YC-Funded PagerDuty Makes Sure Your Team Knows When A Server Goes Down

Server downtime is a fact of life for most web administrators, and there’s no shortage of products and software that make it easy to monitor when something has gone awry. Of course, an inbox full of urgent emails telling you your server is frying isn’t too helpful when you’re sound asleep.That’s where PagerDuty, a startup that launched a year ago, is looking to help. Today the company is announcing that it has received funding from Y Combinator; it’s also forged a deal with monitoring platform CloudKick, is launching an API, and is losing its beta tag.

PagerDuty lets you set up and prioritize alerts for an entire team, with the ability to send SMS and voice messages along with the standard email alerts. And if a team member isn’t responding, the system can automatically escalate the alerts — for example, if an email isn’t answered quickly, an SMS could be sent a few minutes later, and so on. Another option is to start alerting other team members if someone isn’t responding. The service also lets you set up on-duty calendars, allowing you to alternate who you want to alert first depending on the date.

PagerDuty isn’t the only solution for receiving alerts about your server status — just about all server status software offers email alerts; some offer SMS as well. And there are also plugins available for some open-source software that add some of these features. That said, the PagerDuty team says that it’s a pretty involved process to implement these features, and they have a few that the others dont.

For one, they offer two-way SMS (you can respond to an SMS alert with a message saying you’re on the case). And it’s also SaaS, whereas other solutions generally involve uploading and installing the software yourself. Another SaaS service that offers some similar features is Wormly.

The process for getting PagerDuty working with your system varies a bit depending on your setup. If you’re using Nagios (which is quite popular), PagerDuty offers a plugin that should work seamlessly. The service also recently launched an API feature that lets you use any service that can make an API call. And if that isn’t an option, you can just have your monitoring system send alert emails to PagerDuty, which can in turn send SMS/Voice alerts according to the rules you’ve set up.

Pricing for PagerDuty runs $12 a month for a single user, and runs $300/month for a bigger team (there are also custom plans for large organizations).

PagerDuty was founded by ex-Amazon employees, who say that as engineers they were using a similar system that was built in-house (they say that other large companies like Google have also built similar systems). They’re hoping to serve the large number of smaller businesses who could also benefit from less downtime, but don’t have the resources to build tools of their own.