Archive for July, 2007

The perils of off-shoring

July 31, 2007

I have just come back from an eventful business trip to Chennai, India.

I outsourced the maintenance and development of fish4’s datawarehouse and website to Infosys in Oct 2005 and Feb 2006 respectively.

The trip started off badly. Our BA35 flight to Chennai was turned around after nearly 4 hours in the air and forced to return to Heathrow, London due to technical difficulties. In total we spent nearly 8 hours in the air only to end up exactly where we started from. My wife was rather surprised to see me walk back in the house at 11pm (after I left at 9:30am) when I was supposed to be in India.

BA re-scheduled the flight for the following day. Despite leaving a couple of hours late the flight did eventually take off and land in Chennai, India. The BA crew were fantastic and were the same people who had looked after us the previous day. We were kindly met at the airport by Infosys staff and our driver.

Despite the trouble getting to India, Monday – Wednesday were very productive days and Phil who was travelling with me and making his first trip to Infosys and India was impressed with their setup.

However it all went down hill on the Thursday!

Phil must have eaten something that disagreed with him on the Wednesday evening as he was not feeling too good on the Thursday morning. After lunch he went to work in his little office provided by Infosys. One hour later we found him sat outside with his head in his hands, shaking and suffering from a bad fever. He really didn’t know where he was. I immediately asked Infosys to call an ambulance. Fortunately Infosys have their own ambulance on campus. He was rushed to a private hospital just 10 minutes down the road. Within a few minutes of arriving at the hospital they had connected him to a drip, taken various blood samples and started administering antibiotics. He was like a vegetable for several hours but eventually started to come around. They kept him in overnight and he was discharged Friday afternoon. He still hadn’t totally recovered but was considered well enough to travel.

Fortunately the flight back was uneventful!

ComputerWeekly article on fish4

July 24, 2007

It is disappointing that Cliff Saran decided to let Sybase have the last word in what was a good article.

However I think it is important to make the facts clear as Alf Franklin, who I have met, was not directly dealing with the case and therefore has received this information via other people.

Alf Franklin, sales manager at Sybase, said, “Fish4 had previously signed up to an IT infrastructure that was more sophisticated than it needed and, as a result, had costs associated with it that were equally as high.”

I am not sure why Sybase think this because

The version of SQL Server 2005 we purchased is functionally superior to the version of Sybase ASE 12.5.3 we are licensed for, e.g.
– Clustering
– Replication
– Analysis Services
– Reporting Services
– Notification Services
– Service Broker
– Integration Services
– Mirroring
– Etc

This does not take into consideration the feature by feature comparison which would surely put SQL Server 2005 on top.

According to the performance numbers we have the Sun 6900 (16 cores) was capable of a transaction performance of 13,974 whilst the transaction performance of the Unisys ES7000 we purchased was 30,959.

Sybase said Fish4’s performance issues were not specifically related to the configuration of Sybase, but were found to be related to Fish4’s configuration.

Why with no changes to java application code and only T-SQL syntax conversion did SQL Server 2005 not have production performance / reliability issues!?! Sure the Sun 6900 and Unisys ES7000 do not have like for like performance but we also load tested the application on a Dell PowerEdge 6850 with the same RAM and quantity of processor cores as the Sun 6900 and had no issues.

Regardless of whether our issues were with Sybase ASE / EFTS 12.5.3 and/or Sun 6900 specification we no longer have the issues and have never regretted the move.

I have resigned as CTO and Head Of Product for fish4

July 14, 2007

After 2 years of working for fish4 I have resigned as CTO and Head Of Product.

I have accepted a CTO position with a VC backed eCommerce start-up. I wasn’t actually looking for a job but was approached and the opportunity was too good to turn down.

I would like to thank all of my staff for the hard work that they put in to ensure the migrations from

  • FinnTech to Infosys
  • Savvis to Internal
  • Business Objects 6.5 to XIr2
  • Sybase ASE 12.5.3 to SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition
  • were very successful in 2006.

    In addition I would like to thank them for the fantastic progress they have and continue to make with data quality. This really has / is making a difference!

    And last but not least I would like to thank everybody who works for me who has contributed to the success of the Product itself, i.e.

  • 50% increase in user registrations in 12 months
  • 100% increase in the number of CV registrations on daily basis
  • 50% increase in eCommerce conversion rates
  • castAnet (automatically match job adverts with CVs)
  • CallTrac
  • CV database re-write
  • External CV support
  • Applicant Tracking System
  • PWAFTAAFT (People Who Applied For This Also Applied For These)
  • BFTA (Be First To Apply)
  • Jobs Search Engine (fish4 has arguably the best search engine now)
  • Homes and Lettings charging (Pay For Performance model)
  • Plus hundreds of other changes big and small
  • I have agreed with Joe (CEO) at his request to work my 3 month notice period so my last day will be 28th September.