Good question, and maybe some folks here in the forum can help chime in with their experiences.
In general, though...
- Calendaring - if you're using on call calendars, having a central place that you can manage them and use them in your policies is useful.
- Better notification options (escalation policies) - rather than having to notify everyone each time, you can try different people in turn for different groups, people can respond and acknowledge/decline the alert, and the alert will flow through an escalation policy more than once rather than a "fire and forget" when an alert occurs.
- Notification preferences - each user can decide what address to use first, or whether to try multiple addresses.
- Single dashboard for multiple products that send alerts - if you're also handling alerts from security systems (even stuff like antivirus), application monitoring systems, or even environmental controls, it's nice to have one place to send all of that stuff so you don't have to configure alert groups, routing, calendars, etc, over and over again.
- A second layer of filtering - we've heard from a lot of people that they raise alerts in NPM for visibility, but they only consider them actionable in certain secondary conditions (certain systems, certain parts of the network, that sort of thing). With Alert Central, you can filter on Orion properties to handle the actionable stuff and just leave the other stuff in NPM.
The biggest one we love is the ability to interact with the system via email. This allows my team to be able to respond to alerts when not on the local network. They can acknowledge, reassign and add notes to any alert quickly and without logging in to VPN or accessing a web browser. It's also great to have a central location for all alerts. Some systems handle the correlation and translation of the alarms a little better than NPM right now (HP SIM and APC battery alarms come to mind) and being able to route those email alerts through alert central unifies the process to a single system without requiring NPM to be effective with every piece of technology. While our long term goal is to get this kind of information into Orion, the ability to control the notification and tracking of alerts through alert central is the key feature for my team.