Battle Plan 2018: Illuminate Blind Spots and Unknown Unknowns
December 27, 2017

Josh Gray
Cedexis

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.

Bonus points if you know who came up with that tongue twister. He was talking about terrorists, but we're here to discuss a different sort of war — the Battle for Bandwidth. These days, application and content delivery requires special tactics, an integrated strategy, and well-sourced intelligence. And the unknown unknowns are the true enemy because they inevitably lead to outages, slowdowns, and mutinous customers.

In early November, a major outage caused by a minor configuration error (a route leak, to be exact) at global backbone provider Level 3 created widespread connection issues on both U.S. coasts. Comcast, Verizon, Cox, and Vonage customers were particularly affected.

One small error can have mighty ripple effects, and the cause isn't always apparent to network admins and enterprise customers. The time it took to return the Down Detector maps from angry red to mellow yellow could have been shortened by looking at Real User Measurements (crowdsourced telemetry), realizing it wasn't a single site or ISP, and following a logic tree to find the culprit.

With Global Server Load Balancing, your delivery network is smart enough to see the barricade around the corner and switch routes on the fly — saving the day (and making the other guys look a bit dazed and confused).

Blind spots can be hiding more than outages. Your crack team of DevOps commandos can't run successful release missions if they can't check what's really going on in the field. You don't want them dashing around in the dark without a robust tactical plan based on all the parameters you can assess — when you turn unknown unknowns into known knowns from your various data streams, you can put them to work.

Continuous deployment isn't for the faint of heart — you better have your Kevlar and your night vision goggles. Companies like Salesforce are releasing updates dozens of times a day; but even a handful a week requires a careful strategy. You can use RUM to test an update by initially limiting roll-out to one data center. Check for 40x/50x errors. If you're seeing problems, you can check both user experience with your app (non-updated versions) in other places, and user experience at the same data center where you are testing the updated version, to deduce the source of trouble.

One of the biggest unknown unknowns in traffic management is what's going on in places you haven't served recently. If a story about Boise causes traffic to spike there, and that's not normally an audience hotspot for your service, chances are you won't have any measurements of your own to go on. Community intelligence turns these dark corners of your empire into known knowns through automated crowdsourcing of quality of experience metrics. When combined with real-time server health checks and third-party data streams, you have a powerful ability to make efficient, economical routing decisions, even for destinations you don't have any history with.

The more insight and intelligence can be used to accelerate the acquisition of known knowns, the better it is for your business and your bottom line. In the New Year, we should be less accepting of blind spots. They're expensive — they cost us time, money, and customers. Nobody has enough human problem solvers around to keep putting out fires and rigging up one-off workarounds. Our best talent should be working on the next release, the next big idea, or the next major dilemma (Net Neutrality game changers, anyone?) — not floundering around trying to guess what's holding up traffic. You can't control what you can't see, and on the hybrid IT battlefield, control keeps you on top of the hill. We're pretty sure Donald Rumsfeld would agree.

Josh Gray is Chief Architect at Cedexis

The Latest

May 22, 2018

DEVOPSdigest asked experts from across the IT industry for their opinions on the top tools to support DevSecOps. Part 2 covers DevOps and development ...

May 21, 2018

While DevSecOps, much like DevOps itself, is more about changing IT culture than employing certain types of technology, some tools can be an important support. To find out what the right tools are, DEVOPSdigest asked experts from across the IT industry for their opinions on the top tools to support DevSecOps. Part 1 covers the testing phase ...

May 17, 2018

The top two business priorities for CIOs of midsize enterprises (MSEs) in 2018 are growth and digital transformation. However, 57 per cent of MSEs are not yet delivering digital initiatives, according to findings from Gartner Inc.'s 2018 CIO Agenda Survey ...

May 15, 2018

Almost every company is facing the challenge of digital transformation today. This means rethinking and retooling your company to compete and succeed in an increasingly digital world. While digital transformation is not only about technology, the right tools can help. To find out what these right tools are, APMdigest asked experts from across the IT industry for their opinions on the essential tools to support digital transformation ...

May 08, 2018

With data breaches consistently being in the news over the last several years, it is no wonder why data privacy has become such a hot topic and why the European Union (EU) has put in place General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will become enforceable on May 25, 2018, which is less than a month away ...

May 03, 2018

The prospect of increased workloads, combined with shrinking mainframe skillsets, has huge implications for mainframe DevOps. The only way for organizations to solve this skills gap crisis is by optimizing developer productivity. Drilling down a level further, what does this all mean for mainframe DevOps? ...

May 02, 2018

When it comes to operations and development, DevOps has changed the traditional compartmentalized style of development by eliminating silos. But what about the security team? Security is largely still siloed from operations and development. No doubt, many DevOps teams have some security controls baked into their automation processes, but a recent survey shows there are still alarming gaps ...

April 30, 2018

According to the 2018 Global Security Trends in the Cloud report, 93 percent of respondents faced challenges when deploying their current on-premises security tools in the cloud, and 97 percent lacked the tools, cross-functional collaboration and resources to gain proper insight into security across the organization. These numbers indicate a big problem in DevSecOps that needs to be addressed ...

April 26, 2018

Moving more workloads to the cloud is a top IT priority, so eventually it will be time to consider how to make those critical legacy applications cloud ready. In Part 1 of this blog, I outlined the first four of eight steps to chart your cloud journey. In addition, consider the next four steps below ...

April 25, 2018

Clearly, moving applications to the cloud delivers significant advantages. So what's standing in the way of full cloud adoption? For many companies it's those burdensome (but critically important) legacy applications. Moving more workloads to the cloud is a top IT priority. So, eventually it will be time to consider how to make those critical legacy applications cloud ready. Consider the following eight steps to chart your cloud journey ...

Share this