Sharky

Any bets what the consultant's favorite phrase is?

August 16, 2013 6:00 AM EDT

This city's Public Works department upgrades its work order system to a new web-enabled version -- and per the current best practice for software acquisition, doesn't tell IT about it until the deal is done, says a pilot fish on the IT side.

"The IT people had to scramble, since the software 'upgrade' was actually an entirely new system, with features and requirements that weren't in the old one," fish says.

"Public Works, as usual, bought it first and then talked to the IT people about what was needed to make it work later. They had missed things like the server, communications requirements, licenses, portable devices -- you know, details.

"But not to worry: Once the computer people fixed all that, Public Works' consultant would handle the installation and configuration and all would be good."

The Public Works staff has thought ahead about how they'll connect from the field via Internet, though -- and they've bought iPads, which have spent the past few months being used to check email and watch YouTube videos.

IT gets the hardware and networking set up, but the vendor has provided no details on the new web module requirements beyond the server specs, and the consultant is busy assuring everyone that he's working with Public Works' in-house staff and it's all good.

Finally it's all in place, and one of the Public Works staffers fires up an iPad, connects via browser -- and nothing happens. Literally. The screen is blank.

IT is called in. The consultant thinks it must be a configuration issue, so IT needs to fix it.

The IT techs dust off their Windows netbooks and try to connect. They don't get a blank screen -- but they do get a big stop window that tells the user to download the Windows client application for the work order system, and that ActiveX needs to be enabled for the client to function.

Hmm -- there's no ActiveX on the iPad and no way to run a Windows client on the iPad. The IT guys report their results back to the consultant. What's his plan?

"Consultant recommended they download a Microsoft remote client, configure a VPN tunnel to a workstation or the server, open the firewall to the server or internal workstations and remote-control the desktop," says fish. "Then they could start the Internet Explorer on the Windows system and operate it all from the iPad. Simplicity itself.

"The CIO finally put her foot down and told Public Works to buy Windows-based mobile computing devices and use Internet Explorer as required by the software.

"Glum faces in Public Works -- their marvelous iPads will have to be replaced. But it'll all be good, right?"

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