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FCW : November 30, 2012
November 30, 2012 FCW.COM 11 Commentary | KIERAN TAYLOR KIERAN TAYLOR is director of product marketing in Compuware's Application Performance Management business unit. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama issued a memo to the lead- ers of all executive departments and agencies urging them to capitalize on technological advances that could fundamentally change how they serve their customers. The memo, whose subject was "Building a 21st Century Digital Government," was a follow-up to Executive Order 13571 (Streamlin- ing Service Delivery and Improv- ing Customer Service). It also announced the release of the Digital Government Strategy, which seeks to accomplish the monumental goal of enabling more ef cient and coordinated digital service delivery across all agencies. In order to do that success- fully, agencies must adapt technol- ogy to changing conditions and the demands of users, who expect to be able to access government informa- tion within seconds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As the government embraces cloud computing, virtualization and data center consolidation, how- ever, of cials should be aware of the downside: Such technological advances create a new layer of com- plexity that can wreak havoc on the user experience. For example, in many virtualiza- tion initiatives, the IT team tends to treat infrastructure utilization metrics as the ultimate measure of success. But the relevant metric shouldn t be how many virtual machines have been created and to what extent infrastructure resources are being maximized. Rather, the relevant met- ric should be the point at which the user experience begins to degrade. After virtualization, will our applications perform as well as or even better than they did before the changes? The only way to answer that question positively is by main- taining a commitment to perfor- mance management that is based on the user experience. An understanding of that experi- ence helps leaders make smarter decisions as major projects are being carried out. For example, in data center consolidation and other infra- structure projects, a critical rst step must be to establish a baseline for the current performance of applica- tions and transactions. Then, the IT staff should test all applications with the new con guration and map the application, storage and network changes. Those necessary efforts make data center consolidation proj- ects time-consuming and complex. Once the new data center changes are in place, the IT team should con- tinually measure the applications to ensure that they perform as expected, with no adverse impact on users. The common antidotes to all the phases of a consolidation project are tools that enable effective management of application infrastructure through an understanding of the user experience and the ability to trace transaction ows across the environment. If the user perspective is factored in throughout the entire project, IT teams can avoid rework, which can lengthen costly overlap periods between new and existing infrastruc- tures, while minimizing overall proj- ect costs and staying on schedule. Understanding the user experi- ence is a cornerstone to helping IT teams deal with the adoption of new technologies and the management of complex projects. Today, successful teams are adopting a new generation of application performance manage- ment that is driven by the user expe- rience. It s all about users and their view of an application instead of just being about the infrastructure. After all, the delivery of fast, reliable, high-quality applications to users should be the ultimate measure of success for any proj- ect. If projects aren t managed with explicit user-experience objectives, the IT staff might end up introduc- ing problems that could reduce or even eliminate the projects poten- tial business bene ts. ■ If the user perspective is factored in throughout the entire project, IT teams can avoid rework while minimizing overall project costs and staying on schedule. Cloud versus customer service Cloud computing and virtualization can make agencies more ef cient, but understanding the user experience should be the cornerstone of any effort to adopt new technologies
November 15, 2012