Pinger

Pinger Jumpstarts DevOps Program with Boost from CloudBees

SUMMARY

Pinger improved the efficiency and scalability of software development operations with DevOps powered by CloudBees Core.

CHALLENGE

Launching new products and features in rapid iterations to exceed customer demands, comply with changing market regulations and stay ahead of the competition.

SOLUTION

Adopted the CloudBees Starter Kit to jumpstart the implementation of CI and CD process automation and manage pipelines more efficiently.

RESULTS

» More efficient and faster software development

» Greater ability to get and stay ahead of competition

» Improved enterprise visibility over development efforts

» Lower development costs

» Faster time to market

» Improved security and compliance

PRODUCTS

» CloudBees Starter Kit

Need to add a second number to your smartphone to keep your personal number private? Want to chat for free without a carrier plan? Then you need Pinger, the San Jose, Calif.-based company that is changing the way people and small to medium businesses communicate.

In the ever-morphing mobile communications industry, a great product today only gets you so far. The reality is, if you’re not constantly innovating, you’re probably losing ground and your competitors are leap-frogging ahead. To stay ahead, Pinger needed to keep introducing new features that its customers and telecom partners demand at breakneck speed. A change in engineering philosophy was in order and DevOps was the answer. Pinger turned to CloudBees and adopted the CloudBees Starter Kit to quickly build and implement a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) platform designed to deliver more products and features faster to its customers and stay ahead in a competitive, compliance-driven marketplace.

CHALLENGE: TRANSFORMING SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT TO GET AND STAY AHEAD
To innovate faster, Pinger needed to change its fundamental philosophy about software development. The way Pinger built software was decidedly old school and often slowed by manual processes and disconnects between engineers and operations.

“There was a wall between engineers and operations,” says Adam Robertson, Head of DevOps, at Pinger. “Once they wrote the code, the QA team would start a week’s worth of testing, then they would just throw it over the wall,” he says. “The operations team would then manually run old Perl scripts to deploy it to our infrastructure.”

The lack of automated processes and team integration meant that building and deploying new product features could take weeks. In an industry that thrives on rapid response to shifting customer and market demands, Pinger’s lengthy software development cycles were putting Pinger’s market position at risk.

“On a four-week cycle for releasing new features, you can’t stay competitive,” says Robertson. “We need to constantly go faster to get and stay ahead.”

Bottlenecks in the development process used to be commonplace at Pinger, sapping the productivity – and sometimes the morale – of engineering teams. “Jobs were taking three hours to run,” Robertson says. “So QA could be sitting here until late at night for a job to finish. And if it failed, sometimes due to brittleness, the job had to be restarted again, adding three more hours of waiting.”

Another concern was quality: Pinger’s testing routines sometimes fell short of covering the entire code base resulting in poor user experience and frequent bugs. “The process can’t be called complete until 100% code coverage,” says Robertson. Overall, Robertson explains, “Our development process was too manual and involved too many people. Being able to change that to a fully automated CI/CD process is a huge goal for us and is an essential part of our overall business strategy.”

SOLUTION: USE CLOUDBEES CORE TO BUILD AND IMPLEMENT A HIGH-EFFICIENCY DEVOPS PROGRAM

Since joining Pinger, Robertson has been busy overhauling the way Pinger builds software, introducing DevOps principles and automated CI/CD processes in an effort to increase productivity and accelerate time to market for new features and product updates. But Robertson knew that time was of the essence and that customers, and competitors, wouldn’t wait.

Moving to DevOps meant changing how engineers traditionally worked. “We had to convince engineers that the way they were doing things was problematic, inefficient and had too many manual steps that caused errors,” notes Robertson. “We had to make changes and we had to make them quickly,” he says.

GETTING STARTED QUICKLY
To get up and running fast, Pinger chose the CloudBees Starter Kit, a fast, affordable way to launch a DevOps program. “I was introduced to this option at the DevOps World-Jenkins World conference and got excited about it,” says Robertson.

The Starter Kit gives three development teams unconstrained access to CloudBees Core and CloudBees DevOptics, a solution that helps measure and improve DevOps performance. The Starter Kit also includes a remote Quickstart engagement with CloudBees professional services. “With the Starter Kit, we could get on the cloud fast and not worry about scaling,” Robertson says. “CloudBees professional services was invaluable in getting the DevOps team members started quickly.”

