In this DevOps Chat we sit down with Judit Sharon, CEO of OnPage. OnPage has been providing alerting and incident management services primarily to the healthcare industry since before DevOps was called DevOps. As DevOps has exploded on the scene, the security and functionality built into OnPage was a perfect fit for IT Ops and DevOps teams. As a result, OnPage has expanded beyond its healthcare industry roots to become a very popular solution in the DevOps space.
OnPage recently conducted a survey on the state of alerting in the IT Ops space. Judit gives us some insight into the findings, but you can download the full survey report at www.onpage.com/the-state-of-it-operations-ebook/.
As usual, the streaming audio of our conversation is below, followed by the transcript of our chat. Enjoy!
Alan Shimel: Hey, everyone, it’s Alan Shimel, and you’re listening to another episode of DevOps Chat. Today’s DevOps Chat is a really nice one that I think you’re going to enjoy. I have as my guest Judit Sharon, CEO and co-founder of OnPage. Judit, welcome to DevOps Chat.
Judit Sharon: Thank you, Alan. Happy to join you.
Shimel: Happy to have you here. So, Judit, let’s start off a little bit, as I mentioned, you were the founder and CEO of OnPage, but maybe some folks in our audience are not familiar with OnPage. Why don’t you give us a little bit of background on the company and how you came to start it?
Sharon: Sure. So, OnPage is a SaaS based incident management platform hosted in a secure facility across the U.S., and in a nutshell, we—OnPage gives you visibility and feedback on incident status. You can track alerts, delivery, ticket status, and response, and it’s rock solid reliable. As one of our customers once said, it’s a must solution for those who need to elevate critical incidents.
Sharon: So, if I just go a little bit deeper, OnPage was built around the incident resolution life cycle to enable an organization to get the most out of their digital investment, ensuring that sensor and monitoring system have a reliable means to escalate urgent notification to the right person and immediately.
So, you know, Alan, just a few years ago, when we wanted to come up with a product, all we needed to do is plan the product, develop, test it, and deploy it. That’s it. That was the end of it. Today, in the DevOps era, we also collect data. We use a special tool to collect data, to remove the noise. We calculate the data, we learn normal behavior, we predict anomaly, and we even attempt to correct it if possible writing a little script.
So, we invest a lot in collecting this information, and as long as the process is working well, machine to machine communication is ideal. However, in the case of failure, disaster, or outage, when a technical person is needed, e-mail and SMS or even a phone call is not a sufficient means of notification, and OnPage is the best, most reliable solution to be used. And why? Because the technical person on call will get all the information right to their device, can start working on the incident immediately. If they’re not available, there are escalation rules that are pre-defined, and they can escalate it to the next person.
Furthermore, in the event that the person did receive it and now they need help from a different person, from a different team—so, they don’t need to know who is on call in that team, all they need to do, they can forward the entire ticket, add some notes to it, and send it to the different organization. OnPage will send it to the right person on call and will escalate it within the next team.
So, in one sentence, to summarize, OnPage automates the entire notification process to avoid human errors.
Shimel: Yep. And Judit, I want to call out another not feature but characteristic in the history of OnPage. You know, we see so many companies that saw DevOps as a gold rush. You know, founders who say, “Wow, I want to start a company around DevOps,” and they build a tool for DevOps.
Not the fact with OnPage. OnPage has actually been around for some time, and its mission dovetails nicely with DevOps but it’s not one of these Johnny-come-latelies trying to capitalize on how many people are searching Google for DevOps or something like that. Correct?
Sharon: Right. So, we started about seven years ago. We started as incident notification, and actually, we started in health care. That’s why our solution is HIPAA-secure, something that is very unique about us.
The other thing that we did, because we started in health care, was, we needed to alert until read. So, we are very unique in that, that we don’t just send you an alert, like send an SMS or an e-mail or send you just a push notification. We will alert consistently for eight hours to ensure that the message was delivered to the right person. And we have the audit trail, so now, accountability is a must. Now, we have the audit trail of who got it, when, how long it took to open the message.
