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Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Velocity San Jose conference. With the objective of helping teams build and maintain complex distributed systems, Velocity is a major industry conference that Rigor sponsors on an annual basis. My personal goal in attending was stay on the forefront of DevOps, see more cutting-edge examples of how teams are leveraging technologies such as APIs, and gain a better insight into how Rigor can solve the problems our customers are facing today.

Over the two days of the conference, I attended a range of presentations by industry leaders and had countless conversations with fellow attendees about their own learning objectives, as well as their struggles and successes in bringing their companies into a DevOps culture. Whether you’re newer to performance or an expert, Velocity has lots of great content focused on both learning and also taking action.

Over the course of the two days I identified some common themes that relate to the evolution of digital business:

1. DevOps means different things to different organizations. Duh.

This isn’t groundbreaking, and we certainly have shared this sentiment in a number of our own publications, but for some reason hearing different presenters talk about their own experiences with DevOps made this point much more salient for me.

Different teams don’t only have different objectives, but also diverse skillsets and DevOps efforts should take this into account. For instance, is DevOps only relegated to one team or is it being applied across the business?  If the latter, are you selecting tools aimed solely at developers or ones that can put the health of your digital properties front-and-center even for folks who don’t spend their days working with code?  

2. DevOps isn’t just tools. And it isn’t just culture. It’s both.

Tools won’t fix a bad culture. And culture won’t fix bad tools. To be successful, DevOps teams need to ensure that their tools and culture are mutually reinforcing in a positive, rather than negative way.

As Dr. Nicole Forsgren from DevOps Research and Assessment pointed out, a significant aspect of DevOps is having a culture of collaboration. If your tools reinforce silos by making it difficult to share data or create visibility into other people’s workflows collaboration and productivity suffers. Likewise, tools can build a climate for learning by providing information about what caused a failure, but if your culture stigmatizes failure, it can also reduce calculated risk-taking. Balancing these is key.

3. Performance might be a new buzzword, but it should also be a business baseline.

I spoke with numerous attendees who, when they heard that I worked for Rigor, commented on how they felt that web performance was more prominent than ever at the conference.

This is great! And it might very well be true. However, we need to ensure that we don’t fall into a trap of merely talking about the importance of digital experiences without ensuring that we are delivering them.

Setting web performance KPIs is a great way to ensure that performance is tracked, trended on, and prioritized within your business. However, different types of companies, and even different departments inside the same company, have different metrics they need to keep an eye on. For instance, IT/Ops looks at uptime and first byte time, whereas advertising teams track onload and fully loaded, since those typically define when ads can appear.

Here, we outline some important web performance KPIs that you might want to consider in addition to your existing ones.

4. Performance isn’t a finishable feature.

On Thursday at Velocity, Rigor’s Director of Product, Billy Hoffman, gave a presentation to a standing-room only audience about how to automate performance testing in pre-production.

This is a topic that we discuss frequently at Rigor. In this session what stood out to me is the fact that performance isn’t a finishable feature. It isn’t a one-time box that you check, but rather an ongoing component of improving your user experience. If you’re trying to build the best digital experience for your users, you should always be iterating and even the best teams can let human error hold them back. It’s for this reason that you should automate, test early, and test often; there are a range of tools that can help make this easy, such as API Tester.

The industry–be it the technology or the processes–is constantly evolving. This presents a great opportunity for all of us involved to ensure that we are also evolving. By attending conferences such as Velocity, we are able to ensure that we continue to stay at the forefront and drive these conversations forward.

Did you attend Velocity San Jose? Let us know what themes resonated with you by sharing your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter @TeamRigor.

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