Using DevOps to Deliver the Best User Experience

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Blackbaud shares how DevOps practices allowed them to establish trust between teams and achieve their goal of servicing customers in a subscription model.

In a session at AppSphere 2016, Blackbaud presented “How Blackbaud Transformed From On-Prem to SaaS Through DevOps and AppDynamics”, where Blackbaud shared the challenges and benefits of moving from an on-premise model to an SaaS-delivered model. They also discussed how DevOps best practices, along with the support of AppDynamics, allowed them to establish trust between teams and achieve their goal of servicing customers in a subscription model. If you’re not familiar with Blackbaud, they are the engine that powers the online presence for a large number of nonprofit organizations, supplying them with the tools to help them manage and drive their fundraising objectives. They are the largest cloud software company powering social good.

In Blackbaud’s journey to change their business model to SaaS, they encountered certain obstacles. These included communication challenges between the dev and ops groups that threatened to slow their ability to deliver positive experiences to their customers. As the move to SaaS continued, dev and ops had to work together more closely to address the realities of delivering the company’s offering on a distributed platform with multiple users. By partnering with AppDynamics, these groups were able to visualize that environment and start closing the divide between dev and ops to create a DevOps culture focused on improving their application.

Using AppDynamics’ tools as a basis for application performance monitoring, Blackbaud began to chip away at issues that had arisen from a previously complex environment. They were also able to easily discover the bottlenecks that could become bigger issues if the system becomes compromised due to load or other factors. As the relationship between the dev and ops teams further matured, the developers could quickly spot and evaluate potential areas that might cause bottlenecks, addressing them in their next sprints to continuously release more performant code. This direct collaboration between teams allowed Blackbaud to take a holistic approach to their application, with end-to-end monitoring and the ability to identify changes both pre and post release, comparing not only business transaction performance, but also database call performance and volume.

SaaS environments have multiple variables, and each has the potential to adversely impact the customer’s experience. With a DevOps approach, Blackbaud is able to proactively manage the experience of users and react quickly to mitigate any issues that arise. As Blackbaud’s client base grows and the complexity of supporting thousands of users increases, their internal teams are able to tackle challenges head-on due to their investment in DevOps, and Blackbaud’s partnership with AppDynamics helps to deliver the end-to-end monitoring needed to sustain it.

Want to learn more about DevOps? Find out Why DevOps is an Essential Part of Digital Transformation

Abelardo Gonzalez

Abelardo Gonzalez

Abelardo is a leading expert in web and mobile performance with over 13 years of industry experience. He holds a master's degree from Governors State University, and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Edward’s University. Abelardo regularly contributes to technology publications such as Mobile Strategies 360 & Internet Retailing.