CCMS in Sacramento (Part 3) Facing reality, taking action

Posted on June 7, 2011

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“Frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I’m from Missouri. You’ve got to show me”  William Vandiver -1899 

By now, only the most ignorant amongst us has any doubt about the true objective of the AOC’s unachievable goals with CCMS. With respect to the AOC’s solution: Our advice?

Run like Hell.

Run! Run! Run! Run! Run! Run! Run! Run!

 It is difficult to get anyone with an addiction problem to drop the addiction unless they want to. You can’t get people off of smoking cigarettes by outright banning them because prohibition has never worked, people are addicted to them and will pay the black market price whatever it may be.

Regardless of the addiction, one must first be able to get the offender to admit they have a problem. Getting the AOC to admit that CCMS can never work as envisioned would be tantamount to a great white shark permitting you to perform dental work on it as it swims the ocean.

The AOC has so much ego invested into the train wreck that is CCMS, they refuse to tell you that it cannot work as designed, yet wish you to believe it does work as designed so that they can make the sale to others and continue empire building. For what other reason would they wish to silence their critics with a back room deal that seeks to conceal the issues in Sacramento? There can be no other reason and the public and other courts should be thankful to Sacramento for not being quiet, even after the deal was made.

CCMS can work easily enough and produce somewhat promising results when run locally on a local area network. Once outside the courthouse on a wide area network connection it develops serious, unsatisfactory performance issues. How does one go about addressing this one fact? Get all 58 counties to agree that CCMS needs to be installed locally and not over a wide area network. Contrary to Ron Overholt’s assertions, it does indeed matter where the box resides in relation to the application.

The Facebook Experience

Several people have made references to facebook when discussing CCMS and CCMS architecture. Facebook’s architecture is one where the entire application resides on their servers in Prineville, Oregon. CCMS splits that application architecture and it is that split that contributes to the serious performance issues. Facebook does not manage large files whereas CCMS is expected to.

Once you are in the realm of managing/moving large files you’re in a whole new ball game where local area networks can move data up to ten thousand times faster than wide area networks.

Recommended Deployment ?

CCMS should only be installed on a local area network. Period. End of the story. As to if the application should even be used? We loathe to see john q. publics money wasted but this is really a case where technology outpaced the project, rendering the project near obsolescence during its unnecessarily significant development time.

Before completion of any V4 rollout with the time it is projected to be rolled out on the AOC’s schedule, there better be a V5 in the works (at who knows how much cost to the taxpayers) to alleviate all of the technology slated to be obsoleted by the current application. In essence, a gut check is necessary to determine if you even want to get on that hamster wheel that will end up costing billions more. Over the last 10 years the AOC has had ample time to invest into people that should be able to take the CCMS development ball and run with it. If they ever had any intention of ‘taking over’ then they would have done so. They lack and have not developed the in-house expertise to support the application, relying on Deloitte to perform most, if not all of the work. They AOC is just the middleman so while they may own the application, Deloitte owns the AOC. As witnessed by Orange county when they sought modificiations to their version of the application, they went elsewhere to get them done. They didn’t go to Deloitte. Why? Because they were too expensive. Warning: The video that follows should offend just about everyone in this discussion.

 While it will stay with Sheila Calabro, Mark Dusman, Bill Vickrey, Ron Overholt and Stephen Nash forever, the rest of the judicial branch doesn’t need to continue to suffer from it.  We live in a state where there is more software innovation than any place on planet earth and as such, these epic management failures now spanning some 10 years and involving the same players are inexcusable. These people should all be fired.

Only after CCMS is installed in the local courts should the idea of linking all of the underlying databases in each court to one big database in a central repository be considered. Here is where cloud computing may gain the judicial branch greater leverage than the CCTC at a small fraction of the hosting costs as the flexibility of cloud computing permits lightning fast response in a distributed environment. A later V5 version could embrace cloud computing entirely, placing edge servers in the courts. Without some monumental leap in technology and telecommunications, the AOC will not be able to achieve the goals of the V4 program as envisioned.

The issue with all that has been outlined above is that the AOC lacks a reason to backcharge your court for their personnel and their overpriced CCTC operations. Since it would interfere with their empire building and dash any hopes of the level of control over court finances and operations that they had previously expected to achieve that serve to fund their bloated operations, we feel that doing the right thing is not in the cards for the Judicial Council or the AOC.

Today, it is about saving face long enough to retire. Let someone else sort out the mess afterwards. Blame the legislature for the AOC’s failure to plan and the money they refused to doll out on Ronald George’s bridge to nowhere. Meanwhile, time is on their side because no one is willing (or able) to hold them accountable.

Sacramento’s iPhone Apps concept

What CCMS should have been about is defining a common architectural platform/database on the back end as a standardized dataset. If this was achieved, then the modular design of plugging in, say, a family court module or a small claims court module or a probate court module would have been achievable. Having not seen the database constructs, we cannot comment as to if it is currently achievable, although we cannot imagine it would take too much effort to define. This modular concept would encourage anyone else that develops case management systems to develop modules for it that suit different sized courts purposes. The same modular architecture could be extended to the database, with a branch that only does small claims (for example) having only a small claims module and database. That database in turn would be a subset of the entire courts database. The entire courts database could then be a subset of a statewide database.

In conclusion, software such as this must start and be deployed locally for it to perform satisfactory. Local deployments would be the foundation for a future statewide system. Just as you wouldn’t build a skyscraper on a mound of sand, so shouldn’t you build CCMS on a pack of lies.