Going Virtual

My company started up the current software maintenance contract in a strange mode. At first we bid the contract for developers to work out of our company’s headquarters, doing all our work remotely for the client. At the last minute the details were changed per the request of the customer. Instead we were to report to the client’s site to work. There was one big problem with this plan. They did not have cubicles for us to work out of. So our whole team ended up working out of a big lab at the client’s site.

Life at the lab is suboptimal. There are many challenges with performing work in this environment. One of the problems is that the network connectivity is not too good in the lab. Many of our developer servers are located in another building. The network speed between the lab and that building is slow. It takes forever to access code in our source code repository. Most of the time to do a software release is spent getting the latest version of code from the Rational Clearcase server.

The team brainstormed a solution to the slow network speed. Our best choice was to do our development work on virtual desktops located in the same building where our development servers are located. Now renting these virtual desktops come with a cost. But I think we pass these costs on to our client. It also takes a while and a lot of negotiating to get the system administrators of the virtual desktops to make configuration changes that we need. I am lucky in that I have admin rights on the virtual desktop that serves as our build machine.

We got a new Configuration Management team member. He had a task from his boss to find out which virtual desktop the build machine runs on, and to gain the ability to remotely connect to that machine. This CM guy came and asked me for information on the build machine. I told him the domain name of the virtual desktop. He came back telling me that he could not log on to the machine. I explained that there was a team that administered the virtual desktop machines. This team needed to grant the access he required. It is probably going to be some time before our CM guy gets access to this machine. There are benefits and drawbacks to going virtual like this. Right now we are experiencing some of the pain.