OnPage https://www.onpage.com Fri, 20 Jan 2017 15:46:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.1 How to improve healthcare BYOD and HIPAA compliance https://www.onpage.com/improve-byod-hipaa-compliance/ Thu, 19 Jan 2017 14:37:12 +0000 https://www.onpage.com/?p=27278 Ensuring effective and secure communication in the age of healthcare BYOD Healthcare organizations are experiencing a significant rise in Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). In fact, Becker Hospital Review research says that 85% of healthcare workers bring their own devices to work. Yet along with this rise in BYOD comes an increased vulnerability to being hacked. … Continued

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BYOD HIPAA compliance

Ensuring effective and secure communication in the age of healthcare BYOD

Healthcare organizations are experiencing a significant rise in Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). In fact, Becker Hospital Review research says that 85% of healthcare workers bring their own devices to work. Yet along with this rise in BYOD comes an increased vulnerability to being hacked. Mobile phones and tablets are the weakest link when it comes to security and are prone to attacks.

Lost or stolen devices add to this vulnerability. In fact, 1.4 million Americans lost and never recovered their smartphones in 2013, and 3.1 million had their mobile devices stolen. Tens of thousands of healthcare workers lose their devices each year – causing 68% of all health care data breaches. As these devices often have a mixture of personal and work related records, the problem of stolen data becomes magnified.

So how can hospitals – large and small – as well as clinics ensure effective and secure communications in the age of BYOD? Read on.

Is eliminating BYOD the answer?

With the rise of smartphones and tablets in the workplace, hackers are continuing to attack enterprises through vulnerabilities in mobile devices. As I wrote in an article earlier this month on Becker Hospital Review, some consider this a basis for eliminating BYOD from healthcare entirely. The thinking is that if healthcare employers didn’t allow BYOD, they could better control the data security and encryption that their employees use.

But eliminating BYOD is futile. The real mistake is in trying to prevent further BYOD implementation. Indeed, BYOD is a cost cutting measure embraced by many organizations. BYOD also benefits healthcare because it acknowledges the fact that people are going to bring their own devices and seek to use them in their work, as well as their personal life. Furthermore, healthcare providers can’t really afford to give a smartphone to everyone who would benefit from the device.

The actual culprit is poor mobile device hygiene. Often the mobile devices being used lack encryption or suffer from poor password management. In addition, employees have a tendency to leave their mobile devices in vulnerable locations such as the backseat of a car or on a desk or in a coffee shop. In these instances, the devices are often the object of theft. At this point, the issue is no longer BYOD.

Why security is failing

IT and security professionals now acknowledge mobile devices are a widespread vector for attack. In fact, 67 percent said their organization has likely suffered a data breach through mobile. Additionally, cyber attackers are now responsible for 31.42 percent of all major HIPAA data breaches reported in 2016, which is a 300 percent increase in the last three years. Phishing attacks, spoofed Wi-Fi attacks, malicious applications, are some of the ways in which data is compromised. The fundamental cause is that many mobile devices lack proper hygiene, and organizations often lack institutional planning for handling lost devices. While most iPhones are encrypted, only 10% of Android phones are. Additionally, IT centers typically have neither a plan nor a method for securing their physicians’ and staffs’ mobile devices. In order to stop security from failing further, healthcare organizations need to have a method for ensuring both the security of mobile devices and the content they contain.

Five ways to help ensure BYOD security.

Hospitals can prevent significant financial loss and legal and reputational risk by ensuring that mobile communications follow HIPAA guidelines. HIPAA has many specific guidelines regarding security procedures and policies, training and behaviors. But as it relates to messaging of PHI to your mobile device, HIPAA dictates are quite clear. Hospitals need to provide reasonable protection and encryption of patient information. While encryption is not insurmountable, it provides a much higher level of data security.

Here are the other steps you want to make sure you follow to ensure HIPAA compliance:

  1. Implement passcode on all mobile devices. Make sure you implement the 4 or 6 digit passcode on your device. A lost or stolen device that has been locked with a PIN or passcode is much less likely to be breached
  2. Enable remote wipe. Make sure that all messages containing patient information can be wiped from your mobile device.
  3. File Sharing. Make sure any files or images you share are through a private HIPAA compliant cloud.
  4. Encrypted messaging. Make sure all messaging to and from the device is encrypted.
  5. Data centers. Make sure your data centers’ servers are HIPAA compliant and provide end-to-end encryption

Developing and maintaining this level of compliance is not simple. That’s why there’s OnPage. Our expertise is in ensuring secure HIPAA compliant communication for healthcare institutions and their employees. OnPage ensures messages are SSL encrypted and can only be viewed by message participants. Furthermore, OnPage content has remote wipe capabilities that meet HIPAA compliance standards.

