View Full Version : FTDNA has new Head of IT

11-16-2015, 02:23 PM
The following quote is courtesy of Jennifer Zincks notes from Day Two of the FTDNA Annual Conference -- linked to elsewhere in this section of the forum.

(In past years the annual IT Update presentation has been given by Elliott Greenspan, son of FTDNA's CEO.)

"Max [Bankenfeld] introduced Mike Alexander for an Engineering Update. Mike is head of the IT department right now. Mike has been in IT for 30 years and is from Houston. He spent 10 years at NASA working on the Space Shuttle program working with high performance computing and the operating system for the space station. After that he worked in telecommunications for 8 years at WorldCom. He managed all of the circuits with large quantities of data. For the last 10 years he has been in the financial markets. He helped to build trading systems, utilizing high performance computing to make sure things are fast. He is hoping to spend the next 10-15 years working with Max and Bennett.

Mike follows the three P’s: People, Processes, and Products. When Mike started at FTDNA, he felt that there was a problem with the balance of staff. They doubled the number of people on staff to do testing. Everyone was doing a good job but there was heavy manual testing and it was hard to keep up. Mitch did a tremendous amount of System Administration. They’ve also doubled up that staff. They created a Database Administration team and also a Technical Writer. They intend to do a better job of communicating changes to the project administrators.

Some improvements are computer programs that test Family Tree DNA, computer programs that tell them when Family Tree DNA is too slow, and they will replace computers before they break. They have replaced pictures on the wall with monitors to keep up with things.

They have rebuilt Family Finder, using high performance computing techniques. They use these techniques throughout FTDNA. These techniques make FTDNA more responsive and this helps them deliver new features quicker. They’re updating all of their computers and network hardware."

11-16-2015, 04:30 PM
Good to hear the specific mention of "processes" That most likely is the source of many problems. Getting processes and documentation in place will improve the quality of what is pushed out.

11-16-2015, 04:50 PM
As someone who works in "IT operations" it's sound like they've done a big overhaul of their test/build process which is only a good thing, that and stuff like monitoring etc. Only good can come from that in long term.