Service providers have long been lauded for a willingness to ‘eat their own dog food,’ i.e. to use their own products or services for internal operations and/or development. 

For Catchpoint, that means that we use our own digital experience monitoring platform to ensure that the platform itself is running optimally. Regular tests of our own infrastructure ensure that our customers are not being hampered by performance issues on our end. 

For a commercial enterprise company like Honeywell, which manufactures thousands of different products from aircraft engines and avionics to home appliances, eating their own dog food is a much more daunting challenge, and difficult to accomplish without some outside help. 

Such was the case when Honeywell CEO David M. Cote notified his team of a problem with excessively slow WiFi speeds on his private company jet. While your first reaction might be an eyeroll (‘Oh, poor executive has to wait to check his email on a luxurious private jet!’), Cote recognized it for the serious problem that it potentially was: this WiFi connection was being established by a Honeywell-manufactured satellite communication router, a product that they sold in different commercial and military markets. Therefore, if it was malfunctioning on Cote’s plane, then the problem could have gone far beyond a minor personal inconvenience; it could be malfunctioning for many of Honeywell Aerospace’s customers as well. 

Given their dedication to customer experience – “The only KPI that matters,” according to Honeywell Monitoring Leader Paul Fries – the cause of this issue had to be rooted out and solved. But therein lay another problem: this issue went far beyond something as simple as DNS latency or a malfunctioning server. How do you solve a unique problem like performance speed on satellite communication routers? 

The solution was provided with some Catchpoint OnPrem agents. Unlike regular public nodes that Catchpoint has installed on backbone infrastructure around the globe, OnPrem agents can be deployed directly on small devices, servers, and VMs to monitor internal applications and services. Given this capability, Honeywell installed them on both the private jet and the SatCom ground station, and established a baseline by placing them on some other aircraft that were using different solutions for their network connectivity. 

After collecting data from all the different agents and with the aircraft in multiple locations, the Honeywell monitoring team was able to determine that the source of the problem was not a malfunction of their own products, but rather some oversaturated beams from one of their satellite communications providers. After a simple service upgrade to better handle the amount of congestion on the satellite beams, the WiFi speed was restored to acceptable levels. 

“The real win here was not that we found a root cause, and that our CEO is now able to download his email at a much faster rate,” said Fries. “The real benefit is that within two weeks, we were able to circumvent a large number of man hours, testing, and diagnosing of Honeywell products to really rule in or rule out that device.” 

This level of eating your own dogfood is fairly distinctive to a company such as Honeywell, but it highlights an important aspect of internal monitoring. In order to provide a truly exceptional customer experience, not only do your internal standards have to be much higher than those of your customers, but you also have to be able to collect accurate, actionable data regardless of the challenges in front of you. However your customers interact with your service, be it on a website, on a mobile app, in a brick-and-mortar store, or in their own homes, the ability to measure that experience is vital to the success and growth of your business. 

Author Craig Lowell

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