And another very nice feature other than the fact that we are HIPAA-compliant, so you know, we are secure, all the communication is secure at rest, and it’s encrypted in our database. We also save all the information for up to six years. So, other than the fact that we are HIPAA-compliant and other than the fact that we have the alert until read—we have other very nice features. Right now, there are a lot of companies, large companies mainly, that have a lot of systems and processes and sensors that sense just e-mail notification. And you will see from our study that we will talk about later, a lot of people are using e-mail notification for incident notification. And we just integrated those e-mails, and basically, you can leverage all the OnPage capabilities and elevate those messages if they’re important.
Yeah, that’s what we do.
Shimel: Sure, absolutely. And Judit, I wanted to kind of shift the conversation, if we will—if you will—to a larger topic, and that is sort of the state left alerting in the IT Ops world and the state of IT Ops. I know recently OnPage conducted a survey of IT Ops professionals. There’s been a few articles on DevOps.com about it by Aura Lee, love of your company as well as download the full report.
But for those of our listeners who maybe haven’t had a chance to go on the site and check out the report—and we’ll put links to it in our show notes—can you talk a little bit about that, give us a little insight, here?
Sharon: Yes. So, the state of IT operations, we conducted a study where we surveyed about 96 different companies, and the nice thing about that survey, we got a few people from each organization. So, we see the response from different levels of leadership. So, 20 percent were SVP or C level, 22 percent were directors, 34 percent were managers, and 24 percent were individual contributors. So, you see a nice distribution among the different levels in the organization.
And the findings were—I mean, first, what did we want to look at? We looked at how teams are notified in critical incidents, how many alerts the team received, who received the critical alerts, and how did they get handled?
So, the findings were really interesting. As I told you before, we found that 80 percent of the respondents said that they get notified via e-mail. You know, e-mail—the same e-mail that you get as junk mail, the same e-mail that you get on a regular basis—80 percent of IT get their notifications via e-mail. Which means they need to be on top of e-mail all the time. They’re always on, they’re never off. And I don’t know if you remember Target, they had some cybersecurity?
Sharon: Apparently they did get alerts, right? They did get notified, but they got notified via e-mail. So, three days later, they found the e-mail that they got notified. So, what OnPage says is, “Yes, you have processes that are sending e-mails. You can always change those processes and maybe extensively change the processes.” But why don’t you elevate those e-mails so they find you in case of emergency rather than you sit there and always, always check your e-mail?
Another interesting point that we found is that 40 percent of IT teams get more than 10 alerts per day; 20 percent get more than 20 alerts per day. So, couple that with the fact that two-thirds of the respondents saying that they sent alerts to the team—so now, you don’t send alerts to one person, every alert gets sent to the entire team because they don’t want to miss the alert, right? So, what OnPage does, they say, “Okay, you get a lot of alerts. Don’t send it to the entire team. Send it to an escalation team, so one person will get it, and then always change who is the first one in line so the burden gets distributed.” So, you don’t get as many alerts, and you don’t—like, basically, the workforce, right, and the quality of their life, you don’t diminish it completely.
So, that was just a few very, very interesting facts that we found about that demographic that we surveyed.
Shimel: Yep. You know, Judit, I’d like to make a comment, but more of a question to you and get your advice, because this is an issue we deal with here at DevOps.com, even. We have tried so hard to move off of e-mail as our primary communication, alerting, operational format. And we have tried. We’ve tried things like Slack and Chat and Google Chat and texting and I can’t tell you how many different tools we’ve given a try to. And yet, we keep coming back to e-mail.
So, it doesn’t surprise me that many Ops people still rely on e-mail, with all the spam and all the noise to signal ratio problems there. What do you—for people listening out here in the same boat I am in—what’s your suggestion? What’s your advice?
Sharon: Well, I think that e-mail is really good for audit trails, right? You want to know what happened, who said what. All the communication gets distributed to a distribution group—that’s fine.
