How Your Web Monitoring Benefits From Multi-Channel Alerting
Have you ever had to purchase a CPU or a GPU? If so, you have probably come across the term “bottlenecking”. There is a certain threshold where output exceeds ability to process, and that can prevent optimal system functionality.
One of the methods used in computing to overcome these bottlenecks is multi-threading, where requests are processed simultaneously by multiple threads. We can apply a similar principle to downtime monitoring.
In monitoring, a bottle neck can occur when too many techs are responding to the same issue (duplicating and potentially complicating one another’s work), or as piles of unregulated notifications. These are easy traps to fall into when you’re managing a growing infrastructure.
Like a fire hose of automated bad news that keeps piling up.
These scenarios are how you go from a 15-minute incident, to a 2 hour fiasco, to a 24 hour catastrophe. Ongoing outages are disruptive in more ways than one. They stall productivity, halt deployments, kill user confidence, wreak havoc on employee morale, and drag down SLA obligations. They are a drain!
So what’s the fix? A fairly simple one: targeting alerts across multiple channels, so that the right people get alerts as they happen or before they avalanche and overwhelm you. We’ll first dive into multi-channel alerting as a concept before we examine some strategies to tackle it head on.
What is Multi-Channel Alerting?
If we break it down, multi-channel alerting is just sending the same alert to multiple places.
It requires you to have more than one source setup to receive the alert. This source can be anything under the sun, from your work Slack group to a custom webhook. Wherever you’re set to receive alerts, Uptime.com can send them. This is especially true with our Zapier integration, which expands the number of connections significantly.
Redundancy is a familiar term in IT and DevOps, and is a good lens to view our reasoning here.
The more people getting visibility on system stability, the better for production and development. The more specific your alerts are, the better your response time. Mastering a multi-channel setup pays dividends across the devops pipeline.
How you master a multi-channel setup can make the difference between noise and action. Noise is the unfiltered dump of alert data on everyone through every available channel. Action comes from precisely targeting those notifications, so they land exactly where they can do the most good for your team.
Let’s walk through a few scenarios that might sound familiar to you.
Scenario 1: Logging Your Alerts
Have you ever found an issue and thought it felt similar to something you’d encountered before? Maybe even recently?
When you log your alerts to a central location, like Slack or Microsoft Teams, you create a searchable archive of incidents with direct links to the checks monitoring those systems. You can edit or modify these checks, or use Notes to add new information to them. Maybe you uncovered a new solution for a specific repeated problem.
Public channels can also lead to the discovery of wider systems issues. When multiple checks fail very publicly, it’s hard to ignore, but easy to sound the all-hands alarm.
Scenario 2: Escalations and How They Work
Escalations deliver alerts as downtime severity increases without the need for human intervention.
That means no wasted time on delegation. No decision-making about “when is the right time” to bring in higher tiers of support.
Removing that guesswork can help cut down the delay between incident discovery and response. Escalations should also respect on-call hours and work within your team’s scheduling and coverage. Choosing the right people also include well-rested people, so set up multiple escalation contacts to make sure you always have coverage.
Scenario 3: Creating Teams for Specific Systems
Tags and multi-channel alerting work well for segmenting by system or by team. Tags are also huge for reporting and check management as well. When you need to change contacts, adjust intervals, change locations or add checks to a status page, you will appreciate having a tag to work from.
If we look at Scenario 1, our central log, we can see how this plays out in more detail. Tags would make it easy to direct alerts to specific teams that manage certain systems. You have your big public log everyone sees, and the smaller silos your team works from.
Scenario 4: Time Zones, On-Call Hours, and Your Team
Earlier, we mentioned scheduling playing a role in your approach to multi-channel alerting.
We are all used to working with distributed teams, and everyone of us would benefit from escalations that target users based on on-call hours. Managing systems with no clear accountability is stressful. It’s how you get crunch, and ultimately how items like QA and refinement slip out of the development pipeline.
When multiple teams field alerts throughout the day, each contact can be assigned as an escalation, but alerts are only delivered when on-call hours are valid.
Multi-channel alerting is really quite easy – despite its complicated naming convention. It just means alerts are being delivered to more than one space. It doesn’t even require a third-party app. You can do this right now with your phone, your email address, and Uptime.com.
Simply configure separate contacts, then structure alerting around notifying those contacts at the proper time.
Paired with a log of all events, multi-channel alerting gets the downtime alert to the right person at the right time. Uptime.com allows for numerous configurations based on the needs of your team and third party integrations that can connect you nearly anywhere, so nothing slips past your radar.
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