How cloud can threaten the end-user experience
- By Kieran Taylor
- Oct 22, 2012
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama issued a memorandum to the heads of all executive departments and agencies calling on them to leverage “technological advances to fundamentally change how they serve their customers.”
As a follow-up to Executive Order 13571 (Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service), the memo, entitled "Building a 21st Century Digital Government," also announced the release of a new government-wide strategy developed to accomplish the monumental goal of enabling “more efficient and coordinated digital service delivery” across all agencies.
In order to do this successfully, agencies need to adjust technology to changing conditions as well as the end user’s level of expectations where citizens expect to be able to access information within seconds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
As the government embraces initiatives such as cloud computing virtualization and data center consolidation, however, it should be aware of the downside. Such technological advances create a new layer of complexity that can wreak havoc on the end-user experience.
Private cloud and virtualized infrastructure projects also pose a serious threat to the end-user experience. In many virtualization initiatives, IT tends to treat infrastructure utilization metrics as the ultimate end-game. But, the relevant metric shouldn’t be how many virtual machines have been created and to what extent are infrastructure resources being maximized. Rather, the relevant metric needs to be the point of utilization at which the end-user experience begins to degrade. Will our applications perform as well or better after virtualization? Only a commitment to performance management based on the end-user experience can answer this question.
An understanding of the end-user experience helps guide smarter decisions as major projects are being carried out. Case in point - data center consolidation and other infrastructure change projects. A critical first step must be to baseline the current performance of applications and transactions. Then, IT needs to test all applications with the new configuration, as well as map all applications, storage and network changes, making data center consolidation projects very time-consuming and complex.
Once the new data center changes are in place, IT needs to continually measure the applications to ensure they perform as expected, with no impact to end users. The common antidotes to all these various phases of a consolidation project are tools that enable effective management of application infrastructure through an understanding of the end-user experience, as well as the ability to trace transaction flows across the environment. If the end-user perspective is factored in properly throughout the entire project, IT teams can better avoid re-work and re-do’s that can lengthen costly “overlap” periods between new and existing infrastructure, and keep overall project costs and timeframes down.
Understanding the end-user experience is a cornerstone to helping IT teams deal with the adoption of new technologies and the management of complex projects. Today, successful IT teams are adopting a new generation of application performance management that is driven from the end-user experience. It’s all about the end-user and the view of their world of an application – not just about infrastructure.
After all, the delivery of fast, reliable, high-quality applications to end-users must be the ultimate measure of success for any project. If these projects aren’t managed with explicit user-experience objectives, IT can introduce risks that can reduce or even eliminate the potential business benefits.
Kieran Taylor is the director of product marketing in Compuware’s Application Performance Management Business Unit.