Monday, May 07, 2007

eNatis developer forced to eat his own dog food

ITWeb Johannesburg, 4 May 2007 - Yesterday was another record day for eNatis, its developer says, with 500 000 transactions completed – 68 000 between 2pm and 4pm alone. [That's the time I was standing in a 2.5 hour queue]
However, police had to be called to some licensing stations, such as the Johannesburg Metro Police's facility in Loveday Street, to deal with increasingly restive crowds.
The Department of Transport and the Presidency are now calling on the public to be patient, rather than denying anything is wrong. [They have been denying it from the outset. How about accepting responsibility?]
Commenting on yesterday's statistics, Tasima CE and eNatis project director Johan Vorster says: “This is still not good enough, we need to increase capacity.” [Nice of them to say so, but when do they apologise on their web site?]
He says technicians have overnight started installing a fourth database server to speed up transactions generally and allow eNatis to cope with demand spikes.
The system began operating on 13 April with two database servers. [Actually it was one, and they added a second on 19th April] Demand caused Tasima to add a third server last week and now the fourth should be online by Monday. “This fourth database server roughly has the same capacity as the other three together,” Vorster says.
“eNatis is handling volumes well, but is getting occasional spikes. We realised that on the database side we were marginal, and sometimes, when large requests come through, we get overload, with 100% CPU utilisation on one of the servers. They should be load-balancing, but it seems they get too busy that they don't share, causing the system to slow down.” The fourth server should help in that regard, he adds.
The Tasima consortium, lead by arivia.kom, is also looking at the system's transaction flow and has “appointed data consultants to see where it can be optimised”. [That's about 3 years too late, but better late than never. Any system that needs to shut down for 1 week to make a changeover and convert data is clearly not properly planned or implemented]
Vorster adds he, too, has had a run-in with the system while attempting to renew a vehicle licence.
The Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), which represents about 7 800 dealers, wrote a scathing letter to transport minister Jeff Radebe about the problems it encountered with eNatis.
In the letter, dated last week, RMI CE Jeff Osborne told the minister transactions “of vehicles and equipment totalling more than R1.5 billion cannot be completed, as no vehicle licensing documents can be obtained for submission to financial institutions… Many businesses are at a standstill and unable to trade."
Cabinet spokesman Themba Maseko yesterday told a post-Cabinet media briefing that the country's political leadership has “noted the frustration experienced and calls on the public to exercise patience during this period as the new system will bring great benefits, both to the public and the authorities in the long term".

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