GPO using model to launch FDSys with a series of new projects

As the Government Printing Office went into full production mode with its FDSys platform in March, the system barely blinked at the deluge of Web traffic it faced.

Chuck Riddle, the GPO chief information officer, said the site saw a 500 percent increase in November alone when it was running in parallel with the old GPOAccess platform.

“We got more traffic in one day on FDSys than we had in the entire week of the year before so it was a huge increase in traffic when we flipped the switch and made it the primary system,” Riddle said. “There’s been a huge growth in the addition of high profile content and new functionality with FDSys.”

GPO also released the grand jury testimony of President Richard Nixon in November on FDSys and saw a 700 percent spike in traffic.

Riddle said it took lots of planning and running a lot of systems in parallel.

“We make use of a content delivery network to help offset some of the spikes in traffic so that we know if there is a huge demand for traffic we will not be brought to our knees by that spike in demand,” he said. “Thorough planning was probably key to make sure we could do that without any problems.”

The success of FDSys is based on testing new functionality and then piloting it with a small group of people.

And Riddle said that’s the same approach he’s using for updates to GPO’s network and IT systems.

He said among his top priorities are to deploy voice over IP to the field offices, to virtualize servers to eventually deploy a virtual desktop interface and to conoslidate the agency’s data centers.

“One of things I’m most excited about is our desktop virtualization being able to do thin clients for our user community is a huge priority this year,” Riddle said. “We are about 40 percent there on server virtualization side. Our target ratio is 10-to-1 so we are making progress, but not as quickly as I’d like.”

Riddle said the VOIP installation is much further along. He said headquarters has been using the telephone technology for some time, and now they are installing VOIP in the regional offices.

“Standardization will help out a lot with the employees’ experience in using those tools,” he said.

Riddle pins a lot of the way GPO will use technology to meet its mission in the future on the virtual desktop interface.

He said about 50 employees are piloting the technology now using mobile devices.

“Desktop virtualization is a game changer. By having thin clients on user PCs, we are not as tied to having to upgrade those PCs every two or three years,” he said. “As long as we can get a browser and network connection, we can deliver the latest and greatest technology to the desktop and not have to worry so much about the costs associated of having to update the desktops every few years.”

Riddle said by the end of the year, he’d like to expand the pilot to more users.

And all of this also plays into the mobile device revolution. He said GPO is considering a bring-your-own-device policy.

“We are doing some limited pilots just to make sure we can do it securely,” Riddle said. “Once we pilot it and figure out how we will support it, we will go back and look at the policy side of things to figure out how we want to roll it out to the users. It’s definitely something you have to be careful with.”

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