Alerting: More Signal, Less Noise, Less Pain

Operations, Grand Ballroom West
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Slides:   1-BIN 

In web operations, a monitoring system is often our main interface to our infrastructure. A monitoring system alerts us, interrupts us, awakes us. When it does, maybe the site is on fire (signal), maybe a new application broke old monitoring assumptions and sent spurious alerts (noise).

As an industry we are disciplined at deploying monitoring systems to support our applications, because the only thing worse than an outage, is an outage you hear about first from your customers. We also have learned to use monitoring to swiftly react to infrastructure and application failures. Where we still fail is at managing our monitoring, at keeping the flow of alerts at a high signal-to-noise ratio and at not drowning under a deluge of dubious alerts. Our monitoring systems are just too noisy.

Noisy monitoring leads to outages, even more noise, and ultimately frustration and resentment. How do we decrease the noise and turn monitoring from a necessary evil into an operational strength? That is our topic.

This session, aimed at anyone who cares about monitoring, will include:

  • an in-depth look at a metric-based framework that turns a chaotic and noisy monitoring stream into valuable signals, using simple statistical analysis
  • ample numerical examples from real, at-scale monitoring data sets
  • a summary of concrete actions to take in order to keep our monitoring systems under control and make our operations teams happier.
Photo of Alexis Le-Quoc

Alexis Le-Quoc

Datadog

Alexis Lê-Quôc is the CTO of Datadog, an infrastructure monitoring service. He’s spoken at various tech conferences (including Velocity) on operations, architecture and customer support.

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