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AlertOps and Icinga Integration

May 14, 18

Heard of the prebuilt integration between Icinga and AlertOps?

Icinga is an open source computer system and network monitoring application that is critical for your business.

Integrate AlertOps’ alert management platform with Icinga to receive and respond to critical alerts through email, SMS, push notification, and phone alerts. AlertOps ensures that alerts received from Icinga always reach the correct, available team member by utilizing escalation policies and on-call schedules.

You can now send alerts from Icinga to AlertOps.

  • AlertOps will automatically create an incident when a new alert is received from Icinga with an IncidentStatus status of “DOWN” – Hosts or “CRITICAL” – Services.
  • If an alert with status “DOWN” or “CRITICAL” matches an existing Open Alert, AlertOps will recognize the new alert as a duplicate and ignore the alert.
  • The alert will be recorded in the Inbound Messages table as “Mapped Appended.”
  • AlertOps will automatically close the same incident when an alert with an IncidentStatus status “UP” or “OK” is received.

These are examples of just some of the things you can do with Icinga and AlertOps.

Stop wasting time and energy on redundant tasks by connecting and integrating with over 50 of the top third party integrations for monitoring, service desk, hosting, chat tools, and more added every day. Check out our help center to learn more about our Outbound Services, Workflows, Message Rules, Custom Fields, and our Generic REST API.

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MTTD vs. MTTF vs. MTBF vs. MTTR

May 7, 18

Development and operations (DevOps) teams must measure their day-to-day progress. Otherwise, these teams won’t know how they are performing at a given moment. Worst of all, DevOps teams that lack data-driven insights risk falling behind, missing service-level agreement (SLA) requirements and encountering various service problems that could put a company, its employees and its customers in danger.

For DevOps teams, it is paramount to know which data to collect and how to evaluate it. That way, DevOps professionals can use proven metrics to track their progress over an extended period of time.

Now, let’s take a look at four key metrics every DevOps team needs to monitor.

  1. MTTD

Mean time to detect (MTTD) refers to the average amount of time it takes to discover a problem. It is used to measure the period of time between the beginning of a system outage, service malfunction or any other revenue-generating activity and the amount of time a DevOps team needs to identify this issue.

Calculating MTTD can be simple. To do so, a DevOps team will look at the total number of defects or failures and the total number of months, weeks, days or hours during which a system was not working. Therefore, if a DevOps team detects three problems over the course of four days, its MTTD is 0.75 days, or the average amount of time it took the team to discover each issue.

MTTD is a great metric for DevOps teams that want to track the effectiveness of their incident management tools and processes. If these tools and processes work properly, a DevOps team should have no trouble keeping its MTTD low. Conversely, if subpar incident management tools and processes are in place, a DevOps team may struggle to quickly detect and address incidents. And in this scenario, the consequences could be dire.

  1. MTTF

Mean time to failure (MTTF), aka “uptime,” is the average amount of time between when a DevOps team encounters a defect serious enough to cause a system to fail. It is used to monitor the status of non-repairable system components and analyze how long a component will perform in the field before it fails.

MTTF often helps a DevOps team track the status of components used in mission-critical systems. Because these systems must be operational at all times, MTTF enables a DevOps team to understand how long system components will continue to work before they need to be replaced. As a result, DevOps teams can use MTTF to prepare for system failures.

Generally, MTTF data is collected by running hundreds or thousands of system components at the same time for many hours, days or weeks. Once DevOps teams have MTTF data, they can understand the reliability of their mission-critical systems. These teams then can use MTTF data to find ways to limit the risk of costly, time-intensive system failures.

  1. MTBF

Mean time between failures (MTBF) is a reliability and availability metric. It is used to measure the ability of a system or component to perform its required functions under stated conditions for a set amount of time. Also, MTBF allows a DevOps team to measure the degree to which a system or component is operational and accessible when required for use.

To calculate MTBF, a DevOps team needs to look at the elapsed time between system failures during everyday operations. MTBF typically is measured in hours, and the average MTBF varies. For example, the MTBF of a hard disk drive may total 300,000 hours, while the MTBF for a light bulb may be around 10,000 hours.

A DevOps team should strive to keep its MTBF as high as possible – regardless of the system or component that is being measured. With MTBF data in hand, a DevOps team can accurately predict a service’s reliability and availability levels.

  1. MTTR

Mean time to repair (MTTR) refers to the time it takes to fix a failed system. It is also known as mean time to resolution. It is a measure of the average amount of time a DevOps team needs to repair an inactive system after a failure.

For example, let’s consider a DevOps team that faces four network outages in one week. If this DevOps team requires a total of 60 minutes to repair all four outages, its MTTR is 15 minutes, i.e. the average amount of time it takes to get the inactive network operational.

MTTR is a valuable metric because it allows a DevOps team to find ways to reduce or eliminate downtime – an expensive problem for organizations around the globe. A recent Information Technology Intelligence Consulting survey indicated the average cost of downtime for organizations has increased every year between 2008 and 2016. Additionally, the survey revealed 98 percent of organizations said a single hour of downtime costs $100,000, and 33 percent noted one hour of downtime costs between $1 million and $5 million.

Ultimately, the lower a DevOps team’s MTTR, the better. If a DevOps team analyzes MTTR regularly, it may be better equipped than ever before to identify potential problems that could lead to downtime.

