By user12609114 on Dec 31, 2008
It is a with a great deal of melancholy that I sit down to write this entry. It is that time of year, when we say goodbye to the old and in with the new. One of the systems that I was in charge of at my previous employer is officially going off line at midnight tonight.
I used to work for Sprint. Over the years I held many, many titles. Seems as though we re-orged every other day. At one point I was responsible for working with Sprint's customers to move their applications into our co-location facilities. One day I received a call from an exec, because there was a problem. Sprint had an application hosted by an outside company that they needed to move in house ASAP. There had been a project to do this that was WAY off track, and since I had been so successful moving our customers apps into the data center, maybe I could get this one moved.
Always up to a challenge I of course said yes. I then asked what the app was. It was a thing called shortmail and webmail. Shortmail allowed you to send text messages to a phone. Umm yeah in 2008 this is not a very novel idea, but in 2000, I had never heard of it. Webmail was a web based email application.
Diving into the project I realized things where very very bad. Not only did we have to get the applications working, it was discovered that the new 3G network, which was supposed to be ready, wasn't. We had to take over getting the 3G network running as well, so that our application would work. The date that everything had to work, was set based on marketing, not based on reality. Our CEO was going to ring the bell at the stock market and announce the new network. The project was what is called a death march in the software industry. To make a very long story short, I was able to put together a core team of people, 6 of us, who literally worked 21/2 man years in one year, each, and we pulled it off! We quite frankly left many many bodies along the way. There were many people who rolled on and off the project because they could not handle it. But the core team managed to stay together and pull the project off. I still feel to this day, that it was an amazing feat.
I made some of the best friends I have on this project. How could we not become friends? We were literally spending 20 hours a day together. Till this day I still stay in touch with most of them. Unfortunately one has moved on to greater things. Goodbye Drew, we miss you!
In '04, the application had to be moved from one data center to another. It became the reunion tour. The team was put back together and we moved it again. This time the project was not a death march. It was great working with the team again. Ironically, that project lead to another one at Sun, which led to my current position.
As I logged into pay my Sprint bill this morning, I saw the final warning message. Webmail will be shutdown this evening for good. Honestly not a lot of people really want their email address to be firstname.lastname@example.org. These days with aol, hotmail, yahoo, and google, there were very few users on the system and I do not blame Sprint for making a sound economic decision.
It is interesting to remember the good and yes the bad times we had pulling off this project. My memories are really attached to the people on the project more than the systems. So webmail, while you might be going off line, you will live on in the hearts and minds of the people who made the project real!