What's New?

Gay Gordon-Byrne explains how software selection drives hardware selection. She also examines the issues surrounding the maintenance of IT equipment. Greg Schulz delves into the reasons why data and storage are so important today. Hubbert Smith on metrics for hard disk drives.

Also in this Issue: Regular columnist Nancy Settle-Murphy is joined by Stephen Laroche, and together they give tips on how to give effective meetings.

About ITPI

IT Performance Improvement (ITPI) is where IT professionals share their expertise in making IT organizations and people perform better. ITPI covers such topics as:

Editorial Calendar 2014-2015

September: Project Management
October: Program Management
November: Securing the Cloud
December: Trends in 2015
January: Agile
February: Stakeholders

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MobileCON2014 in Chicago on July 17-19, 2014

SharePoint Technology Confernce in Boston September 16-19, 2014

STARWEST at Disneyworld in Anaheim, California on October 12-17, 2014

Big Data TechCon in San Francisco on October 27-29, 2014

AnDevCon on November 18-21 in San Francisco

Big Data in Retail Financial Services on November 27, 2014 in London, UK

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Software Process and Measurement Cast number 302 features an interview with Larry Maccherone of Rally Software. He talks about Agile and metrics. Measuring and challenging the folklore of Agile is a powerful tool for change! Measurement and Agile in the same sentence really is not oxymoronic.

The Software Process and Measurement Cast 292 features an interview with Dr. Ginger Levin, who discusses her book Implementing Program Management: Templates and Forms. Dr Levin and her co-author Allen Green wrote their go-to reference for program practitioners, colleges, universities, and those sitting for the PgMP. Dr. Levin provides great advice for program managers who are interested in consistently delivering value to their clients.

The Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCAST) # 280 features an interview with Mark C. Bojeun, author of Program Management Leadership: Creating Successful Team Dynamics. Mark makes a very strong case that project and program managers can impact team culture and dynamics. The team's culture is directly linked to productivity, quality and morale.

The Software Process and Measurement (SPaM) Cast 281 features features an essay on value chain mapping. It also features Kim Pries's "Software Sensie" column.

Blogs We're Reading

Jack Ferraro. My Project Advisor. Guidance for Project Leaders and Managers

Jamal Moustafaev. Think Tank Consulting. Musings on Requirements and Scope Management

Samir Penkar. The Future of Project Management. People, Trends, and Ideas on Project Management

Anthony Rhem. The Knowledge Management Depot. Active thought leadership in knowledge management.

Jon Quigley. Value Transformations. Taming processes that have gone wild.

Greg Schulz. Greg's StorageIO Blog. Covering the latest trends the storage industry.

J. LeRoy Ward. WardWired. Project management excellence, as well as a business travelog.

Richard Maltzman and David Shirley. Earth PM. At the intersection of green and project management.

Preston de Guise. The NetWorker Blogger. Commentary by a long-term networking consultant and back-up theorist.


Interested in submitting an article? Want to comment about an article?

Contact John Wyzalek editor of IT Performance Improvement.



Application Selection Dictates Hardware Selection

Gay Gordon-Byrne

Acquisition of technology products follows the application. At the consumer level, individuals buy products for their function, not the design of the circuit board. Businesses, industry, and government select the application software first, and then the hardware that goes with it. Information technology (IT) managers are often pressed to look at "technology" as a solution to business problems; however, the real fact is that the solution to business problems is an application, not technology. It does not matter how the bits and bytes are configured or if the processor capability is less than leading edge; if the application does not support the business.

It is only after a commitment has been made to a particular application that the hardware platform and associated operating system become meaningful. The long-term useful life of the equipment is tied to the planned useful life of the application. If the application decision is in error, the associated hardware and service contracts will also gather dust.

Maintenance in the Digital World

Gay Gordon-Byrne

Depending on the vendor and type of equipment or software, the term "Maintenance" can mean any number of things ranging from changing toner to applying security patches to installing upgrades and enhancements. It is important for users to ascertain exactly what the vendor includes with their maintenance offerings.