 

Incorporate Key Metrics Into Your Day-to-Day Operations

 The aforementioned metrics are crucial, particularly for DevOps teams that want to perform their best. Yet integrating MTTD, MTTF, MTBF, MTTR and other service-level measurements into a company’s day-to-day operations sometimes can be difficult.

Lucky for you, we’re here to help you take a data-driven approach to measure service levels and ensure optimal performance. Here are five tips to help you integrate key metrics into your business’ everyday activities.

  1. Establish business goals. There is no need to use metrics just for the sake of having metrics. Instead, metrics must support your company and its short- and long-term goals. If you consider your company’s goals and how monitoring specific metrics can help you accomplish these goals, you can determine the ideal metrics to track on a day-to-day basis.
  2. Take a data-driven approach to measurement. Key performance indicators (KPIs) should empower DevOps teams with data and insights they can use to make meaningful business improvements. Thus, all KPIs must be measureable. Because if you can measure your DevOps team’s progress, you can create realistic goals and determine the best steps to achieve these goals.
  3. Deploy qualitative and quantitative KPIs. Qualitative KPIs like user feedback and quantitative KPIs such as daily active users or revenue allow you to track a DevOps team’s performance from all angles. Then, your DevOps team can use this information to map out its everyday efforts accordingly.
  4. Identify trends. A deep dive into data allows a DevOps team to find trends. With this information, a DevOps team can make data-driven predictions.
  5. Use a scorecard. A KPI scorecard makes it simple for a DevOps team to review all pertinent metrics at once.

For DevOps teams that want to get the most out of their metrics, an incident monitoring and alerting system may be beneficial too. This system allows a DevOps team to automatically track incidents. Plus, a DevOps team can utilize an incident tracking system to find out why incidents are happening, how its time and resources are being used and much more.

Getting the most out of metrics may be virtually impossible, especially for a DevOps team with limited time and resources at its disposal. Thanks to an incident management system, a DevOps team can streamline incident data collection and reporting. If you deploy a best-in-class incident monitoring system today, you could help your DevOps team generate actionable insights to drive unprecedented productivity and efficiency.

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Agile and DevOps: It’s All About Culture

Apr 23, 18

Agile is the next wave of development and operations (DevOps). Today, many DevOps teams are using agile methodologies to deploy continuous delivery (CD) processes and systems. And with an agile culture in place, DevOps teams can adapt and evolve at a moment’s notice.

An agile approach to DevOps focuses on four values from the “Agile Manifesto.” These are:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. DevOps team members must prioritize teamwork and engagement – not processes and tools – to achieve their desired results.
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation. Change is ongoing, and allocating significant time and resources to document software development and testing is counterproductive. Instead, DevOps team members should focus on quick, accurate logging for optimal software development and testing.
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. What good is software if it fails to meet a customer’s expectations? Agile emphasizes customer interactions, and DevOps teams should engage with a customer, learn about the customer’s software development goals and collaborate with this customer at each stage of the software development cycle.
  4. Responding to change over following a plan. DevOps team members must be ready to identify and correct software development problems when they happen. To do so, DevOps teams frequently use Scrums, Sprints and various DevOps tools to correct problems in real-time – regardless of the resources at their disposal.

A recent survey of DevOps professionals showed enterprise agility is increasing throughout organizations around the world and across virtually all industries. In fact, 94 percent of survey respondents said their organizations are practicing agile, and 98 percent realized benefits from practicing agile. Meanwhile, survey respondents cited the following as the top reasons for practicing agile:

  • Ability to manage changing priorities
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved project visibility

The benefits of agile can be substantial, yet some DevOps teams fail to realize agile’s full potential. In the aforementioned survey, respondents said 60 percent of their organizations’ teams are not yet practicing agile. Additionally, 80 percent indicated their organization was at or below a “still maturing” level regarding agile development practices.

To fully embrace agile, DevOps teams require consistent processes and tools for managing and measuring workflows. Organizations also must provide DevOps teams with tools to drive agile portfolio planning, project management and CD. Otherwise, DevOps teams may fail to realize the full potential of agile. Perhaps worst of all, organizations may miss out on opportunities to empower their DevOps teams with the tools they need to succeed.

 

Tips for Building a Successful Agile Culture

An agile culture won’t develop across an organization overnight. Comparatively, an organization must take a top-to-bottom approach to ensure all DevOps team members understand the benefits of agile and can incorporate agile methodologies into their day-to-day activities.

Now, let’s take a look at three tips to help you build a successful agile culture:

  1. Foster collaboration and communication. Departmental silos are prevalent in big and small organizations, and they often stifle collaboration and communication. To eliminate silos, it is essential for DevOps team members to maintain regular communication with one another and different departments throughout an organization. By providing DevOps teams member with real-time collaboration and communication tools, team members can maintain constant contact with one another and key organizational stakeholders.
  2. Build a dedicated DevOps team. A dedicated DevOps team can focus exclusively on the development and implementation of agile methodologies. This team can apply agile methodologies to alleviate software development pain points both now and in the future.
  3. Provide cross-functional training. Agile is all about removing obstacles, and with cross-functional training, DevOps team members can learn what it’s like to walk in the shoes of different organizational stakeholders. This training can help DevOps team members understand different business perspectives, and it may enable them to brainstorm unique solutions to a wide range of problems down the line.

An agile culture is a work in progress, but an open, forward-thinking approach to developing this culture can make a world of difference in any organization. If DevOps team members embrace agile, they can devote the necessary time and resources to incorporate agile methodologies into all that they do – something that may help an organization drive continuous improvements.

