Mutiny Blog

No false alarms: managing your IT with an effective alerting system

Managing the complexity of an IT organisation is not easy. While IT infrastructure has accelerated the pace, reach and agility of business, it has also introduced a huge amount of complexity into enterprises.

At its current rate, IT complexity is doubling every two years, with dramatic increases in processing power, communications bandwidth, and data storage.  Forrester research has found that 72% of the money in IT budgets is spent on ‘keep-the-lights-on’ functions such as replacing or expanding capacity and supporting ongoing operations and maintenance, whilst only 28% of the money goes toward new projects.

Managing your networks, servers and services effectively has never been more important and alerting is a critical part of managing this complexity. By ensuring we get the right message to the right person at the right time, we can deliver network performance and business continuity. It is most effective if alerts are aimed at the specialist who is concerned with the issue without bombarding them with false positives. For example, network and bandwidth issues are sent to the networking specialist, whilst server and application alerts go to the experts in those areas. 

Alerting through Mutiny can be via email, SMS/texting, “pop-up” messages, a large wallboard display or it can be integrated into your helpdesk system, triggering a ticket in advance of a problem being logged. What’s more, alerting can be changed according to shift pattern. For example, contacts can be notified via email during the day, switching to SMS when the offices are closed. 

But we also know that alerting can be a source of frustration for many IT professionals. Therefore there are a number of features in the Mutiny system to ensure only relevant and necessary alerts will get through, including: 

• Root-Cause Analysis – This feature, which is unique to Mutiny, isolates the root cause of a problem by ignoring secondary issues. For example, if connectivity is lost to a remote site, Mutiny will show only the faulty end router as being down not the other on-site systems, highlighting the real issue which needs to be fixed.  

• SMS-Text Repeats - To ensure the most severe problems are actioned, specific events can be configured to re-send text alerts periodically until action is taken or the event is resolved.

• Transient suppression – Invented by Mutiny, this trick enables you to delay the logging of an event by simply waiting a configurable number of minutes to ensure that the problem is genuine. For example, if you have a CPU-load warning at 99%, it might be that this is just a 3-minute 'spike'. Mutiny enables you to set a delay on this of, say, 10 minutes so that the alert only gets triggered if the problem is still ongoing after that length of time.

• No-Alert Periods – These are most useful when regular work such as backups or routine maintenance causes false alerts to be generated. You can configure days and times when specific periodic events from selected devices, are to be ignored. Accordingly, these alerts never get generated unless the event persists into the normal-operation time.

• Escalation - By cleverly using the Delay parameter in the alerting panels, a pattern of escalation can be enforced. You can, for example, send the initial alert to the helpdesk and then, after a delay of a suitable timeframe, escalate the alert to a supervisor or line manager.

• Thresholds and Reporting – When a device is first added to Mutiny, the thresholds for CPU load, memory and disk usage are calculated based on a number of criteria including, the type of system it is and the current values. 

Over time, these values will change and the thresholds may need to be adjusted to avoid false alerting. This is especially important for properties which end up very close to a warning threshold. Checking the historic graphing when these are noticed will allow you to find your own normal high-water marks and tweak your threshold configuration accordingly. 

In addition, Mutiny also offers a reliable SMS Gateway solution which enables your Mutiny system to send SMS alerts without the need for a telephone line, email server or Internet connection. In the event that those services are down you might not otherwise be able to send your critical alerts out of the building. 

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