Q: How did you get into IT?
Back in primary school there were a few Apple IIc computers. I learnt how to type on these, and wrote my first programs on them. Soon afterwards my parents bought me Commodore 64, I was introduced to the Internet in '92, and my career choice was clear.
Q: What does your current role involve?I am responsible for keeping the current Farmshed site running 24 hours a day, as well as planning and implementing enhancements to the site. Also we occasionally build smaller, more static sites for clients in the agricultural sector.
Q: What projects are you working on?The current project that I am completing is building The Farmshed Online shop to sell general goods that are normally hard to obtain in the rural sector. The main issues that I am working on are improving Web site security (we've had a few Denial of Service and hack attacks lately), as well as add in another layer of redundancy to the site.
Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?Understanding the business drivers of a project and matching the technical solution with that problem. It's too easy to create a technical solution that, while it solves the problem, is overly complex. For example if a program does not need to be available 24 hours a day, there is no reason to implement multiple levels of redundancy.
Q: What are your greatest IT challenges?Ensuring that the Farmshed site is secure and running for 24x7. As The Farmshed's target users only have low speed Internet access (most of our users only get line speeds of 14.4K), creating and delivering a well-presented site, under tight bandwidth constraints. Also, unlearning what I learnt a few years ago when budget was not an issue.
Q: How many IT professionals in your team?Three.
Q: Who do you report to, and who reports to you?I report to Peter Karr, the manager of the Farmshed and Aiko Abbas, managing director of Axiom Australasia (the company that owns The Farmshed). The Farmshed technical team reports to me.
Q: What is the most pressing issue you face?Managing expectations from clients and business users on development time; what is technically possible and when it can be delivered.
Q: What is your annual IT budget?About $750K.
Q: Where is your organisation's Australian head office, and how many end users are there?Artarmon, Sydney. Currently The Farmshed, an online supplier to the agricultural sector, has more than 35,000 registered members, with an average monthly audience of over 85,000 visitors.
Q: What's your average week like? First thing Monday is to check how the site functioned over the weekend.
Around 95% of The Farmshed's site is automatic, but it does need maintenance. Normally there aren't too many emergencies during the week (in the last year and a half, I've only been called up outside hours twice about the site being down).
Q: What is your most difficult IT decision?Recommending that we cancel a project that was running over budget and was not likely to succeed. Worst bit was that a lot of blood, sweat and tears had already gone into it.
Q: What is your company Web strategy?Our company is entirely Web-based. Our aim has always been to provide information and goods to the agriculture sector of Australia via the medium of the Internet.
Q: What is your IT prediction for this year?The number of new IT professionals coming into the workforce will dry up, after hearing the news about the current slower times, and again we'll be faced with a drought of skilled professionals next year.
DVD Burners will become as common as CD Burners, creating a huge price increase in the cost of DVD movies And finally PS2 will beat the Xbox.