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Best PagerDuty Alternatives of 2020: An Independent Review by StatusGator

Modern applications offer more and more features, and the infrastructure needed to run them becomes increasingly complex. The need for Application Performance Monitoring (APM) and Network Performance Monitoring (NPM) tools like PagerDuty is obvious, as the cost of downtime can be exorbitant for a business of any scope. Thus, every business needs to use Pager Duty or one of its alternatives that alerts the Ops team should anything go awry. 

The process of incident management can be broadly split into four main stages: Alert creation, Incident investigation, Root cause remediation and Postmortem. Good alerting is vital to get your Ops team working on the issue right away — but the initial response can amount to merely 10-20% of the time and effort spent. The bulk of the resolution time is spent on investigation and remediation phases, which include multiple repetitive actions:

  • figuring out the root cause of the issue
  • escalating the task to appropriate responders and subject matter experts
  • tracking the communications between the stakeholders
  • establishing Zoom/Slack communication channels
  • creating tickets in your task management system
  • running various playbooks and runbooks
  • controlling the incident command chain

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The most popular performance monitoring alerting tool on the market is PagerDuty, which was founded in 2009. PagerDuty is popular because of its long history and deep integrations. But it costs a lot to implement and run with basic functionality. At its core, it provides on-call alerting and escalation rules. Some people might outgrow its capabilities with time, or others might look for a simpler solution to start out. So why not search for the best Pager Duty alternative for your business from the get-go then?

At StatusGator, our customers ask this question quite often. StatusGator is a centralized dashboard for monitoring and alerting the status of more than 900 cloud-based services. It complements PagerDuty and all of its alternatives to improve incident management workflow. Thus, to know firsthand the benefits and shortcomings of both Pager Duty and its alternatives, we reached out to 12 platforms listed below with several questions:

  1. What is the main differentiation point of your tool?
  2. What are your pros and cons compared with Pager Duty?
  3. When should customers go with PagerDuty instead of your tool? And when is your platform the best fit? 

We received responses from 5 out of 12 tools and consider it a great result. The descriptions for those who did not respond were taken from publicly available information. While all these monitoring and alerting systems are useful, knowing the strong points of each helps find the best fit for your particular case.

Besides, while most of the comparisons are written by competitors, we are independent and strive to provide an honest overview. Read this listicle to find out how multiple tools like Better Uptime, PagerTree, Zenduty, or Squadcast compare vs PagerDuty.

List of paid and open-source PagerDuty alternatives:

Almost every one of these tools can cover the core on-call alerting needs of any Ops team: on-call schedules, issue escalation route management, integrations with a variety of monitoring tools, iOS/Android apps, Machine Learning models and analytics, email/push notifications, SMS/voice notifications, API access, etc. However, each of the members of the list above has its unique features, which we will cover below.

PagerTree — an affordable and powerful Pager Duty alternative

PagerTree is a small company providing an alerting tool that costs less and scales better than PagerDuty (due to costing merely $10/user/month instead of a whopping $35+/user/month.) The vendor concentrates on providing all the essential on-call tools you need — and nothing that’s unneeded, so they enable a rapid incident response instead of clogging your dashboards.

PagerTree provides a bunch of useful features that PagerDuty lacks — like view-only access for stakeholders, alert aggregation, and alert handoffs to provide context for every alert and reduce the time to resolution. Most importantly, their support responds to inquiries in minutes, not in hours or days. 

Thus, combining StatusGator with PagerTree is a good choice if your business is after cost-efficient incident management services, and not the most popular brand. 

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Better Uptime — a PagerDuty alternative with simple on-call calendar integration

Better Uptime is a convenient tool that integrates the on-call calendar with your favorite calendar (Google Calendar, e.g.) and you get a complete record of incident details in a second-by-second timeline. The tool provides a modern and quick to grasp interface and all support calls come from a single number, so you always know who is calling and can reach back easily. Email debugs with lots of useful info simplify incident remediation greatly.

Thus said, while Pager Duty is a well-covered platform with lots of integrations, including quite specific software, it provides merely basic on-call functionality. On the other hand, Better Uptime integrates with all the main monitoring solutions (and calendar tools) and just generally provides a lot of functionality and low price with a simple user interface.

Zenduty — Pager Duty alternative for end-to-end incident response orchestration

Zenduty provides a frictionless path to incident alerting and resolution. Through automation of multiple repetitive actions and wide customization of response scenarios, Zenduty enables businesses to implement modern, cost-effective incident response processes. Zenduty does not just alert your on-call teams via SMS, Phone(Voice), Slack, Teams, iOS/Android, but also automatically creates all the necessary comms channels for responders and stakeholders (Slack channel, Jira ticket, Zoom Room, StatusPage update, etc.).

The platform appends all the necessary runbooks, playbooks, and other contextual information for rapid Root Cause Analysis, or RCA. It also provides a solid incident command framework for role-based and recursive separation of responsibilities, lets you assign and track the status of incident tasks and seamlessly manage stakeholder communications with upper management, support teams, account managers, and customers. Zenduty also provides best-in-class custom alert routing and lets you route alerts with precision to the right teams or engineers depending on the specific components or the nature of the incident. Using these features in addition to StatusGator’s centralized dashboard helps to keep a close eye on the performance of infrastructure of any complexity.

