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Uptime Blog

Incident Management for Digital Service Providers

Digital service providers (DSP) are valued for their ability to provide access to digital content on demand. A high-quality customer experience and instant access to digital services are the greatest expectations of consumers and vital aspects of successful DSPs. Therefore, it’s crucial that incidents, when they occur, don’t impact your operations. With a robust incident management strategy, DSPs can provide their teams with tools for automating, coordinating, and quickly resolving issues without—or with minimal—service interruptions.

This article explores the importance of effective incident management for digital service providers, emphasizing the need for rapid incident response and adequate observability tools for maintaining quality user experiences.

What is a Digital Service Provider?

A digital service provider (DSP) is a platform that provides services that enable access to content primarily through streaming or downloads. DSPs deliver access to content such as games, s, cloud-based software, websites, and streaming music. While this is a standard description of a DSP, the term can also be used in a broader sense. According to the definition provided by the European Union (EU):
A “digital service” is defined within the Directive (EU) 2015/1535 as “any service normally provided for remuneration, at a distance, by electronic means and at the individual request of a recipient of services.”

DSPs must create a robust incident management program to meet consumer demands. Failure to meet and maintain an extremely high level of availability to on-demand services could result in customers jumping to competitor services. So, quality is critical.

Why Digital Service Providers Require Strong Incident Management

Providing a superior customer experience demands new solution architectures and requires excellent collaboration between an organization’s groups, such as DevOps, ITOps, and business leaders. This requires robust infrastructure—including a massive storage and networking capacity hosted in on-premise data centers or cloud computing resources—and the ability to handle unexpected situations through incident responses. When there’s an issue with a digital service, incident resolvers are under tremendous pressure to remediate the incident quickly.

The most obvious impact of outages on DSP businesses is the loss of revenue. But there’s much more to it than just that. A recent study from Opengear finds that network outages cost more than $1M annually for nearly two-fifths of U.S. businesses. The study states that the top three impacts include reduced customer satisfaction, data loss, and financial loss.

In addition, an article from Marketing Week cites the impact of downtime on business reputation and concludes that consumers can quickly turn to competitors if they experience lagging websites. The bad news can quickly spread on social networks like Twitter, where angry customers often voice their dissatisfaction with services, damaging the business’s reputation even further.

Network outages can quickly render a service unavailable for many minutes. Since DSP services rely heavily on content delivery networks (CDNs) to make them available globally, incidents such as cyberattacks, natural disasters, and hardware failure at a CDN make the infrastructure especially vulnerable.

Latency spikes, sometimes called ping spikes, are sudden upticks that go higher than the average time for your connection. Symptoms are network packet loss and a sudden drop of frames per second (FPS), often caused by a high bandwidth process running in the background.

Data center outages can occur for many reasons, such as malfunction in the network, hardware or software problems, power outages, and cyber-attacks.

These incidents can be challenging to detect and are sometimes unavoidable. A LogicMonitor study revealed that 96% of enterprises face IT outages. To prevent them, DSPs must apply tools providing observability features to analyze and detect anomalies in the data flow, infrastructure, and process logs. Successful DSPs also need an automated incident response to remediate anomalies and alert staff to restore consumer content as quickly as possible.

Understanding the potential risks of these incidents and how to remediate them and adequately recover a system is critical to maintaining business quality and avoiding customer dissatisfaction.

DSP Incident Response with xMatters

xMatters is a cloud-based service reliability platform that helps enterprises prevent, detect, manage, and resolve IT incidents. The xMatters platform provides real-time notifications, a centralized dashboard, and incidence response automation, among other features, to help you resolve incidents faster.

The following xMatters features enable DSPs to refine their incident response strategy and improve their response time.

xMatters Incident Console

The world has increased dependency on digital services, from ordering food and banking to entertainment. Businesses are increasingly concerned about service degradations that hurt revenue, impact customer experience, and strain technical teams. xMatters provides on-call teams with relevant, centralized information needed to assess root causes and start remediation.

The xMatters service reliability platform keeps digital services available by helping teams and stakeholders stay informed about an incident—and progress in its resolution—throughout its lifecycle. The platform aggregates alerts from the same root causes and simplifies the incident reports, filtering the real-time noise that might otherwise flood and distract on-call teams.

Whether it’s a service rollback, service restart, or kicking off a significant incident, automation possibilities are endless. xMatters also automates and orchestrates the tools your teams use daily to cut resolution time. Workflows guide teams while xMatters updates all systems with incident information, so it’s easy to track progress and review performance.

xMatters On-Call Management

xMatters On-Call Management simplifies scheduling and management to ensure that on-call staff is always prepared to handle emergent incidents. The platform receives alerts from tickets and distributes them according to the schedule and employee shifts. If the assigned staff doesn’t respond within minutes, xMatters automatically escalates the ticket to others, such as backup team members.

Calendar events, scheduled shifts, days off, and target response times are all considered, automatically escalating and notifying additional team members as needed. In DSPs, xMatters On-Call management gives group supervisors an overview of the on-call team’s operation and grants them the power to manage rotations and schedules per event, shift, day, or week.

xMatters Analytics

xMatters Analytics ensures that one-time incidents don’t become reoccurring problems. It allows for complete visibility of team performance, analyzing incident response plan’s effectiveness in real-time, and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) for how well teams handle incidents.

Tracking incident progression analysis helps supervisors visualize which incident response strategies worked and which didn’t. Moreover, the xMatters dashboard provides insights across the business to drive continuous improvement to the operations behind digital services.

The xMatters dashboard provides real-time event visibility, event metrics, and alert notifications, meaning teams can rapidly coordinate and resolve issues without guesswork.

xMatters Service Intelligence

xMatters Service Intelligence allows incident resolvers to detect digital service issues, identify potential root causes, and quickly take informed actions to resolve the incident. Service Intelligence helps resolvers gain insights into the root cause of incidents and incident metrics.

xMatters allows you to visualize dependencies between services to understand how incidents spread from one service to the others. It lets you view related incidents and track them as they unfold.

This functionality also helps you remediate issues swiftly by running service-centric automation to drive faster root cause discovery, minimizing service degradations and downtime.

Conclusion

Consumers of digital services expect nothing less than a great customer experience. Incidents like network outages, latency spikes, and data center outages impact the DSP’s ability to provide quality consumer content and can quickly damage your business reputation. However, incidents are unavoidable and unpredictable. No one is immune—not even the big players with vast resources. Regardless of company size, all DSPs need incident management to remain competitive.

xMatters combines observability features and automated incident response tools, including incident response, on-call management, performance analytics, and service intelligence. These tools can assist in quickly identifying these problems and alerting the appropriate staff for incident response, helping DSPs deliver quality customer experiences while minimizing potential interruptions. DSPs can specifically benefit from xMatters to automate incident resolution processes so teams can work more efficiently, collaboratively, and with more data at their disposal.

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