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Ajay is vice president of product marketing at Dynatrace.
In just a few years, multicloud environments and cloud native applications became the architecture of choice for the majority of DevOps teams. Dynatrace research reveals 86% of organizations now use cloud native technologies and platforms, such as microservices, containers and Kubernetes.
While cloud technologies accelerate digital transformation, they also bring complexity and generate volumes of data that exceed human capacity to manage. Faced with a deluge of information, DevOps teams sometimes stitch together do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions to capture and analyze observability data.
However, DIY requires input from an organization’s best talent, which steals time from innovation-oriented tasks and isn’t scalable. With so much to measure, it’s no surprise that DevOps teams focus on maintaining observability throughout their backend infrastructure and applications. While the generated metrics, logs and traces are essential, they’re not enough. To understand activity in multicloud environments, DevOps teams need user experience and behavior data.
Looking at Things from a Different Angle
Viewing an application from the user perspective — also known as an outside-in approach — brings DevOps goals in line with business outcomes. By incorporating user experience data into the metrics mix, teams can better understand problems, measure the impact of changes against business objectives in real time and deliver more value.
Here are four ways an outside-in approach can help DevOps teams optimize applications and outcomes.
1. Identify and Eliminate Blind Spots
Designing and developing effective applications is an art and a science. DevOps teams work hard to anticipate how a customer will use an application. Predictions can be wrong, though, and real-world user behavior can be surprising.
To truly understand how users navigate applications and where to make improvements, teams turned to digital experience-monitoring capabilities. These solutions allow teams to observe customer journeys in real-time, so they instantly know when user experiences go wrong and how to resolve them quickly.
The magic of digital experience monitoring is that it can reveal performance blind spots. Usually, variable factors in the user’s environment, such as their device, browser, internet provider or even their location, can create unpredictable weak points in the delivery chain. Experience monitoring can expose these differences, highlight their impact on performance and identify chokepoints, bottlenecks or higher drop-off rates among certain user groups.
Effective user monitoring can also guide teams in where to focus development resources so they avoid wasting time and money working on features that have little impact on conversion rates. User monitoring enables teams to optimize the user experience at any contact point and make better deployment decisions. They can test improvements on users and measure the results to determine which changes will have the most significant business impact.
2. Fine-tune the User Journey
Another toolbox essential of outside-in monitoring is session replay technology. By recording user sessions, DevOps teams can watch a movie-like review of a user journey and scrutinize the impact of every click, tap or swipe on business outcomes in their own time.
U-Haul, the U.S.- and Canada-based moving and storage equipment rental company, uses session replay to provide a seamless user experience across its mobile and web applications. As it scaled operations and its cloud ecosystem grew in complexity, the team needed a fresh approach to application monitoring to understand where and how they could enhance user experience.
U-Haul is using session replays to rerun the complete digital experience of any customer using its software across any device. As a result, U-Haul can identify where customers are rage-clicking when their digital journey doesn’t progress as expected. Based on that data, the team can make proactive improvements to optimize revenues.
3. Align DevOps Metrics with Business Goals
Monitoring application performance from the outside-in draws a straight line from user experience to business outcomes and enables teams to define key performance indicators that directly affect the bottom line. Many organizations still follow a traditional siloed structure where business and DevOps teams work independently toward separate goals. Viewing applications from the user perspective aligns those goals, helping to foster collaboration and give departments a clearer understanding of how each team contributes to the business.
It makes sense to consolidate backend application and infrastructure-monitoring solutions and frontend user-experience management capabilities into a single, intuitive platform, and offer access to all stakeholders. That way, it’s easy for DevOps teams to monitor metrics such as bounce rates, conversion rates and traffic levels alongside application and infrastructure performance. That helps ensure that everyone is aware of what’s happening in real-time, reducing time-consuming meetings and reporting.
An outside-in approach also helps DevOps teams demonstrate the business impact of an issue or outage and know the value of a change or new feature. Backed up by reliable data, teams can shorten development cycles and focus on innovation that will have the most impact on revenue.
4. Resolve Issues before Customers Notice
For many DevOps teams, the worst-case scenario is for a user to hit the dreaded error page, though maximizing uptime and availability is not always enough to ensure a positive user experience. In today’s fast-moving social media world, negative user experiences can quickly go viral and harm brands. Taking a user-centric approach helps teams focus on the details and prioritize issues and outages that are most detrimental to the business.
DevOps Teams can then use AIOps and automation capabilities to be more proactive in resolving incidents and safeguarding the customer experience. Teams can set up alerts containing automated runbooks to resolve common anomalies before users experience impact, through real-time self-healing.
Gain a Fresh Perspective on Performance
Taking an outside-in approach to application performance is the best way for DevOps teams to fully appreciate the impact of backend developments on frontend user experience. Outcomes and experience matter. User behavior data gives DevOps teams actionable and objective intelligence that can help prioritize resources, innovate in a meaningful way, and make informed business decisions that boost the bottom line.
InApps is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insight Partners, an investor in the following companies mentioned in this article: Resolve.
Featured image via Pixabay.
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