Not Invented Here Syndrome and Dark Debt: The PagerDuty Story

Thursday, 30 August, 2018 - 11:0011:35

Aish Raj Dahal, PagerDuty


The conundrum of building something in-house vs using something off-the shelf is an important one. Organizations sometime have their own set of priorities and business requirements that results in them to conclude that no off-the-shelf solution fits the bill. In such scenarios, companies and teams often end up building their own custom software. Once such custom software is written and deployed, organizations rarely consider revisiting their original choices. Proliferation of such decisions within an organization ultimately results in dark-debt.

This talk aims to talk about the important conundrum of build vs buy. I will start with the different choices that teams and organizations have when considering an in-house solution. Next, I will share a case study about PagerDuty’s journey from building a highly available Cassandra based distributed queue solution to address a specific use to using it albeit incorrectly everywhere else, to depreciating and retiring it, in favour of something off-the-shelf. Along the way, the audience will also learn about how such upgrades were done without affecting the health of production systems, and how revisiting decisions from the past helped uncover dark-debt.

Aish Raj Dahal, PagerDuty

Aish works as an Engineer at PagerDuty in San Francisco. He currently works in building PagerDuty’s event intelligence platform often dealing with fallacies of distributed computing. His recent focus has been on Elixir/OTP and building event driven microservices using Kafka and Elixir. In the past, he has worked as an early stage employee at HackerRank as well as a programmer at Goldman Sachs.

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@inproceedings {218939,
author = {Aish Raj Dahal},
title = {Not Invented Here Syndrome and Dark Debt: The {PagerDuty} Story},
booktitle = {SREcon18 Europe/Middle East/Africa (SREcon18 Europe)},
year = {2018},
address = {Dusseldorf},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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