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Our monitoring systems picked up the problems right away. The on-call engineer quickly determined the magnitude of the problem and woke up the on-call Incident Commander. The IC contacted AWS, and began waking Heroku engineers to work on the problem. Once it became clear that this was going to be a lengthy outage, the Ops team instituted an emergency incident commander rotation of 8 hours per shift, keeping a fresh mind in charge of the situation at all time. Our support, data, and other engineering teams also worked around the clock.

The system they are using (IC, ops, engineer teams, operational periods) is extremely similar to the Incident Command System. The ICS was developed about 40 years ago for fighting wildfires, but now most government agencies use it to manage any type of incident.

I've experienced it first hand and can say it works very well, but I have never seen it used in this context. The great thing about it is it's expandability---it will work for teams of nearly any size. I'd be interested in seeing if any other technology companies/backend teams are using it.


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