Uptime Blog

Improving Incident Management with Automation

xMatters ON Nov 30, 2022

Incident management is your organization’s first line of defense. When incidents occur, internal teams must be ready to respond quickly. While incidents can happen anytime, it’s unrealistic to expect incident managers to be prepared to perform manual root cause analysis. Manually monitoring and analyzing applications on multiple servers is extremely difficult, which is why human reaction times have traditionally limited the speed of incident management.

This is where automated incident management comes in. Observation and alerting tools provide monitoring capabilities that detect anomalies and potential incidents anytime, ensuring that resolution is faster and more accurate. Automation speeds things up by collating data and immediately giving incident managers access, so they can identify and deal with critical issues in time to uphold Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

This article explores how you can benefit from automated incident resolution and how xMatters can simplify the process.

Why Incident Management Needs Automation

Incidents can range from minor glitches in the system to major security breaches. To be prepared for any incident size, you need all relevant information in one place—which is tricky, as it requires reviewing multiple potentially disparate logs and reports to find the root cause of the incident.

Fortunately, with xMatters, you don’t have to do this work manually—or in isolation. Automating your incident management strategy saves you time by collating information about the incident and making that information available to all incident managers involved in the resolution process using a collaboration channel.

This section explores several features and functions that xMatters offers that allow you to automate your incident management process throughout the resolution lifecycle.

Incident Response and the Incident Console

To automate your incident management strategy, you can use the Incident Console, a collation feature offered by xMatters. The Incident Console collects data from multiple sources—such as incident tickets or error reports, network traffic, security logs, and endpoint logs—enabling you to easily create reports that give the incident manager all the necessary, relevant information.

Additionally, the Incident Console provides information on the status of the incident, the party responsible for handling it, and the current state of the remediation process, allowing you to track the resolution process throughout the incident’s lifecycle. It also notifies relevant team members based on predetermined preferences.

Manually consolidating that information and informing relevant team members could take hours. But with Incident Console, it all happens automatically.

Signal Intelligence

Signal intelligence with xMatters allows you to filter out unneeded alerts so the team can focus on what matters. Teams can decide which applications to receive notifications from and how much information they need.

With pre-set rules, you can trigger notifications for specific priority levels and delegate tasks to relevant team members. You can create automated response options for each priority level to maintain an open communication line. These targeted alerts can be created and sent based on skill set, schedule, role, and location.

Based on the incident, a select response option will be sent out alongside the notification that an incident occurred. You can build these responses into xMatters, so when there is an incident, these responses can be sent automatically. For example, a response option could include a set of choices—like “create MIM” and “run remediation.” Upon receiving the notification, you can quickly respond appropriately to the incident.

Manually creating targeted alerts is time-consuming and slows the resolution process, meaning you’ll see significant improvements in resolution efficiency by automating this task. Moreover, automating the response workflow helps maintain accuracy and security throughout the process.

Incident Analytics

xMatters performance analytics give you a comprehensive overview of the efficacy of your incident response plan. You can also measure key performance indicators (KPIs) for your team.

It gives users visibility of the incident by providing information on:

  • Alerts by source
  • Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR) for different teams
  • Incidents by severity
  • Events traffic
  • Impacted services
  • Incident timeline
  • Incident intimation
  • Historical on-call report

Moreover, you can automate a complete incident cycle, from first alert to remediation. You can send updates through Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, email, or SMS, keeping responders and stakeholders in the loop throughout the incident lifecycle.

Service Intelligence

Resilience is vital in any organization. The Service Intelligence feature in xMatters ensures that your organization has a robust incident response flow, allowing you to identify problems on your network before they disrupt business operations. Using service dependency maps, it can diagnose the root cause of IT disruptions, allowing you to track issues, monitor impacted applications, and review additional changes to the service landscape.

You can also identify potential root causes using change intelligence telemetry and run service-centric automation to remediate them quickly.

Furthermore, . Other built-in automation features, like the ability to roll back deployment and restart systems, help to streamline the entire incident resolution process.

Automated Remediation is Crucial for Incident Management

There are many benefits to automated incident management.

Improved Team Performance

75% of security teams state that they’re more stressed now than two years ago, with lack of time and executive interaction cited as top causes for stress. With automation, you don’t need to worry about spending time on repetitive tasks like sending notifications or updating status pages. You can focus on the most critical manual task: incident resolution.

Shorter MTTD and MTTR

A key benefit of an automated incident management system is speed. By minimizing human intervention, you’ll cut down the Mean Time to Detection (MTTD) and MTTR. According to the SANS Incident Response Survey, 52.6% of organizations have an MTTD of less than 24 hours, and 81.4% have an MTTD of 30 days or fewer. The longer the MTTD and MTTR, the greater the risk of being unable to detect and resolve incidents. Automation can help you reduce both metrics.

When you use automation, the entire team—from executives to incident response teams—is kept informed about incidents without needing constant updates from their teammates. Integrating ticketing tools like ServiceNow and Zendesk Workflow with xMatters enables you to do the following automatically:

  • Create tickets upon incident detection.
  • Identify resolvers and trigger a pre-built communications workflow.
  • Notify team members when they’re needed for a specific task.
  • Track actions taken during an incident and provide updates on progress across all teams.
  • Provide visibility over the entire process so that everyone knows what’s happening at any given moment.
  • Capture incident metrics and timeline for accurate post-mortem analysis.

Integrating these ticketing tools allows you to automatically create, track, and update tickets throughout the incident lifecycle. Automated ticket tracking ensures no incidents go unresolved, enables teams to stay connected on resolution progress, and provides relevant parties, whether responders or stakeholders, with context-rich alerts throughout the incident lifecycle. For example, xMatters integrates with ITSM tools like ServiceNow and Zendesk Workflow, allowing it to create a ticket upon incident detection and pull relevant information. Once the ticket is created, it sets a pre-configured workflow in motion—sending notifications to on-call teams, updating data in real time, and executing remediation actions. As the underlying data and ticket are updated in real-time, relevant team members have everything they need to resolve the issue quickly.

Safeguard Company Revenue

The revenue spent on customer service directly associated with downtime is only part of the cost of poor incident management. The real cost of downtime lies in all the other activities: manual processes, paperwork, and meetings. ITIC’s recent survey on downtime and reliability found that in 91% of organizations, hourly downtime costs can exceed $300,000. Moreover, 99.99% reliability means only 52.56 minutes of downtime each year, while 90% reliability can cause 36.5 days of downtime per year.

All these costs increase over time, putting pressure on company revenue. When you invest in an automated incident response plan, you can drastically reduce these costs.

Offers a Competitive Advantage

A recent IBM report found that companies with a fully deployed AI and automation program could identify a breach 74 days faster than those without one. Additionally, those who tested their incident response plan saved $2.44 million compared to those that didn’t.

Automating the right workflows frees up resources that can be focused on remediation, containing the issue more quickly. Investing in a tool that can help you achieve this gives you a competitive edge while safeguarding revenue.

Final Thoughts

Automated incident management can help make IT more responsive, improve service quality, and reduce costs. It requires developing a comprehensive framework that provides an efficient and consistent resolution process.

Automating the incident management process frees employees to investigate more complex issues and focus on what humans do best. They can spend the time they save finding hidden vulnerabilities or performing other critical activities.

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