At work, I’ve managed to wedge myself into a pretty wicked and useful niche: operating system deployments. The place I work is a multi-platform software development company, doing R&D in the healthcare software arena. In simpler terms, we make healthcare software that runs on Linux, Windows, Solaris, and OS X – so pretty much all of the major operating systems that I know of.
I started off with the company about 7 years ago in the software testing department, and one of the biggest hassles we had at the time was what we call staging. We’d get a new build of a product from the development team, and have to test it from installation through to migration to the next release. We found that, over time, our Windows installations on the test machines would get to the point where we’d be reporting bugs that upon investigation would turn out to be artifacts of a previous installation, so we started reinstalling the entire operating system from scratch every time we got a new build.
Now, here’s the situation: you’ve got a group of around 40 testers. Only a handful of them have any real IT experience, or any software background for that matter (myself included). We had no support from the IT group for many different reasons, not the least of which was because we demanded the freedom to do anything we needed to do with the test equipment. So, inevitably, any time a new build showed up, we’d fumble around, looking for the right OS media, and – in the case of Windows – a valid license key that we could use to reinstall the OS.
Needless to say, this was a major hassle.