How Palo Alto Networks tracked and enforced service quality with Scorecards


Palo Alto Networks is a public cybersecurity enterprise that enables teams to prevent successful cyberattacks. It provides its thousands of customers with a platform featuring advanced firewalls, as well as cloud-based offerings to extend the power of their firewalls to address other security concerns.

What was the problem?

Palo Alto Networks is a massive organization with over 10,000 employees and over 85,000 customers across more than 150 countries. Palo Alto experienced super fast growth and encountered problems with service quality and maturity as a result. The SRE and DevOps teams tried to enforce standardization and define best practices, and leadership was looking for a structured way to track metrics over time, but no one had the visibility they needed to make actual progress. Although Palo Alto had a service catalog to track information, they didn’t have a good tool to provide this visibility so they could truly monitor service quality and service maturity.

How was this solved before?

“Service quality was a gray box for us, as we were not actively/directly grading service quality, but relied on external indicators. While this was something that we have been wanting to do for a long time, we only just started looking into the subject of service quality and how we were going to grade our services.”

Prior to adopting Scorecards, the SRE team at Palo Alto was responsible for compiling reports and enforcing standards, all of which was done manually. Combined with the lack of visibility, no one was truly able to monitor service quality.

Scorecards enabled leaders at the organization to truly codify standards for the first time. This not only allowed them to establish metrics for tracking service quality, but empowered leaders to enforce those standards across the organization.

How has Cortex helped?

How did Scorecards help solve business problems at Palo Alto?

“The use of Scorecards helped us understand the state of all our services and where resources needed to be focused. They give a lot of detail about each service and highlight services that need more attention to bring them up to our minimal level of quality. They also help indicate which services are not following best practices.”

Palo Alto Networks found it very hard to drive progress across large segments of their organization prior to using Scorecards. Communicating areas of risk and opportunities for improvement to leaders proved to be challenging as well. Tracking progress, areas of risk, and opportunities for improvement required a great deal of manual effort, making it easy for information to get lost.

With the help of Scorecards, however, Palo Alto found they could drive organization-wide reliability standards with reduced effort from the SRE team. This freed SREs up to focus on improving reliability, rather than chasing people down and building reports.

Any interesting insights that have resulted due to Cortex?

How have Scorecards helped create/improve a culture of reliability at Palo Alto?

“The grading system adds a bit of gamification around reliability which in-turn can improve reliability. The culture, or awareness, around reliability has improved since the grading aspect is highly visible and is now out in-front instead of hidden under layers of logs and metrics which can be time consuming and not easily decipherable. This enables engineers and developers to actively check grades and respond to them accordingly improving reliability of a service and the owner's perception and confidence.”

Getting people to care about reliability can be challenging, and it’s basically impossible without visibility — it’s hard to care about something that you can’t do anything about. Through Scorecards, Palo Alto drove visibility and made information easy to consume, which organically resulted in the improved accountability of engineers and developers.

Palo Alto found that the combination of visibility and gamification afforded by Scorecards made it easy to drive a broad cultural change at the organization. With Scorecards, leaders could easily implement new standards and initiatives with a few clicks and trust that Cortex would keep everyone on the same page.

What’s your favorite feature of Cortex?

What’s next for Cortex?

What’s the next stage in your reliability journey with Cortex?

“We are looking forward to expanding the current set of Scorecards with greater integration into the external services that our services and applications use. This will allow us to have a more complete view of the service, its reliability, and current state with regards to best practices. Tying into applications such as Bridgecrew and Jira should give more insight to how the service is performing and what next-actions will be needed for any given service.”

Palo Alto has seen positive results using Cortex so far, and is looking forward to rolling Scorecards out to additional use cases around security and service maturity. Palo Alto has found integrations to be particularly useful in gaining adoption and getting the most valueout of their Scorecards, and will be working closely with the Cortex team to build a larger set of integrations.

Cortex is excited to continue working with the team at Palo Alto Networks to make our platform even better for all of our users. If you’d like to see a demo of Cortex and how it can help your teams with service quality, book a demo today!

How has it been working with the Cortex team?