UPDATED 12:30 EDT / DECEMBER 03 2019

img_4766 APPS

Cloud-native reliability can’t guarantee reliable UX

“Our user ratings have tanked.” “What? Is our cloud-native technology stack broken?” “No, it’s working perfectly.” “Hmmm.”

Some variant of that little chat may happen in businesses that go cloud native, assuming it’s better for absolutely everything. In fact, cloud-native scalability and reliability can make the UX a whole lot less reliable for application users.

UX is short for user experience — an area of software and app development to which companies should be paying more attention. The need is ironically pressing now as they adopt cloud-native tech, thinking it’s the fast ticket to software-first status. Unadjusted for, some beloved cloud-native features can turn ugly on end-users’ side of things, according to Dominik Tornow (pictured, right), principal engineer at Cisco Systems Inc. For example, the last write converges in different parts of the system at different times.

“While that benefits the scalability and reliability of the system, that may absolutely negatively impact the user experience,” he said.

Tornow and Sara Hua (pictured, left), UX designer and content strategist at Chegg Inc., sat down with Peter Burris (@plburris), host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, for a CUBEConversation at our studio in Palo Alto, California. They discussed the growing importance of collaboration between UX designers and developers. (* Disclosure below.)

What UX, dev talk about when they talk about reliability

When companies consider going cloud native, UX designers are often left out of deliberations, according to Hua. When designers don’t know cloud-native principles and developers don’t know how they impact design, a pile of user complaints may add up.

In cloud-native computing, users may rely on different nodes for the same information, affecting timing of alerts for end users. This can affect things like timing, so that in a stock trading app, one user is alerted to a change in price before another user. Also, sometimes failures occur in one part of the system that affect other parts. 

At Chegg, an education-technology provider, users rely on content recommendations to master a subject. Imagine a user is studying for a math exam at 2 a.m. and, suddenly, the recommendations module fails.

“We don’t know to design for partial failure. If certain components depend on a service, and that part of the system then fails … a user using that component may have an awful experience,” Hua said.

This is the kind of UX reliability disaster that developers and infrastructure admins don’t talk about when they talk about reliability. 

UX designers and developers using cloud-native technology must collaborate on apps from day one, Tornow pointed out. Consider the problem with nodes, for example. “If you have this conversation early on with the designers, … you can actually apply simple remedies that have great effect on the user experience. In that case, if there is geographical proximity to users you route them to the same node and make the user experience much better,” Tornow concluded. 

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s CUBE Conversations(* Disclosure: Cisco Systems Inc. sponsored this segment of theCUBE. Neither Cisco nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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