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SOLVING THE ALERT DILEMMA: A step towards efficient Incident Lifestyle Management

June 20, 2023 | BY Dipayan Deb

SOLVING THE ALERT DILEMMA: A step towards efficient Incident Lifestyle Management

Incident Lifestyle Management is an important part of IT operations because it allows organizations to track and manage incidents in real-time. By using this approach, they can identify issues quickly and efficiently. It also helps them resolve issues faster by providing timely information.

An alert or notification is required for the failure of critical applications, because without these tools, organizations may not be able to detect problems until it’s too late. If there are no alerts or notifications, current production efficiency will suffer.

First of all, what is alerting?

Alerting refers to the process of setting up notifications or triggers that notify users or systems of specific events or conditions within a system or application. This can include things like error conditions, performance thresholds, security breaches, and other events that require attention or action. These alerts can be delivered through a variety of channels, such as email, SMS, or push notifications, and can be configured to be sent to specific individuals or groups based on the nature of the alert.

Why is alerting important for production support teams?

Alerting is important for production support teams because it allows them to quickly identify and respond to issues within a system or application. Without proper alerting, production support teams may not be aware of problems until they are reported by end users or until they have a significant impact on the system or application. This can lead to longer downtime and a higher risk of data loss or other negative consequences.

By setting up alerts, production support teams can proactively monitor systems and applications and receive notifications of potential problems before they become critical. This allows them to take action before the issue has a significant impact on the system or application, which can minimize downtime and reduce the risk of data loss.

Additionally, alerting can also help teams to identify patterns in the system, such as a spike of errors, that may indicate a deeper problem that needs to be addressed.

In short, alerting is a crucial tool for production support teams, allowing them to be more proactive in identifying and addressing issues, minimizing downtime and maintaining the systems and applications’ performance.

The common output of alerts is notifications.

The purpose of the notification is to inform the designated recipients of the event or condition that triggered the alert and allow them to take appropriate action. The nature of the notification can vary based on the type of alert and the urgency of the situation. A system can have proactive and event-triggered notifications. Notifications associated with early warning time (indicating a delayed stream), threshold or an actual failure effectively help the team take proactive and timely action.
A critical error that causes a system to fail may result in an immediate notification to multiple individuals, while a warning of a potential performance issue may be sent as a less urgent notification to a single individual or team. The notifications can be configured to be sent to specific individuals or groups based on the nature of the alert.

Below mentioned are some of the most common challenges in production support management faced by organizations.

  • Production support teams face a variety of challenges when it comes to their production efficiency. The most common problem is that they are forced to deal with multiple alerts and notifications from multiple sources that block the ability to resolve issues in a timely manner. This can lead to data inconsistencies and delays in issue resolution, which can have a major impact on the quality of their work.
  • The production support teams are often forced to maintain scattered documentation of processes and procedures for their projects, which makes it difficult for them to accurately record what went wrong when an issue occurs. This can lead to delays in issue resolution, leading to inconsistencies in the data.
  • Another major issue organizations face the most is the unavailability of issue resolution details of job failures since the history of such information was never maintained

Our engineers at Bitwise evaluated all the issues, and the issues we resolved include:

  • Alert the production support teams for failures of critical applications, so that they could take steps to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. We also focused on providing a direct link to open possible steps to resolve failed jobs.
  • We concentrated on immediately addressing critical job streams—especially those that can have a significant impact on the completion time of production jobs—and providing updates on how long they might be delayed.
  • Broadcasting the possible delays in SLA performance to end users via Google chat notification, so they are aware of potential delays in the predicted ETA.

Effective Alerting by Bitwise

The Bitwise smart alert notification framework provides alerts through real-time notifications and offers actionable insights that assist in effective decision-making for your business. Our highly skilled engineers at Bitwise have enabled Google Chatbot for alerting and providing relevant help to production engineers by integrating it with a monitoring and alerting system. We have configured the Chatbot to receive alerts from the monitoring system and to send notifications to the appropriate production engineers through the Google Chat platform.

Identifying critical jobs with SLOs (Service Level Objectives)- involves identifying the key processes and tasks within an organization that are essential for its operation and then setting measurable targets for the performance of these tasks (the SLOs). Once critical jobs have been identified, it is important to create SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for known historical failures. The aim is to create an organized and searchable knowledge repository that can be leveraged for quick reference. The relevant link to these SOPs is included in the failure notifications. This provides the support primaries with an easy reference to work on issue resolution, ensuring quick turnaround and minimal business impact. This helps to ensure that the organization is prepared to handle any potential issues that may arise and can respond quickly and effectively to minimize downtime and disruption.

Experts at Bitwise designed a solution framework leveraging native Google services that aligns with the client’s approved technology stack. It involves utilizing Google’s cloud-based services and tools to build a solution that meets the specific needs of the client. This approach ensures that the solution is optimized for performance, scalability, and security while also adhering to the client’s established guidelines and standards.

By creating a highly integrated solution for different alerting sources, we created a system that can collect and process data from multiple sources, such as Control-M for on-premise ETL jobs and Composer for cloud ETL pipelines. It will allow real-time monitoring and alerting for both on-premise and cloud-based ETL jobs. This allows for a unified view of the data and the ability to quickly identify and respond to any issues that may arise. The system would then be configured to send alerts to the appropriate teams or individuals based on the type and severity of the issue. Additionally, the solution includes a dashboard to display the status of the ETL jobs and pipelines, allowing teams to easily identify and troubleshoot any issues.

The impactful solution provided by Bitwise also focuses on organizing and maintaining SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) documentation for easy reference and maintenance.

Integration with a ticketing tool helps streamline incident lifecycle management which allows for seamless tracking of incidents from logging to closure. The integration also provides valuable insights and analytics on incident trends and patterns, helping to improve incident management and resolution.

One practice we implemented is to log issues along with their resolutions for meaningful insights to provide a consistent and standardized incident management process. This process includes clear guidelines and instructions for logging and reporting incidents. Additionally, the process cadence which is an integral part of the overall solution also ensures that all incident information, including the problem, resolution, and any relevant details, are consistently and thoroughly recorded for each incident. The associated SOPs are updated and expanded with any new observations and solution insights.

We created a customizable solution to include DAG logs, SOPs, and failure history, coupled with comprehensive documentation to use a centralized, digital platform that allows for easy storage, organization, and access to all of this information. The system is designed to allow for easy searching and filtering of information so that production engineers can quickly find the information they need. This system also allows for customization and flexibility so that it can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the organizations.

The aim of this article was to help the reader understand how critical alerting is to the overall stability of their incident management program. Alerts enable organizations to track and manage incidents in real time, so they can resolve them faster and identify potential issues, thereby enhancing productivity and efficiency while adhering to the Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Dipayan Deb

Dipayan Deb DELIVERY MANAGER

Specialized in enabling technology solutions, end to end Data warehouse implementation, migration of on premise Data warehouse to cloud based platforms and implementing Agile based onshore offshore delivery model

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