Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ok, so you really don't understand . . .

I had a conversation this morning with one of the new managers here. We are at the starting parts of implementing rollout of java based programs to our clients. We (I) found a minor issue 6 weeks back involving testing on our client systems. After 2 weeks of high pressure implementation issues he came to me this morning with a suggestion. His suggestion for working around this is to remove part of our java implementation and replace it with something else, as a way to work around the issues. It took me a while, but I finally have come to the conclusion that he really doesn’t understand the business environment we are working in, nor the issues we have had with this rollout.

From the business side, our company takes a very conservative approach to rolling out software updates to the clients, we allow them to install the new version of the software in parallel with the old version, with the new version accessing separate data files, allowing the clients to test the new version of the software without impacting current operations. The change he wants to make, in order to simplify the issues we have been dealing with, would cause the installation of the new version for testing to change the version of java being used on the production version. Now the change is probably benign, but it would still need to be tested, and the subtleties of running 2 different versions of java concurrently in production is something we could not validate in-house.

From the technical side, the issues we are dealing with have nothing to do with the code he wants to remove. They have to deal with running 2 different versions of java (one in test and one in production) and the code he wants to replace deals with how we perform communication from our legacy to java languages. (We chose to use an approach that requires some JNI code be integrated into our Java programs.) Replace the communications mechanism, and we still have the exact same issue of selecting the correct version of java to run.

Finally, the reason this has been so high pressured is that although I found the issue 6 weeks ago, his group sat on it for 4 weeks and did nothing to resolve it, until we were right up against the code submission deadline. The ability to install for test without affecting the production environment will always be a tricky issue. The ability to switch the version of java being run while doing this was going to require some thought and careful implementation, which is what I stated 6 weeks ago, and was ignored. The fact that we have had pressure about this is due to the 4 week delay in getting started and the fact that the person assigned to do this is not competent.

Overall, a very disappointing conversation.