Thursday, July 07, 2005

Solutions or bigger headaches?

I have spent the last two days being really geeky: Installing open source solutions on a Linux server. One solution, or rather application, is a project management application for groups called dotProject. It is pretty good for free, and looks to be able to integrate with our environment, since it supports LDAP. I am getting one of the translators which work in our department to do localisation work, so it should be comprehensible to my co-workers. It has a pretty good translation interface, so it is easy to do. The other application I found is called Dokeos, and is a SCORM-compliant eLearning application. That means that compliant content should work on it, and content created on it should work on other platforms.
Installation is definitely the bane of open source: Because packages tend to be deployed on a wide variety of OSs, and there are a fair number of different environments even in Linux, there tends to be a lot of tweeking of installation, web server settings, database server settings, and so on. It took me far too much time trying to figure out why a perfectly legitimate password didn't work, and why I couldn't get into the system. There are still a couple of bugs that I need to solve.
I put my son to bed this evening, and was sort of idly thinking that I would really like to form a new web solutions group in our company that provided robust solutions quickly to our business users at a very inexpensive cost. The trick would be having integrated building blocks of solutions, and sharing certain resources like database servers, LDAP servers (better yet, use the LDAP functionality of Active Directory), so that all of the basic pieces were in place, and it was just a matter of plopping a new instance of the application down. Even with lots of customisation, applications could be quickly rolled out to customers. If you had your mail server, database server, LDAP server, and others ready, it would be a relatively simple thing to put up an application that you had already configured to use those servers.
I want to create. Even though putting applications up is not necessarily creative, it is providing a solution to certain requirements. I miss that kind of thinking. I want to create a can-do group of people who say 'what is your requirement', and then gets the requirement done quickly and with good quality, for a reasonable cost. Then, the kicker, we provide a high level of support, with SLAs. This would be a helluva lot of fun. Think I will propose it next week when my boss gets back from the U.S.
I got a response from the Netherlands HR person: You are too senior for this role. I wrote back, basically saying 'screw seniority, I am not that concerned. What could be a more important factor is salary, but let's talk about it.' I haven't heard back from her yet.


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