What’s the Difference Between an "IT Pro" and a "Dev"?

Someone at Microsoft asked me whether I was an “IT Pro” or a “Dev” the other day in an official capacity, and I got a bee under my bonnet to figure out what the two terms actually meant. For a couple of years I haven’t really understood the terms, and since I figured I was the only one in the dark, I just kept my mouth shut about it. After all, I don’t *usually* like to look like I don’t know what’s going on. [Insert your joke about me knowing what’s going on here.]

http://twitter.com/#!/sympmarc/status/80835198262050817

I had always thought that the terms were Microsoft-driven, as I had never heard them (that I could remember) prior to becoming as Microsoft-focused as I have been the last few years with all of my SharePoint work.

I was surprised at the answers I got. They fell into several camps, which I would synthesize down to:

  • The terms are bogus and they annoy me
  • There is too much overlap to be meaningful
  • Please let me know when you figure it out

Here’s a smattering from the stream that my question generated. Note that there are some links to useful reading embedded in some of the tweets. If I missed something *you* said, and you’d like me to add it, please let me know.

http://twitter.com/#!/idubbs/status/80837768615436289

http://twitter.com/#!/idubbs/status/80842008255668225

http://twitter.com/#!/TeamEUSP/status/80849207069646848

The post to which Natasha referred is SharePoint: What in the world is an ITPro? on NothingButSharePoint.com‘s IT Pro channel.

http://twitter.com/#!/shaunocallaghan/status/80959717656104960

http://twitter.com/#!/stuartblank/status/80960802642866176

http://twitter.com/#!/shaunocallaghan/status/80961031635079168

http://twitter.com/#!/patman2520/status/80967843721654272

http://twitter.com/#!/SharePhantom/status/80968329828896768

http://twitter.com/#!/SharePhantom/status/80968603658227712

http://twitter.com/#!/katscasa/status/80968859158450176

http://twitter.com/#!/katscasa/status/80969918706745345

Sure, it’s totally unfair to ask people to define two confusing terms on Twitter, much less one clear one. But it still was interesting to me how little real consensus there was.

I think that the most cogent answer I got in 140 characters on Twitter was from Diane Golshan at Microsoft, who runs the @msuspartner account:

http://twitter.com/#!/msuspartner/status/81033532784381952

I didn’t particularly like that answer, either, because it included “build” twice. When I pointed that out, Diane responded that they “build” different things. Fair enough.

http://twitter.com/#!/msuspartner/status/81389597078196224

So what conclusions did I draw from all of this? Well, primarily that these artificial distinctions don’t really make sense to many people, that there’s not a clear common understanding of the terms, and that I definitely am not either. Or I’m both.

In any case, I’m pretty sure this isn’t the last time I’ll discuss this.