Why email alerts from monitoring tools no longer cut it

TWO-WAY-SMSRelying on email alerts for critical for notification and escalation can be risky. SMS is a much more effective tool for IT Managers.

As an IT Manager, you probably get hundreds of emails a day, not to mention those from your monitoring systems, which “flood” your mailbox all day, every day. With so many incoming communications, it can be challenging and time consuming to distinguish between what is and isn’t important. This creates the inevitable risk that the moment a real problem arises, you might very well miss it. For most organizations, this is simply not acceptable, but it’s par for the course with email notifications. So, what’s the solution? Simple: it’s time to consider changing the way you receive your alerts.

There is a great way of getting those important high priority alerts to your mobile, which both hastens the alert and escalation process, and allows you more flexibility to manage your busy day to day duties. Instead of relying on email, which can hinder your mobility throughout the day, you can instead receive SMS text messages directly to your mobile device. Doing so is simple and fast – you can be up and running in just moments!

When you connect your monitoring systems to SMS, you can effectively streamline your entire communication process, including:

  1. Setting up your alerting/monitoring system to send notification via SMS
  2. Escalating important alerts via SMS to business users and managers
  3. Using two-way SMS notification for receiving acknowledgements and allowing quick response
  4. Preparing pre-configured processes that will allow you to remediate incidents just by replying via your mobile device

As an example, the eyeShare IT Process Automation tool can easily be integrated with Solarwinds Orion to provide closed-loop network management and process automation at one single point. This allows you to automatically remediate network problems using remote execution tasks. Workflows can be triggered by alerts, and, upon successful process execution, events are sent back to close the loop and update the status.

With this advanced integration, you can:

  • Automate all of your alert notifications and escalations to be sent via email, SMS and phone calls (all three, if desired)
  • Open, update, and close tickets in service desk tools via automated workflow
  • Reduce resolution time of network and system alerts
  • Empower Level 1 and Level 2 operators to resolve more incidents, quickly and remotely

With technology changing and improving almost daily, it’s no surprise that some of the things we once relied so heavily on over the past several years are beginning to be replaced by newer, more efficient and effective tools. While email is still widely used, it can be a dangerous game of hide and seek when it comes to managing critical notices, particularly for IT Managers and NOC Managers. Two-way SMS messaging provides a much more efficient and timely way to receive important notifications and escalations. The time for change is now, and for many busy IT professionals, the way to go is SMS.





How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes




Ayehu is going to ‪Las Vegas for ‎knowledge15! Stop by booth #731 and meet us in person!

Meet ayehu team at KNOW15Will you be at ServiceNow’s Knowledge15 conference in Las Vegas this year?  It takes place April 19-24 at the Mandalay Bay resort, and Ayehu will be there as an exhibitor (booth #731) demonstrating our latest upcoming release of eyeShare™!  We’ll be revealing some innovative new functionality, so if you get the chance, please stop by booth #731 to check it out, particularly if ServiceNow is on your radar.

Many of Ayehu’s clients have deployed ServiceNow or are thinking about it, because ServiceNow is rapidly becoming the standard for cloud services that transform enterprise service management.  Since eyeShare™ integrates with ServiceNow (Calgary, Eureka, & Dublin versions), we are able to provide IT departments a closed loop process between their Service Desk application and network monitoring systems such as Solarwinds, Nagios, and Splunk.

Once a closed loop process is in place, automating the reporting, resolution, and closure of incidents within the ServiceNow ticketing system becomes a snap.

eyeShare™’s integration with ServiceNow ITSM lets you:

  • Automatically open, update, close tickets and query tables in ServiceNow
  • Leverage two-way SMS and email for event notifications and escalations
  • Accelerate the reporting, escalation, and resolution of incidents
  • Eliminate manual work and human errors
  • Ensure fully documented end-to-end processes
  • Reduce the amount of “noise” at the service desk
  • Enforce problem and change management procedures such as ticket status changes and the additions of CMDB entries
  • Easily tailor and customize integration with ServiceNow to your needs.

Hopefully we’ll see you at Knowledge15 so you can see for yourself how easily this functionality can be deployed on your own instance of ServiceNow.  Viva Las Vegas!

