• New Title, New Era

    First thing’s first… as of January 3rd, 2006, I was promoted to Lead Software Architect at CFI/Westgate Resorts. This was a totally new position, created for the totally new direction that we’re heading toward for our software development (an initiative for which I was the primary change agent). You’ll be intimately familiar with this new direction if you follow my blog; if not, check the archives for the end of 2005.

    As a new position, the title was a matter that required discussion. Initially, we’d proposed Chief Software Architect (which is more industry standard than Lead Software Architect), but we didn’t think it would fly with the executives. Quite honestly, they could have titled me Most Extreme Code Gronker and my responsibilities would have remained identical, so what’s in a name?

    So, what are these new responsibilities?

    1) Lead a new team entitled Software Architecture, comprised of (you guessed it) Software Architects. These individuals will be the hub around which our ongoing technology and lifecycle transitions revolve – a clearing house and go-to place, if you will.

    2) Mediate the creation, maintenance, and enforcement of departmental development and documentation standards and best practices.

    3) Identify/coordinate/create internal and external training opportunities for our technical and project management staff.

    4) Evangelize new technology offerings and standards within the organization (currently Rational Unified Process (RUP), Java, and Flex).

    5) Develop short- and long-term road maps for our entire software infrastructure.

    6) Oversee the analysis, approval, and integration of third party software and B2B opportunities.

    The timing couldn’t have been better; CFI is growing at a phenomenal rate. The number of properties that Westgate Resorts owns has tripled in the last two years, and our e-commerce arm is booming.

    And yet, our technology platform is basically the same as it was six years ago (Oracle Forms/Reports/PL-SQL/Databases). Oracle makes fantastic databases, but their Forms technology is basically an enterprise-class version of Microsoft Access forms. Extending that analogy, just substitute PL-SQL for VB and you’ll get the picture: tight coupling between the database and the UI, decentralized business logic, difficult parallel development. With a business as fast moving and rapidly changing as ours, the lack of a layered architecture and flexible software infrastructure is crippling our ability to keep up with the user communities we support.

    Of course, all is not lost. We’ve got a fantastic development team; it’s just that until recently we just didn’t have the right tools. At the end of last year, we got Flex, Rational, and Java application servers, so now we really have no choice but to kick some serious ass.

    All I can say is that I’m excited to have been able to initiate the new direction, and I’m honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to lead our team in to a new era.

    Category: Uncategorized | Tags: