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GREE is the global leader in free-to-play games. They leverage the power of gaming by combining the power of mobile and making it social. When you can play the games you want, when and where you want, it’s easy to face off against friends, discover new games and grab the top spot among your friends on the leaderboard.
Each day millions of GREE gamers open their mobile devices and expect to find their favorite games waiting to be played.
GREE has been a successful gaming company in Japan for almost a decade, but when the company opened its doors in the US two years ago their team was faced with several technical challenges to keep their games online and available for their dedicated and growing fan base.
At first, GREE planned to build a Network Operation Center (NOC) team to monitor, respond to and resolve incidents that occurred within their infrastructure. However, they quickly realized that using a NOC would be very slow and the on-call teams would be prone to making errors.
Inevitably, NOC-created incidents made it difficult to account for the human factor of escalating issues. Without a proper escalation policy in place it’s easy to brush an incident off until the morning because you don’t want to wake up one of your team members, especially if you were unsure who the right person for the job would be. Incidents may be more serious than they initially appear and cause a game to be offline for hours.
Often an incident would cause all-too-familiar chaos:
“Where’s the runbook? Is this an app bug or a system issue? Who’s the dev for this game?… Anyone have their phone number? …. I can’t find the dev? Anyone know who his manager is?”
For GREE, this human factor of escalation caused several delays and decrease their overall Mean Time to Repair (MTTR).
Before PagerDuty, GREE’s escalation procedures were a very slow and manual process. Ops Engineers were conservative when escalating issues to developers or their managers because the gravity of an alert wasn’t always immediately known.
With PagerDuty, GREE quickly moved from a structure of only having Ops Engineers on-call and transitioned to a DevOps model for on-call management and alerting.
“Getting devs on-call means we are targeting the appropriate teams with actionable alerts.”
Using PagerDuty has allowed GREE to make sure issues are funneled to the right team members for the job. Each Monday morning, GREE syncs up to review alerts from the previous week and goes over the schedule and on-call rotation for the new week. It’s imperative that each team member is made aware of who is the primary, secondary and manager on-call for the week.
“With PagerDuty it’s clear when our developers are supposed to be on-call, who is the primary and secondary Ops on-call, and who the manager for the week is.”
In their meeting, alerts that are not actionable are downgraded so they will not reoccur during the next on-call rotation.
PagerDuty also gives GREE visibility into each of their games’ system. GREE uses the PagerDuty API to sync the availability of each of their games with their status dashboard.
This dashboard offers a visual representation of their games’ statuses that everyone in the company can seen.
When an alert is received for a game, its corresponding icon on the dashboard will flash red. After the incident is resolved the games icon will indicate that they are fully back online.
To further keep their team in the loop, GREE integrates PagerDuty with Skypebot. When an incident is triggered in PagerDuty and alert will appear within the dedicated chat room for the game impacted. These dedicated chat room include the game’s developers, product managers and VPs to keep all of a game’s stakeholders in the loop as well. GREE can also trigger a PagerDuty incident for the on-call engineer directly from the chat window.
GREE reports that they are fixing incidents in their system much faster than they were before using PagerDuty because the right people are getting notified to resolve incidents directly.
“With PagerDuty, it’s clear which person in Ops and Engineering is on-call at each moment, for each of our games.”
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