Cloud communications company 8x8’s open-source videoconference solution Jitsi.org powers some of the world’s most innovative companies’ meetings, messaging and collaboration products.

Now, in the wake of the coronavirus, it’s playing a new role, connecting quarantined teachers and students in Italy—with the help of critical product intelligence from Amplitude.

“Amplitude has provided actionable data we didn’t even think about. It helped us properly plan expensive infrastructure deployment rapidly and solve significant user issues. It simply saved us.”
Emil Ivov, Head of Product, Video Collaboration

A crisis leads to creative solutions

When the coronavirus shuttered schools across Italy, Milan-based collaboration platform WeSchool, which is now serving 30 percent of all secondary school teachers in the country, moved its videoconferencing to Jitsi. As Jitsi scaled up to meet the massive spike in demand, going from 30 servers to 5,000, one of its monitoring SaaS platforms crashed under this load. So, it turned to Amplitude for the data it needed to deliver uninterrupted service. Luckily, 8x8 was already using Amplitude for product analytics, so it had all of the enriched data the team needed.

“Amplitude turned out to be the most reliable way for us to get important usage information, such as where our users are coming from and when. That allows us to plan our infrastructures accordingly.”
Emil Ivov, Head of Product, Video Collaboration

In fact, Emil said, Amplitude proved to be a better source of the kind of detailed user data than its APM platforms, which offered more aggregate numbers with little context.

Accurate data allows for better engineering decisions

Emil noted that Jitsi’s engineering team is relying on Amplitude’s enriched user data to determine where to locate its data centers, a decision-making process where Jitsi’s SaaS monitoring platforms would have come up short. In addition, Amplitude’s Segmentation chart reveals important KPIs, such as the number of meetings per user, which helps Jitsi know when to scale its systems up or down, metrics the company cannot reliably surface through its APM platform.

On an even more granular level, Jitsi uses Amplitude’s precision tracking, enriched data, and Sessions chart to measure session duration and size, information it could not capture otherwise, allowing the company to scale its product effectively. As Emil explained: “more one-on-one calls mean deploying more TURN servers. Larger calls mean deploying more Jitsi Videobridge.”

Without Amplitude, Emil said, Jitsi could track that information down, but it would mean spending as many as eight days digging through server logs. Using Amplitude, it takes about 30 seconds. The difference means the company doesn’t have to worry about crashing servers and service interruptions, which is especially critical now that so many, including thousands of teachers and students, are relying on Jitsi to stay in touch.

“All of a sudden, when we need information, it’s there and waiting for us in Amplitude,” Emil said. “Just knowing that gives you so much piece of mind. It’s great!”

Amplitude has also helped Emil’s team rethink its engineering priorities. For instance, concerned that its TURN servers and video bridges were being used simultaneously in certain sessions—an inefficient use of bandwidth—the group used Amplitude’s Frequency and Cohort analyses to investigate server usage. To its relief, it discovered that its hypothesis was wrong. The fix—more TURN servers—was easy. And it meant that engineers could get back the work of addressing more pressing issues, including rolling out a series of improvements targeting packet loss, a key metric for retention.

A reliable tool for user experience

8x8 began using Amplitude after becoming dissatisfied with its marketing attribution software, which Emil described as “crude.” Amplitude offered a window into user behavior, which in turn allowed the company to make better product decisions.

Just as important, it helps the company “better solve users problems,” Emil said. “We want to understand when do we make a step in the right direction, where do users stumble, when do they leave, do we need to stop supporting certain users because we can’t sustain them.”

Amplitude has also allowed the company to track the right kind of growth, as opposed to the difference between MAU/DAU, which is what 8x8’s marketing attribution platform provided.

This has led to some important breakthroughs. For example, when 8x8 noticed that its growth rate was flat using Amplitude Trendline function, it looked to understand why with Amplitude’s Conversion Drivers. It’s discovery? Very few users had downloaded 8x8’s Chrome extensions. These extensions allow 8x8’s products to be accessed directly in users’ browsers. 8x8’s solution was twofold, including improving the discoverability of its Chrome extensions and sharing campaigns to ensure users were aware of the functionality. The result: a 2x lift in D7 retention across all users.

With this impactful change, 8x8 realized the value of investing in their extension experience. So they investigated the data in Amplitude Funnels, Cohort, and Microscope to identify new opportunities. They were surprised to see that a sizeable portion of users were having impromptu meetings rather than scheduled ones. With this new insight, they changed their roadmap and are now working on updates that will make it easier for their users to set-up ad hoc meetings.

“Amplitude helps us better serve our users while respecting their privacy.,” Emil summed up. “That’s what we’re here for.”