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Spotify is regarded as one of the most disruptive tech companies in Europe, specializing in music and podcast streaming and quickly expanding into video and other content. With over 170 million active users, the root of Spotify’s success is a distinct company culture that views customer happiness, employee work-life balance, the freedom to make decisions, and an Agile DevOps approach as competitive musts.
In order to maintain its leadership in the music discovery experience and consumption space, Spotify knew its digital operations management had to continue to embody this culture as it continues to grow. But how?
A Culture of Owning the Code and Continuous Learning
At Spotify, every team owns their own code or owns their part of Spotify—which means nearly every team is on call should a problem arise. “Each team has responsibility over a feature or a set of features within Spotify,” said Javier Martinez, Product Manager for Observability at Spotify. “They are responsible for developing that product, and they are responsible for operating it.”
Engineers are also given a lot of freedom when it comes to decision-making, which empowers them to act more like entrepreneurs rather than employees. “Engineers have a lot of freedom to achieve their goals; for instance, provisioning whatever needed infrastructure frictionlessly,” explained Martinez. “So while this means we don’t really have that many processes (which can get somewhat messy sometimes), it also leads to quite a lot of learning.”
This is where PagerDuty comes into play—the platform supports ongoing learning by providing much-needed transparency and the tools to understand the root cause of incidents. “We track our mean time to detect and mean time to resolve (MTTR) with PagerDuty, and every incident should have a postmortem,” said Martinez. “It’s pretty much part of our culture—we’re not afraid of failing at Spotify; the most important thing is the learning so we can do better next time.”
Improving MTTR = Happier Users
Since deploying PagerDuty five years ago, engineers are able to identify and resolve issues faster and more effectively than before, resulting in less business disruption and downtime—and, most importantly, happier users. “We have a direct impact on revenue because of how quickly we can resolve issues, which has an impact on retention and customer growth,” Martinez explained.
Additionally, the introduction of DevOps at Spotify a few years ago resulted in improved service availability and the ability to solve problems faster. “More and more, we’re getting to a place where everybody is familiar with what to expect,” said Martinez.
On-Call Scheduling Made Easy
With so many people on call and strict Swedish regulations regarding work and rest hours, the company started using PagerDuty to manage its on-call rotations. But even without the law, Martinez is a firm believer in a healthy work-life balance. “If you don’t have a healthy on-call rotation and people are super tired, your productivity will plummet quickly,” he shared. “If you don’t have a healthy setup, then you will probably fail in the long term.”
By facilitating improved work-life balance through powerful scheduling management functionality, PagerDuty supports the human side of operations.
Current Deployment Only Scratches the Surface
Spotify plans to delve more deeply into PagerDuty’s alerting functionality going forward, particularly PagerDuty’s new Event Intelligence product.
“When it comes to PagerDuty, I think there is this question around smart alerting,” said Martinez. “When you have several microservices that are interconnected and one fails, you get a bunch of alerts. How do we minimize that noise in a meaningful way so that engineers get paged only for things that can actually be acted upon?”
A closer look into PagerDuty’s analytics features is also on the docket so that Spotify can analyze how its service is doing over time. Armed with such information, Spotify can better sync its digital operations approach with strategic business goals.
“Functioning without proper incident management is not an option,” Martinez concluded.
If a leading-edge company like Spotify finds PagerDuty as a core element of its digital operations management strategy, then what are you waiting for? Visit www.pagerduty.com to sign up for a free trial.
“We have a direct impact on revenue because of how quickly we can resolve issues, which has an impact on retention and customer growth.”
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