New Relic Runs on Insights: Maximizing Engineering Resources

This New Relic Insights use case is taken from New Relic Runs on Insights, a new whitepaper collecting Insights use cases from across New Relic, highlighting some of the many ways the product can help businesses exploit the countless possibilities for leveraging their data in real time, without needing developer resources, and allowing them to make faster, more informed decisions. Download the New Relic Runs on Insights whitepaper now!

No company has infinite engineering resources, which makes it critical to utilize those resources efficiently. But unless you know what is most important to customers and to the company, making decisions about which features and problems to work on can be a shot in the dark.

New Relic Insights can help shine a light on those issues. New Relic software engineer Gabriel Castro, for example, saw an opportunity to use Insights to improve the engineering group’s visibility into how customers use our products and how those products actually perform.

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Proving the concept

Gabriel started by building a dashboard to see which parts of New Relic APM customers were using the most. “It took me about 30 minutes to build a full dashboard with 9-12 graphs,” he says. “Then we continued to tweak it as we thought of new ways we wanted to see the data.” He started creating dashboards to help solve a variety of common engineering challenges:

Browser usage: After noticing that Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 users were filing a number of issues, “We wanted to see how many customers were still on this older version of Internet Explorer so that we could decide whether or not we should still continue supporting it,” says Gabriel. With Insights, they discovered that only a relatively few customers were still using IE 9and were able to help migrate them to a more modern browser. “It helped us reduce the support load on engineering,” says Gabriel.

Identifying and prioritizing performance improvements: Gabriel built a series of New Relic Insights dashboards to track performance of various New Relic products. “With the data we get from Insights, we can prioritize which pages to work on for maximum impact.”

Tracking new feature rollouts: Gabriel and the engineering team also use New Relic Insights to track performance of new features. “We created two dashboards to track the performance of new pages versus the old ones,” he says. “One dashboard compares performance over a longer period of time so we can see trends. The other dashboard lets us see performance on an hourly basis, to see in real time if we’re still handling the load well.” The dashboards help the engineers quickly identify and address any performance issues.

Fixing problems before customers notice

“With New Relic Insights, we can track performance at a granular level and quickly identify what is causing a problem and whether it’s impacting just one customer or groups of customers.” This can enable engineering to fix a problem before other customers are even aware of it, much less have time to complain about it.

Insights’ ability to quickly answer questions makes it easier to allocate engineering resources effectively. “Let’s say we want to change or remove a feature,” explains Gabriel. “It’s so easy to run a query that tells us exactly how many customers are using it so that we can decide whether it warrants continued maintenance from engineering.”

That means the engineering group can focus on the areas that deliver the greatest impact to the most users, enabling it to effectively do more with finite resources.

fredric@newrelic.com'

Fredric Paul (aka The Freditor) is Editor in Chief for New Relic. He's an award-winning writer, editor, and content strategist who has held senior editorial positions at ReadWrite, AllBusiness.com, InformationWeek, CNET, Electronic Entertainment, PC World, and PC|Computing. His writing has appeared in MIT Technology Review, Omni, Conde Nast Traveler, and Newsweek, among other places. View posts by .

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