What we say is, when it’s critical, right—e-mails are okay for day-to-day communication. E-mail is okay, it’s actually for events or incidents that don’t need to be taken care of right away. So, those events that don’t need to be prioritized, they should go to e-mail. That’s absolutely true.
What we say is, when there is an event that needs your attention immediately—and that’s another thing that I would like to go into are the costs, right? Those incidents that need to grab your attention immediately, those should be elevated. Those should find you rather than you always check your e-mail and always be on.
Another interesting thing that we’ve found is, 12 percent said they are still using a pager.
Sharon: And then we looked into those 12 percent, what vertical they come from, and we found that they come from the healthcare industry. Come to show you that the IT follows the technology implemented in the organization; they don’t kind of bring new technology for themselves. So, if the health care organization is using a pager, the IT organization of the same organization will use pager. Only with those who responded. We have a lot of customers, health care IT, that are using OnPage to elevate those messages.
Another thing I want to get into is the cost, right? How much it costs. So, 99 percent of the organizations say that a single hour of down time costs them $100,000.00. So, every minute that we delay working on it and remedying the issue costs you about $1,670.00—every minute, right? You know, the counter is working, and we found that 62 percent of responders, it takes them 5 to 15 minutes to deliver an alert. Twelve percent said it’s more than 15 minutes to deliver an alert.
So, here we see that just the delivery costs of the down time is between 8,000 and 25,000 per incident. Now, compare that to the cost of the solution. The cost of the solution is almost like a no-brainer. When we started the company and we pitched the idea, it was a quote—it’s a no-brainer. The cost is so miniscule in comparison to the cost of the lost time in delivering the alert to the right person and having the audit trail and having the reporting so you can afterwards go and even audit your team, make sure that everyone is accountable, that everyone is reliable.
So, that was an interesting finding from this survey. Actually, we think it’s so interesting that we would like to run the survey in a different venue as well to try to get maybe a bigger audience, because this one was about 200 to 150 responders, but maybe if we can go on a larger scale and see if it’s working the same across all industries.
Shimel: Sure. That would be fascinating. And I think—you know, it’s funny, I happen to be working on an e-book we’re writing on the state of DevOps in 2017, and I will tell you, there’s frankly not enough research being done and that’s available on these kinds of subjects, right? I mean, people are going more on kinda what their gut tells them on subjective rather than objective data.
Shimel: And that’s always—you know, sometimes it works, but it’s always risky. So, I would encourage you to do that if you guys can, for sure.
Sharon: Right. The other thing that we found that, you know, security became really, really important, like, this is top of mind for everyone. It used to be only health care, right, that cared about security and compliance, and now we go through one survey after another about our security policies from IT organizations, right? So, security becomes very, very important, and 40 percent of the responders said that encryption, even of alerts and messaging is very important for them. So, that’s another nice piece of information that we got from this survey.
Shimel: Absolutely. Well, Judit, as I mentioned to you off mic when we were talking before recording today, the time goes really quick here. We’re already—we’re well past 15 minutes, so we’ll try to be respectful of our audience’s time, and maybe we can have you on for another chat to continue the discussion, maybe if you continue another leg of the survey.
But thanks for being our guest on this DevOps Chat. I just wanted to end it, because I forgot to ask you in the beginning. For people who want to get more information about OnPage, where can they go?
Sharon: So, of course, there is our website, www.OnPage.com. If you want a copy of this survey, it’s located at DevOps.com, and there is another location on our website, OnPage.com/DevOps-ebook. A little bit more complicated than DevOps.com, but we are going to publish another part of this survey, because we put the white papers in two sections, so part two is going to come up soon.
Sharon: And I would love you guys all coming to look into what we do.
Shimel: Okay! Judit Sharon, founder and CEO of OnPage, thank you for being our guest.
Sharon: Thank you, Alan. Pleasure to be here.
Shimel: Pleasure to have you here. Judit, we’ll see you soon.
Shimel: This is Alan Shimel for DevOps.com. Thanks for joining us. Hope to see you soon on another DevOps Chat, and have a great day, everyone.