Intergen Smarts 5 (2003)


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Intergen's newsletter, Smarts, now available for online reading.

Intergen provides information technology solutions across Australia, New Zealand and the world based exclusively on Microsoft’s tools and technologies.

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Intergen Smarts 5 (2003)

  1. 1. We are also continuing to see a strong trend towards the increasing use of Microsoft server products as the basis for development rather than pure bespoke. Demand for our services in relation to BizTalk and SharePoint is growing and we have now completed more than 20 internet or intranet applications based on Microsoft Content Management Server. The past 12 months has seen continued growth in Intergen’s business. Our Auckland office is approaching critical mass. We have moved in to larger premises and have developed relationships with a number of exciting clients. Wellington has also experienced growth. We continue to maintain a very diverse client base with a range of projects that are increasingly large and complex. We have one of the largest teams of Microsoft developers in New Zealand with more than 30 experienced .NET developers nationally. Everyone at Intergen would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. We thank you for your support this year and look forward to working with you again in the New Year. As another year draws to a close, we find ourselves in a different market to that of the past two years. Organisations are once again investing in information systems. In contrast to Y2K and the Dot Com boom, information systems investments are now being made in the name of efficiency. E-Commerce is alive and well. Free from the hype of a couple of years ago, many of our clients are realising the benefits of engaging with their customers online. We are developing systems that allow customers to complete ‘online’ processes of increasing complexity. This trend of ‘self service’ is having a big impact on the levels of manual processing, and is changing the nature of interactions that organisations have with their customers. During the past year we have seen Microsoft .NET Framework become well and truly entrenched in the mainstream. Where once we had to sell the benefits of .NET, it is now requested or expected for most projects. We are also seeing increasing demand for Web Services and Service-Oriented Architectures, and are working on at least five large projects currently that include them. I S S U E F I V E >> HOT NEWS: >> T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E < Copyright 2003 Intergen Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission of Intergen Limited > MICROSOFT PDC 2003 >> INTERFACE DESIGN >> PROJECT SUCCESS >> BUSINESS SOLUTIONS >> INTERGEN PEOPLE >> OFFICE 2003 UPDATE >> INTERGEN NEWS >> 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 You may have noted that the Wellington office building is now called Intergen House. Whilst 2003 has been a good year, it wasn’t good enough for us to buy the building. The tenant with the naming rights moved on and we were able to pick up the naming rights at a good rate. A year of highs, as our clients continue to raise the bar IntergenAucklandhasrecentlymoved to larger premises to accommodate more staff as the operation continues to grow.
  2. 2. >> M I C R O S O F T P R O F E S S I O N A L D E V E L O P E R S C O N F E R E N C E 2 0 0 3 They outlined a roadmap and suite of technologies which collectively will make up Longhorn, which is due for release in 2006. With a three hour keynote that unanimously wowed the massive audience, Longhorn was unveiled with an endless stream of new features and initiatives that promise to provide a very rich user experience for computer users when it is released. Longhorn is built on four core blocks to ensure a rich user experience, and to provide a stable and reliable platform. >> Fundamentals: A ground up re-architecture of the operating system core to ensure stability and security are key. A long term goal is to eliminate the need for reboots from the operating system. >> Presentation (Codename: Avalon): Longhorn presents a unified way for programmers to access video hardware and allow users to take advantage of modern graphics hardware. >> Communication (Codename: Indigo): A communication stack that provides seamless communication between service endpoints by utilizing SOAP protocols. >> Data (WinFS): A storage subsystem that enables users to more rapidly locate and act on data within their computing environment. It allows relationships to be made between data, and for information agents to automatically act on data for you. Why the Longhorn name? Not just picked at random. Remember Windows XP was code- named Whistler under development, then the next version of Windows at the time was code-named Blackcomb. Both are ski areas in British Columbia close to Microsoft’s headquarters. At the foot of the Whistler Mountain there is a saloon named Longhorn. So if you’re ever in the British Columbia area, stop in for a beer. >>2 The Professional Developers Conference was an amazing experience both in the energy from the participants and the raft of new technology on show. With an estimated 9000 geeks in attendance, the conference set the Los Angeles convention centre buzzing throughout the five days. Other technologies on show were ‘Whidbey’ which encompasses the next version of Visual Studio, and the .NET Framework and Yukon, the next version of SQL Server. Both promise to be big upgrades and are due out in 2004. Microsoft’s Longhorn is one smart animal… The next version of the Windows operating system, known as “Longhorn”, was introduced by Bill Gates and Jim Allchin to an audience of around 9000 people in Los Angeles in October.
