Empowered, a subsidiary of Aflac Incorporated, leads the industry in the development and implementation of SaaS solutions for employee benefits enrollment, management and communications. Their digital platform simplifies the process of selecting and enrolling employees in benefits offerings and dramatically increases sales for brokers while reducing errors and administrative costs.
More than 34,000 insurance brokers rely on the Empowered platform to work with businesses to enroll their employees in benefits programs – and thousands of those agents access the platform every day. A single day of downtime could easily translate to millions of dollars per day in lost sales.
We spoke with Empowered CTO Bray Jones to find out how Empowered ensures rapid code changes don’t impact their customers using OverOps.
1. Ensuring 24/7 Availability of Mission Critical App
“This is a mission-critical app with thousands of insurance agents accessing the platform daily. If an agent or broker can’t easily access Empowered, that can quickly translate to millions per day in lost sales. As such, it’s critical that we have high-quality code and reliable infrastructure in place, supported by the right tooling, teams and processes.”
For every organization running software – from those in e-commerce to the health industry – downtime means brand tarnishment and, likely, lost revenue. Ensuring 24/7 (or five 9s) availability, then, should be a top priority for all of us.
OverOps helps Empowered’s IT org ensure application reliability by providing optimized software data that enables quick identification, prevention and resolution of critical software issues. By analyzing code at runtime, OverOps is able to identify errors that would otherwise be missed by testing suites, log analyzers and APM tools.
2. Introducing Rapid Code Changes with Confidence
“We are introducing many code changes quickly, and there’s only so much that you can test. Having a tool that can preemptively diagnose problems is vital.”
Many companies are struggling with this same issue. How do you accelerate feature and code delivery without putting your application’s reliability at risk?
What is it about rapid code changes that make us so vulnerable? It could be that developers are more rushed to complete their tasks and code quality dips, but let’s not go there. Much more likely, is that the reduced time doesn’t allow us to write comprehensive enough tests to ensure code quality before deployment.
OverOps addresses this by analyzing your code at runtime and performing software data optimization. Teams can then identify critical issues earlier in development, prevent them from reaching production and deploy with confidence knowing they have everything they need to quickly resolve any issue before it impacts end users.
Using recently released CI/CD integrations, teams can leverage OverOps data in pre-production to identify errors missed by QA and test automation and automatically block critical issues from being promoted. This capability is supported by an open source scoring system that takes into account new or increasing errors and slowdowns to determine the stability of a release.
3. Overcoming a Fear of the Unknown
“Our greatest fear is often the unknown. We’re constantly thinking about what we might have missed in testing when we put code into production.”
Bray wasn’t the first person we talked to that told us his team has a fear of the unknown, John McCann, VP Digital Home Engineering at Comcast shared a similar sentiment with us. And we’re sure they won’t be the last. After all, there’s only so much you can test for, and the level of foresight required to cover all possible failure cases is impossible to achieve. Even 100% code coverage doesn’t guarantee success.
OverOps helps teams overcome this fear by providing context around previously unknown errors. Uncaught exceptions? You’re covered. Swallowed exceptions? You’re covered. Errors that aren’t logged? You’re covered. OverOps is not only aware of these events, but is able to alert you on the most critical issues as they occur by deduplicating them and classifying anomalies in real-time.
4. Removing Difficulty Resolving Issues in Production
“When we came across OverOps, one of the key features that caught our attention was the ability to capture and store the complete parameters and variables at the time of an issue. We had previously relied heavily on application logs, which felt like a shot in the dark.”
Once the issue of unknowns is taken care of, OverOps helps teams resolve errors in test and production by arming them with the code-level insight needed to reproduce and resolve even the trickiest issues. This includes the 7 key components of True Root Cause:
1. Code Graph
2. The Source Code
3. Exact Line of Code in Which the Errors Occurred
4. Data and Variables
5. Log Statements (including debug and trace level in Production)
6. System / Environment Variables
7. Event Mapping to Specific Applications, Releases, Services, Etc.
With OverOps, Empowered resolved a customer-impacting issue in 20 minutes that previously would have taken days to diagnose and fix.
5. BONUS: Shifting Left
“In addition to helping us address incidents quickly, OverOps has become an integral part of our shift left strategy, enabling us to find and fix issues earlier in the software delivery lifecycle. We now have a dedicated team of employees tasked with using OverOps to identify and resolve critical issues before they reach production and impact customers.”
Many companies are now “shifting left” by adopting production monitoring practices in earlier stages of the release cycle. The goal, of course, is to identify issues before they ever reach production.
OverOps plays a critical role in enabling Empowered’s shift-left approach to reliability and preventing critical issues from reaching production.
The one thing that ties together all of the OverOps’ capabilities is our data and what we do with it. Once you have access to the unique data that OverOps provides, the possibilities are endless.
These 5 examples of how Empowered leverages OverOps exemplify the fact that no matter where your coverage gaps are – in testing or in production, in issue detection or resolution – OverOps has a solution for you.