Meet ayehu team at KNOW15

Why Incident Management Should be The Next IT Process You Automate

Incident Management

We’re always hearing about how IT automation can revolution certain work functions, namely complex IT processes and workflows. What we don’t hear too often is how this powerful tool can also be used to streamline other important business functions. One of the best uses for automation is IT operations management, also known as incident management. If this happens to be on your list of tasks, here are some compelling reasons why you should consider implementing an automation tool.

Provides a more proactive approach to managing incidents. When you automate your event management function, all of your incidents will become more visible much earlier than if handled in the traditional way. This means that potential incidents can be addressed in a timelier manner, often before they have a chance to cause any serious harm. This benefits the entire organization.

Improves response and resolution times. Because IT personnel is able to view and manage incidents in a timelier fashion, the time of response and resolution will also naturally improve. In fact, the right automation product can reduce downtime by up to 90%.

Applies accountability and transparency. With manual event management, it’s much easier for things to slip through the cracks and team members to drop the ball. When you’ve got the right automation tool in place, however, everything from start to finish is visible and transparent. This ends the “blame game” and creates a more cohesive team environment.

Helps to prioritize and manage incoming alerts. Anyone working in event management knows the impact choosing the wrong event to address can have on operations. Automation helps to eliminate this risk by correlating and prioritizing incoming alerts. This allows IT to more effectively allocate resources so that the most critical alerts are handled first.

Reduces number of full-blown incidents. By adding a layer between event management and incident management, you are able to reduce the number of actual incidents that will need to be escalated. The lower the volume of unnecessary incidents allows IT to work smarter, which benefits the company as a whole. According to a presentation by CDW at Knowledge 14, implementing a quality event management solution resulted in a greater than 30% reduction in incident volume.

Opens the door for further IT automation in the future. By streamlining the event management process through automation, additional opportunities will begin to present themselves where automation could provide even more benefit to your organization.

Next steps…

Now that you recognize how automation can revolutionize the way you handle event management within your organization, the next step is determining the current position you are in. Conduct a needs assessment to figure out what your pain points are, and what you’re currently working with in terms of monitoring and event management. Specifically, will you need to integrate the two? This will help you know what to look for in an automation product.




eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response




How to Sell the Benefits of IT Process Automation Technology to Key Decision Makers

Pitching IT Process Automation to managementPitching IT Process Automation to management? Demonstrate the benefits and savings and you’ll have them convinced.

If you’ve ever had to pitch an idea to your manager or other key decision makers in your organization, you are probably already familiar with their many objections. It’s too expensive. We don’t have the resources. We’re just not quite convinced it’s a necessity. It’s nice to have. So on and so forth. Trying to sell the concept of IT process automation is no exception. If you’re sick and tired of wasting time on manual, repetitive tasks and are ready to convince the powers that be that it’s time to implement automation, here are a few helpful tips.

First, go over step by step the powerful benefits of IT Process Automation, as follows:

SLA Management

IT automation processes would significantly improve your team’s ability to meet and exceed SLA’s, as automated workflows can be implemented to expedite the team’s activities to restore service. This means improved operational efficiency across the board.

IT Service Management

IT automation tool can assist by implementing specific workflows to improve customer service. For example, thresholds on directory space require teams to make decisions regarding actions (i.e., delete files/logs). This process can take some time. Admins can automate the entire process including notification and reduce the decision time.

Reallocation of Workloads

Current workload of both Level 1 and Level 2 teams consist of many manual efforts that take extended periods of time. Through IT process automation tool such as eyeShare, automated human / system workflows could be implemented, freeing up personnel to be able to concentrate on service improvements instead of just concentrating on maintaining current service.

Reduction of Incidents

IT automation tool can assist in reducing incidents related to the manual effort of activities for both normal troubleshooting and maintenance. These manual procedures can be incorporated in human/system workflows to remove the human error factor that can cause critical incidents.

Decision Analysis

Improve levels of incident documentation activities, including monitoring resolutions times with adequate information for making quality decisions based on the data. Automate auditing processes to include accurate time stamps, automated assignments and ownerships, description of actions taken to restore services, and more.

Calculating ROI for IT Process Automation

Once you’ve delivered the key benefits of IT process automation, it’s time to address one of the biggest objections – cost. As with anything else, the decision makers of an organization want to be absolutely certain that they will receive an adequate return on their investment with any new venture. To effectively deliver this message, you must first plan your ROI strategy.

