Welcome!

@DevOpsSummit Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Linux Containers

@DevOpsSummit: Blog Feed Post

Advice for the New On-Call Engineer By @VictorOps | @DevOpsSummit [#DevOps]

There is more to being on-call than just knowing how to type in the latest ChatOps commands

Advice for the New On-call Engineer

By Dan Hopkins

There is more to being on-call than just knowing how to type in the latest ChatOps commands, reboot AMIs and print out java stack traces. There are life skills that come from being on-call for a while and fortunately, those are lessons that can be taught.

Here at VictorOps we’re currently adding six new engineers to our on-call roster, so I’ve been thinking about the experience of being on-call and how to make the best of it.

The first day you go on-call can be frightening. The most important thing to remember is that you’ve already passed the first test. You have the trust and respect of your teammates and are providing them with a valuable commodity: peace of mind. No one wants to be on-call, so stepping up to the plate and taking shifts helps to improve the lives of everyone on your team.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zakh/

1.) Make sure you understand and have the tools you need to do your job. If you don’t know how to use them while you’re at work, there is no way you’ll remember at 2am. Here’s a list, obviously your particular job might vary…

* VPN
* SSH credentials
* sudo privileges
* RSA key fob
* Credentials to your support portal
* Phone numbers and escalation policies for components of the system that you’re responsible for
* Links to the runbooks or chatops commands

2.) Understand the expectations for being on-call, both implicit and explicit. Hopefully your company has taken time to document the expectation for how you’re supposed to behave when you’re on-call. It’s always best to have things explicit, but looking through your chat rooms or timeline might give you indication if there are implicit rules that different team members follow. Some examples of both implicit and explicit rules are:

* “How fast should you be responding to pages?”
* “When should you escalate incidents to more senior team members, other teams or customer support?”
* “How should you handle short periods of time where you need to be away from your computer, such as going out to dinner or a movie?”

at_mentions

3.) Remember to communicate. This is often a tricky one for people in our field but communicating between teams (both engineering and non-engineering) is one of the key skills to being an on-call engineer. In addition to being expected to fix or diagnose issues, you’re there to send out communications with the rest of your team(s). There is definitely finesse in understanding when an issue needs to be run up the flagpole so take care to learn from how others on your team communicate.

4.) Manage your life. If you’re not a full time on-call engineer, you’re going to spend a lot of time balancing your “real duties” with being on-call and most importantly, with having a life. This is a tricky balance to get good at. If you’re on-call for extended periods (longer than a few days) you’re going to notice a precipitous drop off in “vigilance.” There are behaviors and a level of focus that you can only sustain for so long while being on-call.

2984249685_7fc90e5b13_o

5.) What about sleeping? When you’re on-call on a night shift, and you’ll be sleeping during it, there is a quick “pre-sleep” checklist that you should learn:

* Your “pager” should be set to “make lots of noise”
* Check your timeline for any warnings that will become incidents overnight (better to catch it early)
* You might save yourself a headache by having your computer at hand (close to your bed) so you don’t have to run through the house in your skivvys

6.) You’re not actually on house arrest. If you still want to have a life while on-call you might, on occasion, leave the house. Consider doing a few of the following:

* take your laptop and a phone that can tether
* let your teammates know
* trade on-call for a couple hours

Hopefully your first night on-call won’t be the shitstorm you fear and you’ll move on to be an integral part of the on-call team. If you’re looking for other helpful tips, check out our On-Call Firefight Survival Guide. Here’s to making on-call suck less!

The post Advice for the New On-call Engineer appeared first on VictorOps.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By VictorOps Blog

VictorOps is making on-call suck less with the only collaborative alert management platform on the market.

With easy on-call scheduling management, a real-time incident timeline that gives you contextual relevance around your alerts and powerful reporting features that make post-mortems more effective, VictorOps helps your IT/DevOps team solve problems faster.

@DevOpsSummit Stories
Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, is an accomplished digital business executive with extensive global expertise as a strategist, technologist, innovator, marketer, and communicator. For over 30 years across five continents, he has built success with Fortune 500 corporations, vendors, governments, and as a leading research analyst and consultant.
The current environment of Continuous Disruption requires companies to transform how they work and how they engineer their products. Transformations are notoriously hard to execute, yet many companies have succeeded. What can we learn from them? Can we produce a blueprint for a transformation? This presentation will cover several distinct approaches that companies take to achieve transformation. Each approach utilizes different levers and comes with its own advantages, tradeoffs, costs, risks, and outcomes.
Contino is a global technical consultancy that helps highly-regulated enterprises transform faster, modernizing their way of working through DevOps and cloud computing. They focus on building capability and assisting our clients to in-source strategic technology capability so they get to market quickly and build their own innovation engine.
You want to start your DevOps journey but where do you begin? Do you say DevOps loudly 5 times while looking in the mirror and it suddenly appears? Do you hire someone? Do you upskill your existing team? Here are some tips to help support your DevOps transformation. Conor Delanbanque has been involved with building & scaling teams in the DevOps space globally. He is the Head of DevOps Practice at MThree Consulting, a global technology consultancy. Conor founded the Future of DevOps Thought Leaders Debate. He regularly supports and sponsors Meetup groups such as DevOpsNYC and DockerNYC.
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the benefits of the cloud without losing performance as containers become the new paradigm.