Maintenance of hardware and software is needed because technology breaks and software is not perfect. Users can go without any support agreements at all, which is common for consumer-scale products, but businesses have come to rely upon technology product and application availability 24/7, 365 days a year. The more any activity requires constant uptime, the more essential the support agreement, at least in terms of emotional comfort. Even the most costly service plan does not actually prevent failure; it only prearranges for the services and parts needed to make the urgent repair.

The Importance of Data and Storage

Greg Schulz

We live in an information-centric world. As a society, we have a growing reliance on creating and consuming data (Figure 1), which must be available when and where it is needed. Data and related information services are enabled or provided via information technology services combining applications, facilities, networks, servers, storage hardware, and software resources.

More data can be stored in the same or smaller physical footprint than in the past, thus requiring less power and cooling per gigabyte (GB), terabyte (TB), petabyte (PB), or exabyte (EB). However, data growth rates necessary to sustain business activity, enhance IT service delivery, and enable new applications are placing continued demands requiring more processing, network, or input/output (I/O) bandwidth and data storage capacity.

The Disk Drive: The Fundamental Building Block of Enterprise Storage

Hubbert Smith

All enterprise storage is based on the basic building block: the hard disk drive or HDD.

We will start with key metrics of the hard disk drive: price, performance, power, and capacity. We're going to identify the important stuff and remove the noise. Once we have a command of foundation and key metrics, the systems, processes, and economic delivery on service levels readily falls into place.

HDDs come in various price/performance/power/capacities and we can remove the complexity to arrive at the right tool for the job at hand. In the real world, enterprise storage is not about which system offers the cheapest gigabytes for the money. Enterprise storage is not about which system has the highest performance benchmark number. In the real world, enterprise storage is about the balance of adequate performance, adequate capacity, adequate reliability, and data protection, all at the best possible price. And this book is about disassembling the problem into manageable but related components to find that balance for the situation at hand.

Articles from Past Issues
Click here for the complete archive of articles.

IT Infrastructure

Evolving Open Source License Management Processes

Reducing Resource Use

Equipment Energy Consumption: Commonsense Items to Consider

Implementing a Green and Virtual Data Center

Electric Energy and Applicable Metrics

The Importance of Software Security

Why Green Works for Device Purchases

Mobile Security Issues

Effective Physical Security of a Mobile Device

Security for the Enterprise Mobile Device Life Cycle

Evolution of Mobile Threats

Licensing Cloud Resources and Services

Securing Storage

Data Protection: Setting the Right Objectives

Virtualization, Storage Tiers and Manual Data Movement

Spending Wisely on Performance

IT Data Center "Green" Myths and Realties

Common IT Resource Management Activities

Data Storage and Network Security

Metrics for Hard Disk Drives and Solid State Devices

Healthy and Beneficial Backup Paranoia

Ten Things Still Wrong with Data Protection Attitudes

IT Service Management, Business Service Management and Business-IT Integration

Service Management Implementation Overview

IT Release Management

Backup and Recovery Best Practices

Service Level Agreements and IT Bill-Back

Project Management

The Service-Based Project Leader

Leadership, Communication, Technology, and Complexity

Establishing Business Needs and Initial Project Scope

The Five Leadership Principles

General Guidelines for a Requirements Plan'

Sustainable Innovation through Portfolio, Program, and Project Management

The Power of the Principles in Project Management

Establishing a Culture of Execution and Excellence

How to Address Change Resistance and Manage Change


A Guide to Sizing and Estimating Projects

Understanding Your Organization's Best Software Development Practices

Achieving Business Objectives: Building a Software Metrics Support Structure

Connecting Improvement with Business Objectives: Objective-Driven Process Improvement

Process Improvement

Too Many Metrics and Not Enough Data

A Framework for Measuring the Value of Software Development

Using Measurement to Identify Improved IT Performance

IT Management

Big Data Analytics Architectures, Frameworks, and Tools

Using Balanced Scorecard To Measure BYOD Effectiveness

BYOD: Mobile Devices Threats and Vulnerabilities

Building Trust across Boundaries

Communicating across Cultures

Social Teams and Complexity

Understanding Leadership

Leadership, Likeability, and Life

Challenges of Leading in Virtual Organizations

The Ships in the Fleet of Accountability

Process and Productivity

IT's All about Processes

Defining Processes

Scrum and Social Networking

Lean Management

What Is Six Sigma?