Thus, using Zenduty along with StatusGator allows establishing solid and predictable incident response pipelines at scale and paves the way to implementing Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) best practices.

Squadcast — a popular SRE-focused incident management platform

Squadcast is a tool for DevOps engineers aiming to implement SRE best practices in their daily operations, not merely manage on-call schedules and incident response. The platform is built around driving the adoption of SRE approaches in the daily workflows of every team, and every feature is designed to catalyze the effort toward maintaining outstanding customer experience through uninterrupted availability of your services. 

Squadcast allows your DevOps team to easily configure Site Reliability Objectives (SLOs) like latency, memory usage, status codes, etc. This way it is much easier to control SLA compliance and error budget expenditures. It also allows configuring your public-facing services to use the free Status Page and ensure transparency of your operations — one of the key characteristics of SRE.

As a Pager Duty alternative, Squadcast supports all the alerting use cases, but does it following SRE best practices to improve your infrastructure performance metrics, ultimately leading to better service reliability.

Amixr — a free PagerDuty alternative for small teams

Amixr is a developer-focused smart alerting tool to start small and grow great. It has evolved API, native Infrastructure as Code support and deep Slack support. It is free for up to 4 users and handles all aspects of SDLC well. Due to integrations with Terraform and other DevOps tools, Amixr can oversee all stages of infrastructure management and software deployment. 

Amixr is a great choice for teams who use Slack. All use-cases like working with incident lifecycle, writing postmortems, building War Room, asking for help in Amixr’s Slack interface are carefully optimized. Amixr is also designed for IT engineering teams, for example one could even find a pre-generated Terraform file in our web interface. PagerDuty is targeting a broader market including non-IT users and companies.

Your company should choose PagerDuty in case you don’t have an active IT team onboard. If the team is using Slack (MS teams will be available soon), is developing some IT product, monitors it with Grafana, Prometheus, Sentry, DataDog, CloudWatch or similar monitoring tool — you should definitely check Amixr!

Using MS Teams? Read our post on '15 Essential DevOps Apps for Microsoft Teams'

Besides, email, SMS and push notifications with on-call scheduling ensure your team will never miss an important signal — and it will not be sent to the person off shift in the middle of the night. Alert grouping into Slack threads allows categorizing similar alerts to reduce noise while keeping track of every notification. Escalations ensure the alerts are acknowledged and handled by relevant team members as fast as possible.

Thus said, Amixr is a great free PagerDuty alternative for small startups and it grows along with your team!

VictorOps — incident management software that makes on-call suck less

VictorOps is an incident management platform centered on convenience and transparency of issue remediation following DevOps approaches. Even after you deploy your product or resolve an issue in the production environment, VictorOps enables communication and collaboration that form the basis of DevOps culture. From bi-directional chat to creating post-incident documentation for future reference, VictorOps supports continuous learning that drives DevOps teams forward.

VictorOps vs PagerDuty: costs, reporting, DevOps

Affordability and transparent pricing are one of the major selling points for VictorOps, which is available for as low as $5/user/month and cost savings can come up to $14/user/month if we compare VictorOps vs PagerDuty. Highly customizable and configurable reporting is another great advantage, allowing your DevOps team to quickly analyze and act on available data.

All in all, if we compare PagerDuty vs VictorOps, the latter is a much more advanced solution for teams aiming to implement DevOps quicker and at no-nonsense prices.

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Opsgenie — a modern incident management tool from Atlassian

Opsgenie is a product by Atlassian aimed at providing improved alerting and visibility for your Dev and Ops processes and performance. Along with Trello, Bitbucket, Jira, Confluence, and other great tools, Opsgenie serves as reliable incident management for alerting the right people at the right time, reducing issue response times, and avoiding alert fatigue.

Coming as a web-based or mobile iOS/Android application, Opsgenie gathers alerts from your infrastructure, categorizes them based on timing and importance, reroutes them to appropriate experts, or escalates them in case the respondent does not acknowledge the receipt rapidly. This way, when we look at PagerDuty vs Opsgenie in terms of alert management, the former just follows the preconfigured routine under a pre-configured schedule, while the latter ensures each alert gets the attention it needs, ASAP.

Opsgenie vs PagerDuty: incident remediation on the move

However, if we compare Opsgenie vs PagerDuty in terms of mobile apps, both tools provide basic communication capabilities only and don’t enable mobile-first incident remediation experience. Quite the contrary, if we look at VictorOps vs PagerDuty vs Opsgenie, the former platform provides all the tools needed to successfully remediate any incident while being away from the computer. 

From seamless Slack channel creation and swapping between multiple communication tools to providing actionable incident reports and data, both VictorOps and Opsgenie provide much better issue remediation capabilities than PagerDuty.

Click here for the list of '10 Essential DevOps Slack Apps'.

