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Say Goodbye to Your Pager: We’re working on a new, multi-vendor, centralized alert management product

Product Manager

Alerting is nothing new, so why consider a dedicated product on this now?  This is a fair question, but IT has changed a lot as well.  No longer are the days of looking into the phone book for a service or company, having to mail in or go to the drive thru at your bank to deposit checks, go to a store to buy something etc.  Heck, I still get phone books at my house and every time I wonder why.  I don’t even have a land line any more at my house; I just use my cell phone always.  Also users are not just located in an office anymore.   There are remote workers from home and smart phones and tablets have continued to push this to make the past walls of work disappear.  No matter where I am, I always have email; can VPN and remote control systems etc.

My point is that the way IT is perceived and plays a role in the success or failure of a business has drastically transformed.  As businesses have become more reliant on IT in order to function and run, the complexity of problems and the number of systems in order to monitor and manage this infrastructure has grown as well.  Downtime is no longer considered an inconvenience; it now costs the business money by the minute.

As SolarWinds has grown, both in terms of customers, as well as number of products we offer, I have had the ability to talk to lots of customers.  Some of these customers solely use our products, but as much as I would like to think we are the only software IT folks use, alas I know that this is not true.  IT teams work with products from multiple vendors to solve different needs and use cases in their environments and each system has its own alerting capability to let folks know when an issue arises.

In the past a pager would get passed around to who ever was on call that evening or weekend.  An alert would fire and they would get a page.  Get up, go VPN in, and look at what the issue is.  Heck, some folks may still do this, if you can find a pager for sale, anywhere anymore J

What I have heard over and over is, “what I need is a system that can centralize all of these alerts that I get into a common dashboard, that I can access from anywhere, apply rules to them, such as who is on call, and notify them and setup escalation policies if they don’t respond in a certain period of time.”  We performed our own survey here at SolarWinds beginning in August 2011.  We surveyed our customer and prospective base while offering them a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card[1].  We believe that the respondents to our survey were clear about their opinions on this topic.

  • 80% of folks had some sort of on-call policy in place
  • 72% said they managed this on-call schedule in a spreadsheet and 20% just admitted they did not do it very well
  • 61% had an escalation policy if the first person did not respond in a certain period of time and for 84% of those customers, the escalation process was manual

We believe these are some pretty compelling stats, which is why we intend to build and introduce a product in order to handle this.  Whether you use our products or not, this is a common IT problem and we believe this solution should be able to support any IT Management system, which supports alerting and can send an email out when an alert occurs.

Tell us what you think, would love to hear your feedback.  If you are interested in being a part of the UI wireframe reviews or try out the beta, etc. please let me know.

PLEASE NOTE:  This is NOT a commitment that this product may not evolve into something else or that we will deliver this product to market. 

[1] 110 customers or prospective customers responded to the survey. Not all respondents answered each of the questions.

12 Comments
Level 13

Hey everyone,  If I haven't already reached out to you, we'll be conducting UI feedback sessions on early conceptual (no code yet) screens of this product next week!  We're looking for people who might be interested in 90 minute feedback sessions any time Tuesday, May 22 to Friday, May 25th between 9am and 5pm Central any day.  Get a sneak peek of our early thoughts on the UI and tell us if we're heading down the right path or not.  We're especially interested in including small to mid-size companies, but anyone who thinks they might be intersted in this product, please email me at kellie.mecham@solarwinds.com with some dates and times that work for you and we'll set it up.

Eager for your feedback!

--Kellie

Level 13

We're looking for more feedback on this product in a survey!  Take the survey below to be entered in a drawing for one of two $50 Amazon gift cards.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6PK29D6

Level 7

What ever happened with this initiative? I'm looking at Xmatters which would allow us to acknowledge alerts remotely, but I'd prefer a Solarwinds product. Any change this product will be able to do this. In the mean time, can anyone recommend another product?

Product Manager
Product Manager

We're working on it!  What you describe does sound like functionality we're planning for Alert Central. Our goals are to consume alerts from disparate products (via email, primarily), dispatch alerts based on on-call calendars or static escalation policies, and you can either re-assign or acknowledge them (or just add notes/comments) either via e-mail or the Alert Central website.

If you'd like to see more, our UX team does occasional reviews and we can add you to our list. We'll also be recruiting for beta candidates, but not for a little while.

Level 13

Hi ptremblay,

while we don't pre-announce releases or features of releases, I can tell you this is something we continue to work on.  So, for you and the others on this thread who are interested in participating in early feedback sessions (60-90 minute individual walkthroughs of pieces of the UI or flows within it), please email me directly at kellie.mecham@solarwinds.com and reference this thread.  I'll put you o the list to be contacted next time we are doing usability walkthroughs.

Thanks for all the enthusiasm!

Level 12

Add me to the Beta testing or RC eval.  Definitely would like to see a single point for managing alerting.

Level 13

Still looking for folks who have some time to participate in UX feedback on this product!  We are looking at running several UX feedback sessions over the next several weeks, including one small round of 60 minute feedback sessions in the afternoons only (CST)  the week of Dec 17th.  Email me if you are interested!

Kellie

Level 13

Hey everyone, we have some limited times available next week., week of December 17, for some 1 hour feedback sessions on a rough interactive version of this product.  We have some 1 hour slots available between Tuesday December 18 and Thursday December 20th for you to give us your thoughts on specific pieces of the UI.  If you're interested, email me at kellie.mecham@solarwinds.com for more details!

Product Manager
Product Manager

Hey Everyone,

In addition to Kellie's UX feedback sessions, we're starting early beta testing of Alert Central. If you're looking for something to help you look busy over the holidays, look no further.


If you didn't already get an invitation and are interested, let me know and I'd be happy to loop you in. Everyone who has already responded in this thread should have already received an invite (in your associated Thwack e-mail account).

Level 9

Nicole,

I'm interested in participating in the Beta.

Level 9

Nicole,

We have been looking into these solutions for some time. We've been looking at a pay for service but would be interested to see what offering SW is working on. We would be interested in a beta.

Product Manager
Product Manager

If you're following this post and didn't catch it, there's a public beta, website, and contest all going on now. Check out:

About the Author
I have currently been at SolarWinds for a little over three years and have been in the IT technology field for about 10 years either as an Engineer/IT Admin or working for a software company to help makes those folks lives easier.  I graduated from Texas A&M University with an MIS degree from the Business School and have been in Austin for about 8 years.