  3. 3. < S M A R T S - T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . I S S U E F I V E >>> I N T E R F A C E D E S I G N >>3 >> INTERGENITE: Navigation Prototyping: A disciplined approach to creativity Over the past two years Intergen Creative Studio have been progressively developing and refining a user interface design methodology now known as Navigation Prototyping. The methodology grew out of a need to resolve the complex navigational and functional aspects of designing interfaces for large corporate and state sector intranets, internets and portals. Simply put, the idea is to make visible to the client a preliminary step in the visual design process – a brand neutral rough (or scamp) of the core website structure, tools and components. It’s not a revolutionary concept, we were attracted to it as an approach when it was first discussed in international usability forums some time ago. Since then we have been applying and refining the model to the point that it has become central to our website design methodology. The rationale behind separating resolution of the navigation model from the application of brand to the interface (look and feel), is to allow objectivity in relation to option selection and user testing. Creating a Navigation Prototype enables you to assess and test the suitability of the preferred navigation paradigm without the distraction of subjective brand application. Our pragmatic approach to user interface design is based on one simple and fundamental fact: “The web is a navigational system” Satisfying diverse user requirements successfully involves recognising and exploiting the many methods of “navigating” from any point within a website at any time. The primary concern is not merely resolving the main site “channels”. Our methodology factors in all the navigation opportunities with search tools, hyperlinking, hotlinks, mapping, and breadcrumbs all leveraged. Recently we completed a total redesign of for Positively Wellington Tourism (a Microsoft Content Management Server project). Shown above are the three distinct phases of our approach, from concept to reality. The process commences with a brainstorming session focussed specifically on exploring navigational and structural requirements. From there the interface designer can produce a series of possible navigational outcomes – the Navigation Prototype. It is also possible at this early stage to conduct user focus testing as part of the decision process. Only once a navigation model has been accepted do we proceed to the traditional creative exploration of look & feel. If you’d like to learn more about how the Integren Navigation Prototype system can benefit your web project, contact our Creative Director Rebecca Cox Rebecca provides extensive web production experience to a range of government, education and private sector web projects. What do you do? Production Designer, Creative Studio. I get to implement our designers’ “creative solution” for each project, building the web page templates from their designs. How do you make a difference? I look out for the key qualities of each project, and apply whatever approach will ensure a robust, maintainable solution, and ensure the integrity of the design and branding throughout the site. What do you love about your job? I love getting a new project, and being part of an organisation developing its web presence over time – it’s an area which changes quickly, and I find it really exciting. What do you do away from work? I spend a bit of time learning new web-related stuff. I like going to the gym and go running to get away from the computer screen. BRAINSTORMING N AVIGATION PROTOT YPE LOOK & FEEL
  4. 4. < S M A R T S - T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . I S S U E F I V E >>>4 >> P R O J E C T S U C C E S S One important way of ensuring the success of a project is to use a rigorous methodology and experienced project managers. Intergen has a team of seven project mangers, who between them have over 50 years of project management experience. They have managed several hundred development projects over their combined careers. Intergen uses a project management methodology that draws on industry-standard approaches to project management. We have developed a recipe that has proven successful again and again. There are a number of principles that we apply to all of our projects. They are an important part of our culture and reflect our focus on successful delivery. For example: >> No surprises. The key objective of our project management approach and reporting methods is that there should be “no surprises” (for both you and us!) about delivery or project progress. >> Workshops and walkthroughs. We use focussed workshops to uncover the requirements, and then feed back our understanding at all stages of the project, explaining our understanding and demonstrating it in the deliverables we produce. >> Breadth before depth. The breadth of the application is developed first so that we can demonstrate how the overall solution will operate, before going down into the full detail of the business rules that have to be delivered for a fully functioning implementation. >> Difficult before simple. We identify those areas that are either most challenging or most critical to project success and focus on those first. This means that we can change direction, if needed, early on in the project, before too much has been invested in a specific approach. >> Project trade-offs. All projects have conflicting pressures exerted on them. The ideal is to have a project deliver maximum functionality, in minimum time, at minimum cost. Usually there needs to be some prioritisation of these three dimensions (time, resources and functionality) and some trade off between them. The table below illustrates the priorities and tradeoffs for a project. It shows that the budget is fixed (resources optimised), the functionality may be reduced to fit within the budget (functionality constrained) and the delivery date may move out if that will enable the project to stay within budget (time accepted). At Intergen, our project managers have the skills, methodology and experience to work with your team to make your project successful. Ensuring Project Success Everyone wants their project to be successful – to come in on time, on budget, and to deliver exactly what everyone wanted. But with so many factors that can impact projects – delays in gaining approval, inadequate budgets, competition for resources, internal politics – it can be very hard to ensure that projects are 100% successful. OPTIMISE CONSTRAIN ACCEPT RESOURCES FUNCTIONALITY TIME The methodology: >> is based on the Microsoft Solution Framework – which is used by Microsoft for all of its projects >> draws extensively on the Project Management Institute’s “Project Management Body of Knowledge” (PMBOK), which is recognised throughout the world >> is tempered with pragmatic experience, based on lessons learned in managing hundreds of projects. The Microsoft Solution Framework (see above) arranges development into four phases, four major milestones, and a variety of deliverables. The four phases are Envisioning, Planning, Developing and Stabilising, as shown in the diagram above.