FireHydrant — an enterprise-grade incident orchestration platform

FireHydrant is a platform specifically designed to provide visibility and streamline incident response operations in complex enterprise infrastructure. Due to multiple integrations supported, it works well with Jira, Slack, and almost all popular monitoring dashboards. FireHydrant allows you to easily create a common inventory of tools, teams, and processes that comprise enterprise-level digital assets. It then uses this inventory to pull the data you need from any systems and share it with appropriate experts via the next-level issue resolution layer. This unique approach sets FireHydrant apart.

FireHydrant is a great tool to integrate with enterprise-grade SDLC, from APM and NPM dashboards and alerting to retrospectives, deployment events, and monitoring complex systems like Kubernetes clusters and CI/CD pipelines. It also integrates with Single Sign-On and user management platforms to enable a solid window of visibility into your enterprise IT operations.

Thus, FireHydrant is an excellent choice for enterprises that want to continue using their toolsets and receive increased performance monitoring and alerting capabilities. Their product will help you implement best practices for incident response.

xMatters — an incident response tool that blocks the alert flood to let the signals go through

xMatters is built with the purpose of enabling software delivery teams to innovate faster and resolve issues before they impact the end-users of your products or services. This is done by introducing a powerful alert categorization engine that blocks up to 90% of alert flood based on timing and importance, so really valuable signals pass through unobstructed. In addition to greatly reducing alert fatigue, xMatters enables your DevOps team to spend much less time resolving incidents and dedicate much more time to delivering the next big thing for your customers.

If we compare xMatters vs PagerDuty, the former is a tool for teams that choose innovation over continuous firefighting, want to see workflows instead of toil, and prefer having reliable uptime instead of staying up all night. From nimble startups to Global2000 companies, xMatters helps software engineers with automating their alerting and incident management to concentrate their effort on delivering great customer experience.

AlertOps — a highly-customizable enterprise-grade alerting and incident remediation tool

AlertOps aims to excel where Pager Duty falls short. It provides highly customizable automated Workflows that collect the relevant incident information and shares it with the right people at the right time. This way, when PagerDuty simply alerts your on-call staff when something is not right and leaves them to find the needed expertise and figure out the root cause on their own — AlertOps uses customizable Alert Templates and a NoCode Workflow Engine to produce highly relevant notifications that contain all the data needed for issue remediation. 

Most importantly, once you gather sufficient statistics, you can configure the Workflows to automatically enact response scenarios and handle future incidents before they affect your end-users. In addition to customizable Templates facilitating incident remediation and multiple integrations to leverage all the capabilities of your existing technology — AlertOps can become the backbone of enterprise infrastructure reliability initiatives.

Freshservice — a one-stop-shop for managing enterprise IT operations

Freshservice is an all-in-one cloud-based service handling IT management including incident management, IT self-service desk, incident management platform, release management, digital asset management and many other functions. It is highly configurable and easy to set up, provides all the range of basic alerting on-call tools, can operate via multiple notification channels, comes with an in-depth analytics dashboard and mobile app.

Focused mostly on IT operations, Freshservice enables creating a vast knowledge base of canned responses to maximize the efficiency of the employee service desk, comes with a built-in Workflow Automator for creating and tracking issue remediation pipelines, helps monitor your KPIs via an intuitive dashboard and reduces alert/ticket fatigue by introducing auto-suggestions for most common incident scenarios. 

Using Freshservice as a PagerDuty alternative enables enterprises to replace on-call toil with intuitive and user-friendly workflows for handling all aspects of their IT operations.

iLert — a simplistic solution for on-call teams

iLert is a minimalistic alerting and on-call routing tool. It provides all the basic IT monitoring features like alerting and notifications, on-call routing and escalations, uptime monitoring, system heartbeat tracking and real-time call routing through native iOS and Android apps. It does not offer fancy Machine Learning or extended analytic capabilities, but it is a very affordable and reliable tool that does what an alerting platform must do — informing relevant stakeholders within your team of mission-critical alerts.

Due to integrations with Datadog, Jira, Slack, AWS, Pingdom, New Relic, Zendesk and other tools, iLert can become a smart layer providing centralized visibility into all your digital assets and processes. Most importantly, while not being a PagerDuty free alternative, iLert is much more affordable and offers transparent pricing without fine print commitments

Conclusions: when to choose each of the tools

As you can see, all the tools on this list can be quite helpful for your team. From free PagerDuty alternatives like Amixr to enterprise-grade Zenduty and AlertOps, all these tools cover the basic needs of on-call Ops teams. However, while tools like iLert provide a minimal feature set for convenient alert management, platforms like xMatters, FireHydrant or Freshservice come with a variety of integrations and components useful for global enterprises and industry-leading companies.

The devil is in the detail though, and this brief overview cannot cover all the aspects of using these best PagerDuty alternatives. Feel free to address your inquiries to these companies and find the best fit for your project needs and budget.

If you want to try combining StatusGator with these tools to empower your incident management capabilities, we will be glad to help you integrate! Reach out to us and tell us which tools you’re using. We’d be thrilled to help integrate StatusGator with your preferred incident management tool.

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