Vertu uses Splunk to gather bug and crash data about its Android smartphone software in real-time before official launches
If you think the iPhone 6S will set you back, then you can think again. British smartphone maker Vertu designs phones that come with ginormous price tags, just like this Vertu Bentley smartphone that will cost you over £14,000.
Each Vertu phone is hand-made in Hampshire, England, and includes a sapphire crystal screen, hand-stitched leather, and a ruby concierge button that connects you to a 24/7 concierge service that will pander to your every need.
Of course, if you’re splashing thousands on a smartphone, the usual problems of bugs and crashes are the last thing you want.
So Vertu, teaming up with data analytics firm Splunk, has come up with a solution that helps it quash errors on its smartphones’ software before public release.
Speaking to TechWeekEurope at Splunk’s annual .Conf conference in Las Vegas this week, Rob Charlton, Vertu’s Cloud DevOps Architect, said: “When you buy the phones you get access to a range of exclusive services. There’s a ruby key and when you press that you get put in touch with one of our 24/7 lifestyle managers, our concierge service. They will arrange whatever you want. If you’ve just arrived in Vegas, they’ll tell you where to go, where the hottest night clubs are, where there are free tables, it’s like having your own PA.”
Vertu started using Splunk software, such as its Enterprise platform and dashboard, to change the way it trials phone software, such as drivers and apps.
“We realised that with the increasing complexity of these phones and the increasing impact of errors in the field for our customers, particularly at the driver level where phones may reboot or the modems may switch off, shipping out phones with bugs is quite detrimental,” said Charlton.
“So we decided we needed to take a data-led approach to come up with a metric to decide whether the software is ready to be released. That why we started using Splunk.”
Vertu built an agent that runs on Vertu smartphones during the productisation phase and collects all of the health metrics, such as battery, how long devices are on for, how many crashes. All of this unstructured data is that continually uploaded to a web service running its AWS data centre, and is then fed into Splunk Enterprise where it is analysed.
“We use two main features in [Splunk] Enterprise for that,” said Charlton. “We use Splunk Alerts to look for signatures of when the phones have crashed. When a crash occurs, our crash analysis team get an email, from which they can find a solution. Previously we’d have to rely on our testers coming to us to log the problems.
“We also use Splunk Dashboard to assess the health of the software, where we can see all the software releases and for each one how many errors and people are testing it. They can also get a list of the different errors that have occurred.
“The process, up to launch of a new phone, is a new software release every week up until the launch date. After the phone is in the field another update is issued shortly afterwards. Then once or twice a year.”
Charlton said that Splunk is Vertu’s weapon of choice because the necessity to put time into building their own solutions has been mitigated.
“We just feed in the unstructured data. We feed it all in without spending time processing the data, Splunk just eats the logs. The fact that you don’t need software developers to build custom tools is a big win for us. Software developers can get on with building software.”
Charlton also told TechWeekEurope that using Splunk in this way is fairly cost effective for Vertu, as the business model works in conjunction with how much data has to be processed.
On the horizon, Charlton said that the team is continually working on improving the Splunk solution for its next phone launches, and will be looking at even more real-time searches and analytics with Splunk in the future.