  5. 5. >> INTERGENITE: >> B U S I N E S S S O L U T I O N S >>5 Nigel Parker What do you do? I am an Auckland based developer with the Development and Integration team. How do you make a difference? I listen to people; I observe business processes; I understand technology; I design and implement software solutions that save people time and produce results. What do you love about your job? Confronting what I don’t know on a daily basis. Learning it and passing it on. I love the diversity of projects at Intergen. I love the speed of adoption. More than anything else I love that there is always someone in the team, linked by camera to your desktop, who has a wealth of experience in exactly what you’ve been stumped on for the past 10 minutes! A bit about yourself? I need to be constantly creating my life, I’m not interested in watching replays. Downtime is an opportunity to plan my next adventure. < S M A R T S - T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . I S S U E F I V E > Web services are becoming more and more commonplace as organisations seek to connect systems both internally and externally. However, integration remains complex, expensive and risky. Web services go a long to way mitigate these issues, as they enable a new approach to integration. Service-Oriented Architectures (SOA) leverage web services to reduce the complexity, cost and risk of integration. Web services are used as convenient entry points to systems that are very complex or difficult to access such as ERP systems or legacy platforms. A Service-Oriented Architecture is essentially a collection of web services that communicate with each other. SOA takes the existing software components residing on the network and plugs all these services into a single information bus. SOA allows a software programmer to model a business process by combining together a series of web services that exist within the organisation. Business processes are able to span systems and time, as an SOA allows a single process to hook together disparate applications in transactions that can take days or weeks to complete, such as insurance claims. Integration is now more about assembling components than hand crafting code. Third party adapters are available as plug-in components to abstract the complexity of the underlying ERP systems such as JDE and SAP. Adapters provide a web service interface that responds to events and processes data sent to them. Middleware software manages the transport of data between the services, providing business process logic and guaranteeing delivery. Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) Services provide a corporate directory of available web services and consolidate the management of corporate web service locations in one place. K E Y R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R A N S O A : >> Standards based – HTTP, UDDI, web services, XML, SOAP >> Use off-the-shelf software, thus reducing bespoke development >> Message queues – managing guaranteed and sequenced delivery of data >> Comprehensive real time performance monitoring >> Automation of error handling and notifications SOA is your ticket to riding the Information Bus I N F O R M A T I O N B U S
  6. 6. TONY STEWART - FORD SIERRA RS COSWORTH Tony grew up thinking every child spent their holidays following their father around on the summer race series from track to track. Both he and his brother caught the bug, bad. There simply isn’t space here to adequately describe just how deep this obsession runs for Tony. He bought the “Cossie” when he got his first real job, raced it at one stage, but now enjoys it for sentimental reasons. MARK TROTTER - SUBARU WRX Mark is the youngest in our line-up and typical of his generation is a “Fast Four” fanatic. The “Rex” is only the second car he’s owned, but the first one was a hot hatch too. Mark got the bug early on, largely thanks to his father’s similar interest, although he dismisses him as being into “that old school stuff”. Differences aside, they are avid followers of the Formula One season together. JOHN JAMESON - MITSUBISHI GTO JJ is an understated character but prefers that his choice of car is far from ordinary. As he says “anyone can go and buy a white Toyota” but it takes a bit of personality to proudly own something with real style. His GTO is an interesting choice, of Japanese manufacture, but unashamedly American in it’s design inspiration. An Oriental Mustang perhaps?! FULTON HARGREAVES - DUCATI 900SS Fulton’s a bike nut. There’s at least one in every bunch! Apparently it all stems from a youth spent in Dunedin riding something he describes as a “two stroke gruntless wonder” in sub zero temperatures. He insists it is a passion (we’re not so sure) and attributes his old Honda CBR to attracting his now wife, not his charm and stunning good looks! STEVE BROOKES - SUBARU WRX Steve openly admits to being quite excited by horsepower, pure and simple – thus his wildly over-specified