Richard fumbled with his key card, taking care not to accidentally spill his coffee as he entered the conference room. Normally, he was as much a morning person as the next guy, but for him, arriving to work for a 7AM meeting was best suited for the birds. Richard had some hoped that this meeting would at least involve some donuts, but he knew better. After all, they don't title happy project kickoff meetings "Damage Control".
When Richard arrived at the conference room, everybody else was in the same hazy state he was, each nursing a large cup of joe and awkwardly attempting to stifle a yawn. Everybody that is except for Richard's director who nervously got down to business.
As it turned out, things had been humming along quite nicely for years. In fact, nobody knew about the old AIX server chugging away in the corner of the company's data center across town. That all changed one day when it was discovered that, "Oops! The old PC under Jim's desk served as the enterprise-wide method to access the legacy Warehouse Historical Order Retrieval E-System and it had just been re-imaged. Oh, and just to keep things interesting, Jim had just recently passed away after 35 years of dedicated service.
Richard's orders were simple: migrate the old system to a new platform. Do it fast and, above all, keep tight-lipped. With the inter-department politics being what it is, and the business being blissfully unaware of the kludge that their business relied on, everything would need to be kept on the down low to avoid the veritable shit storm that would surely follow if the full truth got out.
Despite the drama and unknowns, documentation did exist. It arrived in the form of a manila folder containing a single piece of paper which read:
Our website is hosted on an separate server with Apache and PHP as the language of choice - to get data out of Sculptor (the original legacy order entry system from the 80’s and early 90’s) and updates back in to Sculptor, the following happens: 1. User visits website 2. PHP takes required parameters 3. PHP formats parameters into a command line structure 4. PHP calls rsh with the command line structure as a parameter to a shell script 5. rsh connects to the AIX server and runs the given command 6. The shell script interprets the command line arguments and runs the correct Sculptor reporting application 7. The Sculptor application retrieves all the data necessary 8. The data is returned to the shell script via STDOUT 9. The shell script returns the data to rsh via STDOUT 10. rsh returns the data to PHP via STDOUT 11. PHP interprets the data and populates its internal data structures 12. PHP then actually handles the page request and returns the page with included data from the AIX server.
Richard could feel his morning coffee start to bubble up in the back of his throat. WTF was Sculptor? Didn't I read a Wikipedia article on AIX one time? he wondered frantically. Just before Richard's brain was about to enter into panic mode, a thought occurred to him.
"What the heck do people want with 25 year old orders in the first place?" he shot back at his director.
"Well," stammered before looking as though a cinder block had been dropped on his head.
You see, Richard had recalled something that was seemingly overlooked by everybody else. The company's data retention policy made the data, and by extension the legacy system it lived on, instantly obsolete. Granted, this meant that Richard would miss out on playing hero and adding "Sculptor Master" and "AIX Ninja" bullets on his resume, but that suited him just fine.
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