Being assigned to monotonous, time consuming tasks is nothing new to me, but on a recent project I turned what could have been a boring, repetitive assignment into an opportunity. As a former software engineer, I looked for, and found, a way to automate the unpleasant task I was given. Soon, my Cervello colleagues were beating down my door asking for me to install the program on their laptops as well. Happily, I complied, but as the software needed to be updated I was back to doing the monotonous, time consuming task of pushing the updated version to all those who were using the program. I was quickly losing all of the time the program saved and something had to change.
Realizing there had to be a better way to distribute the solution, I turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS). After building a web front end for the tool I set up an AWS Elastic Cloud 2 (EC2) instance with a web server and used it to host the tool as a web application. The distribution of my solution became instant and gave users the ability to track their usage and results over the course of the project. Reviewing usage over the course of a project is a valuable feature that would have been impractical to implement before moving the solution to AWS.
Distributing the solution to my coworkers through AWS was a success. We hit a few bumps in the road around the deployment of the web application and updates to it, but none of these were showstoppers. While the web application has been well received and continues to help save time the “extreme programming” environment surrounding the solution allowed a handful of team members to develop a level of comfort with AWS and web development that would not have been possible on a traditional project. Diversifying the skill sets of employees and exposing them to different project methodologies were two surprise outcomes of this work that will continue to benefit Cervello long after this particular web app is retired.
Seeing what can be accomplished with AWS sparked the imagination of many at Cervello. Prior to this, the company had been using AWS to create training environments for new employees; many people didn’t know we had the ability to rapidly develop a web application and host it on AWS. Armed with new knowledge, it is likely more of my colleagues will come forward with solutions utilizing AWS. This is just another way Cervello continues to deliver innovative solutions to our customers.