ITA Spotlight of the Month, September 2019 IT Excellence: Front and Back-End

September 11, 2019
hands meeting together in collaboration

In our modern technology world, one of the biggest priorities is integration - technical and functional components collaborating, sharing and contributing to create an enhanced product. 

When people talk about the “wonders of modern technology”, they often refer to "killer apps", API’s (interfaces), web services, and new ways to use data.  However, something we need to remember is that behind all the “magic” of technology are the scores of brilliant, highly skilled people.  In fact, the ability of these individuals to collaborate, share and contribute is paramount to the City's new digital world. 

This month’s ITA Spotlight honors the amazing, and yes, "magical" work of some of our application staff to integrate and coordinate the technical with the functional.  We call it "IT Excellence: Front and Back-End".  There are many great examples of this at ITA.  For one good example, we included the following ITA staff:

●          Nima Asari and Kevin Cheng (Back-end Genius):  their dogged desire to find a “root cause” to a problem, their technical spirit to research, analyze, and determine the proper resolution for a security and authentication issue that had stumped the elite vendor technical teams, is a commendable effort by itself, but the truly incredible part of this story is, the issue wasn’t even affecting their project;

●          The Web & Media Team (Front-End Beauty) - Jayson Joseph, Jess Kapik Chong, Balmore Botero, Dustin Rhodes, Kaylee Kim, Calvin Lee, Jess Kapik Chong,

Peter Rodriguez, Jacky Lu, Phillip Rees, Argin Aslanian, and our 2 General Assembly Design Consultants:  for excellence in graphic and media design, in the refresh and enhancement of information and services via the City’s official website, lacity.org.

BACK-END GENIUS

In the effort to update the Citywide authentication via LDAP services, one of the FMS application modules could not authenticate users.  The City LDAP and Financial Mgmt System vendor, had been working with ITA staff for several days, but nobody could explain why the application had suddenly stopped communicating with LDAP, even after reverting to protocol that had worked before. To complicate matters more, although the LDAP servers had been recently upgraded, things had worked well for over a week after the upgrade using the correct protocol.  It was an impasse - both sides (LDAP and FMS) showed that nothing had been changed on either side.

In the meantime, Nima and Kevin had heard about the issue with FMS, since their project also interfaces with FMS, and became curious.  Nima started doing some research, and Kevin soon joined him.  Thinking that they may have an important piece of the puzzle, Nima found out the FMS team was in a meeting on the issue, and knocked on the door of the meeting – “You must be in the wrong meeting, we are not discussing Documentum changes today,” Nima was told.”  “I know, I’m here to help with the LDAP issue,” Nima replied.  By the next morning, Nima presented a working theory, based on a very thorough research that he and Kevin and done on the SSL and TLS protocol specifications and related cyphers.  Research which explained how the protocols had been switching automatically, without manual intervention.  His theory proved to be correct, and allowed ITA’s Security, FMS support, and vendor teams to develop the best solution to fix the problem…Great work! 

FRONT-END BEAUTY

Keeping the way the City is presented to its residents, businesses and visitors “fresh” and relevant is as important, and in some cases more important than having the latest technical tool or back-end process.  If the user can’t understand, relate to, or worse yet, gets frustrated with how City information and services are made available to them, the slickest technical process is for naught.  

The Web & Media Design Team continually walk the fine penciled line between a modern, appealing, yet functional and easy to navigate design for lacity.org.  The new lacity.org immediately engages you visually with an amazing drone shot of the City skyline, but explore a little further and you’ll find key city info and services at the click of a button, an amazing presentation of the City in social media by key areas and what’s trending.  Explore a little more and you’ll find our own LA City View 35 and the City in video media prominently displayed.  BUT THE BIGGEST AWWWWWHHHHHH is the new Resident’s Portal. 

Click on the Resident link from the Home page and you’ll be taken to the first customizable Resident portal offering.  Enter in a location in the City and the Resident Portal immediately provides a customized view of City info and services for the location of your interest.  But breathe easy, the Web & Media Team are protecting your privacy - at no time is the location information stored or shared. 

So here’s to the Web & Media Team -  The Web & Media Team - Jayson Joseph, Jess Kapik Chong, Balmore Botero, Dustin Rhodes, Kaylee Kim, Calvin Lee, Jess Kapik Chong, Peter Rodriguez, Jacky Lu, Phillip Rees, Argin Aslanian, and our 2 GA Design Consultants for the beautiful and service enhanced lacity.org.