To be most effective, your ROI analysis should demonstrate the ability to achieve short-term results while also addressing the longer-term, strategic benefits of automation. Here are a few pointers on achieving these goals.

The basic formula for calculating task automation savings is as follows:

Time spent on a single task x Frequency/month x Cost/hour x 12 months = Yearly Savings

You can use this formula to assign a monetary value to the freed-up time of your IT personnel when automation is leveraged. This formula should be applied to each task you plan to automate so that you can add up the annual savings per task.

Once management begins to see the specific benefits along with the incredible tangible savings that can be realized through IT process automation, you’ll have them convinced.

Got the green light and ready to begin leveraging IT process automation in your organization?

Here are some tips on evaluating different ITPA tools to help you choose the right one for your business.


EBOOK: HOW TO MEASURE IT PROCESS AUTOMATION RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)




Removing ITSM limitations with IT process automation

Guest post by Michael Slabodnick – ITSM and Me

A strange thing happened last week when I sat down with a couple of coworkers to discuss the recent purchase of an IT automation tool.  We didn’t talk about the tool.  Well, we didn’t talk about it beyond a few minutes of stating “awesome, we bought it.”  Instead of discussing the software, we talked about process and strategy, and how the organization will now be forced to mature its event and incident management in order to gain the most ROI on our investment. Removing ITSM limitations with IT automation

To give you a little bit of a background, the software is called eyeShare and it was developed by a boutique software company called Ayehu (http://www.ayehu.com/).  I first came across this software over a year ago and through the wonderful world of social media (I’ll give LinkedIn credit on this one), I had a chance to meet with the Founder and CEO of Ayehu to get a personal demo on how the technology works.  The reason why I’m so excited to be part of a meeting focused on an IT tool, and not talk about the actual tool, is because this is a case where limitations have been removed, ease and flexibility have been introduced, and now people at my workplace don’t have the option of stating “we don’t have the system we need” as to why we cannot push for any process improvements.  Ok, I understand ITSM is more about the people, processes, and products, and in that order of most to least important, but let’s not ignore the fact that we do live within limitations of technology.  I’ll go on to boldly state that one of the reasons why ServiceNow is so successful (I’ve worked on the product so I’m confident in being fairly correct on this one) is because it also removes limitations and makes my job infinitely easier by changing the question of “can we do it?” into the question of “should we do it?”  That simple change in questioning now forces us to change the focus of our improvements.  Since technology is no longer in the spotlight, we only see our processes and culture as being the hindrance to success.

So here I am with two powerful and flexible tools in my wonderful world of ITSM.

Could it get any better?  Absolutely!  The best part is that eyeShare has integration with ServiceNow.  So the tool that is handling event management with automated workflow is now talking to the platform used for managing tasks, pulling metrics and running the entire ITSM program.  It’s this integration I want to emphasize as being the key to success.  While it’s possible to purchase several different tools and technologies to cover the entire gamut of IT needs, I still want a single “go to” source for assessing the current state of our processes.  In essence, I don’t mind the purchase of another product as long as it integrates nicely into our existing infrastructure without taking any resources from our staff.

So I’m wondering; where do we go from here?  The answer is easy, however the work will be difficult and cumbersome.  We now get to start classifying our events, prioritizing those classifications based on our incident management process, streamlining the event management process, and eventually throwing in some automatic ticket assignments based on CI ownership.  As is the case with all ITSM process improvements, the journey will be long and arduous, but at least I’m confident we have the right tools for the job…which is something I don’t ever want to think about.

The above blog was originally posted in Michael’s blog http://www.itilandme.com/?p=624





5 Ways to level up your service desk using it process automation




Why IT professionals should change their view of IT Service Management?

service managment

To date, IT Service Management (ITSM) has consistently been viewed as simply part of the IT infrastructure library (ITIL) processes. However, with the looming shift of IT operations from fragmented services to a more end-to-end, service-driven approach, the concept of ITSM is poised to play an increasingly critical role in business operations. In order to successfully navigate this shift toward service, IT professionals must essentially rethink what this practice is really about and how it will serve their organizations going forward.

