Leveraging Cloud Technologies to Scale for Organization Growth (devLearn 2011)


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In just five years, NetApp grew from 3000-4000 employees to 10,000. But the training organization hasn't grown at the same speed, so they needed to optimize processes and scale output while keeping the head count low. With more employees comes more data, more people creating courses, requesting courses, and creating informal content. This causes information to become scattered and raises the need to sift through a forest of data to find the right information. Plus, metrics are lacking since most of the data is untrackable. How can you allow everyone to use the tools they want and still provide people with valuable information?

Participants in this case-study session will learn how NetAppU created a custom internal application that allows content developers and subject matter experts to create bundles of curated content for target audiences. The application keeps content fresh through RSS feeds and package updates so learners can download courseware, videos, audio, PDFs, and Flash. People can use their own tools because they have a platform that brings it all together.

In this session, you will learn:
How to deal with information explosion and scatter
How to scale up development without overloading your course developers
How to deliver content to your learners rather than making them hunt down content (push vs. pull)
How to use a variety of tools and not sacrifice user experience or brand
How to create a platform once, and have it work absolutely everywhere

Audience: Intermediate designers, developers, managers, and others with basic knowledge about learning management systems, commonly used Web technologies, and authoring tools.

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  • Welcome!
  • Everyone defines the word cloud differently. How do you define it? (Use this time to create a definition that we will use throughout the presentation)At its core one may define cloud as hosting software and content in a remote location, but if the definition were as simple as this, well then we have been doing it for the past 30+ years.Our definition of cloud mainly involves accessibility: Web services, vendor tools User access to tools/products Gathering data from all over the place Persistent data stored “somewhere”That still leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Our tip: “drop the buzz word” it means whatever you want it to mean. Just use it as your own marketing spin. In this presentation we will talk about what it means to us.
  • Let’s step back and talk about what NetApp does and how this all relates.
  • We had the cloud back then in 2009. We just called it something else. We had Akami running, we had Altus (a vendor, for videos), we had a LMS and other web services and apis we could pull from. You probably had all these tools and more as well.Full blown WBTs were our bread and butter. It was our most used tool to deliver content. We built a huge infrastructure around it. We had plenty of process and man power devoted to creating courses. The problem was that our users didn’t necessarily always want a full blown WBT, and even when they did they wanted to take it on the road or they wanted it in a more digestible format. Furthermore, we knew our users didn’t necessarily understand every feature within our course application. We couldn’t necessarily help either.
  • DEMOOld resource center (link to course with old resource center).Search: Planning Data Protection Solutions (SALES-WBT-SECORE-DPSPLAN)Actions: Do a little usability testing What do you guys think this icon does? (Resource center books icon) Was that expected? What would you like it to do? Click on things in the resource center? Was that expected? No? Did you like it though? Could you like it?
  • What has changed in the past 2-3 years?: Mobile accessibility such as tablets and smart phones More data sources, apis, video content and other toolsIf that is all then we just need to deliver our content in more places and make it more friendly.The cloud isn’t just for users it is for developers of content and platforms!
  • So how do those changes impact how we design software and learning solutions?Let’s ask our learners. It’ll probably be summarized as, “we want it to be more accessible!”Once your software is released you should get some feedback. This is not that easy, and it depends on your audience. Getting Feedback in 3 Ways: Internal Meetings It causes a hivemind Is easy and quick, “how we always do it” Usability Testing Time consuming and need a good test Helps you uncover things you did not think about General Feedback Presents Extremes If the person took the time then they felt passionate about it in some way You only know when something is bad.Time permitting we should really do all of these things.
  • DEMONew resource center (https://learningcenter.netapp.com/content/public/production/wbt/CP-WBT-SOLUTIONS-REV01/index_wbt.html)New features due to internal meetings (great in theory): Enhanced User Experience The stack of books wasn’t very descriptive, no one knew what it was New RSS, dynamic content features More obvious categorizationWhat did usability testing showed us: Some people still have no idea what it is or that it exists. More explicitly need to indicate that the items are downloadable.How a fix was sort of accomplished (internal meeting): We have a “tour” before courses that will describe how to use all these new features But some people skip it. More info is only good when people request it; otherwise, it will be ignored.If your feature needs explanation… people will ignore the feature almost always.Assumptions of how software should generally work should guide them to make decision in your product.
  • If you start by developing features rather than a full blown product. You can get feedback sooner!Both Training and Software are used to solve a problem or a gap: Traditional WBTs work when the content is appropriate When it doesn’t work people will avoid learning People also want some “wiz bang”; however, stuffing everything into some full blown Web Based Training just for a little “wiz bang” will result badly. Therefore; selecting the right tool for the job is important! In software development the first thing one should consider is if the tool is actually solving a problem: Identify a problem Find support and build out a minimal viable productThen get feedback!!!!!!!!While designing you should consider doing the following to create great user experiences: Presenting/Paper Prototyping Make a minimal viable product and iterate on it. Don’t make something huge!That being said make sure to experiment often!
  • Learning from the in course resource center, we decided to create something more “on the go”.What we learned from our users: Users wanted to take their information on the go - Download to their computer - On a mobile device Users don’t always want a full blown course Users want to get to the content quickly, and not search for it through the LMS We can learn from our users!!! Make them do the work to teach others. This is the heart of “cloud”, “web 2.0” and “social media”. That being said, there is way too much information out there. We should organize it and deliver it to people. This is called “curated content” and people creating “courses” or “packages” can prescribe it to their user base. - Brainshark - Altus - PowerPoint - PDFs - Discussions - Social Networks - RSS Feeds - Email Templates - Videos - Anything and Everything!!!- Oh and don’t forget to keep your user base up-to-date!
  • Let’s take that cloud idea to the next level. Let’s decouple the user from the desktop and let them open up there content on any device.This is the Learning Resource Navigator; it is a variation on a theme. When tablets came out it seemed like an easy way to enter the mobile market. We took the infrastructure from the LRA and expanded.By keeping up with web trends we were also faced with a decision between flash and HTML. Ultimately we decided to part with Flash by and large. People often rely on Flash to make their products “look pretty”, but really you could do all those fancy animations with javascript, html and css. And NOW, *drum roll* we can wrap it all up into an “app” that sits on people’s mobile devices!
  • We didn’t really have any server side technology we could leverage other than a plain-jane apache server that served static files. We in turn created our own box which would handle generating our packages. We exported out from our builder tool into both LRA and LRN format.1 XML file to rule them all!
  • This in turn started bleeding over into how we create our standard WBTs.Hopefully one day we will expand this out so that it becomes the real backend on our actual production server. For now our “exporting” features will suffice.
  • Leveraging Cloud Technologies to Scale for Organization Growth (devLearn 2011)