 

Take Agile to the Next Level with ChatOps

After a DevOps team implements agile methodologies, it may want to check out ChatOps too. Because if this team leverages ChatOps tools, it could reap the benefits of a streamlined, transparent workflow.

To better understand the importance of ChatOps, let’s consider a real world scenario. If a DevOps team uses a single platform for all of its communications, each team member needs to be logged into this platform to receive notifications. But what will happen if this team’s communication platform suddenly stops working? In this scenario, DevOps team members will be unable to keep one another up to date, and they may be unaware that their organization’s communication platform has stopped working. This could lead to significant problems, including costly, time-intensive project delays that put an organization, its employees and its customers in danger.

ChatOps prevents the aforementioned problem from happening because it links people, bots and tools in an automated and transparent workflow. Plus, ChatOps provides DevOps team members with quick, easy access to a continuous feedback loop. By doing so, ChatOps drives unparalleled collaboration and communication.

DevOps team members can seamlessly integrate ChatOps into their everyday operations as well. ChatOps tools enable DevOps team members to access critical information directly from a chat window within their day-to-day tools or platforms. This means DevOps team members won’t have to worry about connecting to different tools or platforms to stay up to date about team activities. Conversely, ChatOps provides DevOps team members with the ability to quickly and effortlessly communicate with one another from any location, at any time.

There is no shortage of ChatOps tools available to DevOps teams, either. DevOps teams can use ChatOps tools from Slack or HipChat. Various third-party ChatOps tools also are available, and these include StackStorm, Deploybot and Blockspring.

 

Why Your DevOps Team Needs ChatOps Tools

Agile methodologies are becoming exceedingly important to DevOps teams, yet some teams struggle to optimize the benefits of these methodologies. Thanks to ChatOps, DevOps teams can simplify and enhance communication and collaboration and capitalize on agile like never before.

It generally won’t take long for a DevOps team to integrate ChatOps tools into its everyday operations, and the benefits of these tools can be significant. ChatOps tools empower DevOps team members to work together and achieve common goals. They also help DevOps team members innovate, which may help an organization discover new ways to boost its productivity and efficiency.

As DevOps teams explore agile, they may want to consider ChatOps tools. By incorporating ChatOps tools into their everyday operations, DevOps teams may be better equipped than ever before to realize the full potential of agile methodologies.

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Incident Management Lifecycle Essentials

Apr 9, 18

If an incident occurs, do you know how to manage this issue from start to finish? Incident management is complex, particularly for IT professionals who face a sudden network or system outage that impacts business operations. But for IT professionals who understand the ins and outs of incident management, they can take the guesswork out of complex incidents.

In many instances, IT professionals can follow a standard incident lifecycle to identify and resolve problems. This lifecycle includes six stages:

  1. New: A service desk has received information about an incident but has not yet assigned it to a service desk agent.
  2. Assigned: An incident is assigned to a service desk agent.
  3. In-Progress: A service desk agent is searching for ways to resolve an assigned incident.
  4. On-Hold: Incident response is temporarily suspended; this may occur if a user or third-party requires additional information and ensures service-level agreement (SLA) response requirements continue to be met.
  5. Resolved: A service desk verifies an incident has been resolved and an affected service has returned to SLA levels.
  6. Closed: An incident is fully resolved, and no further actions are required.

The incident lifecycle seems simple, but a diligent team of IT professionals must be ready to follow each step. Without proper incident management and response, a minor incident may turn into a major catastrophe. And as a result, this incident could cause severe problems for a business, its employees and its customers.

 

A Closer Look at the Standard Incident Management Process

In addition to the incident management lifecycle, many incident management teams follow a standard process to limit the impact of downtime, outages and other critical incidents. This process includes the following steps:

  1. Identification: Involves the initial detection of an incident.
  2. Logging: Involves tracking incident information and logging incident details, including the name of the person reporting an incident, the date and time of an incident and other pertinent information.
  3. Categorization: Involves the placement of an incident into an appropriate category and subcategory.
  4. Prioritization: Involves incident assessment and an evaluation of an incident’s impact on a business and its key stakeholders.
  5. Diagnosis: Involves the creation of an incident hypothesis and what may be done to resolve an incident.
  6. Escalation: Involves requests for additional support; front-line support teams are required to gather and log incident information for immediate escalation.
  7. Resolution: Involves the use of necessary steps and processes to resolve an incident.
  8. Closure: Involves the return of an incident to a service desk for closure. After an incident is closed, a service desk will notify all affected stakeholders.

To ensure full incident resolution, an incident management team must define the steps required to handle an incident, along with the sequence and responsibilities of all parties involved. Then, when an incident occurs, the team can assign a category and priority level to an incident and provide status updates to stakeholders that describe actions it is taking to close or resolve the incident. If incidents frequently reach mission-critical status, an incident management team may want to invest in an incident management platform to automate processes and reduce the time it takes to resolve issues.

 

Introducing the ITIL Incident Management Lifecycle

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) provides a framework of best practices for delivering IT services, including an incident management lifecycle designed to help IT professionals quickly restore service operations.

ITIL’s incident management lifecycle includes a set of instructions that encourages IT professionals to work together to ensure effective IT service delivery. Plus, the lifecycle is flexible, and it can be structured in a way that meets the needs of all organizations, regardless of size or industry.

Now, let’s take a closer look at each stage of the ITIL incident management lifecycle.

