Saturday, December 23, 2006

All I want for Christmas is ...

T’was two days before Christmas, and everything’s done.
The presents are wrapped and the decorations all hung.
The girls are excited that Christmas is coming
Mommy and Daddy are tired, sore, broke and bumming

Yup it’s Christmas time again.

And it’s very green here in Windsor.
I hear its green everywhere – except Colorado.
It’s wet, drizzling, and grey. But it is Christmas, and it always amazes me that the weather cannot undo Christmas.

I am off work now until January 2nd. It is a nice break to relax, and not think about work. But frankly – I like my work. I like what I do, and I like who I do it with.

Our team has held this contract since 1994. Our computer system adjudicates drug claims for every senior, every social assisted resident, and every member of the Trillium drug program with drug costs for such diseases as cancer – where the drug costs could break the most affluent family.

The original team back then built a prototype in 1993, and won the contract in 1994. 12 years later our system is still the largest in North America – perhaps the world – I don’t know. It has never gone down unscheduled in 12 years. It receives all such drug claim sent electronically by every pharmacy in Ontario – all the time – and processes 4 billion dollars of drug claim payments every year.

As the senior population has exploded, as the baby boomers age – our system has scaled upward - unbelievably smoothly - to meet the demand.

There are four members of the original creators of our system still working on the project. My respect for them is huge. My enjoyment in working with them is immeasurable. And their generosity in sharing with me is most appreciated, like a debt I can never repay.

Our fourth contract with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care expires on November 27th, 2007. After that date, our team will no longer manage, expand, grow, or maintain the system. We can no longer nurture it scale even greater challenges. Our vision of its future will be of little or no consequence.

We did not win back the contract.

There were those that had told us that no one can hold such a major contract for such a long period. The government would not allow it. So the feeling is that our bid never had a chance.

There were those that had told us that our COBOL host batches and servers were outdated. But the fact was that we were merging java and COBOL beautifully – creating a brand new service oriented architectures from our existing objects. True objects.

You see there are some that simply see COBOL and assume it’s the crap they learned in college or university. Our COBOL services are independent and single functioned. Our Java passes calls to our COBOL for optimal processing, and sends the replies back using JDBC, SOAP, etc.

It rocks.

So this next year will be interesting as we transition from our contract to the new contract – the hand over to the new maintainers – the engineers and developers, the architects and bureaucrats. It will be a very interesting experience. And like all other painful experiences, if it doesn’t kill you it will make you stronger.

And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight
Merry Christmas to all
And to all a good night

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