End user experience is what counts with Boston’s
business technology solutions
Management tools drive changes and enhance citizen services
City
of
Boston
HP customer case
study: With citizen
services increasingly
dependent on new
Web-based
applications, the City
of Boston has taken
steps to improve
performance,
availability—and the
end-user experience
Industry: Public
Sector
“With HP Software, we’re increasingly confident that we know how our
applications are performing. We can proactively understand how our
infrastructure design and choices impact end users. Eventually we will see solid
improvements in our performance and availability metrics, but even today user
perception of availability is improved, which is half the challenge.”
—David Nero, Director of Enterprise Applications, City of Boston
Objective:
As its IT infrastructure becomes more complex, the
City of Boston seeks ways to optimize
performance and availability, thereby ensuring
high standards of end user experience.
Approach:
The city has implemented key HP Software
management tools.
IT improvements:
• Some WebLogic scripts run 10 times faster than
expected
• IT has better visibility into infrastructure
performance and availability
Business benefits:
• Improved user perceptions of system availability
• Virtualized deployment of Business Availability
Center reduced capital investment costs
• Improved availability reporting helps set city IT
priorities
• Foundation in place for driving improved
performance and accountability
David Nero, Director of Enterprise Applications for the
City of Boston, has seen his department’s
responsibilities mushroom in recent years. The reason:
The city has been finding more ways to use business
technology to manage its operations and enhance the
services it offers to citizens.
For Boston’s 20,000 city employees and the residents,
who increasingly depend on the city’s technology
standards to do business with the city, that’s all good.
But an expanding infrastructure also means that Nero’s
team has to be smarter about how it manages its
systems—which is why the city has turned to HP
management software.
“If we have a performance or availability
issue, even if it’s only once a quarter, the
perception of the end user is ‘the system
doesn’t work.’ We need to be proactive
and prevent issues from becoming visible
to users.”
David Nero, Director of Enterprise Applications, City of
Boston
Tenfold increase in its user base
Nero, whose group is responsible for the majority of
the city’s applications, first recognized the need for
effective software management tools when the city
implemented PeopleSoft for finance and human
resource management in 1999. “The technology
landscape has changed dramatically since we
implemented PeopleSoft,” he says. “Today, we have
multiple applications deployed across many different
departments on various platforms. The architecture is
more complicated and, in some cases, relatively new
to us.”
The city’s technology growth comprises both inwardand outward-looking applications. Internally, it has
increasingly adopted additional PeopleSoft modules as
ERP tools. “We project that our PeopleSoft user
population, which is around 2,000 today, could grow
tenfold within the next few years,” Nero says. In
addition, Boston residents increasingly rely on the
city’s website. They use it to access municipal
regulations and procedures, request permits, pay taxes
and parking fines, and access public service
information ranging from crime prevention tips to
information on upcoming cultural events.
Proactive measures
The city’s first step toward more-proactive application
management was to validate application performance
prior to deployment.
When it first implemented PeopleSoft, the city
contracted with HP partner Melillo Consulting, to
perform this task. Melillo, Nero says, used HP
LoadRunner software, part of the Performance Center
software suite, to perform “stress tests” on applications
before they went live.
Later, however, Nero decided to license LoadRunner so
the city could test applications in-house. “As demand
for applications went up, we realized we should
support them in a more robust fashion,” Nero says.
“Having the ability to load test in-house means we’re
prepared to support upgrades or enhancements
whenever the need arises.”
Implementing LoadRunner wasn’t something Nero
wanted to try alone, however, so he turned to Melillo
for help.
Melillo began by running a pilot to simulate 250
PeopleSoft users. The load tests revealed some
configuration issues with the city’s BEA WebLogic
As the user base of the city’s infrastructure grows, Nero settings. Once those were fixed, the business processes
and his team are determined to ensure those users
ran 10 times faster than the city had expected. “It
have the best possible experience with city
suggests we’re correct in assuming that HP LoadRunner
applications. “If we have a performance or availability software will pay for itself in terms of improved
issue, even if it’s only once a quarter, the perception of application performance,” Nero says.
the end user is ‘the system doesn’t work.’ We need to
be proactive and prevent issues from becoming visible Satisfied with the results of the pilot, the city worked with
Melillo to implement the software and train the city’s
to users.”