The Original Intention of IT Service Management

When it was first developed, the practice of IT Service Management was intended to bring a more unified approach to how IT technology services were integrated with the organization as a whole. Rather than managing individual components, ITSM focused on developing a collection of best practice processes (ITIL) and using these best practices to deliver end-to-end services. Organizations would conduct ITSM audits which analyzed things such as ROI, budget adherence, and the effectiveness of communication and identifying and evaluating risk. The purpose was to identify areas that needed improvement so that IT services could be better honed to benefit the entire organization.

What’s missing?

While ITSM is still a concrete practice, in order to be truly effective it must evolve along with the changes of IT as a whole. What’s missing from the original concept of ITSM is the very end-user – the customer. Internal processes may have been improved significantly, but if these improvements don’t translate to the customer, it’s not a true victory.

How can IT professionals change their view of IT Service Management?

In order to get the most out of ITSM, people must begin to shift their perspective from strictly internal to also include external benefit. The easiest way to do this is to simply drop the “IT” from ITSM and replace it with automation. This essentially expands the benefit of ITSM from the internal operations of the enterprise to also improve the customer experience through the delivery of faster outcomes, higher quality service and at a much more attractive price. Internal processes are streamlined and made more efficient, while external service also improves. It’s a win-win.

If businesses are going to be successful in the future, they must leverage new and changing technology to truly deliver the unique and unparalleled experiences that their customers are seeking. Adjusting the concept of ITSM to incorporate IT process automation into the mix will accomplish this goal, providing the competitive advantage needed to thrive in the coming years.





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




ITSM Automation – Start Filling in the Gaps

ITSM AutomationThe nice thing about IT Service Management platforms is their comprehensiveness. Using a single, unified umbrella, you manage and integrate a range of best practices and service components – service desk, project and service portfolio management, incidents, change, configuration management and more. All of which helps to ensure that your services stay aligned with your business requirements.

But the wealth of functionality, combined with the need to support the unique processes of each organization, brings with it a challenge – filling in gaps. Beneath the wide ITSM umbrella, you’ll find that data that needs to flow from one system to another requires some human intervention or verification; such as a service desk request for a server restart that cannot be fulfilled because it first requires an authorization in the system.

ITSM Automation is a key functionally to filling in these gaps

So despite the all-inclusive ITSM approach, there are still gaps between data silos, resulting in manual work, or inefficient, slow processes. IT process automation lets you fill these gaps to accelerate processes and improve interaction between data silos. If this sounds too theoretical and farfetched, here are two pragmatic customer examples that illustrate this point.

Filling the Gap – Automate Incident Management

A healthcare organization was using full-time help desk staff to capture alerts from the monitoring system (SolarWinds) and then decide if to open trouble tickets in Service-Now. With IT process automation, the IT team can manage alerts from the SolarWinds to automatically open and update incidents in ServiceNow. The team also added some automated workflows to troubleshoot the problem and then update and close the tickets.

Filling the Gap – Automate Change and Fulfillment

A financial customer operating across multiple geographical sites was struggling with a slow response for service request fulfillment. IT personnel would open a change request in JIRA, but even if the resolution was quite simple,  the response time was still extremely slow. With IT process automation, a request in JIRA (for example, a request to restart a remote service) triggers an automated workflow, which immediately sends an email to the service owner. Upon his approval, the workflow fulfills the request (e.g., restarts the service), and updates the JIRA ticket.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




How to Integrate IT Process Automation with HP Operations Manager

Businesses across the globe are leveraging  HP Operations Manager (HPOM) software to monitor their internal IT infrastructure and consolidate fault and performance events to help identify the causes of IT incidents. HP Operations Manager is the choice for many organizations because it provides a single monitoring console for both virtual and cloud infrastructures. What many businesses don’t realize is that this highly effective tool can be enhanced to further improve response time and subsequent service levels by simply integrating it with eyeShare’s IT Process Automation (ITPA) product. Here’s how.

The eyeShare product features a convenient bi-directional integration with HP Operations Manager, which allows the end user to capture and acknowledge alerts in real-time while updating and closing alerts directly through the HPOM console. Implementation can be completed in less than 5 minutes. It’s fast, it’s simple and it’s an easy way to improve and enhance an already powerful tool.

