The IT department at Go Daddy controls thousands of servers, running a multitude of applications, used by millions of customers. As the world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, ensuring these systems are up and running is an enormous endeavor that we take very seriously. Our highly skilled staff is responsible for hundreds of systems and applications, to which they constantly make adjustments, maintaining scalability and handling the ever-changing demands of customer traffic. To say we have a complex environment would be an understatement. So, we have to be extra cautious that mistakes are not made because, if they are, even a small mistake can lead to lost revenue, unhappy customers, and missed opportunities.
To address the ever increasing complexity, we came up with a plan: the checklist. In his book, The Checklist Manifesto, Dr. Atul Gawande shows that even a highly trained and skilled surgeon can benefit from using a checklist to make sure simple things are not missed, resulting in life threatening complications. Find out more from his TED Talks presentation.[j1]
Go Daddy has been using a checklist for our server building process for many years. This is essentially a list of steps that must occur in order to get a server set up for use by customers. The continued success of this checklist and the confluence of many of Go Daddy’s leaders reading Dr. Gawande’s, the Checklist Manifesto, led the decision to have our development team build a dynamic checklist application.
In honor of Dr. Gawande, we named our checklist application ATUL (Accuracy Through the Use of Lists). This open-source application can be downloaded from GitHub[j2] and used to build your own checklists for use throughout your organization. We built ATUL using a mixture of technologies, including .Net, PHP, and MSSQL Server.
ATUL allows you to build multiple checklist templates (known in ITIL parlance as a Process) and then generate individual checklists from those templates. You can add sub-processes to each checklist in order to group items together and you can also setup checklists to auto-generate on a set schedule.
The ATUL API controls 100% of the application’s features and methods. Therefore, you can build your own application and fully integrate the checklist features without touching the ATUL UI. Combining the API and the ability to create automation providers, which can be tied to each checklist item, allows ATUL to be a full-blown automation platform. When you can automate steps in a checklist and have that work completed automatically, you can reduce the possibility for error and get more work accomplished. Future automation providers include Apache ODE, CA Service Desk, and email.
Go Daddy is already using ATUL to improve our operations. Our ITOC uses many different checklists to allow them to follow a defined procedure and troubleshooting steps to ensure that any interruption of service is restored as quickly as possible. The processes we defined also include steps for notifying management and our customer service department so that we properly communicate expected down-time. Other types of checklists being leveraged at Go Daddy are deployment checklists, shift change checklists, and automated testing checklists, to name a few.
Special thanks to the entire ATUL development team of Cory Chapman, Michael Stubblefield, Tom Wakefield, Seth Rubin, Kevin Loes, and Abbee Day for their hard work and commitment to excellence.