So, I know what you’re probably already thinking. Hmm… a New Year’s Resolution blog post when we’re more than halfway through January? Kind of late, isn’t it? Well, procrastination is a nasty habit, and not on my New Year’s resolution list.
So there. Moving right along…
This is the time of year when everyone reflects on the year past and looks forward to the coming year — typically in the form of resolutions, whether personal (e.g. lose weight, exercise more, etc.) or professional (e.g. take a class, blog more, mentor my teammates, etc.). It’s also the time of year that I start to see predictions for the year ahead, especially around technology.
I’ve spent the last three months making house calls with my very good friend, the DOC. For those who are not familiar with the DOC, it is the SOASTA Digital Operations Center. The DOC got a head start on many of those New Year’s resolutions for my friends in ecommerce, omnichannel, digital operations, and IT operations. Everywhere we went, we left behind a trail of:
- reduced weight,
- a more collaborate team,
- proactive alerting,
- real-time analytics, and
- correlation points between what had previously been siloed data.
Now that the DOC has been on active duty for a while — thanks to the customers in our Early Adopter Program — I thought some real-world uses and benefits would be an inspiring way to start 2016.
1. Presentation integration has value
The ability to display all the key dashboards from various ecommerce and monitoring technologies on a single pane of glass is a capability that every DOC customer has put high on their list of key DOC must-haves.
Since many technologies only provide two or three key metrics that the business relies on, the ability to replicate the War Room onto a single panel — or a larger multi-panel DOC — with drill-down capability, is critical to the IT Operations and business intelligence staff.
2. Single login FTW!
The power of the DOC can be used to bring up the War Room in the morning, essentially with a single keystroke and login. No longer do you have to login to each and every application at the start of every new shift, assuming your team is operating under a follow-the-sun strategy (e.g. East Coast US War Room operates 7 AM to 7 PM, then an off-shore location — say, in India — monitors for the other 12 hours).
3. Get everyone’s eyeballs on the same panel
In every NOC and War Room that I’ve had the privilege of visiting over my career — and especially in the last three months — one thing I’ve consistently noticed is how little the operations teams in the War Room actually glances up from their laptops or smartphones and actually look at the myriad of displays in the front of the room. And, also typically, each person manning the room is responsible for perhaps one or two of the displays and dashboards on the wall. Ask them what the other dashboards are telling them and you’ll get a blank stare and an “I do not support that tool, so I have no idea.”
And, of course, one of the most common questions I hear in these War Rooms when an anomaly or event is occurring is “What are you seeing?” Everyone is staring at their own dashboards trying to figure out what the anomaly is, and if their dashboard is showing anything that might help the team figure out what the issue is that they are seeing.
Now what happens when all the dashboards are integrated into the DOC? All eyeballs are on the DOC instead of on their individual little screens. Everyone knows what everyone else is seeing because they are all visually correlating the anomaly on the same dashboard. The collaboration is instantaneous.
Like a moth to light.
4. Data correlation is a must-have
And, last, but certainly not the least, is data correlation. The ability to correlate various metrics from different data sources into a single dashboard is the Rosetta Stone of digital performance management.
SOASTA has been at the leading edge of data correlation since we introduced CloudTest back in 2008. The ability to correlate performance data from different monitoring technologies, and to overlay time-phased data from those technologies into a widget created on a dashboard — in real-time — has been a capability that, until recently, has not been discovered by many SOASTA customers or prospects.
Why, you ask?
Well, many of our customers come from QA departments, and QA departments are not responsible for monitoring — they own testing. This has changed with the advent of real user monitoring (RUM) with SOASTA mPulse. Being able to collect real user data in real time, and then use that data to develop test cases in CloudTest — all while monitoring what’s happening from the viewpoint of IT Operations — has taken hold in many SOASTA customers.
From a digital operations perspective, this time-phased correlation of various monitoring technologies within the DOC is the next generation of DPM. It moves DPM from an obscure role within the QA silo to a front-and-center role in IT Operations, not to mention the business intelligence and data science teams within our customer base.
Real-time data correlations — with the appropriate alerting mechanisms — are the next generation of performance management. With the continued boom in mobile and web ecommerce, it’s critical that your business stay ahead of the performance management curve with:
- real-time anomaly detection,
- a War Room that provides more than just random dashboards seen by many (but understood by few), and
- reactive reporting when bad things happen.
5. Faster Mean Time to Repair (MTTR)
So now that we’ve discussed the key business value that the DOC brings to today’s DPM world, let’s touch on why the DOC is critical by revisiting a term that has been around since the dawn of the mainframe: Mean Time to Repair (MTTR).
Let’s start with the basics.
What is MTTR? MTTR is meant to be a measure of the mean time between the point at which the failure is first discovered until the point at which the equipment returns to operation. Typically, MTTR is measured in time, and has been since its first definition. However, in today’s DPM world, even though time is important, MTTR is measured in revenue.
Revenue lost. Users lost. Customers lost.
With the DOC — and its powerful presentation integration, visual collaboration capabilities, and data correlation metrics presented in real-time — the point at which the failure is first discovered is faster as more eyeballs are triaging sooner, thus leading to root cause, and quickening the time that the equipment returns to operation.
Once back in normal operation, normalcy returns. Revenue. Users. Customers.
Questions? The DOCtor is in
If you have any questions about how the DOC works and other lessons I’ve learned out in the field over the past few months, let me know in the comments. I’m always happy to share.
- Why a Digital Operations Center (DOC) must be a central part of your digital strategy
- Three reasons why CMOs need a new Starship Enterprise
- Getting Started with a Digital Operations Center [FREE EBOOK]
About the Author
Dan is the Vice President of Digital Strategy for SOASTA. In this role, Dan is responsible taking the world's first Digital Performance Management (DPM) solution to market as a trusted advisor for SOASTA's strategic customers, and changing the way ecommerce organizations approach the marketplace.