Conclusion

Healthcare organizations can achieve secure and reliable communication in healthcare. They don’t have to struggle through maintaining HIPAA compliance of their communications on their own.

Learn more about HIPAA compliant messaging so you can ensure your staff’s mobile communications are secure.

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2016 – OnPage Year in Review https://www.onpage.com/2016-onpage-year-in-review/ Mon, 02 Jan 2017 14:45:04 +0000 https://www.onpage.com/?p=26393 This past year has been one of great growth and performance for OnPage. We have added many features and integrations to the product, making 2016 an awesome year. We see these steps forward as the basis for future growth. Integrations BVoIP – BvoIP offers voice systems that advance the way teams communicate during critical situations. … Continued

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OnPage Year in Review

This past year has been one of great growth and performance for OnPage. We have added many features and integrations to the product, making 2016 an awesome year. We see these steps forward as the basis for future growth.

Integrations

BVoIPBvoIP offers voice systems that advance the way teams communicate during critical situations. By integrating with OnPage, BVoIP solved a crucial issue MSPs face in providing alerts.

Cisco Tropo – At the beginning of 2016, we announced our integration with Cisco’s Tropo technology. The integration allows users to turn voice messages into critical alerts.

ConnectWise – While integration began in 2015, it did not achieve its current robustness until this year. Connectwise integration allows MSPs the opportunity to integrate one of the most popular softwares in their industry with critical alerting. Now, when an RMM gives off an alert, it can get ticket in ConnectWise and alerted through OnPage.

Slack – Slack is one of the most popular chat channels across industries. By integrating with OnPage, Slack users can elevate critical conversations via a separate chat channel and have messages go directly to the OnPage app.

Spark – OnPage’s Cisco Spark integration provides the perfect tool for enterprise communication, adding critical, time-sensitive, messaging capability to the communication channel. All your files and conversations are in one place with Cisco Spark and so is the time-stamped audit trail of the communication with OnPage. Cisco Spark allows you to message, commence video calls and even share your screen.

New OnPage Features

OnPage Version 5.1.3 – The updated app provides several new bits of functionality such as allowing users to play back or re-record a voice attachment when composing a message.

Page to Phone – While OnPage is the ultimate in alerting and critical notification technology, there are times when users find themselves outside of the wi-fi magical garden. In these “dead zones”, OnPage users will either have to wait until they return to civilization [read: someplace where there is wi-fi] or use the Page to Phone technology. Message recipients who didn’t receive the OnPage alert due to poor or lack-of data coverage can receive the phone call-OnPage alert and can acknowledge the message as having been read by simply hitting a number on their smartphone. This prevents message escalation and ensures the audit trail marks the message as read.

OnPage success stories

Bilingual Office – OnPage used Cisco Tropo to create a bilingual, automated communication instance for a doctor’s office in Wisconsin. By using the integration, the doctor’s patients – who were primarily Spanish speaking – could have assistance in reaching the doctor after hours and have their critical message reach the doctor’s OnPage account.

ANP – By using OnPage’s cloud-based, virtual paging app in conjunction with ConnectWise, Pennsylvania-based MSP Advanced Network Products (ANP) has been able to dramatically improve its response time to critical IT alerts and better manage SLAs.

Boston Business Journal We are super proud of the recent article that appeared about OnPage in the Boston Business Journal. The article which appeared in the last week of 2016 discussed how OnPage brings critical communications to the smartphone age.

Cygnus systems – Cygnus Systems is one of OnPage’s MSP partners. By using the OnPage-Connectwise integration, Cygnus was able to grow their business by 25%.

The OnPage Crystal ball

We have a great team here at OnPage. We have produced a lot of creative ways to work with our customers and look forward to continuing with this trend.

Going into 2017 we see future integrations with other vendors and new features added to our app and console.

As always, we would love to hear from our users and readers. Let us know what you think about the new integrations and services we provide. Take a moment to contact us.

