated systems staff who can help solve the problems that the whole team has. For instance it might be one firewall rule or one line of code to solve a bug but give the bug to people that can’t change the firewall and they will develop around it. Instead we try to get the best solution in the fastest time using whatever skills are available.
Systems are of course be spreading best practice around security, scaling and monitoring as well as providing the tools for developers to do their jobs faster such as faster deployment methods.
Equally important is maintaining the platform be it internal on our new OpenStack cloud or outside the building in Amazon Web Services.
The Guardian has good links between developers and systems people although we’re constantly striving to improve them as we see it as a good way to get more resilient, scalable products with fewer nasty surprises.