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Silo’d responsibilities have wreaked havoc on team communications, making it difficult for different departments to have the full context of a situation during fire fights. This has not only reduced the quality of communication across entire development teams, it’s also created a serious issue that plagues many on the operations side — alert fatigue. Alert fatigue is not just an issue of unhappy team members — it impacts the software delivery chain’s ability to grow.
The great thing about DevOps is that it breaks down communication barriers and streamlines operations. DevOps teams come in two flavors: centralized teams for all applications, which are larger, but still smaller than traditional NOC environments; and decentralized teams, which entail one very small team for each application or core service.
These teams, in addition to being in charge of providing infrastructure, and sometimes the release process, have the burden of keeping production up and running, which is nerve-wracking, time consuming, and inhibiting to the entire environment if not done right. No one wants to be on-call, but we do it, because we know that faster mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR) and quick response to issues makes everyone’s upcoming days and weeks much easier – not to mention it keeps the business up and running. However, when being on-call starts to impact a team’s mood and dominates the majority of the operations team’s time, it comes with a huge risk.
Both centralized and decentralized configurations are prone to alert fatigue, each with a slight variation. For the centralized variation, it’s not just fatigue in the number of aggregated alerts across all applications; it’s also hard to know who the proper person is to address the issue, as there is a good chance that it’s not the person on-call. For decentralized setups, alert fatigue simply comes in a high volume of alerts for a small team.
The impact of alert fatigue on DevOps and IT Ops team is four-fold:
The easy go-to response to managing alert fatigue is to grow the ops team; however, this isn’t necessarily the best option, as this “solution” eventually counters the benefits of having a smaller DevOps team.
There are several other options to consider when combatting alert fatigue:
All of this is part of a broader strategy to optimize operations performance and it benefits everyone. Alert fatigue is real and it’s impacting not only your DevOps and ITOps teams happiness, but also the entire development team’s ability to innovate and get better at release code.
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