5 tips to improve developer productivity for cloud native environments

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Making developer’s jobs easier isn’t just about tool selection. It’s about selecting the right tools that support DevOps and help sift through data.

Eric Schabell
Eric D. Schabell Director of Technical Marketing and Evangelism | Chronosphere

Eric is Chronosphere’s Director of Technical Marketing and Evangelism. He’s renowned in the development community as a speaker, lecturer, author and baseball expert. His current role allows him to help the world understand the challenges they are facing with cloud native observability. He brings a unique perspective to the stage with a professional life dedicated to sharing his deep expertise of open source technologies, organizations, and is a CNCF Ambassador.


A look at developer happiness

The tighter the market for talent, the more engineers’ happiness matters. In a recent developer happiness survey, productivity emerged as a top three reason for developers to be happy at work. As your organization makes the move to, or dives deeper into, cloud native architecture, how are you improving developer productivity to keep satisfaction high?

Many digital leaders are leaning into applications built using a cloud native architecture supported by DevOps methodologies to increase their development agility and shorten their time to market.  Beyond that, cloud native is the choice for building and deploying modern apps because it gives businesses better scalability while improving development efficiency and system resiliency.

Yet the complexity as well as unexpected data growth, unpredictable costs, and skills challenges of cloud native environments also can slow developers down — especially those still tethered to traditional application performance management (APM) and infrastructure monitoring tools. Don’t let it.

Instead, take advantage of following five ways to drive better developer productivity in the cloud native world.

1. Use cloud native tools that work how your developers do

When you expect developers — who are used to working in small, interdependent engineering teams — to retro-fit existing tools into their new cloud native world, you’re guaranteeing frustration. Existing APM and infrastructure monitoring tools may deliver lots of information, but with so much more cloud native data, developers need tooling that automatically presents each team with just the data that’s relevant to them — not all the other cloud native noise. The ideal solution for developers  is a cloud native observability solution that supports workflows aligned with how their distributed teams now operate.

Because cloud native developers are responsible for the operations of their applications — the “you build it, you own it” model — they can’t afford to be using monitoring tools that drown them in a sea of data with little ability to discover the data they need. They want fast-loading dashboards — not the existing ones that load slowly or not at all. To avoid frustration and make on-call shifts less chaotic with fewer escalations to power users, look for an observability solution that boosts developer productivity. This boost in productivity comes through workflows that more closely match how your collaborative yet distributed development teams are now working.

2. Analyze, refine, and operate observability data at scale

Once your developers begin to use cloud native observability, they can increase their velocity by:

  • Analyzing their observability data to understand what is useful and what is waste.
  • Shaping their data to improve its usefulness and eliminate what they don’t need.
  • Continuously optimize data so dashboards, alerts, and queries are fast and deliver the information they need to do their jobs.

Best of all, these optimizations are done without source code manipulation or deployment work for your developers.

Concurrently, you can help developers understand their usage while becoming responsible for it. This includes performing chargeback/showback. With visibility into consumption, your organization can take steps towards cloud cost predictability by giving each development team a portion of observability system capacity with quotas. W

3. Jump-start DevOps teams with standardized templates and best practices 

Reinventing the wheel is wasted effort. Proven cloud native observability solutions have a standard set of dashboards, alerts, and integrations that you can quickly customize, freeing up your valuable developer resources for more meaningful work. Be sure your teams are aware of service-level objective (SLO) and service-level agreement (SLA) definitions from the start, so performance standards across your organization stay consistent. You know developer productivity is top of mind when your cloud native observability platform gives you out-of-the box dashboards, metrics, and integrations that you can adjust to fit your organization’s needs.

4. Focus on faster remediation — optimize for speed and performance

How quickly your developers resolve issues is not only a point of pride for them, it’s critical to your organization’s success. Your observability platform should help your developers get to resolutions faster with rapidly-loading real-time dashboards and the ability to quickly design queries that are written for the way humans think. Optimizing for speed and performance needs to answer three questions:

  • How quickly are your developers made aware of an issue?
  • When an issue arises, how fast can your team triage it so that you can understand the impact on the organization?
  • How quickly can your team discover the issue’s root cause to fix it?

In the quest to raise developer productivity, integrate these steps into your organization to optimize performance for faster remediation. For example, financial technology company Affirm saved 14,000 engineering hours a year by focusing on dashboard load times and querying to triage much faster.

5. Ensure all your developers — not just power users — can be experts

You put your business at risk when you invest in tooling that only power users know how to use. If your tool experts aren’t on-call when issues occur, they soon have to be because others can’t solve problems themselves. Not only does it take time to involve experts, but they are typically more expensive and end up leaving important work to fight fires. Key to developer productivity, then, is easy access for everyone to tooling that simplifies troubleshooting.

Investing wisely to reap developer productivity rewards

Research shows productive developers are happy developers, so invest wisely in aligning DevOps and cloud native operations with observability best practices for your developers to drive even greater business value.

A purpose-built, SaaS monitoring solution can reduce observability data volumes by 60%, on average, while improving key metrics such as time to detection and time to remediation. Developer efficiency and quality of life benefit from the right tool’s delivery of streamlined workflows, greater understanding, accountability, and improved context for accelerated remediation.

Interested in learning more about cloud native for developer efficiency? Schedule a demo.

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