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Process 3: Continuous Monitoring

Published: April 25, 2008

 


Figure 5. Continuous monitoring

Activities: Continuous Monitoring

The third process in SMC occurs after any monitoring tool being used is in place. When an event occurs, a notification is received, either by a dedicated SMC group or by a related group that has SMC responsibilities. After analysis, the event is either solved or escalated to a higher level for eventual solution.

This process involves the following activities:

  • Receive notification.
  • Analyze the event.
  • Solve or escalate the event.

The following table describes these activities in greater detail.

Table 6. Activities and Considerations for Continuous Monitoring

Activities

Considerations

Receive notification

 

Key questions:

  • Who should receive alerts?
  • Do incoming alerts require 24/7 support and, if so, who should handle them?
  • Is there a dedicated SMC group, or is monitoring handled by other departments, such as the Service Desk or Operations?
  • Is there a need for correlating events? Correlating events allows for an end-to-end look at related events and makes troubleshooting easier.
  • Have events historically been regarded as incidents, and has the incident management process handled the incident to analyze and resolve events/incidents?
  • Is there a connector between the monitoring system and the Service Desk tools or will alerts be transferred manually?
  • Do other departments or resources work on a given problem?
  • Are automated solutions applied?
  • Can alerts automatically be solved and closed?
  • How are alerts communicated to groups (via pager, text message, monitoring console, e-mail)?

Inputs:

  • IT services configured in the monitoring tool
  • Role descriptions
  • SMC policies and procedures
  • Notifications

Outputs:

  • Incident information
  • Event information
  • Alert information

Best practice:

  • If something needs immediate attention, ensure that there is a way to prioritize it.

Analyze event

 

Key questions:

  • Who is primarily responsible for event analysis?
  • Who is responsible for handling “noise” reduction—for clearing out events that aren’t real and that should be removed from view?
  • Is a known problem causing the event?
  • Is there clear, easily accessible information available about possible solutions?
  • Is the event description understandable?
  • Have there been other alerts about the same problem?
  • Can certain manual tasks help solve the problem?
  • Does any tool used by the Service Desk contain procedures for covering this incident?
  • Are there any changes planned for the IT service or for CIs of the IT service?
  • Is the event actionable? Is it valid?
  • Can the alert be tuned? Alert tuning is the adjustment of a service monitoring tool for a lower level of alert noise to reduce the number of false alerts.
  • Is the impact to the IT service clearly understood and communicated in the SMC tool?

Inputs:

  • Information about event resolution
  • Description of the event
  • Open problems
  • Open incidents
  • Open changes
  • Information from other teams

Outputs:

  • Event is solved
  • Event escalated as an incident and its severity raised, with possible transfer to another team

Best practice:

  • Ensure that all alerts are understandable, relevant, and up to date.

Resolve or escalate event

Key questions:

  • Who has authority to escalate events?
  • Who receives the escalated event?
  • How can we ensure that the receiver takes ownership of the event? If the receiver can’t, is there an alternate individual or team to call upon?
  • Which events should be subject to 24/7 escalation?
  • Was the event resolved through the use of a knowledge base? Product knowledge? Other approaches?
  • Should the alert threshold be tuned or updated?

Inputs:

  • Updated knowledge about alerts
  • Input for tuning the alerts
  • Additional error description of the alert for further troubleshooting
  • Description of previous activities (if problem is not solved)

Outputs:

  • Escalated alerts
  • Solved alerts

Best practice:

  • Encourage each individual on the alert escalation chain to provide input and knowledge. 

This accelerator is part of a larger series of tools and guidance from Solution Accelerators.

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