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Behind-the-scenes innovation for increased stability and security

By Janrain Team | Posted on May 21, 2018

Identity platform stability innovation

Stability and security go hand in hand and are at the forefront of the engineering minds at Janrain. These topics are organic in nature due to the software development life cycle. However, the adoption of the zero event on call initiative in early 2018 has enabled engineering to innovate and enact change in these areas on a daily basis.

In early 2018, Janrain’s engineering management established the zero event on call initiative as a means to eradicate unplanned platform events such as alerts, unhealthy behavior or customer complaints. The initiative simply enabled engineers who were alerted to prioritize the health of the platform first and secondly the remediation of any overarching problem to prevent the alert from happening again.

At any given time, a virtual on call team, consisting of predefined engineers who are tasked with responding to unplanned platform events / emergencies, can be alerted to abnormal behavior and will investigate. This on call team has all roles and experience necessary, including engineering management, in order to enact change and deploy it to production if necessary.

On a daily basis, the on call team meets and asks themselves the following questions with respect to the unplanned event:

  1. What caused the event and how do we prevent it from happening again?
  2. Should we sponsor an interrupt and address the remediation immediately?
  3. Should we prioritize for the next Sprint?
  4. Or should we add it to the backlog and let normal prioritization deal with the issue?

Depending on the severity of any potential impact and or risk for this type of event happening again, the team chooses which path to take and executes. This process has produced numerous improvements into the platform.

Over the course of time, this process has evolved into a separate project for tracking purposes since the investigation and or remediation can take longer than the typical on call window of a week. Meetings are now held between the incoming and outgoing on call teams for synchronization and handoff.

The engineering team is very proud of the results that this initiative has lead to:

  • Reduced alerts / unplanned events
  • Better platform monitoring
  • Detailed log files / messages
  • Increased security
  • More resilient error handling
  • Better documentation / on call guides
  • Increased teamwork and best practices across the Janrain development teams

All in all, although Janrain’s clients may not be aware of the hard work and innovation that is taking place every single day, they do see the results from it in the increased stability.

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