The latest fad among free-wheeling startups may be BYOD, but government offices tend to be far more conservative. Government offices handling confidential data even more so. When Miguel started his contract with a state office, they issued him a laptop. For security reasons, he was forbidden from using any other machine, nor should anyone else use his. Also for security reasons, the laptop was not allowed to leave his desk. It was locked in place with a security chain too short to move the laptop more than a few inches.
The computer had a great deal of… character. It was so old that archaeologists kept stopping by, asking to place it in a museum. Over its lifetime, it had received a few upgrades. The HDD was 500GB, and its RAM was maxed out- at 2GB. This created special challenges for Miguel, since their software required VS2003, VS2005, VS2008 and VS2010, installed alongside their third-party SaaS reporting tools. The machine limped along on Windows XP.
Miguel and his venerable computer toiled away on closing software bugs in the application suite. Meanwhile, the IT bureaucracy was busy with its own tasks. Someone noticed that Windows XP’s support ended in 2014 . Recognizing the epic challenge to move all of their users over, this someone decided that the best time to start was now, and the best place to start was with the IT sub-contractors.
One Monday, Miguel arrived to find the laptop which was never allowed to leave his desk had left. In its place sat a memo detailing the upgrade process. Miguel couldn’t use a different computer, so he warmed a chair and played games on his phone for all of Monday and most of Tuesday. Late Tuesday afternoon, his computer returned to its place, equipped with Windows 7, Office 2003, and nothing else.
Miguel started the reinstall of his development tools. He navigated to the network share where the Visual Studio images lived, launched the first installer, and discovered the Win7 upgrade had revoked his admin access, preventing him from installing anything. He submitted a help desk ticket via email, requesting the appropriate permissions.
The same security reasons which kept Miguel from using any other computers also kept the help desk from simply granting him those permissions, even though he had them only a few days prior. They needed a manager’s sign-off. They needed three separate sign-offs, in fact. This week, one of the three was on vacation. By the time he got back, the second one of the three would be on his own vacation.
Miguel spent two weeks waiting for all the bureaucratic pieces to reach a cosmic alignment possible only once a century. Angry Birds flew across the screen; deadlines flew past Miguel. Miguel did nothing, because there was nothing to do.
Eventually, Miguel’s account was blessed. He started installing the tools he needed. The hours ticked by as he moved through each IDE and reporting system. The reporting system alone took six hours to install, and prompted him for UAC permissions roughly every thirty minutes. After that, he needed to uninstall everything and start over- he had installed the components in the wrong order, and now the application couldn’t build.
Twenty days after the upgrade began, Miguel finally had everything configured to work. He “eagerly” opened IE and pointed the browser at their bug tracker. He expected a huge pile of work backed up over the past few weeks. Instead, he saw an error: the ActiveX control their bug-tracker used was incompatible with Windows 7. Frustrated beyond reason, he called the help desk.
“That’s a known issue,” the help desk drone said. “If you need to access the bug tracker, you’ll need a Windows XP virtual machine.”