Five Things I Learned About APM From Eating My Own Dog Food

There is an expression people use in the technology field to describe using your own product in your business – it is called “eating your own dog food.”   I am responsible for marketing and ultimately our websites here at Correlsense and have always felt that you can’t market a product you don’t truly understand and this was the case for SharePath. The simple truth is that I just want my sites to run fast without the need to babysit things.  At the same time, I rely on my COO Katav to make sure the server and applications are OK.

It is no secret that a snappy page load speed is essential especially when you are marketing application performance management software for a living.  Of course, performance can vary over time that drives my use of SharePath on a daily basis.  My goal here is not a thinly veiled/cheesy testimonial for the product.  Instead, it is a favor to Katav who suggested that I share my experiences and learnings over the last year or so.  Here are five things I have learned from using SharePath RUM:

1. Like many “application owners” and program managers, I have many tools as my fingertips, lots of data and enough knowledge of the systems to annoy IT. The sad truth is that most people just don’t have the right data.  For my websites, the challenge is often with rendering time. The main culprit has been that troublesome .js that is being mothballed in the spring of 2013. SharePath pointed to rendering time while giving my buddy Katav the data to prove that the web server was running fine.  We removed all the .js and added it back one at a time until we found the guilty party. I love SFDC but the plugin is a train wreck.

2. It can be difficult to get the attention of IT Operations.  Our operations team wears many hats including installing software and keep customers happy. In the end, having accurate performance data eliminates much of the uncertainty when troubleshooting. With data in hand, my IT Ops people can spend less time chasing and more time focusing on the issues at hand (as well as have more time to spend with customers).

3. Know your baseline numbers. This is what gives me confidence in our systems and an intuitive sense that something (if anything) is wrong. I don’t always understand all the details of every transaction or hop, but it gives me something to ask intelligent (and sometimes even stupid) questions.

4. Trust your gut. Sometimes the web leads just don’t look right. This is when I really value SharePath as a double check.  I’m sure that my incessant questions can get annoying at times but this is how you make progress.  Ask lots of questions and don’t accept the status quo.

5. You can never be too thin, too rich or have a page that loads too fast. I’ll admit that page load speed is an obsession, but as a marketer I’ve proven again and again that is it correlated with the number of leads from my site. I’ve also read that Google rewards faster sites with better search rankings. I haven’t proven this empirically but I suspect this is true.

In the end, managing the performance of web applications is complicated business. I can speak to it from first hand experiences even though my web applications are not nearly as complicated as my customers’. I just know that if I keep an eye on my SharePath dashboard and buy my IT Ops guys a regular trip to the Chinese buffet, then everything will be OK. And yes, I have the data to prove it.

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