Skip to main content
Warning This document has not been updated for a while now. It may be out of date.
Last updated: 19 Nov 2020


Some alerts are urgent enough to warrant immediate attention, such as parts of the site becoming unavailable or large quantities of error pages being served. We use PagerDuty to escalate to these people (in order):

  1. Primary Engineer
  2. Secondary Engineer
  3. Programme Team member (might not be technical)

It is the responsibility of the people above to make sure their details are up to date in PagerDuty and that they’re correctly scheduled in.

When an alert that triggers PagerDuty goes off, someone on the escalation schedule must acknowledge them, otherwise they will be escalated further. NB, 2nd line shadowers are not required to be on PagerDuty.

PagerDuty drill

Every week we test PagerDuty to make sure it can phone to alert us to any issues. This happens every Wednesday morning at 10am UTC.

Cron creates a file on disk. Icinga raises a critical alert when that file exists with an Icinga contact group set so that PagerDuty is notified. After a short amount of time, cron will remove the file to resolve the alert. The code that does this is in Puppet.

You don’t need to take any action for this alert. The primary in-office 2nd line should escalate the call to the secondary who should escalate it to “escalations” to ensure that phone redirection is working. The person on “escalations” will resolve the PagerDuty alert to prevent anyone else being phoned.

Triggering the drill manually

Note: The drill runs within the AWS environment while we migrate our apps to AWS. If you need to trigger the drill manually, make sure you’re logged in to the AWS monitoring instance.

To trigger the drill manually, follow these steps:

  1. SSH onto the monitoring box:

    $ gds govuk connect -e production ssh aws/monitoring
  2. Generate the file that the Icinga monitor looks for which triggers the alert:

    $ sudo touch /var/run/pagerduty_drill
  3. Delete the file once the test drill is triggered:

    sudo rm /var/run/pagerduty_drill