    1. 1. Leveraging Cloud Technologies to Scale forOrganizational GrowthDevLearn: Concurrent Session 601 Khoa Lam Parris Khachi
    2. 2. What is this cloud you speak of?
    3. 3. What does NetApp Do? Finance Rendering AirlineMedia
    4. 4. NetAppU:- Parris: - Software Development- Khoa: - Project Management - Instructional Design/Development What do we do for NetApp?
    5. 5. Once upon a time (2009)…
    6. 6. Resource Center
    7. 7. Messy??? You bet! Welcome to the present
    8. 8. What do learners want?
    9. 9. Which lead us here…
    10. 10. AGILE The RAD* Model *note this is not an official model
    11. 11. Learning Resource Application
    12. 12. Learning Resource Navigator
    13. 13. Authoring Tool Interface
    14. 14. Reimagining Our WBTs…
    15. 15. Fancy Links/ToolsJavaScript: Active Record/Server Side: jQuery  CakePHP  Ruby on Rails jQuery Mobile  Django Mustache (templating  Grails engine) Testing: Jasmine, PHPUnit, RspecProject Management: Git HTML5 Video Player with Flash GitHub (source code Fallback: VideoJS, jPlayer repository/collab tool) Pivotal Tracker (Agile Help!!! Bug/Feature Tracker)  Stackoverflow.com
    16. 16. Follow us on twitter, I guess, if you want:@parrissays@dangkhoa So what now? Oh, Only Everything…