What is PagerDuty?

PagerDuty is an alarm aggregation and dispatching service for system administrators and support teams. It collects alerts from your monitoring tools, gives you an overall view of all of your monitoring alarms, and alerts an on duty engineer if there’s a problem.

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Is PagerDuty right for me?

You should consider using PagerDuty if:

  • You want to add the ability to send SMSes and phone calls to your existing monitoring tools.
  • You want to add on-call scheduling, escalation, and incident tracking to your existing monitoring tools.
  • You want a single place where you can view the overall health of your system, no matter how many monitoring tools you use.

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How do you decide who to call about a problem?

PagerDuty allows you to build sophisticated alerting rules to determine who to contact when problems occur. You can build on-call schedules to fairly share on-call responsibilities. You can also set up multiple levels of coverage, so if the “primary” on-call person doesn’t respond to an alert in a timely fashion, it’s automatically escalated to a “secondary” person, and so on.

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Can PagerDuty route alerts depending on the source of the problem?

Yes. PagerDuty uses “services” to integrate with your monitoring systems. Each PagerDuty service has its own associated alerting and escalation rules (these are called “escalation policies”). This feature is used to route alerts to the people best able to handle them. For example, you might want to create an escalation policy for your database administrator team, and use this policy for all services that integrate with database monitoring systems. This ensures that database problems are always forwarded to a db specialist.

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What alerting methods do you support?

We can send alerts using any combination of phone calls, SMSes, and emails.

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How can I be sure my alerts are received?

PagerDuty asks users to confirm that they’ve received an SMS by replying to it. Similarly, our automated phone calls ask users to make a selection from a voice menu of possible incident options. If an alert isn’t replied to, PagerDuty can be set to repeat the call or message.

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What if the on-call engineer doesn’t respond to an alert?

PagerDuty allows you to specify comprehensive escalation rules. When an incident is triggered, PagerDuty will first try to contact the level-one on-call engineer for the incident. If that person doesn’t answer within the user-specified escalation timeout, PagerDuty will automatically escalate the alert to the level-two engineer, and so on.

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Do you support international SMS?

Yes, we support two-way SMS to virtually every country.

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Do you support international phone calls?

Yes, we support phone calls to over 175 countries. To learn more about international calls in PagerDuty and to view the full list of supported countries, click here.

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How do phone alerts show up on my phone’s caller ID?

All PagerDuty phone alerts will be attempted to be sent from the number 1-415-349-5750. Unfortunately, some providers will change the caller ID which is out of our control, so the number(s) you receive the calls from may be displayed differently.  See the following FAQ entry for SMS alerts.

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How do SMS alerts show up on my phone’s caller ID?

The phone number that will show up on your caller ID for SMS alerts will depend on which SMS provider we use, as well as which country you live in. PagerDuty uses multiple SMS providers per country for availability and redundancy reasons. You can use the below numbers to setup special ringtones on your phone, but please be aware that they might change at any time with little notice.

Country Primary Number Backup Number(s)
USA* PDUTY (73889) 281-724-3738

206-455-7176

206-455-7376

206-538-2743

206-538-2204

415-349-5750

682-232-0692

682-232-0687

657-206-4429

657-206-4067

682-232-4015

682-232-0663

682-206-3845

754-206-1085

754-206-1088

754-206-1089

415-363-9907

415-363-9908

415-363-9911

415-363-9915

415-363-9916

Canada* 604-210-6232 587-880-2201

587-880-2200

United Kingdom +44 2033 224573 +44 7860 026813

+44 7507 333186

Australia +61 416 906 354 +61 429 883 475
Other European Countries +44 7860 026813 Varies***
All Other Countries Varies*** Varies***

 

*Download PagerDuty US vCard (Dec 2013) 

**Download PagerDuty CA vCard (Dec 2013)

*** Entries denoted with “Varies” above use local SMS numbers that can vary between messages or day-to-day.

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What if an engineer receives an alert when they are away from their computer?

Engineers can escalate alarms directly from their phone by replying to the alert SMS or pressing a key during the automated phone call.

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I’ve spent a long time setting up monitoring tools to watch my systems. If I switch to PagerDuty, do I have to redo all that work?

No. PagerDuty is an alert dispatching tool, not a monitoring system. Think of PagerDuty as an add-on to your existing monitoring tools. PagerDuty provides sophisticated alarm routing, but leaves finding problems with your systems to your existing monitoring tools.

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How does it integrate with my existing tools?

Every service you create in PagerDuty has a unique email address, such as nagios-problem@acme.pagerduty.com. PagerDuty opens a new incident and begins the alerting process at soon as one of your monitoring tools sends email to a service’s address.

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What monitoring tools are known to work with PagerDuty?

The most common monitoring tools used with PagerDuty are Nagios, Zenoss, Pingdom, monit, Munin, Splunk and BasicState. However, any monitoring tool that sends email can be used with PagerDuty.

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What other uses are there for PagerDuty?

PagerDuty can be integrated with any system that sends automated emails. PagerDuty is especially useful when used to deliver alerts for systems that can’t place phone calls or SMSes on their own. Here are some possibilities:

  • Have your applications call you if an unexpected exception is raised. (If you’re using Ruby on Rails, take a look at ExceptionNotifier.)
  • Your cron tasks can call you if a critical system maintenance task fails.
  • Intrusion detection systems can be set to call you if they detect a security breach.
  • Environmental sensors (e.x. temperature, humidity, etc.) can alert you if they detect an unsafe environment.

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What precautions have you taken to ensure that PagerDuty is always ready to deliver my alerts?

PagerDuty’s infrastructure is fully replicated in two different Amazon AWS data centers. We have the capability to rapidly rollover to our backup systems in the event that our main data center loses connectivity. We always have an engineer on-call and near a computer to deal with any unexpected outages.

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How will I send PagerDuty triggering emails if my network connection or mail servers fails?

You should use an external ping service such as BasicState or Wormly to monitor your network connection and mail server. Of course, you can forward the error messages from these monitoring services to one of your PagerDuty services. This way, if your site loses network connectivity or your mail server crashes, the on-call engineer will be immediately notified by PagerDuty.

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How much does PagerDuty cost?

You can find our price schedule here. All new PagerDuty accounts come with fully-featured, risk-free 30 day trial (no credit card required). During the free trial, you’ll be able to send phone calls and SMSes free of charge. If you decide not to register for a paid plan within the 30 day trial window, your account will expire at the end of the trial.

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