Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Nice try

The other half of my life to which I've only alluded before, is computer consulting. My company writes custom software applications for clients. This week my whole team has been working at the client's site for User Acceptance Testing, so that we could work directly with users when they hit issues. Considering how we're now looking at a 4th night here when we'd planned on 2, this arrangement hasn't been real popular with the families we've all left at home. But it has been enormously successful from the efficiency and winning-bonus-points-with-the-client perspective. Did I mention the client is Vail Resorts, that each of us was given a condo, and 'here' is the base of Keystone Ski Area? There are worse places to be forced to work.

For Vail, we are writing a new application to handle airline reservations. Their main AS400-based reservation system handles lodging, car rentals, lift tickets, etc, for Vail/Beaver Creek/Breckenridge/Keystone. It cannot talk directly to the airline systems so it needs an intermediary. Their current intermediary, which is about 7 years old, is rapidly being reduced to obsolescence due to the incredibly flexible nature of the airline industry, so there is some urgency to getting a replacement in place.

Having decided to stay yet another night, the team resolved at lunch to put on the afterburners to get absolutely as many bugs resolved tonight as possible, so that we can leave tomorrow morning feeling confident about our Go-Live date a week from now. And, as it must happen: the AS400 goes down. This is the piece of machinery that had been extolled as it's greatest virtue is that it NEVER goes down. We're dead in the water. The 25 reservation agents sitting in bull pens around our conference room are dead in the water. We ask them when the last time was that it went down - everyone looked at eachother and just shrugged.

Two of the developers in our team are actually from Vail IT - they make a few calls to their connections. One of our testers is head of the AS400 development team - she makes a few calls. No word. We knew we were in for it when the word started filtering down that they were "going to call IBM".

Once again supposed to be checking out today and deciding not to - my project manager and I decided to take this opportunity to go check back in to our rooms. We walked over to the main lobby, but were turned away. See, their AS400 system was down....



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