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OnPage brings critical communications to the smartphone age https://www.onpage.com/critical-alerting-in-smartphone-age/ Thu, 29 Dec 2016 15:05:13 +0000 https://www.onpage.com/?p=26399 Boston Business Journal writes: OnPage brings critical alerting to smartphone In an article published on December 27th, the Boston Business Journal published an article highlighting how OnPage has brought critical alerting to the modern age in healthcare. OnPage CEO Judit Sharon is quoted in the article as saying: “The change is really, really, really slow … Continued

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critical alerting

Boston Business Journal writes: OnPage brings critical alerting to smartphone

In an article published on December 27th, the Boston Business Journal published an article highlighting how OnPage has brought critical alerting to the modern age in healthcare.

OnPage CEO Judit Sharon is quoted in the article as saying:

“The change is really, really, really slow in healthcare. We know that the market is there. We know the need for critical messaging is there and that paging companies are closing their doors.”

The article goes on to discuss how this modernization has allowed OnPage to help healthcare across the spectrum. For example, OnPage has given a doctoral student at George Mason University, Sarah Carter, the opportunity to use the technology to help America’s military veterans. In this instance, Ms. Carter is using OnPage to better study and prevent suicide in this population group.

Read the full article on our website.

Learn how OnPage can help your critical communications and critical alerting.

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OnPage healthcare alerting https://www.onpage.com/onpage-healthcare-alerting/ Wed, 21 Dec 2016 15:51:11 +0000 https://www.onpage.com/?p=26407 The 21st century solution to antiquated pagers We know that doctors have a love affair with their pagers but healthcare communication is seeing a shift away from pagers to smart phone based communication. OnPage is the fastest provider of critical messaging and alerting services via smartphone and is quickly being adopted by healthcare institutions who … Continued

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healthcare alerting

The 21st century solution to antiquated pagers

We know that doctors have a love affair with their pagers but healthcare communication is seeing a shift away from pagers to smart phone based communication. OnPage is the fastest provider of critical messaging and alerting services via smartphone and is quickly being adopted by healthcare institutions who have woken up to the need for change.

OnPage and the future of healthcare alerting.

A recent survey at Emory highlighted the need for change. Doctors who used pagers preferred smart device platforms over pagers. Approximately 70% of users prefer pages on a cell phone / smart device, while only approximately 15% preferred pagers (remaining 15% chose other options).

OnPage fulfills this desire by doctors to have their smartphone integrate with their pagers. OnPage, through a smartphone based application and a web interface allows users to message and alert each other. Users never have to carry around a pager and a smartphone anymore. OnPage makes sure users never miss a critical unlike traditional pagers which are known for being unreliable and dropping pages.

Secure Messaging and HIPAA compliance

Hospitals have traditionally avoided using smartphones to communicate because they felt they were not secure. OnPage however, is HIPAA complaint and enables healthcare providers to communicate via encrypted and secure text communication. OnPage messages are SSL encrypted and can only be viewed by message participants. Furthermore, OnPage has remote wipe capabilities to further ensure HIPAA compliance. Remote wipe is especially handy when an unattended phone with the OnPage app falls into the wrong hands. Remote Wipe will completely remove all patient sensitive information on the OnPage app and therefore ensure HIPAA compliance.

OnPage features are designed to ensure HIPAA compliance. The app achieves this through:
• Requiring app and web console to both come with a sign- in process.
• Ensuring messaging through the app is completely secure. This security is also true for image and voice attachments sent along with the messages.
• A sophisticated and user-friendly web console audit trail that informs you when an alert or message is Sent, Delivered and Read. This ensures complete accountability and delivery. Read receipts allows for easy tracking when incidents occur.
• Enabling date and time stamps which are a part of every piece of communication that goes through OnPage.
• Customized messaging retention time frames. All contact lists are secure as well.

Works over Wifi too – no page is lost!

OnPage works over cellular and WIFI which means that as long as the doctor is connected to either one of these networks, they will receive the message. The sender of the message or the alert dispatcher is notified when messages reach their destination and is also notified when the message is read. Unlike less reliable pagers, non-compliant SMS solutions or pager services, OnPage allows you to take real-time actions — saving time and saving lives.

If the sender hasn’t been notified that the page was read, then action can be taken to escalate the message. Pages and emergency messages can be escalated to another doctor in case the first doctor doesn’t read the page or is unresponsive.

