Last Thoughts (Maybe) on Prinergy

by admin on November 16, 2009

Right, I'm a bit late with this sorry. The last few days I have been struggling to deliver an e-commerce backend to a client, to replace a backend that was an affront and insult to webmasters the world over. I have a standard rule of thumb: If the code is so lousy that I can do a better job rewriting and replacing it myself, then the code was truly crap. Developers who have worked with me in the past would agree with this assertion.

Anyways, that reminds of a joke that a senior project manager told me when I was a very junior project manager:  What's the only sure-fire way to make software developers write code quicker? Answer:  Offer to assist them in writing the code. But on to the topic at hand:

So in my last couple of posts I made a bunch of assertions about Prinergy, and a fair number of people responded challenging my assertions.  A short list would include the following statements:

1.  Modern software projects are portable enough that the transfer of the Prinergy code base to Israel is achievable and not even controversial.

2. It is insanity for Kodak to kill off their crown jewel, so why would they do so?

3. Prinergy customers won't switch because there is nothing else to switch to.

4.  The team in Israel already has experience with the code base, so it's not like they are taking ownership of an unknown product.

Okay, all these assertions should be taken seriously. But let's look at what happened in context, let's take about three or six or ten steps back and look at the whole big picture.

1. Kodak has had a crappy year.

2. Kodak had a crappy last quarter (60% down in sales)

3. Cash is burning up.

4. Stream inkjet is suppose to save Kodak's bacon.

5. However Stream is in beta and Kodak can't recognize revenue or ship in signficant quantities unless Stream is in early production.

Okay, keeping all that stuff in your head, let us pose two questions:

1. How important is it to Kodak to have Prinergy development in a ready-state, that is able to fix bugs, merge new features and issues service and even minor revisions.

2. What is the linkage between Stream and Prinergy?

3.  When will the Prinergy development team in Israel get to ready-state?

Okay, so in my opinion (and oh how I enjoy writing that phrase "in my opinion" on my own frickin' blog as no one can veto my opinion HERE MMMHHHAAAAA,  HHHHHAAA <- Evil laugh) the answers are:

1. It's really important. More important than whatever cost savings were achieved this quarter by canning the Burnaby development team.

2. Linkage between Prinergy and Stream is significant and discoveries made in the beta program of Stream will necessitate changes upstream (in Prinergy). Yeah, yeah, the story is that they have compartmentalized the two products by creating a connectivity team between Prinergy and Stream. Oh, jolly well done.

Hey why don't we ask a former ex-project manager of Creo about connectivity teams that span continents? Why, that would be me.

No, no you say, maybe we ask the opinion of a project manager who has been to both Vancouver and Israel, and as an added bonus worked on output device connectivity between Prinergy and output devices designed and built in Israel.

Why, what an amazing coincidence, if I check my resume I see that I was the project manager for the CS Xpose program from about 2001 to 2004. CS Xpose was the application used to connect Prinergy to the Lotem Quantum. I worked with a bunch of guys over at Herzliya, although I won't embarrass any of them by naming names.

Listen, saying you got a connectivity team doesn't mean everything is going to run smoothly, especially if it's chaos on at least one side of the programme.

By the way, you guys are running Firewire or USB to the Stream, right? The data connection to the Lotem was SCSI when I was the PM, and it was always driving me crazy that it was SCSI.

3. When will Israel get ready-state? And the answer is, off the top of my head. Two quarters. Oh sure, if they go into crisis-mode (And they can be pretty good at producing in crisis mode. Probably because they are surrounded by Arabs who want to kill them all) they can release a service pack in the spring. A real limited service pack. But I don't think that group will start having aha moments about the code base until the summer. Now don't get commenting on my blog about me disrespecting the Israelis. I can remember years ago when every now and then a key developer would leave Burnaby and then right away, code fixes could easily slip weeks or months. So I'm being generous here.

Will Israel get ready-state in time to close off the Stream beta? If they don't, how will that affect the revenue numbers for Kodak in early 2010? I don't know, but I do have memories of my PM stint on the Xpose project. I do remember taking calls from the president (that would Judi Hess) when it got close to the end of the quarter saying they would miss revenue targets by $5 million unless I got Xpose out of beta tout-suite. And that Amos, who liked facing the financial analyst about as much as taking acid baths, would not be happy at having to explain where he lost $5 million.

Now contrast the situation that I faced in 2002 with what is going on now. I would say the stakes have been raised ten-fold. And the hurdles?

Gees, you've got to be kidding. You guys are getting upset because I'm saying Prinergy is dead. I've got guys emailing me that Kodak is on the verge of a bright and glorious future in commercial inkjet. But what I see is a company bleeding so bad it's amputating limbs to keep the trunk and head alive just a weeee bit longer.

Kodak pulls out of this, it will be the greatest comeback in American business history. Don't hold your breath.

{ 1 comment }

John Henry November 17, 2009 at 6:34 am

Where does the Nexpress Front end fall into all this? NexStation seems a natural to drive the new inkjets.

Why have 2 or 3 rip/workflows all on the Adobe based eng?

When I was at Kodak for a demo it seemed they were not high on Creo, all pointed to Nexstation for the future of Nexpress line and that groups seems to be natural progresstion to stream.

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