How Visibility is Transforming Quality of Experience

This blog post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, Understanding State and Local Government. Download the full guide here

It’s a simple truth for anybody in government, and the citizens accessing government services: quality of experience matters. Think about it. Citizens want to be able to easily and quickly access information on city services and apply for licenses or permits online without having to jump through a thousand different hoops.

Within the government, employees also want to be able to collect, secure and track records effectively, using the latest tools and resources. When the technology doesn’t work, mission-related tasks are crippled or, worse, come to a grinding halt – which hurts employee morale and creates unnecessary roadblocks.

That’s why quality of experience, or QX for short, is key to your mission success.

A focus on good QX not only allows your employees to perform at their best, but it also means the user’s experience is consistent and reliable. However, providing that level of service doesn’t happen by chance. It takes deliberate planning and insight into what applications are hosted on your network or in the cloud and better visibility into your network traffic.

In order to better understand how to bring good QX to your organization, GovLoop spoke with Kevin Suitor, Vice President of Product Management at Exinda, a company that specializes in ensuring QX for application users.

Good QX is easier said than done in government– especially at the state and local level. One of the reasons for the difficulty in implementing QX is the lack of funding geared towards new technologies –with one exception. “The only area of government that has really seen an investment in QX is public safety,” said Suitor. “Since 9/11 there has been a big investment on public safety, fire and police spending due to grants from the Department of Homeland Security. But if you don’t live inside one of those law enforcement areas in state or local, you’re probably in the dark ages where technology is concerned.”

In order to update their QX, Suitor recommended that state and local governments start by focusing on visibility of their IT operations. Most organizations have a horizontal view of their IT organizations. For example, there may be a group that manages networks, another for middleware and a different group that manages applications.

“These three groups operate in three different silos, and they’re horizontal, not vertical,” Suitor said. “Each one has its own manager, and this leads to this suboptimal visibility and diagnostic capability. Everyone can understand there’s something wrong below them or above them, but they cannot see, diagnose or act upon those problems. IT needs a solution that extends visibility across silos and captures and correlates data from both the network and application to identify what the issues are and where they lie.”

To make matters worse, most networks today have nearly 1200 applications running at all times. Of those applications, only 30-40 are actually sanctioned – the remainder are unsanctioned applications or applications that bypass the traditional IT buying and security mechanisms. “We really think that a great quality of experience requires multidimensional visibility and control to be able to isolate, control, and prioritize those sanctioned applications. In addition, it is necessary to identify and control those unsanctioned applications such that they don’t overwhelm the mission critical ones that are absolutely required,” said Suitor.

Exinda goes beyond typical network management tools to provide a highly detailed and real-time visibility of network traffic. This allows agencies to separate traffic by user, device and application. Beyond just visibility, by partnering with Exinda, IT administrators also have access to a rich policy engine to shape particular types of traffic to meet their specific quality of experience goals.

“We think it is important for both seeing and reporting on network traffic, to understand how to manage and control the quality of experience for applications,” Suitor said. “Great quality of experience is not possible without these. Great quality
of experience requires both visibility and control across your applications and your network, whether it’s a cloud network or a hybrid network.”

In the end, it’s about both visibility and control. It’s not enough to for state and local governments to just know what applications are running on their networks and how they’re being used. Once you have that visibility, you need to streamline processes and ensure a better quality of experience for employees and citizens alike.


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