E-mail vs ITSM, Ensuring Timely Maintenance of Critical Storage Systems

Storage systems are a critical component of IT infrastructure that need to be online 24/7/365 without interruption. This is accomplished through high-availability technologies and end-to-end hardware redundancies so that there is no single point of failure that could lead to downtime. To keep systems healthy and to maintain the maximum 9s of uptime, all systems need to be actively monitored and regularly maintained. This is because all systems have parts that eventually wear out from the storage media (HDDs, SSDs) to the power supplies and fans.

The QuantaStor storage platform monitors the entire stack from the software to the hardware so that IT departments are quickly notified when maintenance is required be it a simple failed hot-swap power supply, to bad media, or thermal issues.   QuantaStor notifies IT departments through an internal component called the Alert Manager which is in charge of communicating out alerts to IT staff via ITSM (IT Service Management) modules and/or e-mail.

The ITSM industry has grown a lot over the past several years and has been popularized by companies like Squadcast (see this QuantaStor + Squadcast blog post), Pagerduty, AlertOps, ServiceNow Lightstep, Solarwinds Service Desk, Atlassian Opsgenie, xMatters, Dynatrace, Fresh Service, Splunk On-Call to name a few.

QuantaStor has modules to integrate with all of those and more so that you can get notifications through the ITSM provider of your choice. You can also develop your own custom QuantaStor alert-handler in Python to integrate it into custom IT service management systems.

ITSM vs E-mail

For those not familiar with ITSM systems, they enable IT teams to configure on-call schedules for all the IT staff so that alerts are routed to the right staff. Unlike emails, ITSM systems manage alerts & incidents from creation to resolution. Where critical emails can get lost or spam filtered by mistake, ITSM systems route incidents to the correct IT person(s) based on schedules and provide rules engines that can inspect the incident to do advanced workflows.

The key difference is the ITSM systems will prompt IT staff to address an incident and will ensure that each incident is accepted and resolved. If a given IT person on-call is not available or doesn’t respond within a given time, these systems automatically route the incident/ticket to the next person on-call or will escalate it to a backup tier of IT staff.

In short, ITSM systems ensure nothing gets missed, and when it comes to maintaining the hardware in your mission critical storage systems, no organization can afford to skip maintenance notifications.

Configuring ITSM Alerting in QuantaStor

Configuring your QuantaStor storage grid to send alerts to your ITSM provider is easily configured in just a few clicks. To get started you’ll need to get a web-hook URL from your ITSM provider and that’s done a bit differently for each vendor so it’s good to refer to the documentation on the QuantaStor documentation web site here for details on how to get a webhook URL from your ITSM provider account. After you have the web-hook, simply navigate to the ‘Alert Manager’ dialog within the QuantaStor web management interface, select the tab for ‘ITSM Integrations’ then select yours, Ctrl-V to paste in the web hook URL, press ‘Add’ then ‘OK’ to save your changes. We recommend using the ‘Generate Test Alert’ to test out the alerting integration after you’ve saved your changes to ensure everything is configured correctly.

Too much alert noise?

ITSM systems have filtering so that you can auto-resolve issues that match a certain criteria but if there’s an alert you’re working on it can be helpful to have the system pause alerting while IT staff are working a given issue. QuantaStor has an option for Pausing and Disabling any specific alert type via the ‘Alert Types’ tab in the ‘Alert Manager’. That’s a convenient way to reduce alert noise when needed.

Summary

We highly recommend the use of ITSM systems to ensure your systems are actively being monitored and maintained vs the use of just email. Hope you enjoyed this article, if you have any questions or suggestions, please write to us at info@osnexus.com.



Categories: Storage Appliance Hardware

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