Never Dull in the ZT Bus Series: It’s Time for a Change

Matt “Never” Dull has been a technology consultant for over 15 years. With a brain that can “never” say no to solving the strangest of business requirements, he has successfully delivered some of the most interesting and seemingly impossible integrations involving content management, search, social, portals, security and mobile solutions to a client list a mile long. In November of 2015, he bought a bus. His two kids and dog put up with him and will join him on cross-country bus trips when they can.  This blog series follows Matt along on his bus building journey and the comparisons this project has to the ones in his day job.  And so the adventure begins!

 

Why do things need to change? If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, but it is broke!

Hey, you, yes I’m talking to you! Your customer portal that was built 15 years ago, well, it’s down again. Open up a conference line on Saturday morning at 8 AM and get everyone in the world on the call for triage while I run to the big box home improvement store to buy replacement parts for my toilet as it’s leaking again. You also realize after eight hours (there goes the weekend) that you had a memory leak in a JVM that was causing the issue. Meanwhile, my leak is fixed. You, however, have resorted to restarting the JVM and cross your fingers that it is stable until Monday at which point you must find a developer to look at the code.

Fifteen years. That’s about how long my house has been here. It’s a monolithic beast permanently grounded to the landscape. It sings off key with all its bells and whistles and certainly serves its purpose, but the maintenance is pure hell. Now I’ve got you thinking, “Hey, that sounds a lot like our customer portal.” Constantly fixing, patching, hacking together temporary solutions to resolve larger underlying problems, it’s a never-ending cycle. Maybe it’s time we both look for another solution.

Wait, what? I need a roof over my head just like you need your customer portal. Too many moving parts and it just works, most of the time, so why change? Take a step back and look around.  What is the footprint of your application? My house sits at 1800 square feet. How much of your applications infrastructure is really used at full capacity, or used at all? Considering where I spend 99% of the time in my house, my footprint is roughly 80 square feet, but I still must maintain the other 1720 square feet. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Oh, and a lot of things don’t get used at all, but they still sit around after all these years collecting dust because one day I might need them, or I don’t know what would break if I get rid of them.

Here begins the journey of searching for something else. Something that is nimble and self-sufficient. Something strong enough to withstand the test of (relative) time and also flexible enough to become what I need it to be in the now, for my customer, me. And change rapidly, without the overhead of change. I’ve looked at many alternatives and it has all boiled down to finding a framework that is portable, resilient, flexible and a blank canvas that I can build upon. So I bought a bus.

Bus

Yeah, that’s right, a honest to goodness school bus (it’s one of those yellow things that transport children to and from school, but you knew that). We call them Skoolies. Let’s figure out what you can learn about redefining your applications and infrastructure from my adventure of converting and moving into a bus as a home on wheels. Amazingly enough, our roadmap is quite similar.

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