For the past year or so, productivity experts have been talking about “Inbox Zero” – a rigorous fresh approach to email management. Reaching Inbox Zero stresses techniques to tame your inbox and keep it empty (or nearly empty) at all times. The practice promises to focus your time and attention on the most important tasks. At an organizational level, it promises to eliminate bottlenecks and stress.
Here at BigPanda, we believe the Inbox Zero method can be applied to IT event management just as effectively. Both rely on streamlining processes such as effective triage, clear communication and issue resolution. Without BigPanda in place, alert storms most often show up as emails in the inboxes of level-one NOC operators. BigPanda’s correlation, environments, and workflow actions help our customers maintain a perfectly clean inbox.
BigPanda’s Unified Console interface behaves similar to an email client. Alerts arrive and are correlated and clustered into incidents. Using the Environments feature, organizations then apply rules to these incidents based on the services, infrastructure, regions and departments adversely affected by the event. Incidents are flagged for follow-up based on severity level. Major and high priority incidents rise to the top.
Reaching Inbox Zero stresses that messages requiring a quick or easy response are processed first. In BigPanda, level-one users can review and clear the easy stuff, or snooze the issue for follow-up later. Then they can investigate and attempt to resolve the more serious incidents or escalate to level-two responders. Incident lifecycle workflows can be defined and triggered directly in BigPanda, including automatic ticketing and escalation to level-three responders such as developers or engineers. Finally, NOC directors and other managers can monitor performance metrics, making sure the team remains productive and catches critical issues before they result in service interruption.
Adopting the Inbox Zero approach ensures that all alerts, and the IT issues they signal, are actively managed. It’s the last mile of effective MTTR. At a correlation rate of 90 percent, 400 alerts are reduced down to 40 incidents requiring resolution. Streamlining workflows on the remaining 10 percent can clear out NOC inboxes entirely. In fact, BigPanda customer Playtika is reaching Inbox Zero, with less than five open incidents on average, at any given time.
We’ve produced a new video demonstrating the potential of reaching Inbox Zero as a best practice in IT service operations.