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True Story: On-call Doesn’t Have to Suck

Prior to my current and happy employment at VictorOps, I was also happily not required to be on-call for anything. It was a concerning realization that I would be forfeiting the latter. Being on-call was a mystery to me and mysteries make me anxious.


When a mystery becomes my imminent opponent, I usually accept this and then attack it. This tactic was not an option. The only way to know about the experience of on-call is to experience on-call. I had to wait.


Fortunately I had a guide into this new world. A friendly coworker was by my side as I learned what it means to be on-call. And I did learn what it means, which is not much. It was inconsequential to me as a person. This was a profound realization and my motive for sharing this story. On-call is okay.


I’m not anxious or afraid to be on-call now. It’s a very passive thing for me. I get a notification from the VictorOps app saying that I am on-call and usually the only other notification is me being off-call. Not mysterious or anxiety-inducing at all.

Occasionally an incident will happen while I’m on-call and it becomes an opportunity for me to learn more about the platform and to let my teammates sleep. When the incident is non-trivial, it is clear who to ask for help.

Using our own product to handle on-call rotation was an excellent experience in dogfooding. It increases my empathy for customers, which allows me to do my job more effectively.


My tips for those who are not looking forward to their first on-call rotation:

– Use VictorOps.

– In lieu of the above, have a system or process in place that will help you to feel confident when you’re on-call.

Runbooks are cool. Put them to good use.

– Open communication. Don’t be afraid to talk to your team members about your anxieties and whether they have any suggestions for you.

– Ask questions. If an alert comes in that you can’t do anything about, ask why. When there’s not a runbook outlining what to do, ask why.

– Embrace the fear and get comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s called growth.


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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.