No facts allowed: Discussions about IT strategy are for sissies

Years of successful open source development are dumped after a directive comes down from on high -- without discussion allowed or reasons given

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This was the first I'd heard of such a decision. I asked what the reasons were but was brushed off, told that "it was just the best thing to do." I pointed out how well my apps were working and suggested that, instead of converting 100 apps, it would make sense to explore the idea of adding at least one more open source developer to keep it going and to further develop in it.

The debate grew more intense, without corporate giving more of a reason than "this is what we decided to do." But I had solid numbers on my side: Our location had gone from least to most profitable in the company, and production brass had figures showing that my apps had made up a large part of that trend. Officers got involved. Our branch's manager was looking brilliant, thanks to the numbers, and he didn't want a thing changed. There had been plans in the works to expand some of my apps as well. Finally, I was invited to corporate headquarters to present my case formally.

I spent a week putting together demos of my best stuff, with actual savings and raves from customers included. I got up before the corporate IT group, including the CIO, and put my heart into pleading the case for FOSS in the workplace. My personal favorite was demoing my IDS, which at the time ran a couple of thousand MySQL queries and loaded a Web page in about 3 seconds flat.

When I was finished, the CIO stood up and read from a (previously) prepared statement reiterating the policy that all development was to be 100 percent VB.net, and further stating that the conversion of my 100-plus Web apps was to be handled by me, beginning ASAP. Open source development was to stop.

I went back to the hotel room and got drunk. The next day, I told my boss I needed a week off. When I returned, I told him that I'd be willing to learn and do new development in VB.net, but refused to convert apps that worked perfectly to a different platform just because of an unpublicized decision to go with a certain technology that was reached without the input of any developers outside of a few in corporate.

Moving on

A year later, corporate dissolved our local IT department and replaced the jobs with corporate ones. There were six of us, and five jobs were offered. It's no surprise who missed out.

After 24 years at the company, I was dumped. It's been a few years since then, but insiders tell me my open source Web apps are still purring along better than the new ones -- and have not been converted.

Send your own IT tale of managing IT, personal bloopers, supporting users, or dealing with bureaucratic nonsense to offtherecord@infoworld.com. If we publish it, you'll receive a $50 American Express gift cheque.

This story, "No facts allowed: Discussions about IT strategy are for sissies," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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