Thursday, June 14, 2007

And another story

Let's see who thinks this time that I'm telling his/her story...

Again, I met a friend, let's call him Peter. Does he really exist? I don't care as that is completely besides the point. It is more about the story which, again, I have heard more than once from different people. In this case the first and the last account are several years apart.

The story goes like this: Peter is working for a consulting company. They developed and delivered a system that collects certain information across large geographical area. Part of the solution is using mobile devices for this, and once per day the data is transferred back to the head quarter to a central server.

The problems started when they started to work on the part of the software that deals with the transfer of the data to the central location. The firewall settings and the security policy of the company didn't allow for a direct connection, not using SSL (or any other secure means) and not even to a server in the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). Then Peter asked whether they could sent the data via email, e.g. as an attachment which could then be picked up by a server. This solution wasn't acceptable either. Peter's client started internal discussions, and the went on and on.

At some point the delivery date of the project was at risk, and Peter couldn't wait any longer for a decision to be made. He had to come up with a solution.

Peter discussed the problem with his team. After some lengthy discussion, back and forth, they found the solution:
  • Print the data
  • Fax the data
  • Enter the data

Yes, you are right! Faxing was ok. And then some people in the headquarter of Peter's customer would take the received faxes and enter the data manually! Crazy, but it saved the delivery date for the overall system.

Update: In the meantime the customer has settled on a much better solution and the data is now transferred via SSL to the DMZ, where it is picked up and transferred to the server within the firewall.

Morale: Sometimes you have to be very creative and adaptive to make the deadline. I think Peter and his team were very agile!

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