To say I’ve been a little distracted lately is an understatement. I’ve been involved – running really – a project which is culminating tomorrow. The successful results of which won’t be seen by anyone outside the company. Its one of those projects where if you succeed brilliantly a few people directly involved know, and the everyone else doesn’t. And if you fail, the repercussions could be profoundly negative.
It’s not a fancy end-user facing application, it’s not an iPhone/iPad or Mac application. Shoot – it barely even has any python associated with it. It’s our service desk – internal ticketing and workflow system.
For the past six months, we’ve been working towards completely tearing out and replacing the ticketing system that technical operations uses – and it’s associated integrations points. We had some software that was “end of life” last year (meaning we had to pay a bunch more to even run it this year if we wanted support). We did the analysis last fall, worked out some large enterprise vendors into a hell of a froth, and made our choice.
We didn’t go with the fancy one, or even the one I considered to be the best technically – we went with a combination of the cheapest cost and the least effort to maintain and run. We have been implementing it – replicating most of the core functionality that we’ve built up over 8 years with the previous software as a “central platform” in our office. For the past month we’ve been in “UAT” (User acceptance testing). What that did was show me how far behind the ball we were for a cutover. So the past month has been 60 hour weeks (and 6 days of 7) at the office, cranking on getting us to some level of feature parity.
Given that the product we are replacing had 8 years of organic growth and tidbit development, that we’ve accomplished this much in 6 months is pretty damned impressive. This project could easily have been a year-long implementation if we’d let it.Â I’ve been keeping it as focused as I could – enough to get the job done and a few improvements besides – but not every bell and whistle that you can imagine.
We go live tomorrow. All the incidents (outages/errors), workflow, service requests, and changes flow through this system. I’m both elated and terrified, and I know that we have an easy month more of post-launch work to get us to where we want to be running on a regular basis.
When I took on this new position in Technical Operations, I’d rather hoped and planned on building some new frameworks and tools to automate our processes – driving down manual effort into more “self service” and making us more responsive, agile, and consistent. What I found when I really dug into things was a ton of technical debt and core systems that couldn’t be the foundation to building upward. The biggest, nastiest roadblock to that original vision of mine is falling away tomorrow.
For the next two weeks the team will be doing what we lovingly call “hypercare” for the rollout. It’s the “all hands on deck – and watch every twitch that anyone makes”. Keeping an eye on all the critical aspects of the system, making sure it’s running smoothly, and if there are any hiccups, smoothing them out immediately.
I’m also personally looking forward to a longish break a week down the road heading to Apple’s WWDC, rooming with Gus and having a damn good time with the Mac/iPhone/iPad developer crowd in San Francisco.
After all that? Take a deep breath, look around, regroup, and figure out where to attack next.