Sunday, 13 May 2012

The fat lady is warming up

It's been a while since my last post - not because I've had nothing to write about, but due to the amount of work I've had to do.

A couple of months ago, (just after my last post) we had another issue with a consultant doing work that then caused a problem - I didn't actually see what it was as I was at an overseas site and it was fixed before I got back to the office. But it caused a lot of issues with the system performance, to the point where almost no-one could work again.

Having gone thru the relevant monitoring information, I could highlight that most of the time our system worked really well - I also had the relevant metrics to show just how bad the performance was in the period when the problem was occuring. Once the problem was resolved, the performance improved considerably - and I was able to highlight that the issue was not a fault of the system. But the senior managers were not happy with what I was telling them and wanted some confirmation.

They had asked the SI to look at the system the last time there was an issue, but the guy that was sent to site really wasn't a Basis specialist. He checked thru some of the obvious transactions, but didn't really provide any hard facts - he didn't even bother asking for the Earlywatch report which could have given him some hard data. Instead, he just told them that the system was not powerful enough - we needed more processors, more memory, more network cards - basically more of everything.

Now over the last few years, the SI has been quite agressive on the mergers & acquisitions trail - I know that they have acquired at least 3 other companies, and I think that one of these has a stake in a data hosting facility. Last year, the directors from the SI took our shareholders to a junket at a country club, and I'm pretty sure that they were really just promoting the concept of us moving to the hosted system that is now part of their business.

I understand that the shareholders were told lots of things about how great the service is and how affordable it could be. I've also discovered that it was suggested that with a hosted system, I would not be needed, and if I was no longer around, my wages could pay for this - I'm not sure how much the SI thinks I get paid, but I know that if they got rid of the entire IT department, it still wouldn't pay for the hosted system. Added to that, I still have my doubts about how good their service is likely to be.

As it happens, some weeks ago I met up with a guy that is a Basis consultant - he is self employed and has worked for some of the biggest organisations around. I managed to get authorisation to get him in for a couple of days and he has gone over our systems very carefully and provided a detailed report on what he found.

What was clear is that we are not doing too bad - there were a couple of minor tweaks that he suggested might be of some use, but he primarily said the system is well maintained and has sufficient capacity for what we need for the next couple of years. He also highlighted where some of the consultants from the SI have not been following best practice, something that has been annoying me for ages.

But even with all of that, it seems that the decision has been made to go to a hosted system, even if they will not actually come right out and say so. I don't know if there is a timetable yet, but based on a couple of comments, it would see that they are planning to move the systems sometime around the early part of next year - based on how the SI have done in the past, I might suggest that it won't actually happen until the later part of next year.

As you may guess, I was not too pleased to hear this. I have in fact approached the CEO and other directors to see if anyone will explain what is happening - but they seem reluctant to discuss in too much detail. However, they won't deny it either which does make me feel very unsettled. I even put my concerns in writing, highlighting the costs and potential concerns - but still they won't talk to me about any plans they might have.

I must admit that after the problems we faced at the beginning of the year, I sat down with the family to talk about our options for the future. My oldest daughter is at that age where it might cause some issues if we had to move, but they are all aware of what is happening, and they do actually support me. They would obviously prefer to stay here, but if we have to move, so be it. I started brushing off my resume and sent it off to the various agencies. I've also been networking like crazy over the last few months, trying to see if anyone knows of any decent vacancies.

Since March, I've actually had 4 interviews - and they all came back really positively. But so far, nothing yet..... But I am hopeful that I will hear something this week - fingers crossed. Whatever happens, I will let you know.