Every day, hundreds of NetApp technical support engineers (TSE) troubleshoot customer cases on the front lines. They are superheroes who handle 15,000 cases each month. Yet these heroes were using “swivel chair” processes to navigate among nine separate systems to find and capture case data, support bulletins, known bug information, and knowledge base articles. They had to manually retrieve and consolidate this information to provide a solution to our customers.
To capture customer support knowledge in real time and produce technical solution documentation, my solution delivery team—working with our Customer Support Delivery business partners and Service Management peers—rewrote the case management system. We built the new system by using our new DevOps framework, CloudOne Business Resilient Applications (COBRA). Leveraging our internal platform called CloudOne, we built COBRA to provide the templates, libraries, methodologies, and processes to manage cloud-based microservices-based architectures.
We found that treating every microservice as its own software was a key first step, and although each provides a separate service, they all must work together. Microservices scale better and are easier to manage and test. They allow us to optimize resources and have multiple teams work on independent services, enabling us to deploy more quickly—and pivot more easily when needed. As a result, our work velocity is three to four times faster; code deployment happens in seconds, not hours; and bug fixes can happen almost immediately.
A solid UI design was also important to the success of this project. With COBRA and continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) capabilities built on top of CloudOne, the team was able to quickly tune UIs in response to user feedback. The application was rolled out in phases with weekly releases to iterate on improvements based on user feedback.
The new case management system has nine microservices that retrieve data from SAP, NetApp® Active IQ®, troubleshooting tools, and knowledge base systems. All data is delivered through a custom-designed UI to eliminate swivel chair processes and increase the TSE team’s productivity.
As a Senior IT Director of Enterprise Solutions, Robert and his team are responsible for all the business applications development and delivery of IT projects at NetApp. They bring cloud-ready solutions to NetApp’s corporate business applications and play a vital role in our IT transformation. Together they manage large enterprise projects with a focus on deploying new business functionality quickly while minimizing operational risk.
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