Automation is being used to improve nearly every aspect of our daily lives. DevOps teams are using alert automation to more effectively notify applicable teams or individuals, collaborate around issues, and quickly remediate incidents. But, alert automation is useless unless setup intelligently.
Automation around alerts is critical due to the highly collaborative nature of DevOps and the inherent speed needed for effective incident management. Earlier this year, a report from DevOps.com came out stating that 80% of IT teams are alerted to critical incidents via email. Email is an effective form of communication, but it shouldn’t be the most common notification method for a critical issue.
Email alerts can get lost in your inbox more easily than other, more in-your-face notifications such as SMS, chat applications, or phone calls. So, incident acknowledgment and remediation gets slowed down. DevOps teams are always finding ways to optimize and automate alert notifications, incident diagnosis, and incident remediation, resulting in a better incident management experience. Automating much of the alerting process from beginning to end creates simpler, actionable alerts while limiting unactionable alert noise.
There are a large number of steps from incident creation to resolution. Manual follow-ups, research, and alert routing or escalation takes time which could be spent taking action or developing new product features. It can be hard to take the leap, but spending time on the front-end to establish alert automation will speed up incident resolution in the end.
The complexity of the monitoring, alerting, and overall incident lifecycle in DevOps can result in over-alerting or under-alerting. Creating too much alert noise will result in fatigue and make alert prioritization more difficult. But, creating too few alerts can cause you to miss key errors, failures, or latency. Striking the balance perfectly is nearly impossible. But, you can use automation to prioritize, route, and provide context to alerts as soon as they’re triggered.
Your people can now spend time immediately working to resolve the issue rather than navigating alerts and trying to get them to the right person. All in all, automated notifications, alert routing, and escalation policies are dedicated to making incident remediation easier for your people.
As great as automation is, it has limits. DevOps teams are highly collaborative, and your alert automation needs to keep that in mind. Automation needs to achieve the end goal of helping people fix issues and develop new features faster. If you reach a point where automation can’t be applied or is less efficient than a manual process, always look to improve collaboration.
As an example, in VictorOps, you can manually escalate and chat around incidents to improve collaboration when an incident occurs. You can reroute incidents or create manual incidents for rare problems that may not have had monitoring thresholds and alerting previously set up. Keep an open dialogue with your team to understand how they’re feeling at any given time. Take that information to continuously improve your processes and strike the right balance between under-alerting, over-alerting, automation, and manual workflows.
IT and DevOps alert automation improves your processes and people. Check out our free Incident Management Buyer’s Guide to see everything you’ll need in a full end-to-end incident management system.