Cluing for leaks

Java devs, here’s why you’re creating software for sysops wrong

Lucy Carey

Plumbr uncovers some useful take-homes as it uses detective skills to solve mysterious burst of user/product friction.

Java memory leak detectives
take pride in their software’s ability to get deep
down into the darkest, dankest recesses of any system. Or so they
thought. In their latest

blog post,
Ivo Mägi describes how, over the past few
months, the company has encountered a sudden increase in user/
product friction.

With sleuthing encoded into the DNA of the business,
it wasn’t long before they deduced the “staggering” conclusion: a
failure on the part of Plumbr to recognise and react to a shift in
their audience from developers to ops had resulted in a failure to
truly engage with end-users.

Indeed, it was as if, “someone had deliberately
designed certain aspects of our service with “getting even with the
operations” in mind.”  

Characteristically, the system monitors were open
about their failings – but we don’t doubt for a second that their
mistakes aren’t being replicated at countless other B2B software
companies. For this reason, Plumblr decided to publish their
findings in full. We’ve picked out some key examples of flawed
logic  - are you guilty of any of these?:

Trial by installation:

Thinking in terms of Swing-based UI’s instead of “rpm -ivh
yourpackage.rpm and its close relatives like dpkg or yum.”
 Especially important when your software is supposed to excel
in the dark netherworld of the server room. Using a smorgasbord of
tools to support releases is another way in which organizations can
goad hapless users in vibrating balls of fury: Do this, and,
“Before you can say “I got this package management thing covered”
your support channel will be overrun…Requests to embed your
installation into shell scripts, continuous integration tools,
release management software or configuration management tools will
be flocking in.”



Too many licensing servers will kill

Whilst it may be handy for enterprise level clients to have more
autonomy over their licensing deals, throwing in your own
“custom-built licensing server” can result in some serious
headaches for operations crews. Plumbr recommend casting an eye
over common licensing formats and ensuring that integrating your
own solution into corporate licensing is as painless as



Give the people the API they deserve:

Delivering an API that both accessible and enjoyable
for ops teams will open up a brand new use cases for your product.
And, while you’re at it, give ops teams the keys when it comes to
data aggregation.



Endlessly repeating update cycle of

As Mägi  rightly notes, every time you roll
out an update, you’re inviting users to summon helpdesk that day
and ask about these upgrades. Now, multiply that by hundreds of
people within one organisation, and, congratulations, “you have
created a nightmare for your customer.”



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