Posted by: SolarWinds
Software Development, Uncategorized
By Jennifer Kuvlesky, SolarWinds Product Marketing Manager
SolarWinds has seen many product releases in the last week, including a new free product called Alert Central, and one of the products I’m responsible for marketing—Server & Application Monitor (SAM). The new version 5.5 is feature rich and truly demonstrates this product’s maturity. SAM now delivers server monitoring for more than 150 applications, as well as brand-new remediation features like starting/stopping services, killing processes, and rebooting servers.
What’s really impressive to me is how far this product has come since its birth in 2008. From a software development perspective, SolarWinds kills it with its ability to rapidly develop and deliver quality, function-packed releases. I’m not sure how the dev team maintains such high energy. Maybe they’re energized by our CEO’s pep talks, or the funny t-shirts, free snacks, and caffeine. Most likely, they’re glowing from the praise of our customers.
Whatever it is, I’ve noticed a few things that work really well around here that I wanted to share. Here are some SolarWinds tips for speedy software development.
1) Start with solid interactive design. This aspect of software development, along with having a high-quality (not buggy) product, is what makes my job as a product marketer SO EASY! Just yesterday I interviewed a customer on why he chose SolarWinds, and he said “The product just worked—it was easy to set up and easy to understand.”
Without solid interactive design, a company must spend a lot of money on pre-sales engineers and professional services staff. Sometimes developers are pulled away from their regular workload to assist customers with implementation. This gets in the way of developing quality software in a timely manner, and can erode revenue because marketing and sales teams have nothing new to talk about!
2) Prioritize features that will benefit all of your customers. This requires discipline. Sometimes it’s not sexy to work on features that everyone needs. Many companies go for developing the next cool feature that really only 2% of customers need. It becomes very easy to develop a feature that’s of little use to the typical customer. Even worse, add a few of these together and your product becomes a Frankenstein that’s difficult to understand, use, develop, or migrate.
When you develop features for everyone, you mitigate risk for everyone in your company. Your development plans will be more solid, and your sales and marketing organizations will have more flexibility to sell to a broader base.
3) Focus on DevOps across the company. DevOps is traditionally defined as “emphasizing integration and collaboration between development and IT operations to aid in enabling scale and speed while reducing errors in products/applications.” This concept is similar in nature to supply chain management, which is a total systems view of how to link processes throughout the company for maximum customer satisfaction.
That’s what I’m talking about: Applying that concept to product development and delivery, to extend DevOps to all the functions that touch a customer. Every function in the company touches the customer in a different way. Integrating systems reduces manual mistakes and speeds up deployment time but, more importantly, each function is involved in the QA process. This is not only important for catching bugs errors (e.g. broken links, inaccurate wording, etc.). It’s also invaluable when working through a new process or product, or during a major organizational change, like an acquisition.