Concluding DevCon IX
By B. Victor Chakravarty, Enterprise Architect
More than 200 I.T. professionals participated in the ninth semi-annual Developers’ Conference (DevCon) on July 1. In spite of it being held on the Thursday preceding the first long summer weekend, the record-breaking attendance confirmed yet again the enduring value of DevCons. The theme of the DevCon IX was revising the Deployment Certification Policy. By any measure, the Deployment Certification Policy is the single most important I.T. policy that the state has ever enacted, and this is the first overhaul of that policy in almost four years. The DevCon IX turned out to be the perfect venue to vet it with the state I.T. community.
Jim Lopatosky (Associate CIO, Applications) kicked off the conference, and Victor Chakravarty (Enterprise Architect) led the actual policy discussion. After covering a panoramic survey of the evolution of the Deployment Certification Policy, the conference moved to in-depth discussion of the various details. The current single policy is proposed to be split into two: one for applications and another for infrastructure. In lieu of the current slate of thirteen tests, there would be eight tests for applications and three tests for infrastructure. This split would facilitate the migration to pre-certified infrastructure, which would no longer require a per-application vetting. Also, in order to streamline the workflow, the application-infrastructure linkage would be reduced from four to two tests.
All previous DevCons had included a single open-microphone session at the end for random, free-wheeling exchanges. But this time, that open-microphone session was distributed across the entire conference. Its effect was electrifying: passionate debates and very many critical suggestions throughout the entire proceedings, incorporating all the lessons learned and lived experiences of the last three-plus years. The next policy drafts will certainly incorporate all these suggestions to the maximum extent possible. But beyond its effects on the policy, this immediate-feedback model was so encouraging that it will likely be made a permanent feature in future DevCons.
For the first time, remote participation was made available as an option, and about thirty participants took advantage of it. As it turned out, the visual feed from the projected screen and the audio feed from the podium microphone were robust and seamless. But the audio feed from the two roving microphones was less reliable. Admittedly, there is no substitute for in-person participation, but nonetheless, we remain strongly committed to further improving the remote participation experience.
Besides the 200+ I.T. professionals, the DevCon IX was immensely enriched by the active participation of Greg McNeal (Acting CIO), David Maxwell (Director, Project Management), Wayne Gallant (Acting Chief Technology Officer) Floyd White (Accessibility Specialist), Kevin Jones (Security Officer), Mike Pomerleau (Infrastructure Architect), Dawnna Pease (Manager, Windows and SQL Server), Sharon Horne (Manager, UNIX and Storage), and David Plourde (Networking Specialist). The one and only regret is that time ran out while discussing the application policy, making it impossible to discuss the infrastructure policy. We are already working with the Chief Technology Officer on mitigating this deficiency. All conference materials have been posted on the DevCon IX page (Intranet-only).
First launched during the spring-summer of 2006, the DevCon has grown into a premier opportunity for peer-level mentoring within the state I.T. community. It also provides a live and open forum to directly engage with the OIT executive management. Another special feature of the DevCon is that it brings together under one roof the entire state I.T. community, encompassing both the Executive and non-Executive branches. DevCon IX upheld and enhanced all these proud traditions. In the past, participants have braved storms and blizzards to pack the venue to its full capacity. We look forward to the same kind of passionate support for the upcoming DevCon X, to be held sometime in the early-winter.