Evaluating xMatters Alternatives
Seconds count when mission-critical IT systems break down. Customers are accustomed to seamless experiences, and any impact on the end-user experience due to system breakdown can drive them away. In parallel, the digital estate continues to become complex, and organizations continue to grow their IT tool stack to bring efficiencies to business workflows. This builds a strong business case for companies to adopt incident response tools to drive accelerated incident response when IT systems experience outages.
xMatters is synonymous with incident response tools, and with some of its advanced features, it’s easy to see why. However, for certain use cases, it can be overkill and may add to the technical debt of a company. Rushed, biased decision-making during the tool’s adoption can lead to counterproductive workflows and inefficiencies.
If you’re in the market to adopt your first incident response tool or are just looking to switch vendors because of misalignments in expectations, you’re in for some luck. This blog presents a snapshot into several other feature-packed incident response tools that can keep your customer-facing applications running with minimum downtimes. We’ll be comparing the following tools:
Before we dive into xMatters alternatives, it is only fair to comprehensively evaluate xMatters, discuss its value offerings, and understand why customers may want to seek other alternatives.
xMatters is one of the leading providers in enterprise incident management. xMatters offers a single platform for managing an organization’s response to any major event, from IT outages to natural disasters.
xMatters’ cloud-based solution integrates with existing IT infrastructure and applications, providing a unified view of all incidents across the enterprise. It offers a full range of capabilities for managing incidents, including instant alerts and notifications, escalation rules, chat and phone support, collaboration tools for planning and executing response actions, and analytics for measuring performance against objectives.
They also offer a code-free workflow builder that can help automate key incident tasks. Low-code workflows automate time-sensitive tasks and proactively manage incidents, driving innovation at full speed. With post-incident reports, the incident team leads can drive continuous learning while preventing recurrences. While the low-code workflow is a great addition for large SRE organizations, it’s an overkill and an expensive proposition for IT organizations looking to simply automate their alert workflows and on-call management.
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PagerDuty is an alarm aggregation and dispatching service for support teams. With PagerDuty, teams are able to aggregate alerts from monitoring tools, cybersecurity solutions and cloud solutions on a single dashboard. They gain a single pane of glass view into all their incidents and have the ability to alert the right on-duty engineer when a high-priority incident is detected.
Similar to other competitors, it has all the other basic features needed to respond to an incident. However, the on-call scheduler seems less intuitive and user friendly. The other issue with their scheduler is that it doesn’t start out as “Full”. This means that when a scheduler is populated incorrectly, the team may run into situations where incidents remain unanswered.
Runbook automation is a key feature that distinguishes PagerDuty from the rest. With Runbook Automation, cloud operation teams are able to safely push automated IT workflows, eliminating repetitive, toil work. Requests can be resolved in minutes by delegating self-service task automation for cloud platforms to stakeholders. This allows cloud teams to focus on delivering value rather than wasting time on less productive tasks, such as closing tickets and fulfilling cloud requests.
Splunk automates key processes to reduce time taken to acknowledge and resolve incidents. With Splunk, incidents can be delivered to the right person based on their expertise. The tool also allows to streamline on-call schedules and escalation policies.
The responder recommendation engine differentiates it from xMatters. Splunk on-call uses machine learning to recommend responders and identify similar incidents, helping teams have the right people and information to remediate incidents. The Rule Engine adds further context to incidents by adding resources such as runbook, articles and dashboard, to accelerate incident resolution.
Datadog Incident Management
Datadog Incident Management enables DevOps teams and SREs to more effectively manage their incident response workflows from start to finish, saving time and frustration when it matters most. Users can automatically detect, triage, and resolve incidents directly in the Datadog app while consulting monitoring data from across the platform.
With Datadog, users can declare, manage and investigate incidents from multiple sources without losing any information during context switching. They can pivot from alert to chat room to timeline with no loss of information. The slack app integration presents additional collaboration opportunities for teams.
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Last, but not the least, is OnPage. Hey, that’s us! OnPage enables teams to elevate critical incidents and deliver them reliably to the on-call technician. With OnPage, silos are broken down and collaboration between cross-functional teams is facilitated to speed up incident remediation.
OnPage drives efficiencies in incident response workflows, alleviating tech burnout and alert fatigue.
Here is how OnPage empowers responders to speed up the triage process and resolve incidents quickly:
Contextual alerts: Adding context to an alert ensures the incident is actionable. By creating actionable alerts with detailed information, IT teams can positively impact their mean time to detection (MTTD) and mean time to resolution (MTTR).
Distinguishable alerts: Not all alerts are created equal or need the same level of attention. Some alerts are low priority and can be handled during normal business hours, while others are high priority and require an immediate incident response. Filter low-priority alerts so they do not wake up engineers overnight.
Keyword-based alerting: Trigger contextual, intelligent mobile alerts based on specific words found in tickets. If a string or word matches pre-set conditions, an OnPage alert is triggered and sent to the on-call responder. If conditions are not met, the on-call responder will not be disturbed.
Secure two-way messaging: OnPage’s alerting app enables engineers to securely message each other. Incident teams can enhance collaboration and break down silos without security concerns.
Digital scheduling: Use digital on-call schedules to create an equitable after-hours workload. Based on schedule configurations, OnPage will only alert the assigned or tasked on-call engineer.
Reporting insights: Post-incident reports provide insight into the IT team’s incident response performance. Detailed reports allow teams to re-strategize for future IT-related incidents.
Unlike PagerDuty, OnPage’s on-call scheduler is very user-friendly and mimics the UI of outlook.
We’ve demonstrated the value of adding incident response tools to one’s tech stack in order to keep their digital estate running smoothly. Now, while xMatters offers powerful features and capabilities, there are several other powerful alternatives that should be evaluated. They all offer unique benefits and may be best suited to deliver value in certain use cases.