Vol. 8 No. 11 – November 2010


UX Design and Agile: A Natural Fit?

A user experience designer and a software engineer from SAP discuss the challenges of collaborating on a business-intelligence query tool.

Found at the intersection of many fields, UX design addresses a software user's entire experience: from logging on to navigating, accessing, modifying, and saving data. Unfortunately, UX design is often overlooked or treated as a "bolt-on," available only to those projects blessed with the extra time and budget to accommodate it. Careful design of the user experience, however, can be crucial to the success of a product. And it's not just window dressing: choices made about the user experience can have a significant impact on a software product's underlying architecture, data structures, and processing algorithms.

by Terry Coatta, Julian Gosper

Virtualization: Blessing or Curse?

Managing virtualization at a large scale is fraught with hidden challenges.

Virtualization is often touted as the solution to many challenging problems, from resource underutilization to data-center optimization and carbon emission reduction. The hidden costs of virtualization, largely stemming from the complex and difficult system administration challenges it poses, are often overlooked, however. Reaping the fruits of virtualization requires the enterprise to navigate scalability limitations, revamp traditional operational practices, manage performance, and achieve unprecedented cross-silo collaboration. Virtualization is not a curse: it can bring material benefits, but only to the prepared.

by Evangelos Kotsovinos

A Conversation with Ed Catmull

The head of Pixar Animation Studios talks tech with Stanford professor Pat Hanrahan.

With the release of Toy Story in 1995, Pixar Animation Studios President Ed Catmull achieved a lifelong goal: to make the world's first feature-length, fully computer-generated movie. It was the culmination of two decades of work, beginning at the legendary University of Utah computer graphics program in the early 1970s, with important stops along the way at the New York Institute of Technology, Lucasfilm, and finally Pixar, which he cofounded with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter in 1986. Since then, Pixar has become a household name, and Catmull's original dream has extended into a string of successful computer-animated movies. Each stage in his storied career presented new challenges, and on the other side of them, new lessons. In our interview this month, Catmull shares some of the insights he has gained over the past 40 years, from the best way to model curved surfaces to how art and science interact at Pixar.