It would be an understatement to say the public has a distrust of high tech companies exploiting personal data. It’s a complicated hot-button issue, especially when that data is consumer, healthcare and financial in nature.
Privacy Dynamics, based in Seattle, Washington, builds applications that allow companies to ethically access sensitive data by eliminating the risk of personal disclosure. Of course, the startup's success is in response to the increase in data privacy regulations. And a recent Gartner report forecasted that by 2023, 75% of the world's population would have personal information protected by privacy laws.
Privacy Dynamics uses advanced clustering that provides users with highly accurate, anonymized data. This technique allows engineers - as well as non-technical teams - to generate analytics from privacy-safe datasets.
The best part of Okteto is it allows us to automatically create shareable preview environments with every pull request. This in turn can be used to get feedback from everyone in the company and even customers before a feature is shipped.
A business built upon carefully processing sensitive healthcare, consumer, and financial data cannot afford application mishaps shipped to market. Therefore rigorously testing the application in a trusted preview environment is critical. Catching bugs and security vulnerabilities before they’re migrated to a production environment is the difference between success, scrutiny and failure.
Unfortunately, Privacy Dynamics initially struggled to accurately test its applications because of a complicated homegrown development and preview environment. Not surprisingly, the engineering team was distracted by the ongoing effort to maintain the platform, which in turn impeded developer velocity and drained resources.
Simply put: a home grown test environment platform is a shaky foundation for application development in general.
"We spent 12 months building our preview environment system ourselves, but it was never as good as we wanted," says Craft. "We didn't have the bandwidth to manage or maintain it, and it was distracting us from our primary engineering needs. In fact, we had an engineer spending 50% of their time maintaining this custom review environment."
The self-built platform also impeded team members from viewing each other's ongoing changes to different features and branches. Lack of visibility prevented teams from working collaboratively, resulting in misunderstandings, development confusion, and a poor developer experience.
With regards to its testing platform, Craft’s engineering team was flying blind in the dark.
Craft knew he needed to unshackle his engineers from time-consuming manual and administrative tasks associated with the management of their own preview platform. He needed a more efficient framework for his teams to develop. “I wanted a cloud development environment that would remove the need for my team to learn Kubernetes instead of coding,” says Craft.
In short, Privacy Dynamics needed a platform that could support developer bandwidth, improve collaboration with cross-functional visibility, and offer a superior developer experience. Craft turned to Okteto’s cloud development and testing environment to automate the entire preview environment.
Craft admired how fast Okteto allowed cloud development and testing environments to spin up. He also liked the shareable preview environments and how each pull request allowed his teams and organization - not just engineers - to have visibility into development cycles and collaborate continuously through the design process.
"The Okteto preview environments are just killer because we automate all our testing, and if we needed to play around manually with code, we could safely do it there in testing and not in production,'' says Craft. "Also, it's easy to share the preview environment across our engineering department."
With Okteto preview environments, Craft's engineering team was able to quickly build out and test their application without wasting time managing its custom platform, dealing with non-essential tasks, or rebuilding containers. "We can redirect engineers, who were once focused on maintaining our preview platform to now innovate and ship features," says Craft. “Developer distractions and delays are removed and replaced with improved collaboration and accelerated development. It’s exciting.”
Growing fast, Privacy Dynamics supports the major data warehouse providers, including Snowflake, BigQuery, Databricks, and Redshift. As the company scales, Craft sees Okteto offering increasing business value by allowing engineering, sales, and marketing teams to share previews of the application development - while in progress - with external partners and customers. For Craft, Okteto not only improves development but impacts sales, too.
Craft admits that Okteto has shifted his company’s development processes hard left. Greater cross-functional visibility and earlier feedback has reduced potential scrap and rework, bugs, and potential security mishaps. This in turn prevents unpleasant surprises popping up in production, accelerates velocity, and maximizes business impact, allowing for killer applications to be built faster.
"Okteto has been an awesome developer experience that’s translated to better business results,” says Craft. "Before Okteto, we were building each change manually before reviewing. It’s been night and day.”
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