Both applications and infrastructure are getting more complex. It is unlikely that individuals can solve these complex issues on their own. Tooling must acknowledge this and support team collaboration in Operations Management.

Also see our latest series on Netcool Operations Insight 1.6. It details our step-by-step approach for incident resolution. One of these steps is Collaboration.

Collaboration in Operations Management pipeline

Collaboration in Operations Management.

How Netcool Operations Insight (NOI) 1.6 can help collaboration in Operations Management

NOI includes capabilities that make it easier for teams to collaborate:

  • Notification, incident based management and Runbooks are now built-in. NOI 1.6 ships with a Cloud-native stack. Some of you might be familiar with it. It’s called “Cloud Event Management” or CEM.
  • You can easily integrate the two by forwarding selected events from NOI to CEM. The stack will correlate events to incidents. You can then notify on these incidents.
  • Fine tune notifications, specifying time and channel (e.g. Mail, Voice, Text)
  • Set notification schedules, determined via Groups, Shifts and individual preferences.
  • How NOI 1.6 capabilities help you improve collaboration in Operations Management

    With these new capabilities in NOI 1.6 you can:

    1. Find the right people to alert.
    2. Close the loop between SMEs and Operators. e.g. by giving feedback on operational instructions (Runbooks).
    3. Collaborate through ChatOps.
    4. Track easily what happened to an incident and/or individual event.

    I want to show you how these 4 scenarios look like from an end-user perspective. In later posts we will show you what you need to do to set this up.

    Finding the right people to alert

    Let’s say I am part of a group called “Online Sales Team”, and we are managing the “Online Sales” application. We want to be alerted:

    • Whenever an event arrives that contains “Online Sales” in the summary AND
    • An incident gets created that has a priority higher than priority 3.

    This is the filter in the incident policy:

    Showing filters for incident and events as part of the incident policy
    Showing filters for incident and events as part of the incident policy

    and we got assigned here:

    Incident assignment and notification
    Incident assignment and notification

    As I am part of “Online Sales Team”, have been active on a shift, and my notification preferences are email, I got an email like this on incident arrival:

    eMail with Incident Notification
    eMail with Incident Notification

    Closing the loop between SMEs and Operators

    Our Cloud Native stack comes with a built-in Runbook Automation solution. SMEs and Operators can collaborate together as follows:

  • SMEs capture operational instructions in a Runbook.
  • Operators launch the Runbook and walk through the instructions. They can do this in either a manual, partially-automated or fully-automated way.
  • Operators use the built-in rating and feedback mechanism to provide feedback to SMEs.
  • SMEs review the comments (see screenshot). This closed-loop communication allows SMEs to improve the Runbook based on feedback from Operators.
  • Runbook executions with feedback
    Runbook executions with feedback

    You will find more insights into improving Runbooks here. More details on how to automate manual instructions using Runbook Automation are here.

    You can use Runbooks as follows:

    A later article in this blog series will provide more details on the Runbook integration.

    Collaborating through ChatOps

    ChatOps is becoming increasingly popular at various enterprises. It usually refers to a collaboration model centred around a chat platform. The platform acts as a central control point, integrating development and operation tools (like Jenkins, Netcool Operations Insight, Jira etc) as well as processes. Communication thus occurs between all participating people and tools.

    Quoting my colleague Robert Barron: 

    “By connecting ChatOps (a communication strategy) and Netcool, you can enhance your operational responsiveness by adding automations and breaking down the silos between your operators and technical SMEs, developers, managers or others involved in solving incidents and managing war-rooms; strengthening their collaboration.”

    If you like to learn more about ChatOps, look at this neat online course that is free of charge!

    I am now going to introduce two complementary approaches for integrating ChatOps into your NOI experience:

    1) Via our cloud native stack, Cloud Event Management

    We have a built-in integration that can send notifications to a Slack channel. This is very much like the notifications in “Finding the right people to alert”.
    I have setup a simple outbound integration for Slack (more here), and combined it with an incident policy.

    I then get updates on incidents posted to my channel of choice:

    Slack Notifications
    Slack Notifications

    2) Via a custom integration from Netcool Operations Insight to Slack.
    Our fantastic teams from the IBM Garage can work with you on this. They bring some great assets for reuse in your specific environment. You can find all about their approach here.

    Tracking what happened to an incident and/or individual event

    In our cloud native stack, we keep track of what is happening to an incident at all times. It provides a very consumable timeline:

    Incident Timeline
    Incident Timeline
    In addition to the snippet above, you will also see who got notified and when.

    Setting things up

    In order to leverage some of the above scenarios from your NOI environment, you will need to forward events from NOI to CEM. This is done via a CEM Inbound Integration.

    1. In your CEM install, navigate to “Administration” > “Integrations” > “Configure an integration”.
    2. Select “Netcool/OMNIbus”.
    3. Fill in the parameters as guided by the UI.
    4. It will allow for downloading of a gateway configuration file.
    5. You then have to setup a ObjectServer Gateway, and apply the configuration that is in the downloaded zip file.

    For further details, go here.

    Find out more

    In this blog post I shared some ideas for better collaboration with NOI 1.6 in the area of Operations Management. I showed you how to find the right people and close the loop between SMEs and Operators. Also, I discussed how Chatops can link people and tools to improve collaboration.

    I hope you found these ideas useful. Do not hesitate to contact us in case of any questions.

    • Discover how to modernize IT operations management (ITOM) with artificial intelligence operations (AIOps) and hybrid deployment options at the IBM ITOM site.
    • For details and pricing information about IBM Netcool Operations Insight (NOI), visit the IBM NOI site
    • NOI 1.6 released on June 31 2019. Read more about the new features of NOI 1.6
    • Explore NOI 1.6 further in this series of blogs from the technical team who created this release.

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