Every team needs an organized process for managing on-call responsibilities and a detailed system for monitoring and alerting on service performance and downtime. So, of course, you’ll need a system for maintaining on-call schedules, as well as a plan for DevOps and IT monitoring and alerting. Why not integrate the two?
By bringing IT alerting capabilities and on-call scheduling together, you can manage teams and systems in one single pane of glass. By bringing on-call people operations and incident monitoring and alerting into one place, you can build processes that align the two and help you build reliable systems faster.
With many homegrown incident management solutions, you either get one or the other. You can either alert well, but have complicated, largely invisible on-call schedules. Or, you have organized, transparent on-call schedules without the deep alerting or alert routing functionality required to find incidents and get them into the right person’s hands. Combining alerting and scheduling capabilities into one service strengthens the entire incident management process–making on-call suck less.
So, let’s first examine the the basic requirements for effective DevOps and IT alerting software, as well as the basic functionality needed for powerful on-call scheduling.
Alerting in DevOps and IT is less about the actual system and more about how you understand your system. Today, services are being deployed faster and are becoming more integrated. CI/CD and DevOps have created teams building services faster, causing more pain points between interconnected systems. Monitoring and alerting infrastructure to help watch for both known unknowns and unknown unknowns in your system leads to a holistic visibility of the performance and uptime of your system.
By looking at your service as a whole and working backward, you can identify dependencies and weaknesses in your system. Then, you can take that information and set up monitoring and alerting tools that keep track of the health of the metrics and systems in question. Because there are numerous monitoring tools on the market, it’s less about what tools you’re using and more about how you’re using them for actionable alerting.
As you improve the visibility into system health, you also need to improve the visibility and management of on-call schedules, rotations, escalations and notification policies. While much of alerting and on-call can be automated, the core of incident response is still human. When people have the resources they need to make on-call suck less, alert fatigued is limited and incident management becomes highly efficient.
Transparent on-call schedules show everyone in the organization who’s available, shifts that need to be covered, etc. Additionally, it allows teammates to flexibly switch on-call shifts and allows people to spend more time participating in outside-the-office activities. Giving your teams the autonomy to move on-call schedules around and customize notification policies will make on-call feel less like a painful chore and more like one small part of maintaining reliable systems.
When you combine flexible, highly-transparent on-call schedules and workflows with intelligent, automated alerting, you reduce alert fatigue and make incident management easier. The team can quickly see an alert’s context, who’s on-call and other response data in one software solution. Limiting the context-switching of multiple services and creating a single-pane-of-glass for incident data allows anyone looped into an alert, whether initially or later on in the process, to quickly navigate an incident and work toward a resolution.
On-call scheduling and alerting software need to be integrated for a truly holistic approach to on-call alerting and incident management. Alerts need to be routed according to on-call rotations and escalation policies to effectively make sure the right responder is alerted at the right time. When you use two or more interdependent systems for on-call rotations and alerting, it’s more likely for incidents to fall through the cracks.
You’ll never want a system built with a single potential point of failure, but you also don’t want a system built with so many points of failure that you can’t effectively monitor them all. Aggregating your monitoring data into software that organizes on-call schedules and alert routing will result in deeper collaboration, more potential for workflow automation and overall better incident response.
A highly collaborative, integrated system dedicated to on-call scheduling and alerting will drive operational efficiency and make on-call suck less. Sign up for a 14-day free trial of VictorOps to see how a centralized incident management solution may be all you need to build robust software faster.