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One of the most important aspects of a software system is its reliability — and for good reason. With so many digital options available in every industry, customers have little reason to continue utilizing applications or services that experience frequent issues with quality or availability. Therefore, it’s critical that organizations invest in the processes and tools that are necessary to ensure system reliability.
Utilizing reliability platforms is one way to increase or maintain the quality and reliability of an application. Keep reading for an overview of the functionality provided by reliability platforms and the specific ways in which such platforms provide value to the business.
What Is a Reliability Platform?
Reliability platforms (like this one from StackPulse) are software services that help to streamline the processes for responding to and resolving application problems. In large part, this means employing automation in order to perform the processes for alerting, contextualizing incident data, root cause analysis, and incident remediation more efficiently.
StackPulse’s reliability platform includes functionality for alert enrichment. Instead of simply being alerted to the existence of a problem within your system, you are provided with context at a detailed level (including information regarding the environment, impact, etc.) to help drive a faster and more efficient process for root cause analysis. Additionally, the SRE platform from StackPulse enables operational workflow automation through the use of StackPulse playbooks. These playbooks leverage code-based workflows to perform analysis and incident remediation as well as to maintain software systems.
In short, reliability platforms empower SRE. They provide engineers with the resources necessary to build and maintain highly-reliable software systems, by helping to orchestrate better (and more automation-heavy) incident response practices.
How a Reliability Platform Helps Bolster Business Value
Now that we understand some of the functionality that a reliability platform provides, let’s take a look at the ways (some obvious and some not) in which reliability platforms help bolster business value.
A Reliability Platform Enhances Customers’ Confidence by Reducing MTTD and MTTR
Since they have real-time alerting capabilities, reliability platforms enable teams to reduce MTTD (mean time to discovery) by ensuring that the correct personnel are aware of system failures at the earliest possible moment. This, along with their ability to gather details to further contextualize alerts, helps teams to reduce MTTR (mean time to resolution). Reducing MTTD and MTTR lessens the impact of system failures upon end users and increases overall system uptime.
By reducing the impact of system problems, customer satisfaction will inevitably increase. The benefits of this are two-fold:
- Firstly, current users will be retained. These long-standing customers can provide the organization with a base of users that are more likely to be receptive to the idea of trying new products and functionality if the business attempts to expand its reach.
- Secondly, a high level of customer satisfaction means a great reputation for the organization and its product in the marketplace. This will enable the organization to draw in new customers, leading to a growing user base over time.
A Reliability Platform Enables Organizations to Meet Their SLOs
As mentioned earlier, reliability platforms help organizations mitigate system issues with greater efficiency, thereby reducing downtime. This helps them meet their service-level objectives (SLOs) regarding availability, and it also increases the likelihood that they will meet their service-level agreements (SLAs) with paying customers. In addition to the positive impact on their reputations, meeting these will make it more likely that organizations will avoid penalties for failing to fulfill SLAs.
Better Analytics Leads to an Increase in Product Quality Over Time
Reliability platforms provide DevOps teams with more analysis regarding system performance and system failures than ever before. This information can (and should) be learned from and leveraged to build better services in the future. Software developers and IT engineers do not like to make the same mistakes twice. If they are given information that helps them to clearly and efficiently ascertain the source of system problems, they will adjust their engineering practices to avoid such pitfalls in the future. As time goes on, this will lead to the development of systems that are more resilient and more reliable than those that preceded them.
A Reliability Platform Enables Innovation
Organizations can increase overall system quality through remediation and system maintenance by leveraging alerting for reduced MTTD/MTTR and implementing code-based workflows for incident analysis. This means that development and IT will spend less time troubleshooting and maintaining existing functionality — and that can only mean good things for both the organization’s morale and its customers.
Increasing the amount of time that developers have for coding provides the business with the opportunity to address the things that would have otherwise fallen off of their list. In other words, when developers aren’t tied up playing whack-a-mole with various system issues, they have time to innovate. This means a few things:
- Less time troubleshooting means more time for developers to work on building new functionality. This empowers businesses to increase their value to their customers, thereby ensuring that they remain competitive in their industry.
- Freeing up time can give developers the opportunity to research and experiment with the latest frameworks and technologies. By giving them the time to learn, organizations can facilitate the growth of a highly-skilled development team that is prepared for any challenges they may face as the business — and its services — mature over time.
From an IT operations perspective, spending less time managing existing systems is highly beneficial. An increase in bandwidth for IT personnel provides them with the opportunity to evaluate and implement potential process improvements and to advance their infrastructure to meet the evolving demands of the business.
High System Reliability Helps DevOps Teams Reduce Technical Debt
Technical debt often falls by the wayside when developer and IT time is scarce.
For instance, development personnel will surely have some level of technical debt, such as code that “works” but isn’t quite the leanest or cleanest implementation. By reducing the time that team members spend dealing with quality issues, they will finally have the time to refactor needlessly complicated code to maximize its performance and resiliency.
System quality and availability are incredibly important aspects of any software system — and a reliability platform allows DevOps teams to maintain both, by streamlining the processes for root cause analysis and incident remediation. This leads to great benefits for organizations and customers alike, including:
- Reduced MTTD/MTTR reduces the impact of system issues, thereby increasing customer satisfaction.
- Streamlining incident response increases the likelihood that organizations will fulfill their SLAs. This means fewer penalties and more confident customers.
- Better analytics leads to better engineering practices — and better engineering means increased system quality and reliability.
- Increased system reliability means that developers and IT personnel will need to spend less time maintaining existing systems. This provides them with the bandwidth to innovate and reduce technical debt, thus raising their morale and enabling them to provide increased value to the business.
Learn how to keep services reliable and operations consistent in a LIVE discussion with Leonid Belkind, co-founder and CTO of StackPulse and Madhura Maskasky, co-founder and VP of Product at Platform9 Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.
The New Stack is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insight Partners. TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in the following companies: Real.
Feature image via Dreamstime.