Software Design Challenges

Software Integration


Improving IT Performance with
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Sept. 2, 2014. Johanna Rothman. Agile Program Management Networks Not Hierarchies

Sept. 3, 2014. Sean Whitaker. How to Build a Project Management Methodology

Sept. 4, 2014. Don Kim. The Accidental Project Manager

Sept. 9, 2014. Megan Holstein. Breaking into Mobile Getting Your First Mobile App Made

Sept. 10, 2014. Elaine Law. What It's Really Like to Work at an Enterprise Agile Organization

Sept. 11, 2014. Alfonso Bucero. Your Words as a Project Manager Makes a Difference

Sept. 16, 2014. Tom Cagley. We Are All Biased


Improving Your Own IT Performance
Articles by Nancy Settle-Murphy

Ten Tips for Uber-Efficient Meetings—Making Every Minute Count

No question: We waste a lot of time in meetings when we could be getting more important work done. But sometimes there's just no substitute for real-time conversations. Emails, instant messages and shared portals can only take you so far, especially when you're pressured to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. More...

Stop Playing Favorites for a Stronger Virtual Team
Most sports coaches say that one of the hardest parts of their job is to coax the best from each player. But when some players are bigger, stronger or faster than their teammates, leveling the playing field becomes a lot tougher. When the pressure is on, it's tempting to put your best players on the field. After all, they won't need the kind of energy and attention from you that your less physically gifted players will require. And your chances of winning are much better if your star performers are front and center. More...

The Real Costs of Persistent Multitasking: Nine Tips to Minimize Damage
Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who can't concentrate when people around me tap away on their tablets as though no one else at the meeting notices. Do these people even realize how distracting and disrespectful their behavior can be? Or do they just not notice or care? Or maybe I just don't get that multitasking is a requirement for some people to manage their increasingly busy lives, and I should cut them some slack. (Or maybe the people furiously typing into their devices are taking notes or looking up some vital information on the web. Highly doubtful, but possible.) More...

Eight Steps for Facilitating Constructive Conflict, Virtually
Your team is under pressure to make a decision that will make or break your big project. You are shocked when all of your colleagues agree to what you believe will be a disastrous decision. When you regain your powers of speech, everyone is waiting for you to weigh in. (Thankfully, no one can read your body language, since everyone has dialed in for this meeting.) Do you dare voice an opposing opinion at this point, or do you just sigh and let it go, hoping that people will eventually see the light before too much damage can be done? More...

Galvanize Global Virtual Teams with Clear Operating Principles

The best way to get a new team out of starting gate is to pull everyone into one room for a few days to carve out goals, hammer out differences, develop team norms, and agree on deliverables, schedules and roles. Investing in this process allows a team to get through the ?storming? phase quickly. More...

Tips for Picking the Best Tech Tools for Your Next Virtual Meeting

With so many ways to connect virtually, you'd think we'd all be experts by now. In fact, the opposite may be true: Because we have so many choices, finding the best combination of virtual collaboration tools has actually become tougher. And even when we are convinced we've chosen wisely, participants inevitably show up unprepared or unable to make the needed connections easily and quickly. More...

When It Comes to Giving, Little Things Mean a Lot
This is the time of year when we turn our thoughts to giving. But for many of us, that?s where we stop. Just because we have noble intentions, it doesn?t mean we automatically get more time in our busy days to be generous to others, when we?re barely keeping our heads above water ourselves. More...

Turning Around a Truly Terrible Team: Lessons from the 2013 Red Sox

Few teams ever make the leap from the truly awful—sloppy, apathetic, unfocused and disconnected—to the sublime, where members achieve an absolutely stunning performance that leaves everyone else to scratch their heads and ask:"How on earth?" More...

