Jessica Kahn - April 18, 2017
Cage Data, a DevOps consulting firm and Managed Service Provider (MSP), helps clients like Charter Oak Financial Group and Bio-Techne build product delivery processes that rival the likes of fast-moving tech companies. Based in Wallingford, CT, right near the insurance capital of Hartford, the company is perfectly positioned to bring a progressive mindset to a big enterprise audience.
Dave Long, Director of Development says, “Many local insurance companies and other large enterprises are looking at what’s coming out of Silicon Valley and other startup hubs, and want to get their products to market faster too but they don’t know how.” So Cage Data helps these companies build out their DevOps culture, practices, and tooling.
And it’s working. The company is growing fast, doubling in size and revenue year over year.
“VictorOps let us take all of our systems, unify them in one place, and get the alerts to the right people.”
Cage Data originally chose VictorOps because they had no way to build a simple on-call rotation for the MSP side of their business. “We had all these different systems, and on-call and alert routing was just a pain to set up. VictorOps let us take all of our systems, unify them in one place, and get the alerts to the right people,” says Dave. In creating a sophisticated on-call alert routing system, Cage Data used these VictorOps features:
The VictorOps API: for routing after-hours client support calls to the right responder
The Incident Automation Engine’s transmogrifier: to tag alerts to clients and attach knowledge base articles
The VictorOps/JIRA Integration: to split out New Relic alerts between development teams (application monitoring alerts) and operations teams (server monitoring alerts) and tag alerts that don’t need immediate action
By routing alerts and enabling the most critical issues to reach responders quickly, Cage Data’s client satisfaction shot up. “We were able to take a much more proactive approach with our clients,” says Dave. “In the past, because everyone was on-call, we’d often just push stuff off to the next day. Now that we have these automated systems in place, we can really prioritize what needs to be taken care of right now and what can wait until the morning. If a server goes down, we can fix that right away.”
All of this proactive client service shows up in the VictorOps postmortem report, which passively captures all actions and communication that occurred during incidents. Cage Data also added the VictorOps/Slack integration to capture Slack communication in reports as well.
Dave says, “Clients love the postmortem report. It shows the timeline and the conversations that happened. We can say, ‘You had a network outage, and we had four engineers working on your network. We worked pretty dang hard to get you back up and running as fast as we could.’”
“Clients love the postmortem report…We can say, ‘You had a network outage, and we had four engineers working on your network.’ We worked pretty dang hard to get you back up and running as fast as we could.”
Recently, Cage Data’s MSP work is giving way to a stronger focus on DevOps consulting. Dave explains that as companies move away from servers and toward cloud-based systems and SaaS providers, Cage Data has been working with clients to develop their DevOps chops, working with them to break down communication silos and move them toward building and running modern support environments.
Dave says, “VictorOps is pivotal to our company as a business, because we look to them as an example for how to do DevOps right. We’re strong in this area; very transparent. We saw Jason Hand’s blog posts, and that’s what triggered everyone’s mind that we can help clients with DevOps.”
When asked whether clients outsource DevOps services to Cage Data, Dave says it’s not possible because DevOps is first and foremost about company culture. He says, “You can’t outsource your culture. We go in to help companies see what’s going on, then help them build a plan to better the culture first, then better the tooling, and their process.
“…if your entire team can’t go out for a beer together, you have a problem. We start there and see where improvements can be made.”
“It doesn’t matter if you are a huge insurance enterprise company or a small startup, if your entire team can’t go out for a beer together, you have a problem. We start there and see where improvements can be made. We help try to build trust between people. Then we help build out the environments with our clients, whether it’s a small shop or something big.”
What were the quantifiable benefits of bringing VictorOps to Cage Data? Dave says that though it’s tough to look at before and after scenarios, client satisfaction delivers a great ROI that extends far. He says, “The real financial benefit is our clients’ happiness. Happy clients will always bring more business. They’re happy that we’re on top of their systems, and VictorOps made that happen.”
You can’t put a price tag on that.