Yadhu Gopalan

May 11, 2021

The unprecedented events of the past year have accelerated a shift to mobile-first customer behavior and a subscription-based economy. Android mobile devices are more than standalone products in the age of recurring revenue. In today’s world, Android devices are a vehicle for organizations to deliver a continuous stream of subscriber value across use cases such as smart fitness, preventive health, home automation, and more.

Consumers are driving a demand surge in subscription-based services. Since 2012, subscription services have grown 437%. A recent Zuora study found nearly two-thirds of customers choose subscriptions to feel “connected” to brands in the socially-distanced age of self-service. A feeling of authentic connection matters most to customers, even more than subscription benefits of cost savings or convenience. 

So why should you care? In order to stay competitive in a subscription-driven environment, enterprises need to innovate on their customer experience. Android is the ideal platform to compete on digital experience as it is part of a customizable open ecosystem with rapid go-to-market potential. Brands also need to rethink traditional approaches to deploying, updating, and monitoring Android edge devices. Delivering exceptional customer experiences at speed and scale requires Android DevOps. 

A Reliable, Repeatable, and Robust Approach to Android Edge Devices

DevOps is the collaboration of people, practice, and technology toward rapid delivery, according to Patrick Debois. A DevOps practice is a culture shift to remove silos between development, operations, and customer success. Studies show the most mature DevOps practices rely on a common set of self-service technologies for automation and agility, including continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) workflows, a mature cloud infrastructure, monitoring and alerting. 

To learn more, we recommend MDM is Dead: It’s Time to Shift to Android DevOps

Mobile development and operations teams need to build on time-tested DevOps principles to solve for resilience and speed in edge deployments.  Android edge devices create a unique set of challenges for development and operations teams, even compared to the cloud services ecosystem where DevOps was born. The Android DevOps lifecycle must adjust to the fact that hardware, OS, firmware, configurations, application services, and auxiliary content can all impact total device health and customer experience.  

Customers who use Android edge devices are virtually always remote from product teams and end users are rarely product experts. There are no built-in redundancies or failover hardware for consumer devices and any downtime to an edge Android device or subscriber service can result in costly customer churn.

Enterprises need a single-pane-of-glass view into Android edge devices to manage health at scale as well as sufficient alerting and monitoring to detect and correct early warning signs before customer devices fail. Organizations need a robust, reliable, and repeatable approach to Android DevOps. 

Reducing the Risk of Android Fleet Updates

Enterprises have historically approached Android updates with an abundance of caution. Operations teams spend months of sleepless nights testing updates before going live and hoping the update wouldn’t have an adverse effect on their fleet. Updating production devices with a traditional mobile device management (MDM) solution can yield unpredictable and irreversible harm, since MDM lacks features to safely roll out updates and predict impact. 

Delaying updates isn’t an option when customers expect regular access to new content and improvements in real-time. It’s a risk to subscriber experience and loyalty. Inconsistent or late updates are also a significant risk to security, since updates can mitigate more than 90% of threats to edge Android fleets. 

Android DevOps is necessary to give organizations a reliable, repeatable, and robust way to roll out updates to customers with predictable results. Android DevOps teams need automated ways to safely deploy updates and partition the fleet to reduce blast radius to perform updates often without harming the customer experience. 

Intelligent Edge Monitoring for Heterogeneous Fleets

Robust monitoring matters in the Android edge device space because, unlike in the cloud, there’s no backup hardware in a consumer’s home. With Android edge devices, it can take weeks or even months to ship a replacement from brand headquarters or the OEM overseas. Troubleshooting over the phone is costly and it can be ineffective. Too often, minor failures can result in a product recall situation.

Fleets of Android edge devices are uniquely heterogeneous and becoming even more diversified, in part due to consumer-driven demand for personalized experiences. A single fleet of Android edge devices can contain countless subsets of hardware, configurations, content, and cloud services. These variations may reflect a combination of subscriber preference, demographics, behavior, and countless other variables. 

Traditional approaches to fleet segmentation aren’t pragmatic for monitoring at scale, especially not in a fleet that contains millions of Android edge devices. Device operations teams need a single pane of glass to monitor the entire fleet and intelligent alerts to avoid excessive noise and uncover meaningful patterns.

Monitoring an enterprise fleet of Android edge devices requires dynamic partitioning so DevOps teams learn from common failures and isolate unique failures. And, perhaps most importantly, it requires the telemetry and operational agility to restore total device health before an isolated warning signal impacts the experience of one or many customers. 

Scaling Operational Excellence to the Android Edge

A mature DevOps practice fosters agility and excellence by creating tighter feedback loops between customers, development, and operations. A capacity for continuous improvement is a necessity for brands to compete in an ecosystem where customers expect services to be always-on and personalized. While the Android edge ecosystem has a unique set of challenges, DevOps teams can achieve scale and speed with a reliable, repeatable, and robust way to update and monitor devices.