Subaru WRX. But he hasn’t always been so blessed, from humble beginnings in Britain’s finest, a Mini, he graduated to Britain’s not- so-finest, a Chevette, which came to an untimely demise at his hands over a hump backed bridge... EAMON O’ROURKE - VALIANT CHARGER When you grow up with three sisters in a yachting mad family, holiday trips are crowded and slow with a boat in tow. Eamon spent many years wistfully admiring the Seventies muscle cars pulling out to pass and has since invested much time and effort into owning those very iconic cars. This is the third Charger to grace his driveway and he claims he has only owned a four door car once, briefly! DAVE BROWN - FORD FALCON XR6 Dave is a Ford loyalist, “just like his Dad”. He’s owned most of the classic models – Escort, Cortina and this is his fourth Falcon. He is prepared to admit they’re not infallible though, recounting a blown head gasket story involving the Escort and infamous Rimutaka Hill (the car was sold the week following!). ROBERT INGLEDEW - FORD EXPLORER According to Rob, when he was about seven years old his uncle turned up in a Mustang and he’s never been the same since. From that moment he’s liked his cars big, as in Chevrolet Impala BIG! Although Rob rates the Explorer as “the most unremarkable car I have ever owned”, by anyone else’s standards it’s a serious piece of machinery. Automotive obsession? We’re not sure why, but the Intergen team seems to have more than it’s fair share of self-confessed car junkies. A few might even admit to being petrolheads! It’s true that our clothes, home and career choice all speak volumes about our personality. So what if we put a few Intergenites under the microscope and ask them about their car? We were curious to know the origins of their individual fixations and the form of their current indulgence. >> I N T E R G E N P E O P L E>>6 < S M A R T S - T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . I S S U E F I V E >
  7. 7. >> O F F I C E 2 0 0 3 U P D A T E < S M A R T S - T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . I S S U E F I V E > >>7 Office 2003, for the average user delivers all the benefits of the existing Office product but with a myriad of subtle enhancements for usability. Outlook in Office 2003 stands out as an application that has gained several key improvements. The ability to show the reading pane (preview pane) with a vertical layout allows more of the currently selected email to be viewed and more of the email in your inbox to be listed without having to scroll. I prefer it now over the traditional horizontal layout but if you don’t like it, no worries, turn it off or change it back to horizontal. In fact with Outlook 2003 an increased ability to customise the user interface, turning on great features and switching off others, is a core benefit. Steve Brookes I was impressed with the feature that provided the ability to launch the calendar in its own window while setting up a meeting request. This rather useful feature provides the ability to both evaluate and schedule the meeting request at the same time. Andrew Jamieson The greatly improved Outlook user interface makes it far easier to manage the deluge of emails that arrive in your mailbox every day. For example, being able to define active ‘Search Folders’ makes it possible to bring together all emails, from say one person, into a single view even though the emails are stored in different folders. Office comes with many pre-defined Search Folders, such as Unread Messages, Large Messages, Old Messages, and Flagged Messages, which makes it quick to get up and running with this new feature. Paddy Payne Welcome improvements in Office 2003. Outlook, in particular, is re-invigorated with the new three-pane vertical interface which significantly speeds up the dreary task of going through your received mail. The leftmost pane is the familiar list of folders, such as Inbox, Unread Mail, Sent Items and Deleted Items. The centre pane lists the contents of whichever folder you have selected. The right pane displays the message. These top-to-bottom panes make it much easier to see what's in a folder and to read an individual message, compared with the old version which used horizontal windows to show the contents of the folder and the individual message. Elaine Whelan >> INTERGENITE: We have all heard of Microsoft’s Office System, Office 2003. There is lots of promotional material available (including a small brochure with this edition of Smarts). As a Gold Certified Partner Intergen has been trialling Office 2003 for the last eight months. So we thought that we would share our impressions of using Office 2003 with you. Here are a few short reviews of what we found. What’s with Office 2003? T O F I N D O U T M O R E C O N T A C T U S O R C H E C K T H E M I C R O S O F T W E B S I T E . A few final impressions of Outlook 2003: >> Love the unread email folder, instantly able to view current emails from