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Showing posts from February, 2012

Towards automated deployment

Currently, whenever we deploy a new application on the university's IT infrastructure, we follow a detailed quality assurance process.  This involves several different teams.  The actual deployment is performed by the database/system adminstration team.  If we developed the application ourselves, or if it needed significant integration with other university systems, then the software development or software configuration teams will be involved.  The corresponding support teams will check that they have the documentation and knowledge that they need to start supporting the application once it is "live".  The project mangers co-ordinate everything.  And this is just the teams in Applications Division; our colleagues for whom we are implementing the system will be doing their own checks and making their own arrangements.  So deployment takes quite a bit of effort and time.

What we would like to do is to make this process easier, quicker and more reliable.  To this end, we h…

The secret of good estimation

At this time of year, the various departments of the university are planning their activities and budgets for next year.  Applications Division provide the IT component of many new projects, so we are asked to estimate how much time and money will be required or a wide range of proposals.  Most of these proposals are at preliminary stages, with only outline ideas of what will be required.  Given this uncertainty, You might ask what is the secret that lets us produce accurate estimates for all these proposals?

The truth is: we don't.  Of course, we look at our project record to see how much effort was required for similar projects in the past.  This data gives us a guide to the costs of different types of project, such as software procurements, infrastructure upgrades, and software development.  The data also helps us allocate the expected effort across the different teams that will be involved.  But we often don't know exactly what a project will entail and there is usually a l…