Developer productivity in a cloud-first world

Developer productivity continues to grow as a hot topic in today’s cloud native world. But what does it mean to be productive, and how can organizations support productivity in their engineering teams?

In this episode of Chronologues, Sophie Kohler is joined by teammates at Chronosphere to cover what developer productivity looks like today, challenges that teams face, and what teams can do about it.

A woman in a black dress sitting on a stone bench, starring in a video series on lowering costs through data optimization cycle.
Sophie Kohler


Sophie Kohler is part of the content team at Chronosphere where she writes blogs as well as creates videos and other educational content for a business-to-business audience.

Nate Heinrich

Product Manager

Common developer productivity challenges

Sophie:  Developer productivity. It’s a term we’re hearing a lot today, but what does it actually mean to be productive, or even a developer for that matter? While in the olden days it was just about writing and shipping code, today it’s so much more than that. That’s why having a purpose-built solution that supports your engineers is crucial to developer productivity.

When teams try to make do with observability solutions that are built for a pre-DevOps and pre-cloud native world, they will come across challenges that will slow down your engineers, such as:

    • An over reliance on a few hero developers or SREs that hold that tribal knowledge.

    • Lack of centralized visibility and contextual awareness in complex environments.

    • And lastly, tools that don’t match mental models that reduce developer efficiency.

Let’s talk about how they affect your organization, and what you can do about it. Nate, can you help us out?

The over-reliance on “hero” developers

Nate: ​ Hey Sophie, yes.  So, the over reliance on a few hero developers. Let’s talk about that. Many of the customers I’ve talked to, and actually in my own experience over the last decade or so working with dev team had this  hero problem.  It’s the idea that there are these folks in the company – usually they’ve been there  since the beginning, or they simply have a ton of experience and they’re just able to hold large portions of the architecture in their head.

So, when something breaks or there isn’t an obvious fix, these heroes are interrupted to help mitigate the issue. This problem is only getting worse. It’s worse in a few ways, actually. And the first is complexity. In this cloud native world with more abstraction,  more dynamically orchestrated components, more scaling, more complex logical flows  to trace, it’s harder than ever to hold the whole of a modern system in one person’s head. More on-call folks are leaning on these heroes for  help  in  troubleshooting.

It’s far from  efficient,  puts a lot of strain and pressure on everyone  involved. Strain leads to burnout, burnout leads to attrition, and nobody wants that.

The solution: Evolving your platform

Nate: What can be done to help with this over reliance on heroes who hold this tribal knowledge in their head?  Well, it’s a great question. In a nutshell,  we think it’s a simplified, highly contextual user experience, marked up by the organization’s power users and heroes, which both mirrors the complexity of the system, but it’s easy to navigate so developers can answer questions on their own. We’ve done just this recently with the addition of  change event tracking,  and its integration into the alert responders workflow.

Fragmented visibility and response

Sophie: Now that we’ve ironed out our first common challenge that developers face today, let’s move on to the second. Fragmented visibility and response.  Karl, take it away.

Karl:  Sure, Sophie. In today’s cloud computing landscape, it’s tough to keep tabs on what’s going on without a centralized platform. Imagine this, you get an    alert that something might be wrong, but instead of having a clear idea of    what to tackle, you’re sent into a maze.

And this mess usually ends up happening because many of the tools we use aren’t built to handle complex cloud native environments.  They’re good for straightforward setups, but they end up falling short when things get complicated. And let’s face it, time spent digging through data is time not spent  fixing the issue. And this delay could be a disaster if you’re dealing with    customer facing incidents or losing revenue because your systems are down.

Sophie  He gets it. He definitely gets it.

The solution: A one stop observability shop

Karl: What we really need is a tool that’s made for today’s complex  systems. A platform that not only brings all your data together, but also makes sense of it. And more importantly, it should be user-friendly, and help developers quickly figure out what’s going on so they can get things back on track.

So, imagine a  one stop shop designed specifically for complex cloud native environments.  This platform takes everything- your app data, business metrics, infrastructure telemetry, and puts them all together in one place. Keeps the context, which is going to make it easier to understand what’s going on and how to respond effectively when issues come up.

Chronosphere does this like no one else by also giving you a correlated view across all types of data. You can effortlessly switch between metrics, traces, and events, all while keeping the context intact.  And at the end of the day, that’s what we all want.

A smooth running DevOps environment that helps keep both the team and the customers happy.

Sophie: I mean, happy developers and happy customers? What more could you want?

Misaligned tools that slow down overburdened developers

Sophie: Now that we have the hero and visibility problem under control, let’s cap off the developer productivity journey with our final battle: Misaligned tools that slow down overburdened developers.  People of the world, let’s hear it for Lenesto.

Lenesto:   Well, mom always told me don’t come to me with a problem without some semblance of a solution.

You’re a DevOps engineer or developer and you’ve kind of been thrust into this world of containers and pods, while maintaining code still. So many more responsibilities, yet so much control over the entire process that just historically wasn’t the case. What happens when the tools that you need don’t quite muster up? These tools should help optimize the process, make things easier, but they often miss the mark. They present themselves as scattered pieces to an already complex puzzle. This misalignment often forces constant developer shifts, ultimately wasting time and resources.

The solution: Evolving your platform

Lenesto: One possible solution is based around platform evolution. This means having a platform and tools that not only allow for view and management of services, but also ensure that that perspective is readily available without the added burden on the teams.

At Chronosphere, we’re constantly adding features to evolve our platform, thus evolving this developer user workflow. We give users the ability to really shape their data and shape their data costs with very easy product controls.  We are constantly thinking about how to make our platform great and work for you, and not you for our platform.

Sophie: Imagine a world where every developer feels invincible. Where routine  tasks, like deployments, no longer feel nerve-wracking. And where your team can work confidently and excel  in a cloud native world.

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