Improve Workflows – Improve Communications

Using OnPage’s critical messaging service improves workflows and communication. Our on-call scheduling management allows for sending low or high priority alerts to the right person.

To learn more about OnPage contact us.

CLICK HERE & Contact Us Today!

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OnPage: High and Low Priority https://www.onpage.com/high-and-low-priority-paging/ Wed, 21 Dec 2016 15:34:51 +0000 https://www.onpage.com/?p=26402 In a world where we get alerts and notifications for anything under the sun it is important to differentiate which alerts are important and which alerts can be dealt with later. For this very reason, the OnPage platform enables the user to send messages in two different formats: High Priority and Low Priority. Our unique … Continued

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In a world where we get alerts and notifications for anything under the sun it is important to differentiate which alerts are important and which alerts can be dealt with later. For this very reason, the OnPage platform enables the user to send messages in two different formats: High Priority and Low Priority. Our unique ringtones and persistent alerts provide the users with the ability to send various message priorities and ensure that messages rise above the clutter.

High and Low Priority Paging

Fig 1: You can select the priority of the message from within the app.

High Priority

High Priority Messaging comes with an intrusive, hard to ignore Alert-until-Read tone. OnPage alerts mimic the pager urgency but also enables a rich, full text message with voice or picture attachments. Designed for critical, time-sensitive situations, the OnPage alert assures the sender that the message has reached its destination and was read. A good use of the High Priority feature is to use it for time sensitive messaging, urgent messaging, medical emergencies, and critical alerts coming in from monitoring tools.

Fig 2: You can go to settings to change the tone of the High and Low Priority alerts.

Low Priority
Low Priority Messaging can be regarded as continuous messaging, with replies that go back and forth. Unlike other casual messaging apps, however, users can track the messages that are being sent. Users have the ability to see when the messages is SENT, RECEIVED, and READ. Every reply appears as a new message in your inbox, accompanied by the Alert Tone. Our customers use Low Priority messaging for non-urgent messaging, casual communications, practice updates and non-critical status updates. If you send a Low Priority Message:
• The recipient will not receive the persistent alert tone
• The recipient will not get the big red exclamation mark that signifies High Priority
• The recipient will be able to send back a reply. The sender will know that it is a message.

Sending High and Low Priority messages using email
From your email browser enter in the “TO” field: OnPageID@OnPage.com and the message will be sent as a High Priority message. If you want your message to be sent as a Low Priority message, just have the send it to your — OnPageID@Low.OnPage.com

To learn more contact us.

 

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With AWS Managed Services, are IT management tools dead? https://www.onpage.com/are-it-management-tools-dead/ Tue, 20 Dec 2016 14:57:13 +0000 https://www.onpage.com/?p=26410 Is this the end of IT management tools? Happy holidays! Your Ops team can pack their bags. IT management and IT management tools are dead. Or at least that’s the word according to a new blog from Tech Target on AWS’s new Managed Services (MS) offering. According to the blog, AWS is launching their AWS … Continued

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Is this the end of IT management tools?

Happy holidays! Your Ops team can pack their bags. IT management and IT management tools are dead.

Or at least that’s the word according to a new blog from Tech Target on AWS’s new Managed Services (MS) offering. According to the blog, AWS is launching their AWS MS program to expedite the adoption of cloud by Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 companies. The article published last week notes AWS’ belief that companies want:


[T]o add additional automation, make use of standard components that can be used more than once, and to relieve their staff of as many routine operational duties as possible.


Further explanation is provided in AWS’ announcement of their new product which they claim is designed to take over system monitoring, incident management, change control provisioning and patch management. Indeed, these are usually functions that fall under the auspices of IT Ops. And as the Tech Target article goes on to note:


After all of this, the only ones left standing could be application developers, despite — or thanks to — Amazon’s vast array of development tools.


So, if we follow AWS’s logic, we might think that they have sunk their claws into the whole IT management life-cycle. The question then becomes, has AWS set the stakes for IT management to meet its maker? Ummmm, not so fast, Cowboy.

One cloud to rule them all

The first thing to note in reading the Tech Target blog is that for the moment, AWS is only focusing on large enterprises. That is, Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 are the first targets. So, you could think that they are leaving small MSPs alone …. for now. Although in AWS style, they will probably go for smaller targets in the months and years to come.