  1. Incident Identification

At this point, IT professionals identify an incident. The incident identification phase sometimes occurs before an incident affects end users. Or, in other instances, IT professionals find out about an incident after an impacted user reports it to a service desk.

The incident identification phase kicks off the incident management lifecycle, and as soon as IT professionals learn about an incident, they must find ways to minimize its impact. Otherwise, an incident may lead to downtime, outages and other costly, time-intensive problems that put a company, its customers and its employees in danger.

  1. Incident Logging

The incident logging stage involves the classification and prioritization of incidents. First, an incident is logged with relevant details and classified based on appropriate categories. This enables the incident to be assigned and escalated to the right IT team members. The incident then is assigned priority based on how, when and by whom it will be handled. Priority is determined based on urgency – such as the number of users that an incident affects or an incident’s potential impact on a business and its key stakeholders – and how quickly it must be addressed.

IT professionals require fast, efficient incident logging and tracking, or these professionals risk missing out on crucial incident details. Perhaps worst of all, if incidents are not logged properly, a small incident may quickly get out of hand. Because if the right IT professionals fail to receive incident alerts or do not prioritize a critical incident, a business, its customers and its employees may suffer the consequences.

  1. Incident Investigation and Diagnosis

IT professionals will investigate an incident to find out exactly what happened and how the problem can be mitigated. These professionals may use their skills and expertise, information from past incidents and other resources to diagnose an incident. Then, IT professionals can determine the best course of action to resolve the problem.

There is no surefire cause of all incidents. This means IT professionals must review all aspects of an incident to diagnose the issue. Also, IT professionals often work together to brainstorm potential incident solutions. 

  1. Incident Assignment or Escalation

Generally, a service desk technician is the first to respond to an incident. If he or she is unable to resolve the incident, second- or third-level support staff may be required for full resolution.

A service desk technician strives to do everything possible to resolve an incident. Despite his or her best efforts, however, additional support staff may be needed. In this scenario, a business requires escalation protocols to ensure an incident alert is escalated to the right IT professionals, at the right time. Furthermore, an alert monitoring system with automatic escalations may be used to speed up the escalation process. This system automatically escalates incidents based on who is available, enabling second- or third-level support staff to quickly respond to escalations.

  1. Incident Resolution

After IT professionals discover an incident solution, they will implement the solution and test it accordingly. This ensures a solution delivers the desired results and helps a company limit the effects of downtime or an outage.

Ultimately, comprehensive testing allows IT professionals to determine whether a solution enables a company to fully manage an incident. If tests reveal an incident solution fails to deliver the desired results, IT professionals must consider alternatives.

  1. Incident Closure

When an incident is fully resolved, the issue is closed. A service desk technician must ensure all incident details are properly tracked. With this information at their disposal, IT professionals may be better equipped than ever before to speed up and improve future incident management and response.

Additionally, IT professionals often look back at an incident and try to learn from it. IT professionals frequently search for ways to enhance their incident management processes and systems. Therefore, IT professionals must perform diligent incident tracking and collect as much information about an incident as they can. Incident details may prove to be essential, as they can help IT professionals find innovative ways to bolster their incident management processes and systems.

  1. User Satisfaction Survey

A user satisfaction survey enables IT professionals to obtain actionable feedback following an incident’s closure. It also helps IT professionals collaborate with customers, employees and other key stakeholders who may have been impacted by an incident and find out how they felt about an IT team’s incident management efforts.

IT professionals often use phone or online surveys to collect user feedback. ITIL notes IT professionals should always explain the purpose of a user satisfaction survey, randomly distribute it, keep the survey short and clearly state all survey questions. This ensures IT professionals can make it simple for survey respondents to share their feedback. Moreover, IT professionals should evaluate user satisfaction survey results, share them with one another and use the results to drive ongoing incident management process and system improvements.

The ITIL incident management lifecycle offers a valuable guide for IT professionals. Yet the lifecycle alone is merely a starting point for IT professionals who want to streamline their incident management efforts.

Using an alert monitoring system in combination with the ITIL incident management lifecycle can make a world of difference for IT professionals. An alert tracking system helps IT professionals collect incident data and monitor an incident’s progress. The system also enables IT professionals to maintain consistent communications with one another until an incident is closed. And once an incident is resolved, IT professionals can produce reports and obtain the insights they need to drive meaningful incident management improvements.

Take advantage of an alert monitoring system and the ITIL incident management lifecycle. Together, these tools can help IT professionals enhance their incident management efforts both now and in the future.

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Why ITSM is Crucial

Mar 14, 18

IT service management (ITSM) refers to the management of IT services that a company uses to deliver value to customers. It involves everything from planning and managing IT system changes to ensure that these changes don’t disrupt a business’ day-to-day operations to fixing IT problems when they arise. ITSM also requires IT teams to look beyond their technical expertise and find innovative ways to manage all of the IT services at their disposal.

Ultimately, there are many reasons why ITSM is crucial for businesses of all sizes and across all industries. These reasons include:

1. ITSM drives IT efficiency.

In some instances, businesses use third-party vendors that provide cloud services, managed services and other technical services. Working with a variety of third-party vendors helps businesses spread out risk. At the same time, keeping track of all IT activities can be exceedingly difficult due to the fact that different IT tasks are performed by different vendors at different times. And if even a single IT task gets missed along the way, a business could suffer an outage.