all folders without having to trawl through them. >> Also the rules wizard has been revamped and works well, with the ability to right click a new email and develop a scheme using a wide variety of easily identifiable profiles. >> Date breaks in the inbox make it easier to distinguish between days and weeks of when emails were received. >> Presentation-wise it is easily accessible and required items are instantly identifiable, definitely for a new user. >> The calendar view has been streamlined, with easy access buttons to view the required date range. >> Scheduling meetings and appointments is easier and far more understandable. Daniel Reed Paul Murray What do you do? Business development manager for Intergen. Therefore, I find opportunities for the real workers to get stuck into. How do you make a difference? I believe in my ability to look a bit further out, in trying to build a quality sales funnel. I feel many organisations fail because they think too short term. I also try to build strong relationships, so customers have a point of contact within Intergen to help them meet their desired business outcomes. Share one thing about your job? This job gives me the opportunity to work with creative people to build leading edge applications for our customers. This is what I believe the IT industry should be all about – providing a positive outcome for our clients. A bit about yourself? Outside of work I do lots of stuff with my young family and love to play about on the sea – sailing, fishing and diving. I have always found being near the sea a great way to relax.
  8. 8. < S M A R T S - T H E I N T E L L I G E N T B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . I S S U E F I V E >>> I N T E R G E N N E W S This was the first time Microsoft had combined its Microsoft Business Solutions and general partner conferences and the result was a four day event with approximately 5400 attendees, 200+ exhibitors, 300 networked PCs, a wireless network covering several football fields, and military-like organisation (just try and get a beer five minutes before the bar officially opens!). My summary of the event…… awesome, fantastic and worth every minute of the approximately 50 hours of travel time getting there and back (including plenty of time getting to know LAX terminals). The New Zealanders were suitably attired in All Black jerseys with a surprising number of people knowing what these were and having some awareness of the World Cup (even if we couldn’t find a bar in New Orleans that was actually showing any games – and we tried plenty!) We were hosted by Microsoft New Zealand’s Partner Account Manager Bryce Scanlen who did a wonderful job of keeping an eye on 23 people who all wanted to do their own thing. Not an easy task in a city like New Orleans that has more bars and nightlife on one street than most New Zealand cities can claim to have in total. Microsoft is fully committed to this conference as can be seen from the number, and level of involvement, of Senior Microsoft representatives. From Steve Ballmer (Microsoft CEO) down, the message was clear; Microsoft is fully committed to the Partner channel and the implementation of its new Partner strategy. This strategy is good news for Intergen as it recognises our continued success in the delivery of solutions using Microsoft tools and technologies. The Intergen Twilight Seminars have finished for the year. We would like to thank all attendees and presenters. The sessions were well attended and we will recommence them in February. We’ll keep you informed of the dates and topics. Watch this space. To be added to the Twilight Seminar invitation list email, or call Gina on (04) 472 2021 Key messages for me from the conference included: >> Microsoft’s commitment to the Partner channel >> A focus on the ease of applying service packs and patches >> Total cost of ownership as opposed to software licence costs. In addition, there was the opportunity to hear industry and technology experts present various topics from the future of web services through to the ease of a NT4 to Windows 2003 Server upgrade. Unfortunately time was short and before I knew it, it was time to go. However, not before the final celebration where Duran Duran entertained us, followed by one last trip around the fantastic nightlife of New Orleans – an essential ingredient to assist with sleeping on the long flights back. Next year Intergen will be back at this prestigious event scheduled for mid July in Toronto (straws are being drawn now). Intergen lands in New Orleans Well …. maybe just for a little while. In early October, Microsoft held its annual Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans and I was privileged to attend this event. After overcoming the awesome size of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Centre (third biggest in the USA) I managed to find my way around and get registered for the four-day conference. >> TWILIGHT SEMINAR SERIES