Customers / Groupon
  • Size
  • 11,200+

  • Industry
  • Technology

  • Location
  • Chicago, IL

  • Customer Since
  • 2012

Benefits With PagerDuty

  • Decrease alerting noise
  • Improve engineering productivity
  • Increase incident visibility across all 20+ teams with single source of operations information

Groupon: Improving Reliability So Customers Can Buy Anything, Anytime, Anywhere

E-commerce website Groupon partners with local businesses to help them raise their awareness and attract new customers. The Chicago-based company has been so successful that its name has become part of the popular lexicon – as in “check Groupon first.”

Growth Introduces Complexity

In five years, Groupon has become one of the world’s largest commerce platforms.  Groupon has worked with more than 650,00 merchants worldwide and has more than 200,000 active global deals. It operates in 48 countries, and continues to expand and grow its channels, developing and launching products like Gnome with innovative technology that helps merchants and consumers alike.  However, the company’s success brought some operational inefficiencies that PagerDuty was able to help them overcome.

Since Groupon’s platform faces both businesses and consumers, it must function at a high availability level at all times. While the company’s Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) team had internal SLAs around outage notifications when problems occurred, the company’s incident management workflow still had some internal complexities that prevented comprehensive, real time notifications. Not only were the groups that the SREs supported highly siloed, but they also relied on multiple tools to help monitor their applications, including widely used commercial products such as New Relic and others developed in house at Groupon.


Championing a better way was Connie-Lynne Villani, senior manager, Groupon. Coming from a NOC background, Connie-Lynne’s vision for SRE was to build a prevention-oriented team focused on improving the reliability and performance of Groupon’s solutions. SRE, she envisioned, would work closely with developers to design, build and maintain systems. A key part of this plan was that developers be included in a 24×7 on-call rotation and to take care of issues as they arose.

Connie-Lynne had heard of PagerDuty prior to joining Groupon, and decided to give it a shot to see if she could fine-tune notifications and decrease alerting noise.

How Did PagerDuty Help?

PagerDuty successfully accomplished both of Connie-Lynne’s goals. Now, in addition to receiving email alerts, the teams supported by SRE get notified via voice, SMS and push notifications. Multiple notifications are ideal for the team in Groupon’s Chicago office, which is plagued by poor cell phone reception. The Chicago engineers have added their desk phones as part of their notification cadence to ensure they always get their alerts.

“PagerDuty allowed us to give developers a sensible, measured way to get notifications out to our employees in real time.”

PagerDuty is also user-customizable. SRE is no longer responsible for setting contact preferences for users. Today, everyone supported by SRE can modify their own alert settings, which helps streamline operations management at Groupon in a number of offices around the world. The demands placed on SRE are particularly acute when outages occur since notifying the right people was a constant challenge before PagerDuty became part of the toolkit.

PagerDuty has been a major driver of operational efficiency, Connie-Lynne notes.

“We now have more time to focus on other projects rather than routing issues.”

PagerDuty’s robust integrations have further enhanced Groupon’s operational processes. Nagios alerts are filtered within PagerDuty to decrease alerting noise. To keep everyone in the loop, PagerDuty integrates with Groupon’s internal chat collaboration tool, HipChat, to push incident state change updates.

Alert filtering may have been what led Groupon to adopt PagerDuty, but it is PagerDuty’s user-level alert management that has had the greatest impact. Connie-Lynne reports that it has measurably affected Groupon’s on-call culture.

“PagerDuty was a hidden treasure. You can decide how, where and when you want to be notified.

“We now have more time to focus on other projects rather than routing issues.”

Connie-Lynne Villani, Senior Manager