Check this video tutorial you will learn how eyeShare’s bi-directional integration with HP Operations Manager (HPOM) can help you to manage alerts:

How it Works

The plug and play integration of eyeShare with HP Operations Manager allows businesses to automate the creation of tickets in a variety of IT Service Management tools, including HP Service Manager, ServiceNow, Remedy, and many other service desk applications. Not only does this integration improve internal and external service levels, but keeping your data up-to-date and organized also enables for continuous service improvement and helps you meet your governance and regulatory compliance requirements such as SOX, HIPAA, ITIL, etc.

By combining eyeShare’s IT Process Automation capabilities with the expert functionality of HPOM, IT professionals can easily capture and manager actionable information and workflows, accelerate responses to alerts and create automated response actions (IT process workflows) for any problems that may arise across your entire physical, virtual, or cloud IT infrastructure.

Some of the many tangible results that can be seen almost immediately following the integration of eyeShare with HPOM include the ability to:

  • Automate the capture of alerts for quicker response
  • Consolidate and organize all critical alerts
  • Assign responsibility and automatically troubleshoot (triage)
  • Immediately notify and/or escalate to the appropriate user or group
  • Execute tasks to resolve IT problems remotely

All of these things can be accomplished while still maintaining real-time updates and working via a single HP Operations Manager console.  It really doesn’t get any easier and more efficient than that!

If your business has chosen HP Operations Manager, chances are you’ve already improved and enhanced your ability to manage incidents. Why not take that achievement one step further and let Ayehu eyeShare bring your IT operations to a whole new level? Download your free trial today to get started!





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




4 Essential steps for Successful Incident Management

Automated Incident ManagementIt never hurts to go back to basics. Recently, we were surprised at the confusion of some organizations about the process of incident management, so we thought – why not to put a quick incident management primer down on paper?

For successful incident management, first you need a process – repeatable sequence of steps and procedures. Such a process may include four broad categories of steps: detection, diagnosis, repair, and recovery.

1 – Detection

Identification Problem identification can be handled using different tools. For instance, infrastructure monitoring tools help identify specific resource utilization issues, such as disk space, memory, CPU, etc.  End user experience tools can mimic user behavior and identify users’ POV problems such as response time and service availability. Last but not least, domain-specific tools enable detecting problems within specific environments or applications, such as a database or an ERP system.

On the other hand, users can help you detect unknown problems that are not reported by infrastructure or user behavior monitoring tools. The drawback with problem detection by users is that it usually happens late (the problem is already there), moreover the symptoms reported may lead you to point to the wrong direction.

So which method should you use? Depending on your environment, the usage of the combination of multiple methods and tools would be the best solution. Unfortunately, no single tool will enable detecting all problems.

Logging events will allow you to trace them at any point to improve your process. Properly logged incidents will help you investigate past trends and identify problems (repeating incidents from the same kind), as well as to investigate ownership taking and responsibility.

Classification of events lets you categorize data for reporting and analysis purposes, so you know whether an event relates to hardware, software, service, etc. It is recommended to have no more than 5 levels of classification; otherwise it can get very confusing. You can start the top level with something like Hardware / Software / Service, or Problem / Service request.

Prioritization lets you determine the order in which the events should be handled and how to assign your resources. Prioritization of events requires a longer discussion, but be aware that you need to consider impact, urgency, and risk. Consider the impact as critical when a large group of users are unable to use a specific service. Consider the urgency as high when the impacted service is of critical nature and any downtime is affecting the business itself. The third factor, the risk, should be considered when the incident has not yet occurred, but has a high potential to happen, for example, a scenario in which the data center’s temperature is quickly rising due to an air conditioning malfunction. The result of a crashing data center is countless services going down, so in this case the risk is enormous, and the incident should be handled at the highest priority.

2 – Diagnosis

Diagnosis is where you figure out the source of the problem and how it can be fixed. This stage includes investigation and escalation.

Investigation is probably one of the most difficult parts of the process. In fact, some argue that when resolving IT problems, 80% of the time is spent on root cause analysis vs. 20% that is spent on problem fixing. With more straightforward problems, Runbook procedures may be very helpful to accelerate an investigation, as they outline troubleshooting steps in a methodical way.