With the introduction of CloudBees Core, Pinger is shrinking development cycles dramatically and tearing down the wall between engineers and operations. For the first time, code-writing engineers can see their products go live in minutes rather than weeks. This was a big change in mindset for development teams. “Now they can write a feature and see it get to production within minutes,” says Robertson. “It just makes us nerds happy.”

To date, several software teams at Pinger have moved over to CloudBees, and the development group is now focusing on onboarding some of the largest teams, specifically those responsible for building software for Pinger’s mobile platforms. “If we can launch new versions of the software into the store in an automated process on a weekly basis, that will make a huge impact,” Robertson says.

Soon, Pinger will be using CloudBees DevOptics to measure, manage and optimize the entire software delivery process. “This was a huge selling point for our executive team because we’ll have complete visibility, be able to easily see where our bottlenecks are and that will keep us improving and moving faster,” he said.

As it ramps up its DevOps platform, Pinger expects to deliver new features even faster, and delight more customers in the process. Ideally, the platform will help Pinger respond to customer requests for new functionality in a matter of days. “When the team is successful in getting out new features, we’ll see the impact in new signups and more revenue per customer,” says Robertson.

For teams that have moved to CloudBees Core, production bottlenecks are no longer an issue. Engineers have learned to create more efficient pipelines and write quality-assurance tests in parallel with writing the code. And because CloudBees puts the development process in the cloud, teams are working in more scalable environments, so tests run significantly faster. “Everything is just faster and easier and there’s a lot less waiting around, which has helped boost morale,” says Robertson.

“Recently, when we opened a ticket, the engineer finished it the next morning and it was pushed out by 1:00 p.m. That’s less than a 24-hour turnaround for a new feature. In the past, this could have taken four weeks,” says Robertson. “That’s an 85% improvement and hours that our engineers can spend writing code.”

With the CloudBees Starter Kit, Pinger teams have access to a catalog of free training resources as well. “There’s tons of training we’ve been able to get from the CloudBees portal, including an eight-hour class for developers. That’s great because every one of our developers wants to get on CloudBees,” says Robertson.

With CloudBees Core, teams operate on the same version, giving managers a central view of overall development efforts and easing administrative tasks. Without CloudBees, Robertson says he would be faced with managing a dozen or more Jenkins environments, of varying versions, spread across multiple data centers. “With CloudBees, if there’s a security update, I don’t have to do it twelve times,” Robertson says. “The centralization of management has been invaluable.”

What’s more, CloudBees has optimized the way Pinger writes code. “The fact that we can push code out within minutes, not weeks, has changed how the engineers structure their sprint cycles,” says Robertson, adding that the move to DevOps and CI/CD has reset everybody’s mindset of what is possible.

RESULTS

Greater Efficiency

“Today, when engineers finish writing code, CloudBees Core runs a full set of unit, integration, acceptance and regression tests and it deploys to production in under 30 minutes,” Robertson says.

Greater Competitiveness

“Getting a new feature coded, into our pipeline and released makes our customers happy and more likely to tell their friends about us,” says Robertson.

Enterprise Visibility

“With CloudBees Core, we now have a company-wide view of our development environment — not just a micro-view of their engineering team, but also how it goes through the QA process and how it goes through all the individual automated tests and then gets pushed out to production,” Robertson says.

Employee Satisfaction

“Everything is just faster and easier and there’s a lot less waiting around,” says Robertson. “Our teams no longer have to wait for hours for a build to finish, which has helped boost employee morale. Product teams are amazed because they’ll come up with an idea and then send it to an engineer, and it’s into production within a day.”

More Cost Effective

“From what I’ve seen so far of CloudBees Core, it does everything we want it to do. If the software improves your productivity as much as CloudBees does, then the cost is really close to nothing,” Robertson says.

Better Scalability

“With CloudBees in the cloud, we never have to worry about scaling. There are no capacity bottlenecks,” Robertson says.

Faster Time to Market

“Customers are so impressed that they can request a new feature and have it in their hands less than a week later,” Robertson says. “Our CEO has certainly noticed too.”

More Agility

“If one of the telecom carriers makes an adjustment, or if a new law goes into place, we have to make those changes quickly and faster than our competitors,” says Robertson.

 

For the first time, code-writing engineers can see their products go live in minutes rather than weeks...Now they can write a feature and see it get to production within minutes. It just makes us nerds happy.
Adam Robertson
Head of DevOps