So is it only a matter of time before AWS tries a ‘one cloud to rule them all’ approach? Will AWS be like Ma Bell of years past? We don’t think so. It seems that most companies have adopted a multi-tiered approach to cloud. According to Hy-trust

  • Approximately 60% of organizations plan to move to a multi-cloud model
  • 64% of respondents indicated that their pursuit of a hybrid cloud strategy will be multi-cloud and multi-vendor
  • Approximately 37% of organizations are deploying data, applications, and workloads into three or more public clouds– AWS, Azure and vCloud Air being the leading trifecta of choice

Most companies feel uncomfortable about being locked into one cloud provider. Companies don’t believe that a true serverless environment is a smart idea. They want the ability to test on local servers and not feel like they have all their eggs in one basket. Furthermore, because of security fears or risks of downtime, companies often wish to have multiple cloud providers. So, you will definitely need your IT department to manage the use of servers.

Devs in charge of IT Management Tools?

While there’s no problem with putting Devs on call, you cannot just assume you can farm out all of your IT concerns and only have Devs run the show. At the risk of seeming too much of an evangelist, Ops are people too. More to the point, they have an important role in the DevOps process.

Ops plays an important role in sprint planning to ensure that quality of service, tools, resource management and security are prioritized along with the other components of the business. Furthermore, Ops provides support to development as well as to customers. Ops are, as one article put it, in charge of “building the highway so the rest of us can use fast cars.”

There is a strong requirement for Ops. There’s a lot of technical debt that you create when you don’t reinforce code with strong Ops and security practices. It’s a debt that cannot be paid at a time and in a way of your choosing. Ops teams put the brakes on Dev’s rapid automation in order to keep a more orderly ship. They also pay down the technical debt of the team by creating strong scripts that create a healthier operating environment.

Critical alert management and AWS MS

Ops is more than just your backup team. And if you think of them as just provisioning servers then you have it wrong. In addition to the roles and responsibilities mentioned above, they also have many important roles around responding to critical alerts. AWS MS does intend to provide incident monitoring and resolution. But, AWS is not the architect of your product so they are unable to know if incidents are or are not issues. More importantly, they do not have the focus to provide incident alerting best practices.

You really need Ops and Dev to work on call together to ensure proper alert management. You cannot expect AWS or its engineers to intelligently investigate the issues alerted to by your product for the simple reason they are not the product architects.

In last week’s blog, we highlighted OnPage’s alerting best practices. However, if it is worth noting once, it is worth mentioning again the following critical alerting best practices:

  • Clear definition of metrics. Know what is an important metric to monitor for the overall health of your product
  • Understanding of system. Establish a baseline so you know how your systems are supposed to work
  • Realization of what is critical and what is not. Understand what is an event to alert on and what is an event that can receive an email notification. Not all alerts are created equal.
  • Ability to roll out solutions quickly and promptly. Have run books available so it is clear to your staff how to handle incidents when they are awoken at 2 a.m.
  • Ability to have a tool that can escalate and create persistent alerts. Include the OnPage critical alerting tool in your notification protocols to ensure you have alerts that are persistent, informative and effective.

While alerting lets you know when things have gone wrong, it also lets you know where your code and system need improvement. While much of this improvement might be elucidated in the test environment, you cannot always understand how a product will respond under the real-time pressures of deployment. You simply cannot farm out that functionality and expect a solid outcome.

Conclusion

The AWS argument that we no longer need any cloud other than AWS seems too visionary. For the many reasons discussed above, we at OnPage think IT still has a rosy future in front of it. That’s not just because we provide alerting for IT and hope they will need our services for years to come. Critical alerting is an important part of the development lifecycle that cannot be farmed out. We think it will stay that way for a good long time.

Learn more about how OnPage critical alerting can help your stack. Contact us.

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OnPage: Escalation Policy and Failover https://www.onpage.com/onpage-failover-redundancy/ Mon, 12 Dec 2016 21:14:02 +0000 https://www.onpage.com/?p=26415 OnPage has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to undelivered messages and alerts, which is why we added Failover Redundancy to our critical alerting platform. Failover Redundancy is, simply put, a part of our Escalation Policy. What is the OnPage Escalation Policy? An Escalation Policy makes sure that if an incident is not acknowledged … Continued

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OnPage has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to undelivered messages and alerts, which is why we added Failover Redundancy to our critical alerting platform. Failover Redundancy is, simply put, a part of our Escalation Policy.

