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 Plumbr 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 you: 

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 possible.



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 doom: 

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.”



Image by SixPixelDesign

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