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Technology Meeting next Thursday

I plan on attending next Thursday's technology meeting in New Orleans.  

The three questions I would like the external technical committee members to cover are:

  1. Why was ACBLscore+ abandoned and what is the current status of ACBLscore/ACBLscore+?
  2. What's the overall technology plan going forward?
  3. Is the ACBL prepared to succeed this time?

 

1)  
Why was ACBLscore+ abandoned and what is the current status of ACBLscore/ACBLscore+?   

Background:

Features of ACBLscore+ (now Bridgescore+ or BSP) are used in numerous regionals (including Gatlinburg) and sectionals where tournament managers have publicly praised the team portion of ACBLscore+. Both the team game and the pair game functionality of ACBLScore+ evidently need more work to either replace ACBLscore or work alongside of ACBLscore, and evidently ACBLscore+ hadn't yet implemented all (most of?) the matchpointing/swiss-matching/pair-movement/... algorithms.

Related questions: 

  • Why did it take the ACBL 2+ years to identify (apparently) fatal flaws in the ACBLscore+ architecture?
  • Does the ACBL now have a complete requirements specification for ACBLscore or ACBLscore+?
  • What is the ACBL's advice to tournament managers wanting to run Bridgescore+?
  • What are the one or two most key features scheduled for rollout in ACBLscore in 2015 -- whether or not they are listed in the Providence schedule?

2)

What's the overall technology plan going forward?

Background:

Going forward, a comprehensive plan must cover not only the replacement of ACBLscore, but also integration of peripheral technologies such as scoring devices and cashless entry systems and also the modernization of the Horn Lake computing environment (i.e. the ACBL's "mainframe" systems). This plan must recognize the need to continually use ACBLscore or its equivalent, the staffing capabilities of Horn Lake IT, the financial resources of the ACBL and the management and oversight dynamics of the ACBL and the BoD respectively. 

The Providence Board of Directors' journal item 143-150 specifically raised the issue of evaluating Horn Lake's technology capabilities with regard to the tasks confronting the ACBL. While that item was never voted on, the core issue persists -- and was acknowledged as a problem well before the move to Horn Lake several years ago.

Related questions:

  • What are the key staffing resources needed for the plan?  
  • What are the biggest obstacles/risks to the plan's success?
  • Where does open-sourcing fit into the plan?
  • Has the committee assessed replacement of the AS/400: a critical project for advancing the ACBL technology-wise and one that exceeds ACBLscore+ in financial impact?
  • How much did the data center cost (how much does it cost yearly?) and do the technology experts on the committee see that money as well-invested? 

3) 

Is the ACBL prepared to succeed this time?

I don't mean this glibly.   Different ACBL administrations have tried before to upgrade ACBLscore and failed.   Well-qualified people are on the technology committee now, but there are red/yellow flags that warrant introspection.   For me, some of those warning signs that indicate "structural" problems persist are:

  • 30 technology experts signed a letter to the BoD last fall in historic fashion, and the BoD response - for reasons that may well be perfectly legitimate - indicated they don't get it yet
  • The ACBL and BoD have publicly asserted their intent to avoid review of what went wrong with the ACBLscore+ project.   Common sense tells me that such introspection is required to ensure the next project goes smoother.   
  • The most qualified member of the BoD (or Horn Lake) was excluded from the ACBLscore project at a critical time when he was most needed
  • The "control our own destiny" approach has created redundant software that has needlessly wasted money (ACBL Live vs. fastresults, NABC results/pairings projection systems, and evidently parts of ACBLscore+) despite the fact that external contractors are hired or used for other projects.   To an outsider, this sounds - rightly or wrongly - like politics driving technology.
  • For me personally, I recall forewarning in 2012 and earlier of exactly the problems that emerged (as did others).    I expressed, among other things, the critical need for complete specifications and the need for ACBL to protect their interests by hiring their technology leaders BEFORE embarking on ACBLscore+.   And because I know that very-well-qualified bridge techies made specific no-salary offers to prevent or fix key problems, I sense some deeper issues.

Related questions:

  • Is the ACBL BoD as well as Horn Lake willing to abide by the advice of technology experts?
  • What, specifically, is being done with the $600K budgeted for 2015 technology projects?
  • What is the status of ACBL Live? Horn Lake had said ACBL Live might be rolled out to regionals, and tournament managers need to plan.
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