The Last Mile of Observability — Fine-Tuning Notifications for More Timely Alerts

jeroen-van-erp
Jeroen van ErpProduct Manager
10 min read

No one wants to get an alert in the middle of the night. No one wants their Slack flooded to the point of opting out from channels. And indeed, no one wants an urgent alert to be ignored, spiraling into an outage.  

Getting the right alert to the right person through the right channel — with the goal of initiating immediate action — is the last mile of observability. 

In this blog, we'll dive deeper into StackState’s capabilities to create finely-tuned notifications, explore how to send automated messages via Slack and Teams, trigger alerts in incident management systems like PagerDuty or OpsGenie, register tickets and updates in systems like ServiceNow, and even kick off actions with ArgoCD.  

What are Notifications and Alerts in the StackState Observability Platform? 

Setting up notifications in StackState is the crucial step in keeping your IT environment in check — ensuring you're promptly alerted to potential issues in your day-to-day operations.   The platform's notifications are crafted to prompt the correct responses for any situation. Let’s look at the three main types of alerts within StackState: conversational messages, actionable alerts, and automated actions.

1. Conversational Messages:  

Imagine juggling multiple observability platforms just to check your system's health—it's both inefficient and cumbersome. That's where our advanced Slack and Microsoft Teams integrations step in, delivering precise, context-rich messages where team discussions already take place. Armed with critical data on the source, severity, and a direct link to the issue's epicenter, teams can mobilize quickly and effectively. 

2. Actionable Alerts: 

In the critical moments of an incident, every second counts. StackState's actionable alerts shine in these situations. Integrated seamlessly with popular on-call management tools like OpsGenie and PagerDuty, StackState ensures that alerts are raised, acknowledged, and acted upon quickly.  

These tools navigate complex on-call schedules, guaranteeing that alerts are heard by the right person at the right time, complete with precise issue details for fast remediation. Then, when StackState detects the component's health is back to normal, the system calls back into the incident management system to close the loop and make the team aware that the issue was resolved.  

stackstate-slack-alerting-screen-grab

 3. Automated Actions: 

Automated actions are crucial but often overlooked in observability. StackState believes in the power of proactive actions to enhance system stability. However, we recommend managing your environments through well-defined as-code pipelines and established procedures.   This ensures that changes are documented and persistent, avoiding ad-hoc modifications. It's important to note that StackState itself won't directly alter your environment. Instead, you can harness our webhook callouts to unlock additional capabilities.   

  • You could, for example, utilize ArgoCD Pipeline Triggers to initiate a deployment rollback or modify configurations. This seamlessly integrates with existing tools and procedures, ensuring compliance during production changes. 

  • For organizations adhering to ITIL frameworks, meticulous Incident Ticketing is recommended. Integration with ServiceNow ensures incidents are not only recorded but updated regularly, maintaining SLA adherence and catalyzing cross-team collaboration for issue resolution. 

  • When swift issue mitigation is paramount, sometimes a quick fix to stabilize the system is preferable. That’s where Resource Resizing via Lambda Functions comes in. StackState can trigger Lambda functions to adjust resource allocation on the fly, prioritizing system stability while a detailed post-mortem analysis is conducted to prevent future occurrences. 

These multifaceted notification and alert mechanisms are StackState's commitment to equipping technical teams with the tools they need to maintain operational excellence. With StackState, you're not just observing your IT environment; you're engaging with it, proactively managing and adapting to its ever-evolving demands.  

Who Benefits from StackState’s Notifications and Alerts? 

StackState's notification system is a strategic enabler, fortifying your organization's resilience against IT uncertainties. Effective notifications are pivotal for robust IT operations, turning raw data into actionable intelligence. Here's how StackState's notification system becomes a crucial asset across the board.  

  • Business Owners can look forward to minimizing Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR), keeping operational disruptions brief and business continuity intact. 

  • IT Leaders gain clarity on incident ownership and urgency, ensuring that the right personnel are engaged for efficient issue resolution. 

  • Engineering Teams receive precise, actionable insights to pinpoint and resolve technical issues, streamlining the remediation process. 

  • Operations Teams can get a firm handle on operational metrics and performance, identifying areas ripe for improvement and optimizing processes. 

  • Network Operations Centers benefit from the prompt delivery of alerts to the appropriate team, reducing response times and bolstering operational efficiency. 

How To Use Notifications and Alerts When Dealing With Issue Remediation 

StackState's notification system is designed to work well with how your team operates, giving you flexibility and control in handling alerts. We have notification solutions that cater to diverse operational preferences.  

Imagine a scenario where a service in your Kubernetes environment experiences a spike in latency, potentially impacting user experience. StackState will quickly detect this anomaly and trigger a series of orchestrated responses: 

Instant Alerts:

An alert is immediately sent to the on-call team through OpsGenie. It’s not just a notification; it carries detailed information about the service, the nature of the latency spike, and its potential impact. The team receives this alert in real-time, ensuring they're aware of the issue and its severity. 

Automated Load Balancing Action:

In parallel to the alert, StackState initiates an automated response to balance the load. This involves spinning up an additional instance of the affected service to distribute the load more evenly. It’s a proactive step that is crucial to prevent the latency issue from escalating and affecting more users. 

Incident Tracking:

Simultaneously, a ticket is automatically generated in ServiceNow. This action ensures that the incident is not only addressed without delay, but it's also logged for future reference and analysis. The ticket includes all pertinent details — what happened, when, and the steps already taken — providing a comprehensive view for further investigation or follow-up.  

In a nutshell, StackState makes sure that when there's a delay issue, it gets fixed quickly and smoothly, causing little trouble for users. This example shows how StackState's mix of alerts, automatic fixes, and incident tracking keeps your IT setup solid and responsive. This teamwork between human understanding and automated fixes is crucial for keeping services running smoothly without interruptions. 

How to Get Notifications to Work for You

The beauty of StackState’s notification system lies in its flexibility and ease of configuration. Whether you prefer to receive alerts through traditional channels — like email — or through modern collaboration tools — like Slack — StackState’s got you covered.  

For those critical issues that demand immediate action, StackState can use webhooks to trigger workflows in ArgoCD or log tickets in ServiceNow, preventing any alert from being left unresolved. 

StackState offers a tailored approach to setting up notifications that resonate with your operational needs. Here are two ways to ensure you're alerted effectively:  

  1. Interactive User Interface: Our intuitive interface walks you step-by-step through the process of creating notifications. Choose triggers based on specific criteria and select the channels for sending alerts, ensuring timely and relevant notifications. 

  2. GitOps and CLI Integration: For those inclined towards as-code solutions, StackState offers the flexibility to define notifications and alerts through code. Utilize our Command Line Interface (CLI) to seamlessly commit your notification configurations into our system. This approach is ideal for maintaining version control and ensuring consistency across various environments.

With these two methods, StackState helps teams integrate notifications seamlessly. Whether you prefer hands-on setup or automated code-based configurations, this dual approach streamlines alerting and adapts to your team's operational style, enhancing responsiveness to issues.

See How Smart Alerts Simplify Modern IT

Whether you're a small team looking to grow or an established enterprise aiming to refine your IT operations, StackState's notifications and alerts offer the precision, control, and adaptability you need. 

To get the most out of StackState, take us for a test run. Or try us out by exploring our playground!