How a Culture of Sharing Transforms IT Incident Management
Earlier this month at BigPanda we released our new Sharing feature, which allows NOC teams to quickly share active and critical incidents with the right teams and subject-matter experts. BigPanda already helps NOC teams today by giving them instant visibility into incoming related alerts so that they don’t have to sift through dozens of emails and web pages with every outage or disruption. They can also attach playbooks and timeseries graphs directly to BigPanda, which means no more navigating around, combing through bookmarks, trying to find the right wiki page for that memory issue, or the right Graphite link for that misbehaving database host.
With our new Sharing feature, NOC teams can now quickly send an email or a text message to the right experts. They can open JIRA or ServiceNow tickets directly from BigPanda, or even send notifications right to Slack channels or HipChat rooms. More than just notifications that an event is under way, the shares include a link to a very cool real-time status page showing all the relevant active alerts that make up the incident. It’s handy to have on your mobile device or open on the desktop while you’re checking out logs or working at the command line. As new alerts come in, active alerts change status, and cleared alerts disappear, it’s all front-and-center while you’re getting services back up and running.
This new feature — really the fact that we chose to think of it as sharing instead of assigning or escalating — got me thinking about the importance of teams and collaboration these days and what it means to share, especially in IT operations.
We share socially all the time in our personal lives, whether videos or news or personal items on Facebook, or retweeting cool or imporant things that come through our Twitter feed. We share our comments and ratings on movies, and restaurants, and just about everything else we do and explore in our interconnected world. We’ve found ourselves in a kind of “Hey, check this out!” culture.
When it comes to IT Incident Management, this way of thinking starts to soften the hard lines we’ve drawn around roles and responsibilities and the status that often goes with them, and that softening is absolutely critical to achieving success with DevOps. The culture of successful DevOps teams is collaborative and based on honoring each stakeholder’s contributions and expertise. Sometimes we shadow teammates whose daily work is interesting to us but not our normal focus, and we learn a lot about how our own work impacts theirs. Or we might invite others to code with us, write some tests, work up some documentation, or edit a deployment script. These are incredibly educational activities, not to mention really fun!
The main challenges with DevOps are not with the tools and technologies. The challenges are in the ways we work together. It’s hard to break down these old walls between the developers and the operations teams, or between the hard and fast roles and responsibilities we’ve been saddled with by yesterday’s culture. Decades of strict divisions of labor, protected chains of command, ugly turf wars, and a “not my job” attitude have calcified bad habits that keep us from learning, from improving, from enjoying our work life, and from growing the business.
When we start to embrace everyone’s unique contiributions, fostering a work culture of collaboration, sharing and openness, team morale will skyrocket, applications and services will improve exponentially, and our customers will be happier than ever!
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