ITSM frequently helps a business build an effective IT strategy. With this plan in place, a business can simplify the management of all of its IT services. And as a result, this business can limit the risk of outages, downtime and other potentially devastating IT incidents.

2. ITSM promotes business alignment.

Specialized IT services are available that are designed exclusively for certain aspects of IT. For example, a business may deploy cloud storage services to secure its sensitive data in the cloud, along with managed security services to identify and address cyber risks. There is no shortage of best-in-class IT services available, yet getting these services to work in combination with one another sometimes is difficult. Thankfully, there’s ITSM, which promotes service alignment across a company.

ITSM requires IT managers to consider IT services, how they work and whether they correspond to a company’s overall strategy prior to deployment. That way, IT managers can avoid the risk of implementing IT services that fail to support a business’ goals. Conversely, IT managers will perform a full analysis of IT services, weigh their pros and cons and determine which services can be seamlessly integrated into a company’s everyday operations.

3. ITSM supports regulatory compliance.

IT teams often are tasked with managing large amounts of critical data. Meanwhile, for IT teams that work in highly regulated industries like financial services or healthcare, these teams also must comply with various regulatory guidelines. And if IT teams fail to maintain compliance, the consequences could be severe for a business, its employees and its customers.

Let’s face it – no business wants to be the next Equifax, Target or other globally recognized brand to suffer a data breach. Fortunately, there’s ITSM, which helps businesses prioritize regulatory compliance and data security. ITSM promotes increased visibility and control of data management processes and systems. It enables IT managers to follow regulatory guidelines for data management and security, and as such, limit the risk that a company will suffer compliance violations.

4. ITSM reduces the incident lifecycle.

Reducing the incident lifecycle is a top priority for many businesses. If IT teams understand incident patterns and trends, they may be better equipped than ever before to stop these problems from happening. Perhaps best of all, IT teams can use incident data to learn from past mistakes and speed up incident response. This may help a business provide better service to its customers, as well as stop incidents that otherwise may prevent a company from achieving its goals.

ITSM helps IT teams collect and analyze incident data and learn from it consistently. It generally leads IT teams to establish metrics to learn about the incident lifecycle and find ways to reduce it. Plus, it fosters collaboration and encourages IT team members to work together to understand why incidents occur.

5. ITSM drives customer satisfaction.

There is a strong correlation between customer satisfaction and revenue growth. If customers are satisfied with a business, they may choose this company over others. On the other hand, customers who encounter frequent service problems with a business are likely to explore alternatives.

ITSM is a primary driver of customer satisfaction, and for good reason. If IT teams allocate the necessary time and resources to monitor and manage IT services, they can lower the risk of incidents. This means customers won’t have to worry about service interruptions or other problems. Conversely, customers can receive outstanding support from a company, and this business can boost its customer satisfaction levels both now and in the future.

Going forward, ITSM will continue to play an important part in the success or failure of businesses around the globe. If a company uses a state-of-the-art alert monitoring system in conjunction with ITSM tools, this business could take its ITSM efforts to new heights.

 

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How to Make Your IT Team More Proactive

Feb 26, 18

When it comes to network security, the best case scenario is that an IT team identifies a threat, and immediately acts to mitigate damage caused by the threat, eliminate the threat from the network, and then close the point of attack to prevent future incidents.

This is how a proactive IT team works, and it’s the best approach for optimizing network security, minimizing system downtime, and reducing lost revenue.

Cyber security costs companies trillions of dollars worldwide each year in lost revenue from:

  • Compromised intellectual property.
  • Leaked company and employee data.
  • Reputation damage.
  • Security technology and service costs.

Unfortunately, many IT teams are still taking a reactive approach to network security. To help you understand how the reactive approach contributes to the massive amount of revenue lost to cyber attacks each year, here’s a side-by-side comparison of the two approaches:

If malware infiltrates a company’s network, it may take only minutes for the network to crash. When the network shuts down, a reactive IT team responds accordingly to the attack. The IT team will work quickly to restore the network. But for employees and customers who depend on this network, most of the damage is already done since the network outage interrupts their everyday activities. Each minute the network is down costs the company money in missed revenue generation opportunities, or interruption of service costs. Worst of all, there’s no guarantee the IT team can immediately address the outage and ensure it won’t happen again. This can significantly increase network downtime and leave the network vulnerable to further infiltration.

Now, let’s consider how a proactive IT team would respond to the same scenario. A proactive IT team deploys tools designed to preemptively track malware and other cyber threats by monitoring for abnormal network behavior that gives queues that an infiltration is going to happen, or is in progress. As soon as these tools identify the initial signs of a cyberattack, IT team members are notified. Then, team members can work together to stop a cyberattack before it spreads across a network, thereby preventing a network shutdown. Preventing an attack rather than repairing one can save a company many times the cost of the tracking and alert tools used by proactive IT teams.

A proactive IT team prioritizes communication and understands the importance of keeping team members informed through all stages of a critical incident. As such, a proactive IT team uses state-of-the-art incident management and alert monitoring tools to establish and maintain consistent communication.

Ultimately, an alert tracking system provides the capabilities that IT teams need to operate proactively. These capabilities include:

1. Real-Time Collaboration Capabilities

An alert tracking system empowers IT team members to stay in touch with one another across multiple communication platforms. The system drives real-time collaboration and ensures that IT team members can work together to resolve incidents in their early stages.

