A few weeks ago, I spoke about how our information on vendor data was slowly making it through the channel, beginning with the compatibility center (complete), moving on to the downloadable Application Compatibility List for IT Pros (complete), and finally getting to ACT. I suggested, “The target date for this integration is mid-December 2009.” To call December 22 “mid-December” is already stretching it, and yet it’s still not showing up in ACT. What gives?

Well, let’s talk a little bit about the data and how it has to move through the system. In the end, it all comes from the same database. The compat center, the downloadable list, the data that feeds the upgrade advisor – all from the same source. What is taking so long to turn on the spigot for ACT?

Well, the big challenge is data transformation. First, the App ID has to be translated. The 3 live services all use a new algorithm for determining an application ID. ACT hopes to transition to use this new algorithm in the next version, but it’s one of those “running in place” changes where, after spending a lot of time and money, the end result looks identical to the user, so it’s difficult to justify rushing the transition (particularly since invalidating an existing inventory full of old App IDs is a terrible idea, so the application will need to support both old and new, and be able to differentiate between them). That translation needs to be automated so it can run in perpetuity, and that process has to be build. Then, the web service that feeds ACT is the old version (v1) while the others are using a much newer version (v4), so the old web service interface has to be modified to leverage the new database feeding it. So, there are two feats of engineering that need to be implemented, tested, and proven at scale.

We’re still hoping to have this done the first week of January, but vacations and winter colds are making this more challenging. Rest assured, this data is coming and we are terrible sorry for any inconvenience the delay is causing – we really do want the data to be accessible and convenient and are not neglecting the value this has to customers.