“Eat your own dog food” or how we found the most important customer

    The phrase “eat your own dog food” has long taken root in the IT industry to determine how a company or development team uses its own services and products. It is believed that this approach provides several advantages, including the opportunity to see and evaluate with your own eyes how a product or service works in real life, and not in conditions of integration, stress or some other testing.

    At Acronis, we also traditionally used our corporate products in our own IT infrastructure. But for a long time, a clear mechanism for introducing new products and updating old versions did not exist. This often led to situations when our customers started using products much earlier than ourselves.
    The situation changed dramatically when the mandatory acceptance of all corporate products by the IT department of the company prior to their release was introduced. In fact, we have officially recognized that our IT department is our first and most important customer, and that not one of our products will be released until it satisfies our first customers.

    How does this happen

    The IT department has been connecting to testing since the beta release. First, a new version or updates are checked in a test environment. Problems arising from updating, implementation and operation of the product are resolved jointly with the development department. This allows project managers and developers themselves to see the complexity of what is called first-hand. And then, either quickly solve them before the release, or add new items to the backlog for the next releases.

    Domestic customers cannot guarantee the quality of the product!
    It is very important not to place product testing responsibilities on internal employees. This is not a project team, but FIRST CLIENTS. The product transferred to internal customers must comply with all quality requirements established by the company for public releases, and any critical defects not detected during active project cycles can be considered a “fakap” of the project team.

    Then the updates are installed in stages on work servers and workstations in different offices. This happens in standard windows provided for maintenance.
    As a result, by the final release, the new version of the product is already successfully serving all 18 company offices around the world.

    What results does this give

    • The development team can observe the life of the product over time, as there is an update, implementation and use of the released product.
    • The product itself becomes faster, more reliable and more convenient. A case in point: the time required to install and configure the server side of Acronis Access (a system for secure data exchange in a corporate environment) was reduced from a few days to half an hour.
    • Marketing and sales teams receive a ready-made case study, suitable for further distribution among existing and potential users of the product.
    • Well, and most importantly, everyone in the company gets additional confidence that the new version of the product is ready for use in real conditions.

    Products in our environment

    • Our flagship product Acronis Backup Advanced has backed up all critical business servers in the company for many years, and more than once restored them in case of hardware failures or was used for cases of migration to new hardware.
    • Acronis Snap Deploy is a favorite product of HelpDesk by engineers, which in a matter of minutes deploys a system image with the necessary software for new employees: developers, testers, accountants, technical support specialists, etc.
    • According to the company’s policy for secure access, synchronization and sharing of corporate documentation, we all use the Acronis Access solution , without which I can’t imagine my work at the same level of performance, which I will discuss in detail in one of the following articles.
    • And finally, I do not know such employees in the company who would not use Acronis True Image to protect their personal data at work and at home.

    Interesting fact

    Microsoft has been using the Eat your own dog food practice since 1988. Nevertheless, in 2009, the new Microsoft CIO, Tony Scott, began to promote the new term “ Icecreaming ”, arguing that the term is much more attractive, and “ice cream is what our customers would like to eat.” What I can not disagree with.

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