With real-time collaboration capabilities, IT team members can use an alert monitoring system to send and receive notifications via the collaboration tools that many companies already have in place, like Slack and HipChat. That way, IT team members can resolve incidents faster than ever before by getting the right people involved and enabling them to address issues in real-time, without the added cost or complication of an additional communications platform. 

2. Automatic Escalations 

An alert management system offers automatic escalations and sends messages to IT team members until an alert is assigned or closed. Custom escalations also can be set up for multiple IT teams within a business, and alerts can be automatically escalated to each team’s manager or manager group.

Additionally, alert tracking software provides workflows to automate systems integrations, such as callbacks to ticketing software or forward flows to open and close tickets. Workflows streamline the process of notifying key stakeholders based on events and reduce incident response times. 

3. Alert Aggregation 

Alert aggregation is paramount to limiting alert fatigue, a problem that often plagues IT teams. Alert fatigue occurs when an IT team is inundated with thousands of noncritical alerts each day. This typically causes IT team members to tune out notifications, and as a result, ignore critical incidents.

Alert monitoring software with alert aggregation capabilities enables IT teams to establish message rules and workflows. It gives teams the flexibility to send reminders to incident owners at regular intervals and trigger notifications to key stakeholders. By doing so, the system enables IT teams to change the control process needed to resolve a major incident without causing alert fatigue, so IT teams never ignore critical alerts. 

4. Integrations

Integrations connect an IT team to monitoring systems, chat software, and service desk applications. They speed up IT incident response and keep key stakeholders informed until an incident is resolved.

Furthermore, no-code integrations are available that can be configured via open application programming interfaces (APIs). These integrations are easy to deploy—even for IT professionals with minimal programming expertise—and minimize upfront and cyber security overhead costs.

Shifting an IT team from reactive response to proactive operation requires hard work and patience. Deploying a best-in-class incident management and alert monitoring system kick starts the development of proactive operating procedures, and quickly builds a proactive IT team. The right alert monitoring system speeds up IT team incident management and response.

Investing in an incident management and alert monitoring system not only prevents revenue loss due to network downtime; it also helps companies get more value out of their investment in their IT teams.

Click here to learn more about proactive cyber security solutions and help your IT teams start working proactively.

 

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Collaboration: The Key to Address IoT Issues

Feb 12, 18

Does your business use Internet of Things (IoT) effectively? If not, it could be missing out on opportunities to boost its productivity, increase its revenues and achieve its immediate and long-term goals.

IoT is a system of interconnected devices; these devices can exchange data with one another over a network that requires no human interaction. Many organizations are leveraging IoT devices, aka “smart” or “connected” devices, to keep pace with rivals in a fierce global marketplace. Additionally, IoT devices are becoming top choices for consumers. From the Amazon Echo hands-free speaker to the Roomba robot vacuum, connected devices are transforming the way consumers connect with the world around them.

Don’t expect the push for IoT devices to slow down any time soon. Technology research firm Gartner estimated 8.4 billion connected devices were in use worldwide last year. Gartner also projects business spending on connected device hardware and applications will reach nearly $3 trillion by 2020.

What Are the Benefits of IoT?

The benefits of IoT are significant. Some of the reasons why organizations are choosing IoT devices include:

  • IoT devices make it easy to automate costly, time-consuming and mundane tasks. Smart devices can perform both simple and complex tasks on their own. As such, organizations can deploy IoT devices to automate assorted tasks, leading to increased productivity and efficiency, fewer mistakes and reduced operating costs.
  • IoT devices drive improved decision-making. Smart devices provide organizations with relevant, real-time data and insights to help business leaders make informed decisions.
  • IoT devices help organizations boost their revenues. In addition to the cost and time savings provided by smart devices, these gadgets can help organizations quickly develop and launch superior products, services and systems.

Best of all, IoT devices foster collaboration among organizations of all sizes and across all industries. The devices enable business professionals to stay in constant contact with one another. Thus, IoT devices may help organizations build collaborative work environments.

What Are the Challenges Associated with IoT?

Like any new idea or technology, IoT is a work in progress. Some of the challenges associated with IoT devices include:

  • Data Complexity: Structured and unstructured data is readily available to organizations, yet analyzing this information and transforming it into actionable insights remains an uphill climb.
  • Security and Privacy: As the sheer volume of data increases, the threats associated with protecting this information and keeping it safe from cybercriminals are increasing in size, severity and volume.
  • Business Buy-In: Educating C-suite leaders and other business personnel about IoT, how IoT devices work, and the benefits associated with smart devices is difficult, particularly for organizations with limited budgets and resources.

IoT is evolving, and business professionals are responsible for keeping pace with it. Failure to do so may cause the aforementioned challenges to put an organization, its customers and its employees at risk. Worst of all, these challenges may go unresolved if an organization fails to prioritize collaboration.

How Can Collaboration Help Organizations Resolve IoT Issues?

