On-Call Tools to Support a DevOps Culture

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DevOps promotes company-wide accountability and resiliency as well as continuous integration and delivery. Efficiently managed on-call teams and schedules are key parts of maintaining this balance between reliability and rapid development. But, simply put, the core of a successful DevOps culture comes down to two things—people and processes. And baked into both of those components, are tools.

If your current on-call tools don’t promote a DevOps culture and don’t benefit your people or processes, then it may be time to reassess your toolchain. This article covers on-call tools, how to choose them, and how they should support your company’s DevOps environment—and, ultimately, improve system uptime.

What to Look for in Your On-Call Tools

Your on-call tools should be able to acknowledge a few key components. You’ll assess the potential efficacy of tools by ensuring they address and improve at least one of the following areas:

Collaboration/Communication:

Working through incidents and cultivating a DevOps culture of continuous integration and delivery requires constant communication and team collaboration. On-call is made much easier with the implementation of ChatOps tools that allow people to communicate via email, chat, text, video, and phone. Engineers can use their preferred source of communication to collaborate across platforms and applications. Additionally, giving engineers the capability to add incident annotations is highly beneficial for cross-team communication. A truly collaborative environment gives accessibility to conversations and data, across all devices, in multiple, integrated ways.

Organized runbooks are another tool which can help promote DevOps and communication. Keeping complete and updated runbooks, in association with ChatOps tools, gives your team the instructions they need to quickly remediate issues from anywhere at any time. Ideally, within one system, your team could receive real-time contextual application performance data, and actively collaborate to resolve incidents. Speedy collaboration is essential to DevOps because it allows engineers to rapidly develop and simultaneously maintain uptime.

  • Tools and Examples:

Scheduling:

Nobody likes getting stuck on-call over and over again while the rest of the team works 9-5. Part of creating an internal DevOps infrastructure starts with establishing fair and flexible on-call schedules. Team-wide participation and accountability are essential to DevOps and on-call. So, getting everyone on board with on-call responsibilities and giving your teams flexibility will promote a just and organized on-call culture.

Look for tools which make scheduling easier and give on-call individuals more visibility as to where they fit on the on-call team and calendar.

Observability:

DevOps on-call tools need to provide visibility into application performance, internal operations, and end-user experience. The faster your team can see what’s happening, the faster they can coordinate and fix the problem. Implement tools which monitor real-time system performance.

Data visualization tools such as charts and graphs also make information easy to digest, providing a medium to visualize system errors and anomalies. These monitoring tools let you see what’s happening, but in conjunction with integrated contextual alerting tools, your team can facilitate remediation strategies. Effective tools for on-call DevOps teams should provide engineers with a firm grasp on the system’s inner workings at all times.

  • Tools and Examples:
    • Nagios
    • Amazon Cloudwatch
    • New Relic
    • Opsview
    • Datadog
    • Splunk
    • PRTG
    • SolarWinds
    • Grafana

Automation:

Which parts of your on-call structure can be made better with automation? Limiting human interaction only to issues that actually need it can save your company lots of time and money. In fact, if a developer works on an issue that could have been resolved via automation, you’re paying the opportunity cost for the time in which this developer can’t spend building new product features.

Adding automation tools to your on-call DevOps toolchain can speed up development, improve site reliability, and help save money—all while maintaining continuous delivery and integration.

  • Tools and Examples:
    • Puppet
    • Chef
    • Jenkins
    • Ansible
    • SaltStack

VictorOps integrates with hundreds of communication, monitoring, and alerting tools. Check out our integrations page to see the list of our great integration partners and how they can strengthen your DevOps on-call toolset.

VictorOps incident management provides your team with the tools and integrations they need for effective collaboration, on-call scheduling, observability, and automation. In one place, you can monitor your application’s performance, get alerted on incidents, collaborate to resolve those incidents, and conduct thorough post-incident reviews.

Sign up for a 14-day free trial today to see how VictorOps works with other DevOps on-call tools to make incident management easier.

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