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staff. “Melillo helped us come up to speed on
LoadRunner more quickly,” Nero says.
Today, the city uses HP LoadRunner software to test
application performance and to analyze what impacts
that performance. While it is still too soon to attribute
overall performance improvements to the software tool,
Nero believes it has changed user perceptions.
“We’ve demonstrated our commitment to improved
performance and availability,” he says. “Having
LoadRunner has increased awareness about system
availability and the value we place on it.”
End-to-end availability
Now that LoadRunner is helping the city’s development
teams improve application performance, Nero’s next
step will be to look at tools for monitoring and
managing ongoing performance and availability for
production applications. One of the most important
steps the city is taking, therefore, is to implement HP
Business Availability Center software. With time, Nero
explains, this suite of tools will enable the city to
monitor end-to-end application availability—an
approach that will correlate its understanding of
availability with end user experiences. “Ultimately,
what people want to know is ‘what is the end user
experience like?’ Our approach is to evolve to the
point where we can answer that question.”
The city is implementing the suite incrementally. “As a
public sector organization, we need to budget small
changes at a time,” Nero says. “We are growing our
investment in the software, and as we do so laying a
foundation for a more comprehensive approach to IT
monitoring.”
Melillo also helped the city address its technology
budget issues, Nero adds. One challenge it faced was
that it couldn’t dedicate physical servers to
implementation. So Melillo devised a virtualized
deployment. “We realized we could leverage our
VMware instance to implement the software on virtual
servers, which meant we could avoid the capital costs
of adding another three or four physical systems to our
environment.”
As a result, the city is now using a number of
foundation pieces of the HP Business Availability
Center software suite. One is HP System Availability
Management software. “System Availability
Management lets us look at different layers of
technology within key applications, giving us insight
into our infrastructure that we didn’t have before.”
Another is the suite’s Business Process Monitor module.
The city uses it to run synthetic transactions on a
handful of remote desktops to simulate the end user
experience. The city also uses HP Business Service
Level Management software to proactively manage its
service levels.
Eventually, the City of Boston will build on this
foundation to monitor both its infrastructure and all of
its end user transactions. The city plans, as well, to
integrate Business Availability Center with HP
ServiceCenter Service Level Management software; this
will enable Nero’s team to quantify service levels
across applications.
Data drives IT priorities
Once Business Availability Center is fully implemented,
Nero continues, the city will be able to meet several
key goals. One is better analysis. “We’ll have the
ability to measure availability and pinpoint any
outages, with 24x7 visibility into our infrastructure,”
Nero says. “It’s the kind of information that is power to
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Customer solution
at a glance
Primary applications
• PeopleSoft ERP infrastructure
• BEA WebLogic web portal
Primary Software
• HP LoadRunner
• HP Performance Center
• HP Business Availability Center
• HP Business Service Level
Management
• HP System Availability
Management
• HP Business Process Monitor
• VMware
an IT support organization. It will let us prioritize the
city’s efforts and focus our resources on initiatives that
will yield the greatest improvements for our end users.”
In addition, Nero expects HP software will improve his
team’s reporting capabilities. “Today, we’re required
to report on system availability on a monthly basis.
With HP software, we can replace our manual
reporting with automated processes. It will save us a
little time, but more important, we’ll have increased
confidence in the validity of our data.”
And most important, the tools let the City of Boston IT
optimize end-user experience by supporting
performance and availability across its pre-production
and production environments. “Combined, LoadRunner
and Business Availability Center give us the broad
foundation we need to ensure continual improvement
within our service delivery,” Nero says. “And that’s the
ultimate payoff for any technology management tool.”
To learn more, visit www.hp.com/software
© 2008 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change
without notice. The only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements
accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional
warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein.
This customer's results depended upon its unique business environment, the way it used HP products and services
and other factors. These results may not be typical; your results may vary.
4AA1-9784ENW, May 2008