When it comes to resolving IoT issues, collaboration is key for many reasons, such as:

  • Collaboration helps organizations transform goals into accomplishments. Research shows business professionals who share information and communicate with one another are more likely than others to accomplish everyday business goals. Meanwhile, IoT devices ensure business professionals can keep one another up to date until tasks are completed.
  • Collaboration promotes flexibility. Let’s face it – business professionals sometimes come up with the best ideas outside of an office environment. Thanks to IoT devices, business professionals can discuss complex issues from any location, at any time. Therefore, remote workers around the globe can work together to solve complex problems – all without being confined to an office.
  • Collaboration simplifies communication. The days of sending a single email or text message to get in touch with a business colleague are over. Now, IoT devices empower business professionals to take advantage of multi-modal communications. The devices ensure business professionals can simultaneously send emails, SMS messages and other notifications to the right people, at the right time, every time. As a result, smart devices help business professionals receive instant notifications that can lead to better, faster results.
  • Collaboration reduces the risk of integration problems. Integrating IoT devices across a business should be simple, yet getting all departments on the same page may prove to be overwhelming. Collaboration reduces the potential of integration problems, as it helps business professionals work together to identify and address such issues early in the deployment cycle. This means business professionals in multiple departments can work together to understand the root causes of implementation issues and brainstorm potential solutions. Then, all departments will be able to reap the benefits of IoT devices for an extended period of time.
  • Collaboration eliminates guesswork. Even a single missed communication may make it tough for an organization to enjoy the full benefits of IoT. For example, if an IT team member fails to receive a notification about a security flaw, the problem may escalate. If this issue goes unaddressed over the course of minutes, hours or days, it may even lead to an organization-wide breach. Collaboration minimizes the risk of missed notifications, and for good reason. It drives business professionals to work together to achieve common goals, thereby limiting the possibility of downtime, outages and other IT issues.

IoT presents both opportunities and challenges for organizations. How an organization approaches collaboration may dictate its success with IoT implementations.

If an organization prioritizes the development of a collaborative culture, it may be better equipped than others to benefit from IoT. This organization will deploy processes and systems to teach employees about IoT, its benefits and risks and how to optimize the value of IoT devices. Furthermore, the organization can deploy alert escalation and incident management software that empowers IT teams to identify, mitigate and track incidents like never before.

Deploying alert monitoring software offers a great starting point for organizations that are ready to leverage IoT devices. This software helps IT teams establish workflows, monitor data related to downtime, outages and other incidents and much more. It even allows IT teams to set the foundation for collaboration at all levels of an organization by empowering team members to maintain ongoing communications on various platforms.

Take advantage of alert escalation and incident management software. By doing so, your organization can move one step closer to building a collaborative work environment and capitalizing on all IoT has to offer.

 

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Key Incident Management Predictions for 2018

Jan 15, 18

2018 has arrived, and many IT professionals likely are hard at work mapping out their incident management strategies for the new year. As IT professionals search for ways to limit downtime and outages in 2018, it may be best to understand which key trends are worth watching in the months to come.

To help you prepare for the new year, let’s take a look at three incident management predictions for 2018.

  1. Business leaders will prioritize automation.

Few business leaders have significant time and resources at their disposal. Meanwhile, the costs associated with incident management are on the rise, a trend that appears likely to continue in the foreseeable future.

Let’s not forget about the shortage of talented IT professionals available to businesses, either. Global employers rank IT roles among the most difficult jobs to fill, according to a survey of 42,300 companies conducted by workforce solutions provider ManpowerGroup. Companies big and small constantly compete for top talent, and today’s business leaders must find innovative ways to differentiate their respective organizations from the competition. Otherwise, business leaders risk missing out on top talent, which may cause their respective companies to fall behind rivals.

Ultimately, automation can help business leaders reduce the risk of downtime and outages without breaking their budgets. Incident management software with automatic escalation capabilities, for example, allows IT professionals to set up workflows to automatically escalate alerts to a manager after a set period of time – even while on-call staff members are still being alerted. This ensures fast, efficient incident response and enables IT professionals to further minimize the risk of lengthy downtime and outages.

2. Collaboration will drive the top businesses.

A recent Stanford University study revealed individuals who work together reported higher engagement levels, lower fatigue levels and higher overall success rates than those who worked alone. This indicates collaboration is paramount, particularly for IT professionals who want to achieve the best-possible results.

Collaboration may serve as a top priority for departments across a business, including incident management. In fact, IT professionals who work together may be better equipped than ever before to stop incidents before they happen.

Of course, collaboration and communication go hand-in-hand. Without the right communication platforms in place, IT professionals are unlikely to accomplish their day-to-day goals.

An alert management system that promotes real-time collaboration and communication could make or break a company’s incident management strategy. And if IT professionals can quickly and effortlessly keep one another up to date in a crisis, they should have no trouble working together to resolve an incident.

3. Role-based security will come into focus.

Insider threats are becoming major problems for businesses around the globe. Yet few companies understand what it takes to identify and address such issues.

In 2018, role-based security may come into play. If businesses can track employee activities across internal systems, these companies can hold workers accountable for their actions. Perhaps most important, companies that deploy role-based security measures can learn about assorted security threats and take the necessary steps to prevent these problems from escalating.

Role-based security is an important feature to consider relative to incident management software too. The ideal alert management software makes it simple to assign IT professionals to specific security roles as needed. That way, business leaders can leverage this software to limit user actions based on their roles, receive notifications any time user security changes are made and much more.

2018 should be a year to remember for all the right reasons. However, subpar incident management software can put a major strain on a company’s time and resources. The software may even cause IT professionals to miss important alerts related to downtime, outages and other critical incidents.

Don’t let critical incidents get the best of your business in 2018 and beyond. Deploy an effective incident management and alerting system today, and your company can get the help it needs to control critical incidents before they get out of hand.

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5 Tips for Setting Up a Modern CI/CD Pipeline

Jan 2, 18

A continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) pipeline is a software strategy that empowers organizations to accelerate the delivery of new features to end users. This pipeline for software development drives automation. With a CI/CD pipeline in place, software developers ensure code is automatically tested any time it is changed. Thus, software developers can capitalize on unparalleled quality control and automation to keep pace in a fast, agile global marketplace.