To Keep People Focused, Insist That They Multitask
Are you put off when people tune out during your virtual meetings? I know I am! After all, my clients hire me to run virtual meetings that keep people focused and on track. (And I teach this effective virtual meeting stuff, too!) So when people drift away during my meetings, I realize I need to take a good long look in the mirror to find the true source of the problem. More...

From Jaded to Jazzed: Quick Tips for Sustaining Happy, Healthy Virtual Teams
Have you ever been part of a team where you're inspired and energized by your work, really enjoy the people, feel like you're making some great contributions, and have meaningful opportunities to learn and grow? If you're lucky, maybe it's been once or twice.If you work virtually, attaining this kind of "team nirvana" is even harder. More...

How to Prevent "Unfair" Decisions from Tearing Teams Apart

In the midst of collaborating on a new workshop series to help virtual teams make better decisions, my colleague Sharon Marie May and I had a 'eureka!' moment. Regardless of how rigorous the analysis or relevant the data, if people perceive that a decision was made unfairly, they won't buy into it. This is especially true for virtual teams, who often must make decisions based on partial information and have few opportunities to gather the needed data, validate assumptions or correct misperceptions. More...

Speaking the Truth Is Not Always Easy in a Virtual World
Authentic communication, where we bravely seek and speak the truth, is hard enough when we sit across the table, looking into each other's eyes. In a world where we have no such visual cues to go by, it's far harder to decode what's really being said, what's not being said, and what's behind the words, or silence. More...

Nine Hidden Assumptions that Kill Virtual Collaboration
Why do companies like Best Buy and Yahoo invest so much in creating a flexible work environment in the first place, if they're so willing to discard it later? Bottom line: Many senior leaders just don't trust the concept enough to regard a virtual workplace as an essential component of running their business. And when the virtual workplace concept is seen as expendable, it becomes much easier to dismantle when times get tough. More...

A Line in the Sand Jumpstarts a Virtual Team
with David Kershaw
Virtual teams are hard to see. That's why the boundaries that define the scope, accountabilities, roles, reporting relationships, tasks and deliverables can be pretty tough to grasp. That is, if they exist at all. Why? Some teams simply assume that everyone has a shared understanding of the big picture. If that's true, the thinking goes, then no need to waste time discussing something that goes without saying. More...

A Simple Storyboard Commands Attention and Get Results (Virtually)
with Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts
You're in the process of designing your presentation and creating your meeting agenda. Since you will be leading the meeting from a conference room with several of the senior leaders, with others participating from various locations, you know that a critical success factor will be keeping everyone absorbed, engaged and enthusiastically participating in a productive dialogue. Following are practical approaches for presenting important recommendations that grab and keep peoples' attention, wherever they are. More...

Cultivating Trust from Afar
Today's astonishing economic situation affects virtually every working individual around the globe. As organizations are forced to make drastic cuts and other difficult changes to remain viable, the need for competent, credible, trustworthy leaders has never been greater. More...

How “24x7 Connectivity” Prevents Real Connections
I see more people—colleagues, family and friend—abandon in-person interaction in favor of electronic communications. While it might be more efficient, expedient and less “messy” at times, I am concerned about what this trend will mean to our inclination and ability to have the kind of conversations that foster deep connections. More...

The Keys to Intergenerational Harmony
With multiple generations working side by side for several years now, much has been written about the key differences that affect the ability of multigenerational teams to collaborate successfully. Some organizations have taken this advice to heart and work to consciously reflect these differences when it comes to selecting and cultivating teams. More...

About the Author

Nancy Settle-Murphy, Guided Insights founder and principal consultant, draws on an eclectic and varied combination of skills and expertise. She wears many hats—depending on the challenges she is helping clients to solve. She acts as meeting facilitator, virtual collaboration coach, change management leader, workshop designer, cross-cultural trainer, communications strategist and organizational development consultant.