The cloud has a blind spot. The seed for Wicket Labs was planted a little over a year ago on a Friday, summer evening. At the time, I was the co-CEO of thePlatform, a video management system that averaged 18 billion API calls per month. Our customers relied on us to set up their videos for playback on all kinds of devices, ensure each video is discoverable and enforce any policies around the play request.
I was out to dinner with my wife and some friends when I received a call from a vice president of digital for a major media company. He told me that their iPad experience was broken and asked me to ensure my team was working the problem. As I asked for some context around the issue, he explained that a consumer had reported a problem, his team had been investigating the issue for the last 30 minutes and they had identified us as the cause. When I asked for some details on the problem, he didn’t have much more to share. Sure enough, we had deployed some new code and out of the hundreds of brands we supported, it impacted this particular iPad app. The team quickly rolled back the code and the problem was resolved. From the consumer reporting, the problem to resolution took about an hour and cost our customer tens of thousands of dollars in lost ad revenue.
The next morning I started asking myself questions.
- Why does a major media company rely on consumers to report system issues?
- Why did it take them so long to figure out it was us?
- Why didn’t they have more information about what had changed?
- How could we deploy new code that only impacted one app out of the hundreds of brands we supported?
After leaving thePlatform, I spent some time investigating these questions. It turns out to be a fairly common issue. Enterprise companies are increasingly reliant on vendor APIs to power their websites and apps. These mission-critical APIs should be monitored for service disruptions and changes that may impact the client experience, but they are not. Setting up an API validation service requires test engineers to pick a monitoring technology, model each API and translate the results for business owners. Maintaining these modeled APIs becomes a full-time job for a test engineer, and this role is especially hard to fill for any company not in the software industry. The combination of a scarce personnel resource, with a monitoring solution that was designed for software developers rather than business owners, means that for many enterprises, nothing is set up. Hence the blind spot.
Downtime for various industries is measured differently but it is always significant. The consumer has a bad experience. The vendor’s reputation is harmed and there are often financial penalties from broken Service Level Agreements (SLAs). For the company, there is the breach of faith with consumers, employee churn as they spend their evenings and weekends fixing problems, possible compliance issues with regulators, and lost revenue.
We founded Wicket Labs with a simple mission:
To reduce the operational downtime of cloud-dependent systems, apps and sites.
To support this mission, we believe in a few key tenants:
- All stakeholders (vendors, partners, and customers) in a networked ecosystem need to validate new software releases. Relying solely on a vendor’s QA team to catch every impacting issue isn’t enough.
- Understanding risks and emerging issues in mission-critical applications requires a better translation from engineering to business owners.
- With a scarcity of testing personnel, automation is required. API Monitors should be easy to setup, easy to modify and easy to understand.
Although the mission is simple enough, we actually believe it is also differentiating. Testing and monitoring shouldn’t be the exclusive domain of the vendor anymore. A straightforward explanation of system issues helps everyone focus on the actionable steps, rather than debating who is at fault. And the more this can be automated, the more applicable it will be across the breadth of APIs employed by companies today.
Thank you for taking the time to learn a little more about Wicket Labs. We’re excited by our progress so far and our prospects ahead. If you’d like to learn more about our product or company, please contact us and we’ll get back to you shortly.
CEO and Co-Founder
Tags: CEO • news • Wicket update