What's different about software developers

I spent much of today thinking and writing about what makes ESS different from other parts of the Institute. In particular, I wondered why the original plan, which had people moving from an HST-directed part of ESS to a JWST-directed part of ESS.

A few years ago, it seemed likely that ESS would fission into two or three parts to support the three Mission Offices. I don’t believe that will actually work, chiefly because we’ve already observed that the systems for JWST are the same as those being used by HST. I see this with Kepler, too, and I believe Kepler is doing it incorrectly. They’ve branched the DMS systems so that Kepler and HST will evolve separately. That means that when we find generic problems with HST (like needing to change something for a language upgrade) we will have to first decide, and then do, the same same update to Kepler, but separately. That will, inevitably, cost more.

If we really wanted to do the Mission-directed work separately, we should have a CE for each mission, or have people matrixed to each mission. We don’t because most of the time the Missions can’t afford whole bodies, and because most of our work is maintenance work. We have few projects, because at the end of the project, somebody is left holding the bag. Usually ESS.

So Joe’s challenge to find a new organization isi the right challenge. But I wonder if it comes too late for anybody to listen.

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