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Cloud Software Hardware Politics Technology

The Billion Dollar Startup: Inside Obama's Campaign Tech 90

Nerval's Lobster writes "A presidential campaign is many things to many people: a reason to hope in the future, a wellspring of jokes and debate fodder, an annoyance to tune out, a chance to participate in the civic process. But for a couple dozen software engineers and developers involved over the past two years in President Obama's re-election effort, a campaign was something entirely different: a billion-dollar tech startup with an eighteen-month lifespan and a mandate to ship code under extreme pressure. Speaking to a New York City audience, some of Obama for America's leading tech people—those involved in the all-important Dashboard and Narwhal projects, as well as fundraising and DevOps—characterized the experience as 'insane,' filled with unending problems and the knowledge that, at the end of the whole process, nearly everything they worked on would likely end up tossed away. This is the story of what happened, and how technologies on a massive scale can make or break campaigns."
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The Billion Dollar Startup: Inside Obama's Campaign Tech

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @05:12PM (#42537659)

    The election politicians themselves were boring and predictable. (Well, once the primaries were over. I'm still convinced Herman Cain is actually a comedian who's work rivals that of Andy Kaufmen)

    The stories about the IT side of their campaigns was pretty interesting. Obama's crew put together a really interesting and very modern piece of software that scaled up and scaled down in a way pretty much unique to it's purpose. Think about it. You need a piece of software that goes from zero users, to literally nation wide in every corner of every part of the country in a span of a few months.. And then it all ends in one day. How do you do that? How do you pay for that? Well, I remember at one point someone mentioned that it took a significant chunk of the entire EC2 cloud at it's peak usage.

    Interviewers with developers made it obvious that these were very competent and enthusiastic engineers. They were involved in campaign ops from day one and the whole op was considered a huge sucess. .. Contrast that from Romney's op. It was clearly a subcontracted piece of software written by an outsourced developer with no little from the campaign. It ran from a single datacenter on a few fixed servers. Very compartmentalized. Very businesslike. And it failed miserably. It was late, crashed under nowhere near it's needed peak load, and left their organizers stranded with no information.

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly