For the customers that have Priority Support, the Support Engineering Team is on-call and available to assist with emergencies. What constitutes an emergency is defined in our definitions of support impact.
We take on-call seriously. There are escalation policies in place so that if a first responder does not respond fast enough another team member or members is/are alerted. Such policies aren't expected to ever be triggered, but they cover extreme and unforeseeable circumstances.
When you are on call you are expected to be available and ready to respond to PagerDuty pings as soon as possible, and certainly within the emergency response time set by our Service Level Agreements.
If you have plans outside of your work space while being on call, then being available may require bringing a laptop and reliable internet connection with you.
You should not be chained to your desk, but you should be equipped to acknowledge and act on PD alerts in a timely manner.
Be proactive in communicating your availability. Sometimes you can't be immediately available for every minute of your on-call shift. If you expect to be unavailable for a short period of time, send an FYI in Slack.
When you get an alert, you should immediately start a Slack thread and take notes within. Tag the Technical Account Manager (TAM) - something like "cc @user" is good enough - if the customer has one. This creates visibility around the situation and opens the door to let the team join in.
Good notes in Slack will help people follow along and will help you with your follow-up email after the call.
Try to communicate complete ideas rather than snippets of thought. Something like "that's not good" as a response to something happening within the call isn't as helpful as "their gitaly timings are really high".
Take and share screenshots of useful info the customer is showing you. Make sure you're not sharing anything sensitive. Let the customer know that you're doing that. "Could you pause there? I'm gonna screenshot this little bit and share it with my team".
If the problem stated in the emergency ticket doesn't meet the definition of an emergency support impact, inform the customer's technical account manager (if they have one) or a support manager. Unless they ask you to do otherwise, however, continue to treat the ticket with the emergency SLA.
We like to assume good intent by the customer. Even though we may not think a particular ticket qualifies for emergency support, we'll treat all emergency pages from customers with priority support as if they qualify. During any crisis, the customer may be incredibly stressed and have immense pressure on them. We should be helpful when we can and, if we've determined that their ticket didn't qualify as an emergency, then after the call the customer's technical account manager or a support manager can discuss that with them.
Rest assured that escalation is okay, and that other GitLabbers are happy to help. The care of the customers is a shared responsibility. Tag the support team if you haven't started getting help in your Slack thread. Tag the support managers if you need to escalate further.
If another support engineer joins your emergency call, feel free to assign them a role to divide up the labor.
So and so would you please (take notes, reach out to this product team and ask for help, look up the code for this and see what you can find)?
Make an effort to actively de-stress during your on-call shift. After being on-call you should consider taking time off, as noted in the main handbook. Being available for issues and outages will wear on you even if there were no pages. Resting is critical for proper functioning. Just let your team know.
When you're in a call, don't feel too much pressure to have immediate answers. You're allowed to pause for a few minutes for researching, asking for help, etc. A five minute reply is still much better than waiting for SLA email replies. Make sure to communicate and let the customer know what you're doing. Example: "I'm gonna take a few minutes to work through the code here and make sense of it".
We do 7 days of 8-hour shifts in a follow-the-sun style, based on your location.
For new team members approaching their first on-call schedule, the Support onboarding issue already includes a section suggesting that you shadow a current on-call period to gain familiarity with the process. After completing this, consider your preferred approach to on-call and discuss with your manager how you feel about it and if you'd like to work with a partner during on-call weeks. For the first week we recommend asking your Onboarding Buddy to be available as a secondary to help if an emergency comes in.
Your role is to make sure someone is available to respond to emergencies during the week you are scheduled. You should make this work for you by working with others, scheduling overrides etc. You don't have to be at your desk all week! It's OK to take a walk outside if you have your phone and reception. This way you can acknowledge the page and locate someone to help in Slack via your phone.
If you prefer to work with someone as a secondary, discuss with team members or your manager and find partners who like sharing the role. You can then work together during the week and update PagerDuty as you wish (e.g. split days into mornings and evenings, take alternate days, work as a primary and secondary etc). Your manager can play an active role in helping pair people who want to work like this.
Additionally, block your calendar for the week you are on-call. This is needed as it is possible that you will get customer call scheduled for the same week you're on-call and that can lead to the situation where you are in the call with one customer and different customer creates emergency ticket at the same time.
To swap on-call duty with a fellow support engineer:
Please double-check that your alerts are working. You can send a test page to make sure that you're being alerted appropriately.
When your on-call shift starts, you should get some sort of notification(s) that your shift is starting.
priority: urgentto find the ticket.
Start a thread in
#support_self-managed with the ticket link. "Thread for emergency ticket LINK HERE".
Taking a call isn't significantly different from a normal call outside of two unique points:
It's recommended to find someone from the Support team to join the call with you. A second person on the call can take notes, search for solutions and raise additional help in Slack. They can also help you confirm ideas that you can discuss in Slack.
During the call, try to establish a rapport with the customer; empathizing with the situation and setting a communicative tone.
As early as possible, determine your options. In some cases, the best option may be rolling back a change or upgrade. The best option may also involve losing production data. If either of those is the case, it's okay to ask the customer if they see any other options before executing on that plan.
First, remember that as the on-call engineer you're playing the role of incident manager. You're not expected to have all the answers personally.
Your job is to coordinate the emergency response. That could mean:
It could equally mean:
When you're not sure what to do, you might also be unsure what to say. Here are some phrases that might help:
Before getting off the call, make sure that you let the customer know what to do if there is any follow-up and who will be available if any follow-up is required.
It seems like we've solved the root problem here, but if you need any help I'll be on-call for the next two hours. Feel free to open a new emergency ticket and I'll get back on a call with you right away. If it's after that, it's Francesca who will be responding. I'll make sure that she has the background of the situation before I leave for the day.
Once the call has ended, make sure you write up post-call notes relevant to the customer in a public reply, any internal notes as an internal notes on the ticket and note that you did so when you tag the next on-call engineer in the relevant Slack thread.
Support Managers also have an on-call rotation. During their rotation, managers will:
#support_managers. Support Team Knowledge areas can be used to find the right engineer to assign the escalation.
To see who the current manager on-call is you can:
/chatops run oncall manager
#support_managers(where you may or may not be referred to the above steps!)
/pd-support-managercommand to page the on-call manager
We want to minimize the affect of on-call duty on your life. One way we do that is by offsetting any impact on your personal expenses.
You may expense the cost of your mobile phone service for the month when you begin your on-call rotation. This is limited to your service cost itself, not any costs relating to the phone device, to a personal hotspot device or to services for other people on your phone plan.
We understand you may have plans outside of your normal workspace while you're on-call. If as a result you need to use your phone to provide internet service to your computer, then you may include additional data charges in your expense report.
US Federal on-call support is provided 7 days a week between the hours of 1:00PM and 1:00AM UTC time.
Currently, there are five Support Engineers working an on-call rotation consisting of 6 hour shifts, 7 days a week, one week on, two weeks off, one week on, one week off, alternating mornings and evenings.
|Week - Shift||Support Engineer|
|1 - AM||John|
|1 - PM||Nathan|
|2 - AM||Aric|
|2 - PM||Harish|
|3 - AM||Nathan|
|3 - PM||David|
|4 - AM||Harish|
|4 - PM||John|
|5 - AM||David|
|5 - PM||Aric|
|6 - AM||John|
|6 - PM||Nathan|