Of course, a CI/CD pipeline can make a world of difference relative to product development too. If an organization develops an effective CI/CD pipeline, it should have no trouble managing the flow of information between different systems. Perhaps most important, this organization can automate data communication, leading to faster, more efficient product development than ever before.

Let’s not forget about the importance of a CI/CD pipeline for DevOps teams, either. Thanks to a this pipeline, a DevOps team can establish continuous delivery and flow of information. Therefore, this DevOps team can prioritize assignments and alerts.

Building a modern CI/CD pipeline is no small feat. Fortunately, we’re here to help you craft an effective CI/CD pipeline that ensures your DevOps team can maximize its productivity.

Now, let’s take a look at five tips to help you create a modern CI/CD pipeline.

  1. Prioritize Team Management

If an outage occurs, you need to be able to immediately notify various DevOps team members. However, an ineffective CI/CD pipeline may make it tough to ensure the right DevOps team members are notified as quickly as possible.

Ultimately, it helps to prioritize team management as you search for ways to enhance your CI/CD pipeline. If you establish an effective CI/CD pipeline, you can make it easy for DevOps team members to manage alerts, create service tickets and much more.

Alert escalation and incident management software may prove to be a key part of a CI/CD pipeline. This software empowers DevOps team members to stay in contact with one another until an incident is fully resolved. Plus, the software offers instant access to on-call schedules and alerts via web or mobile apps, ensuring DevOps team members can quickly respond to notifications.

  1. Simplify Communication

Oftentimes, all DevOps team members will receive a message, even if the notification is irrelevant to certain recipients. When this happens, some DevOps team members may start to ignore certain notifications. And over time, alert fatigue may put an organization, its brand reputation and its revenues at risk.

Alert fatigue occurs when DevOps team members are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of alerts and begin to ignore critical notifications. As such, it may lead DevOps team members to overlook alerts related to downtime and outages.

To create a modern CI/CD pipeline, DevOps teams need fast, efficient communications. Because if DevOps team members struggle to stay in touch with one another, an organization, its employees and its customers may suffer the consequences.

State-of-the-art tools are available to help DevOps teams ensure the right team member gets the right messages time and time again. For example, DevOps teams can use alerting and incident management software to see who is available to respond if a critical incident occurs. As a result, DevOps teams can use this software to maintain constant communication to limit the impact of downtime and outages.

  1. Connect Your Systems

A DevOps team may use a wide range of systems on a daily basis. Yet making it simple for DevOps team members to leverage these systems in conjunction with one another can be difficult.

Typically, a modern CI/CD pipeline empowers DevOps team members to connect systems and create message flows between them. The pipeline must ensure a DevOps team can automate data communication, regardless of whether this team uses HipChat, Jira, Slack or other collaboration tools.

The right alert escalation and incident management software offers a combination of pre-built and outbound integrations. By doing so, the software enables DevOps teams to standardize their alert notification flows and responses and view all alerts in a single location. DevOps teams can even use the software to create two-way integrations and workflows.

  1. Customize Your Configuration

The DevOps team at a mid-sized business is unlikely to have the budget and resources of the DevOps team at a major corporation. At the same time, these two respective DevOps teams are unlikely to have identical CI/CD pipelines too.

A modern CI/CD pipeline should be customized to the needs of a DevOps team. If a DevOps team considers its day-to-day responsibilities, it can develop a CI/CD pipeline to manage these tasks.

Furthermore, a DevOps team can use alert escalation and incident management software to customize its CI/CD pipeline. With this software, a DevOps team can tailor its communications to its team members. The software also ensures DevOps team members can receive loud alerts (email, SMS, phone and push notifications) for critical-priority situations and quiet alerts (email notifications) for low-priority situations.

  1. Perform Regular Testing

A CI/CD pipeline generally produces metrics that a DevOps team must analyze. Otherwise, if a DevOps team fails to perform regular data analysis, it risks missing out on opportunities to boost its productivity and efficiency.

It usually is a good idea to look beyond “basic” metrics. A DevOps team that looks closely at all of the information at its disposal can identify patterns and trends within the data itself. Then, the DevOps team can use this information to understand why problems are happening and brainstorm solutions to these issues.

Periodic testing can have far-flung effects on a DevOps team as well. Testing ensures a DevOps team can identify potential issues and correct them before they escalate, thereby reducing the risk of costly, time-intensive downtime and outages.

Software that delivers incident alerting and management capabilities and reporting and analytics capabilities can help DevOps teams get the most out of data. This software enables DevOps teams to track service-level agreement (SLA) violations, average incident resolution time and other critical metrics on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual basis. That way, DevOps teams can assess contractors, adjust staffing levels and budget properly.

A modern CI/CD pipeline is essential for DevOps teams. It helps these teams stay on track with day-to-day tasks and achieve the best-possible results. On the other hand, few DevOps teams understand what it takes to maximize the value of their CI/CD pipeline. Without the right software to track alerts and incidents, it may be virtually impossible for DevOps teams to do just that.

When it comes to creating a modern CI/CD pipeline, alert escalation and incident management software is paramount. This software enables DevOps team members to communicate with one another and quickly address downtime and outages. If a DevOps team incorporates software to monitor alerts and analyze incidents into its CI/CD pipeline, it can further speed up and improve its everyday workflows.