FierceGovernmentIT reported this week that government agencies are being hamstrung in their ability to measure the progress of their Green IT initiatives by a lack of baseline data against which to make meaningful measurements.
The article goes on to say that the Office of Management and Budget and the White House’s council on environmental quality (CEQ) are to blame because they failed to come up with guidelines.
Can you imagine running your application performance monitoring operation in this way? You don’t have to have your Ph.D. in statistics to know that in order to provide meaningful measurements, you need baseline data to help you understand when you’re performing well and when you’re not.
Heck, anyone who has ever gone a diet knows this. Are you gaining or losing weight? How do you know? Well, because you established a baseline weight and you go from there. Seems elementary enough.
As though stating the inherently obvious, the article quotes a Government Accountability Office report, “Without such guidance, the effectiveness of these efforts and their contribution to overall federal sustainability goals will remain unclear.”
Whoa, that’s a big Duh! statement if I ever heard one, yet the CEQ had the audacity to suggest it wasn’t really problem.
The fact is whether CEQ admits it or not — and if you read the last paragraph of the Fierce article it seems they agree while disagreeing, which I suppose is only a statement that’s possible in Washington in 2011– baselines are imperative.
Monitoring isn’t an easy proposition, whatever it is, and application performance monitoring is particularly complex, but I think all people who monitor for a living can agree on one thing — that you need to establish a norm to know when you are exceeding that norm or falling short.
In a recent post about bridging the gap between IT and the executive suite, we discussed how critical it is to provide meaningful and easy-to-read metrics for executives to understand the importance of APM in the enterprise. The dashboard shows what you’re doing well and when you’re not doing so well.
Perhaps in this case, the CEQ is afraid to establish firm baselines because then they have to live with them. Maybe it’s actually easier in government (and maybe in business too) to leave things a bit more squishy and then you don’t have to answer uncomfortable questions about your progress (or lack thereof).
But ultimately those executives who are funding your projects are going to want hard data, and for better or worse that involves establishing baselines — the CEQ’s attitude in this regard notwithstanding.