What is the OnPage Escalation Policy?

An Escalation Policy makes sure that if an incident is not acknowledged or resolved within a pre-determined amount of time, it will be escalated to the correct user(s). You can customize who you want to receive the alert, the amount of time to wait before escalating to the next user(s), and which user(s) the alert should be escalated to.

fig1: Escalation Policy

When is an escalation policy useful? Imagine that you have an on-call team, monitoring critical systems. In the event of an incident, an alert is sent out either by a fellow team member or one of the monitoring tools connected to the hundreds of end points being monitored. If this alert is not acknowledged, what happens to it?

This is a general scenario in which OnPage is used, especially by our MSP customers. Our Scheduler allows you to schedule on-call teams and allows for precautionary steps to be taken that automate the alert going forth to an escalation team.

Below you will see how one can set an Escalation Interval and Escalation Factor which determines who gets the alert next.

fig2: setting up an Escalation Group

What is a Failover?

In the event a message is sent to an escalation group and does not reach anyone in the escalation group, OnPage offers two new configuration options:

  • Failover To OnPage ID’s: Inform OnPage users (refer to fig1: “Failover OPID(s):”) of the failed message escalation. Failover recipients are sent a modified copy of the original message which includes “FO:” in the subject and the name of the group the message was sent to.
  • Escalation Failover Report: Specify an email address (refer to fig1: “Fail report to email:”) which will receive a report including the message tracking information for the failed escalation. Including the original message subject and body in the report is optional.

fig3: Example of Failover Report

The failover makes sure that the right person is notified when the Escalation Policy does not reach an end user.

Contact OnPage to learn more .

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6 steps to IT alerting best practices https://www.onpage.com/6-steps-it-alerting-best-practices/ Mon, 12 Dec 2016 18:07:24 +0000 https://www.onpage.com/?p=26420 Not all alerts are created equal Even though most IT teams have adopted IT alerting practices, they are often far from alerting best practices. It’s not enough to just have an alerting tool. Like a monitoring tool, if left uncalibrated, alerts will simply produce a sea of noisy data. Instead, teams should calibrate alerts so … Continued

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IT alerting best practices

Not all alerts are created equal

Even though most IT teams have adopted IT alerting practices, they are often far from alerting best practices. It’s not enough to just have an alerting tool. Like a monitoring tool, if left uncalibrated, alerts will simply produce a sea of noisy data. Instead, teams should calibrate alerts so that they are meaningful.

For example, a meaningful alert might be something along the line of web requests are taking more than x seconds to process and respond or new servers are failing to spin up as expected. And these are great examples of what could be high priority alerts for a company.

Alternatively, alerts that are less high priority, such as server is 90% full can be a low priority alert that can be forwarded to the on call engineer but don’t rise to the level of a 2am wakeup call. In OnPage, you can send this low priority alert to go to the engineer’s account but ensure the account notifies the engineer during normal business hours.

6 steps to IT alerting best practices

It’s an important realization that not all alerting needs to wake up an engineer. The trick to successful alerting is to provide meaningful alerts when issues do occur. To this end, OnPage has the following alerting best practices which have been vetted by our numerous end users:

  • Make sure your alerts are calibrated. Establish a baseline so you know how your systems are supposed to work
  • Ensure alerts are tied to a schedule. As weird as it sounds, some shops just alert everyone. You never want to alert everyone. Make sure your alerts are tied to a schedule so that one person is alerted. If the engineer is unavailable, then escalate to the next person on call.
  • Ensure alerts are actionable. Who wants to be woken up to a message that is pointless such as there’s a problem with deployment in the test environment. Instead, ensure alerts have a direct piece of information that needs to be investigated and resolved.
  • Develop run books. Publish operating procedures so on-call can become more standardized.
  • Review audit trails. Make sure alerts went to the right person on the team who is best able to resolve the issue
  • Review on call at weekly meetings. Review alerts that were received during the week to ensure sufficient information is arriving with alerts and that alerts are actionable. If they are not, then alter the alert messaging so it is more effective.

By following these steps your team will begin the process towards thinking from a proactive rather than a reactive position.

