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In part one of this two-part series, I went over focusing on low-effort tasks that produce the highest value and ways to increase leverage in...
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Inkling makes interactive ebooks for smart learning. Inkling’s digital library includes hundreds of prominent medical books like Harrison’s Internal Medicine, learning series like the Dummies and O’Reilly as well as travel books from Lonely Planet and Rick Steves.
In February 2013, Inkling launched Inkling Habitat a cloud-based, scalable SaaS platform for building beautiful, interactive content. Today some of the top publishers in the world are using Habitat.
Inkling is reimagining books by adding interactive elements, smart search, audio, video and quizzes and is quickly becoming the platform of choice for how knowledge gets created, read and shared.
With their exponential growth and expansion into cloud based authoring platform, Inkling needed to deliver a reliable platform to meet customer SLAs. They implemented multiple monitoring tools – Icinga and Wormly – for fault monitoring across their IT infrastructure. Each monitoring tool had their own alerting capabilities, but many alerts were missed if an on-call engineer was asleep or away from their desk. When alerts were missed, they did not have the capabilities to escalate incidents to another on-call teammate, so incidents could go unanswered for hours. “Downtime is a big deal. SLAs are important, so we need to know when things go wrong.” – Aashay Desai, DevOps at Inkling. With multiple monitoring tools, alerts came from all sides and were sent to everyone. Alerts became noisy and decreased the sense of urgency when they came in. To remove alert fatigue, Inkling needed to centralize the alerts and route them to the right engineer to resolve the issue.
In addition to missed alerts, Inkling struggled with on-call scheduling. As the engineering team grew, the DevOps team wanted to add more people to the on-call rotation to fairly share the responsibility. In order to add more engineers, they needed to make changes in every monitoring application. They preferred to centrally manage on-call schedules without impacting their monitoring applications’ settings every time they needed to make a change.
Their problems around alert awareness and aggregation from various monitoring tools, along with their need to create a fair and manageable on-call schedule, led Inkling to look for an incident management solution.
Like most engineers, Inkling engineers don’t monitor their emails 24/7. PagerDuty allows each engineer to set their preferred alerting methods. Some engineers prefer phone calls only, while others prefer a combination of alerts. With the flexibility of customized alerts, their response time has decreased dramatically.
“Before PagerDuty, it might take a day to respond to incidents. Now, it’s seconds.”
On-call schedules should be a predictable, regular and fair system. With PagerDuty, Inkling’s on-call schedule is now automated, so there is no need to constantly maintain it. If changes are needed, such as times when someone is out sick, overrides are used instead of reconfiguring the entire schedule. They don’t need to make changes in the monitoring applications anymore.
“PagerDuty is a critical and trusted piece of our infrastructure.”
With the help of PagerDuty, Inkling is able to shift their development strategy towards a true DevOps model. DevOps create a sense of accountability for the code built. With PagerDuty, on-call schedules can include engineers who built the code. Inkling is changing it’s on-call culture to be more responsive by making the engineer who built the code the first responder to an IT fire. This subject matter expert can diagnose the issue more easily, decreasing their mean time to repair.
By delivering a highly reliable service, Inkling is making it easier for companies to move their publishing models to a mobile-first, digital-first model.
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