Runbook tip: The most crucial part of the runbook is the troubleshooting steps. They should be written by an expert, and be detailed enough so every team member can follow them quickly. Write all your runbooks using the same format, and insist on using the same terms in all of them. New team members who are not familiar yet with every system will be able to navigate through the troubleshooting steps much more easily.

Following the runbook can be very time consuming and lengthen the recovery time immensely. Instead, consider automating the diagnostic steps by using run book automation software. If you build the flow cleverly and weigh in all the steps that lead to a conclusion, automating the diagnostics process will give you quick answers, and help you decide what your next step is.

Escalation procedures are needed in cases when the incident needs to be resolved by a higher support level.

3 – Repair

The repair step, well… it fixes the problem. This may sometimes involve a gradual process, where a temporary fix or workaround is implemented primarily to bring back a service quickly.  An incident repair may involve anything from a service restart, a hardware replacement, or even a complex software code change. Note that fixing the current incident does not mean that the issue won’t recur, but more on that issue in the next step.

 In this case too, straightforward repairs such as a service restart ,a disk cleanup and others can be automated.

4 – Recovery

The recovery phase involves two parts: closure and prevention.

Closure means handling any notifications previously sent to users about the problem or escalation alerts, where you are now notified about the problem resolution. Moreover closure also entails the final closure of the problems in your logging system.

Prevention relates to the activities you take, if possible, to prevent a single incident from occurring again in the future and therefore becoming a problem. Implement two important tools to help you in this task:

RCA process (Root Cause Analysis) The purpose of the RCA process is to investigate what was the root cause that led to the service downtime. It is important to mention that the RCA process should be performed by the service owners, who are not necessarily the ones who solved the specific incident. This is an additional reason why incident logging is so important – the information in the ticket is crucial for this investigation process.

And finally, Incident reports – while this report will not prevent the problem from occurring again, it will allow you to continually learn and improve your incident management process.





How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes




How to integrate SolarWinds with ServiceNow in less than 5 minutes

A while back, we shared some helpful tips on how IT process automation can be integrated seamlessly with ServiceNow. This program, along with its counterpart SolarWinds, are holding firm as leaders of the pack when it comes to network monitoring and IT service management systems. Ayehu is pleased to announce that you will now have the ability to integrate v  both of these systems with our eyeShare product for even more enhanced alert and service ticket management.

How it works…

Integrate SolarWinds helps to manage the alert management piece of the puzzle, with eyeShare providing a way to close the loop in the process. Incoming alerts from SolarWinds automatically trigger workflows in eyeShare, which are then returned and updated upon successful execution. ServiceNow comes into play on the service ticket end of things. When integrated with eyeShare, incident management becomes more accurate and efficient because reporting, resolution and closure is all automated.

You can view a step-by-step video tutorial on how to integrate eyeShare with both SolarWinds and ServiceNow in less than 5 minutes:

 

The integration of all three systems…

eyeShare extends SolarWinds’ network performance monitoring capabilities using its out-of-the-box, two-way integration. You can execute project workflows triggered by SolarWinds alerts to respond to and resolve issues faster. After integrating these two systems together, you can then also incorporate the next step, which is the ticketing process through ServiceNow. When SolarWinds identifies an incident, an alert is automatically generated and sent to eyeShare. This alert triggers an automated workflow to be activated. Part of the workflow involves verifying if there is, in fact, an incident that warrants an action. If there is, eyeShare will automatically open a ticket in ServiceNow. Once the incident is resolved, the alert will disappear from SolarWinds, the ticket in ServiceNow will be closed and the incident will be closed in eyeShare.

 

Advantages…

By integrating eyeShare with SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) and automating cross-platform IT tasks in an easy and intuitive way, you can:

  • Reduce resolution time
  • Cut down on ‘noise’ of alerts
  • Better manage the reporting, escalation and resolution of critical incidents
  • Deploy important changes
  • Ensure fully documented, end-to-end processes

Forward-thinking enterprises are seeing the value in using both SolarWinds and ServiceNow to help better manage the alert and ticket management processes. eyeShare now allows you to get even more out of these solutions by integrating all three systems together. The result is improved performance and a much higher level of service across the board. Ready to maximize your incident management procedure by integrating with SolarWinds and ServiceNow? Get started today!





IT Process Automation Survival Guide