For more information…

 

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Why the conversation can’t stop at DevOps Monitoring Tools https://www.onpage.com/devops-monitoring-tools/ Mon, 12 Dec 2016 17:49:53 +0000 https://www.onpage.com/?p=26423 On Beyond Tools A conversation I recently had with the DevOps manager of a major online retailer really made me think about DevOps monitoring tools. The manager and I discussed how several DevOps shops seem to define themselves based on the number of tools they have monitoring their build and IT stack. The point he … Continued

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DevOps Monitoring Tools

On Beyond Tools

A conversation I recently had with the DevOps manager of a major online retailer really made me think about DevOps monitoring tools. The manager and I discussed how several DevOps shops seem to define themselves based on the number of tools they have monitoring their build and IT stack. The point he went on to make is:

You can go up and down the isles at a conference with the corporate credit card and buy every tool in sight but all those purchases don’t make you a DevOps. All it makes you is the owner of many tools.

The point of the manager’s comment is that being an effective DevOps shop or IT service provider means you go beyond just owning tools. You have to incorporate those tools into a meaningful DevOps philosophy and an understanding of proper tool management and proper team integration. And, importantly from my humble perspective, proper alerting.

DevOps, as a philosophy, encourages shifting left and putting testing earlier into the process so that teams can be proactive in their support rather than reactive to problems. So, how does a DevOps enable this shift in thinking from reactive to proactive? Read on to find out.

Devops monitoring tools – a love affair

Devops is about bringing development and operational teams together. And to some extent, tools can be a way to improve this relationship. A recent whitepaper from Puppet describes how:

Adopting DevOps practices usually means embracing automation as a default solution to many problems.

And indeed every developer or ops loves their shiny new toys. Tools do allow for faster builds, quicker deployment, greater visibility and faster feedback.

Puppet, for example, can be used for greater server configuration and configuration management. Nagios is also a favorite for infrastructure monitoring. Jenkins can be used to build code, create Docker containers and push code to production. Jenkins is also great for continuous integration. Many enjoy the integration provided by our friends at Logz.io because it collects logs from all services, applications, networks, tools, servers, and more in an environment into a single, centralized location for processing and analysis.

Yet these tools, as strong as they are at dealing with reams of data, do not alert the end user, be it Dev or Ops, when a real issue arises. For the most part, they will not solve underlying issues that arise in in any operation such as failed deployments, security issues or scaling problems. Instead, those types of issues need to be alerted on and responded to appropriately.

Don’t forget the alerting

If DevOps were just to rely on their tools, they would be left in a position where they were always reacting to situations rather than being proactive. Metric provided by all the shiny devops tools enable us to measure and observe various components of the operation. But it is alerting that draws attention to the particular systems that require observation, inspection, and intervention. It is alerting that furthers proactive management.

By putting alerting earlier in the monitoring process, DevOps teams take the true meaning of shift left to heart. Teams can see early on when software doesn’t deploy as expected by alerting the proper team members. Similarly, security vulnerabilities can be detected early on and alert the engineers who can react appropriately and intervene.

Not all alerts are created equal

Even though most DevOps teams have adopted alerting practices, they are often far from alerting best practices. It’s not enough to just have an alerting tool. Like a monitoring tool, if left uncalibrated, alerts will simply produce a sea of noisy data. Instead, teams should calibrate alerts so that they are meaningful.

For example, a meaningful alert might be something along the line of web requests are taking more than x seconds to process and respond or new servers are failing to spin up as expected. And these are great examples of what could be high priority alerts for a company. The Ops team, in these cases, can then investigate based on specific information rather than complaints from end users.

Alternatively, alerts that are less high priority, such as server is 90% full can be a low priority alert that can be forwarded to the on call engineer but don’t rise to the level of a 2am wakeup call. In OnPage, you can send this low priority alert to go to the engineer’s account but ensure the account notifies the engineer during normal business hours.

6 steps to alerting best practices

It’s an important realization that not all alerting needs to wake up an engineer. Successful adoption of DevOps means planning ahead and providing meaningful alerts when issues do occur. To this end, OnPage has the following alerting best practices which have been vetted by our numerous end users:

  1. Make sure your alerts are calibrated. Establish a baseline so you know how your systems are supposed to work
  2. Ensure alerts are tied to a schedule. As weird as it sounds, some shops just alert everyone. You never want to alert everyone. Make sure your alerts are tied to a schedule so that one person is alerted. If the engineer is unavailable, then escalate to the next person on call.
  3. Ensure alerts are actionable. Who wants to be woken up to a message that is pointless such as there’s a problem with deployment in the test environment. Instead, ensure alerts have a direct piece of information that needs to be investigated and resolved.
  4. Develop run books. Publish operating procedures so on-call can become more standardized.
  5. Review audit trails. Make sure alerts went to the right person on the team who is best able to resolve the issue
  6. Review on call at weekly meetings. Review alerts that were received during the week to ensure sufficient information is arriving with alerts and that alerts are actionable. If they are not, then alter the alert messaging so it is more effective.

