Observability   Customer Stories  

Flight to Success: Birdie's DevOps Evolution Fueled by Observability Insights

By Rox Williams  |   Last modified on February 22, 2024

Challenge

Birdie wanted to uplevel observability to a platform that would provide meaningful insights for application performance and debugging.

Ensuring customers can provide seamless and timely care to in-home patients stands as a top priority for Birdie, and the development team takes pride in building and maintaining a high-quality platform distinguished by its reliability and responsiveness. Birdie’s platform is a complex software system that covers a lot of ground—from care management and rostering to HR and finance.

To ensure the platform runs smoothly and the team can swiftly fix issues, the company depends on a smart observability tool to understand its performance and direct debugging efforts. However, since it’s not clear upfront which dimensions are going to be valuable for debugging purposes, the team needs the ability to adeptly query and explore the data.

Originally, the company relied on Datadog for this task, but the architecture didn’t lend itself to data exploration, which was an important aspect for Birdie to enhance their observability capabilities. Recognizing this necessity, Birdie embarked on a search for an intuitive observability platform that could facilitate seamless data exploration, enabling their development team to uncover hidden issues and streamline their debugging efforts.

Solution

Embracing the journey towards enhanced observability, Birdie set their course towards Honeycomb. Drawing from Einar's firsthand experience with the solution, Birdie harbored confidence in Honeycomb's ability to uplevel the team's observability.

From the beginning of their evaluation, onboarding, and ramp-up, Birdie has received white glove service and discovered a true partner in Honeycomb to enhance their observability efforts. Birdie's development team wholeheartedly embraced Honeycomb, driven by several compelling reasons that influenced their purchasing decision, including:

  • Swift onboarding and rapid time-to-value
    "The Honeycomb setup only required a small configuration, and we started piping our data over. People moved over to using Honeycomb almost instantly because it was so well fit for purpose,” said Einar Norðfjörð, Senior Staff Software Engineer at Birdie. “Simon, our account manager, kept tabs on how many queries we were running and how many users were running them as an indication of how far along we were in the onboarding journey. That gave us confidence that the tool was actually being used.”
  • Meaningful debugging
    "With Honeycomb, we could query our data in a more meaningful way and immediately had better success investigating issues.”
  • Optimized budget with 50% savings
    "Embracing Honeycomb's modern approach to observability allowed us to slash observability costs by 50% while gaining more value." 

Results

Getting big early wins with meaningful debugging insights

With Honeycomb seamlessly integrated, the development team delved into investigations. Faced with a backlog of questions on performance issues and areas they wanted to investigate, the team prioritized low-hanging fruit. Identifying issues like sequential database accesses that could be done in parallel, or function calls that took too many hops, were easy and immediate wins. The development team quickly garnered actionable insights, enabling them to refine the code for optimal performance.

"With Honeycomb, we can not only swiftly identify performance issues, but can also develop a data-driven conversation about how they impact the customer,” said Einar, adding that “having access to all those dimensions and graphs allows us to craft narratives around performance improvements so we can effectively communicate with business stakeholders about customer experience and prioritize with confidence."

Fostering curiosity that transforms customer experience

After successfully tackling the initial backlog of issues, the nearly 60 Honeycomb users have embraced a culture of curiosity. They now readily leverage observability insights to explore various areas of the Birdie platform. Using Honeycomb’s straightforward query language, the developers can proactively navigate investigations and promptly address issues as they arise.

“Honeycomb empowers our team to proactively address issues. Instead of reactive responses, we can now swiftly detect and fix problems before there’s a customer impact. This shift has reshaped our customer interactions and improved satisfaction," explained Einar.

Goodbye alert fatigue—getting alerts that matter with SLOs by dev service

Before adopting Honeycomb, the team relied on AWS CloudWatch metrics to understand the availability of their system, where they ensured 99.9% availability. Whenever a dip in availability was observed, an alarm would trigger. This proved problematic because any dip, however temporary, constituted a crisis. Valuable time was squandered dealing with false-positive alarms, lowering the team's confidence in the significance of their alerts.

In contrast, Honeycomb treats error budgets as first-class citizens. Honeycomb's SLOs recognize that having some level of errors is not just unavoidable, it's desirable. Instead of alerting when a temporary dip is observed, you're notified when the error budget is projected to exhaust. This change in thinking enabled enormous benefits for Birdie. The volume of alarms went down, and teams could create fine-grained SLOs for specific high-value use cases.

"Honeycomb SLOs transformed our team's alert experience by reducing the volume of alarms, making them more impactful. When an alert fires now, people jump on it immediately," said Einar, adding that “Honeycomb’s BubbleUp feature gives us a really nice jumping board into our investigations. We can get a clear understanding of what needs to be done within five minutes.” 

Empowering the C-suite with Honeycomb data insights

Birdie is dedicated to not just meeting but surpassing customer expectations. At the heart of this mission is Honeycomb observability, which provides indispensable insights for Birdie's C-suite to understand product usage and guide their roadmap decisions. Given the critical role of the Birdie platform in healthcare service delivery, the C-suite places significant emphasis on exploring Honeycomb SLO data to assess reliability and discern performance trends over time.

As Einar explained, "Following the launch of a new feature, it’s really easy to provide our execs and leaders with in-depth insights into customer adoption. Thanks to Honeycomb's flexibility, we can gain a comprehensive understanding of how the new feature is resonating among users—measuring usage, frequency, and other relevant metrics. This effortless ability to slice and dice the data in Honeycomb furnishes our business stakeholders with the essential information they need and facilitates collaborative efforts, allowing everyone to work together using the same dataset.”

Consolidating tools and boosting efficiency

Before adopting Honeycomb, the development team had separate tools for application performance, log monitoring, analytics, and alerting, which created a significant hurdle whenever they needed to do a debugging investigation. The team had to look at data in each of the various tools, making correlation attempts nearly impossible.

Honeycomb empowered Birdie to transform their development operations—consolidating seven tools into a unified platform and advancing their data analysis and correlation capabilities. As Einar notes, “With Honeycomb, we now seamlessly handle alerting, set up SLOs, create custom graphs, and effortlessly create dashboards—all within a single tool. Everything is automatically correlated, surfacing the relevant insights and making our team incredibly efficient with our time.”

Interested in learning more? Book a consultation with our sales team.


Birdie Logo in Honeycomb Hex Format

At a glance

About

Launched in 2017 with headquarters in London, Birdie is the leading home healthcare tech platform helping the care community deliver personalized care at home. On a mission to reinvent care, Birdie believes the elder generation should have vibrant and happy lives as they age in their own home. The company’s all-in-one solution supports millions of care visits every month, equipping care providers with the tools they need to deliver better quality care and improve efficiency across most day-to-day operations.

Displaced solution

Datadog

Industry

Health technology

Products

Honeycomb platform

Use cases

Modernize DevOps and debugging

Results

  • Expedited debugging time—from issue to root cause in five minutes
  • Realized 50% budget savings and gained more value
  • Consolidated seven tools—optimizing cost, management, and time efficiency
  • Elevated customer satisfaction by proactively addressing potential issues
  • Eliminated false positive alarms and alert fatigue
  • Facilitated data-driven decision-making for business stakeholders

"Embracing Honeycomb's modern approach to observability allowed us to slash observability costs by 50% while gaining more value."

Einar Norðfjörð, Senior Staff Software Engineer

 

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