Drinking Our Own Champagne: New Relic Support & the New Relic Platform

“How’s Support doing today?”

It’s a question we hear constantly, especially in the wake of major releases such as the recent New Relic Platform. Our Engineering office now holds more than 100 employees and the Support team has grown along with it.

Initially, a single person handled all of our support requests. Tickets would slowly trickle in and it was pretty easy to get the lay of the land. Nowadays, the ‘pulse’ of support is spread out among several squadrons. We have ways to get this data, but the answer has to be gathered for a number of resources.

Like our neighboring teams, Support is made up of highly technical, super nerdy, incredibly awesome people. And like our comrades, Support loves to use New Relic to solve our own problems. Before the Platform launch, we got to play with the plugins internally. (And play we did!)

Building Our First Plugin
Our whiz-bang Systems Engineer Adam was the first to put this to practical use. To familiarize himself with our new Ruby SDK, Adam wrote a plugin that piped our support ticket metrics into a dashboard. In the system, he created pages for each type of ticket we wanted to track separately: one page for our .NET tickets, one for subscription queries, one for questions about our t-shirts, etc.

We’re fortunate enough to use a ticketing system that provides an XML equivalent to each page it offers us. The XML version of a page has a ‘count’ attribute that reflects the number of tickets that match the filter. Adam threw popular third-party gem nokogiri at each of the pages to parse the XML, scraping the ticket data we wanted with the frequency and granularity we chose.

In just 20 lines of code, we:

1. Require the ‘newrelic_plugin’.

Requires Gems

2. Define our agent information.
3. Generate the authentication method with our ticketing system.
4. Load the XML pages with nokogiri.
5. Parse the XML, grabbing the attributes we are looking for (e.g. label: tickets; number: 67).

Parse Data
6. Politely ask our plugin gem to report the values in as ‘Tickets’.

Et voila … fresh metrics every 30 seconds:

New Relic dashboard

Now we can display support metrics into our New Relic dashboard. Anyone who wants to know ‘how support is doing’ can check the site to see exactly what’s going on – from team absences, special projects, big announcements, helicopter fly-overs, solar flares, you name it. : )

We still discuss clever ideas for metrics. The number of times Richard mention bagpipes. Hollie’s pulse when she’s on Twitter duty. Director Darin’s consumption of Coke Zero.

We have a blast. Then turn around, look at our shiny dashboard and get back to work.

We’re looking for super awesome, super nerdy candidates to join our ever-growing Support Team. Interested? Check out our Jobs page for more information. 


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