By following these steps your DevOps team will begin the process towards thinking from a proactive rather than a reactive position.

Conclusion

DevOps monitoring tools are powerful instruments. However, the devops monitoring tools need to be attached to proper alerting tools and procedures to enable proactive engineering. OnPage’s cloud based alerting tool is a powerful tool to ensure the right information gets to the right engineer at the right time.
See what proper alerting can do to help your team’s monitoring. Schedule a demo with OnPage today.

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OnPage on call scheduler https://www.onpage.com/on-call-scheduler/ Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:37:51 +0000 https://www.onpage.com/?p=26427 How to use the on call scheduler and gain some free time OnPage users with access to the web-based console have an intuitive, flexible and easy-to-use on call scheduler that is able to handle the most complex employee, team and group calendar configurations. With OnPage’s GOLD Package, you have the ability to use the on … Continued

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How to use the on call scheduler and gain some free time

OnPage users with access to the web-based console have an intuitive, flexible and easy-to-use on call scheduler that is able to handle the most complex employee, team and group calendar configurations.

With OnPage’s GOLD Package, you have the ability to use the on call scheduler which simplifies the incident management process. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Share on-call responsibility: Plan ahead. Choose who gets notified and send alerts to the right groups of people.
  • Eradicate on-call burnout: Create schedules ensuring everyone gets on-call time off. You get alerts when you want – not by default.
  • Increase productivity – decrease response time: On call team remembers are more likely to beat previous response times after an disturbed on call time off. Rested co-workers are more productive and happier producers.
  • Ease of use: The scheduler was designed to be intuitive with an Outlook-like calendar look .
  • Compatible with different time zones: Time zones are not an issue and our system will automatically adjust to time zone changes. Expand on-call rotations to teams across the country or around the globe in 175 countries and 24 time zones. Create on-call shifts based upon local time-zone business hours.

A look at the OnPage on call scheduler

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Multiple Scheduling Options

Create multiple schedules, without limitation to location, so every group gets their preferred on-call rotation. Get instant visibility on who’s on-call.

Just like Outlook’s calendar. You will love OnPage’s Alerts Scheduler

Enjoy quick, easy, and intuitive setup. If you use Outlook, Mac Mail, or any similar product, learning to use the Scheduler will be a breeze.

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Sick Days, Snow Storms, or Vacations. No Problem!

Make changes to the scheduler when assignments, objectives, or the weather changes.

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Get Some Sleep (Undisturbed)

Never be on-call when you are in the middle of something important — unless you want to be.

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Bullet Proof Scheduling

The OnPage Scheduler starts out “FULL”. In the event of a critical alert, if you left a time slot empty, the entire group will be notified. The OnPage Scheduler guarantees it!
Competitor Schedulers start out “Empty”. Unless each time slot has been manually filled in with a group member’s name, there will be a communications gap. Your critical alert may end up with nowhere to go and no one to answer “the call”. The message: “Your server just went down”– may be left hanging, along with your entire e-commerce business.

The scheduler and escalation

If you use escalation groups you can now add an element of scheduling to it. Escalation groups have proven to be one of OnPage’s most useful enterprise features by providing customers with the ability to prioritize recipients and supply redundancy to their urgent messages. Escalation orders and members can be scheduled, adding even more flexibility and customization of escalation groups.
Here’s a quick example of how to get started with escalation group scheduling. The example shows how to create a revolving schedule between 3 on-call recipients. Each recipient is in the first escalation position for one week every three weeks, with the other on-call recipients set as backups to the primary recipient.

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FIG1: Create a new group. You have the option to name the group, add OnPage IDs, select the escalation interval and the escalation factor.

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FIG2: Three people were put into the “Support Team” group. The arrows next to the names allows you to determine the order of the escalation.

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FIG3: The group scheduler tab allows you to set parameters for individuals within the group.

Tour the Web Console

 

To learn more about pricing plans or the on call scheduler,

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