Setting Up Alerts

Alert Setup Guide

This guide walks you through multiple alert configuration options and offers tips on how to get the most out of alerts.

Alert Set-Up Using Dotcom-Monitor

Dotcom-Monitor is an active external service that simulates end-user interactions with Internet services such as web applications, mail servers, and video streaming. As Dotcom-Monitor imitates a user’s behavior, it simultaneously monitors for problems affecting availability, accessibility, and performance. Alerts are a critical part of the Dotcom-Monitor service and provide real-time alert whenever service- affecting problems are detected.

Dotcom-Monitor offers an extremely flexible framework for problem alert. There are several main concepts that should be understood to maximize the power of this alerting system. These include:

  • Alert devices
  • Groups
  • Templates
  • Schedulers
  • Filters
  • Escalations
  • Throttling
  • Uptime alerts

Alert Devices

The alert device is the basic building block of Dotcom-Monitor’s alerting system. It specifies the alert-delivery mechanism. Dotcom-Monitor supports any combination of the following delivery options:

  • E-mail – E-mail alerts contain detailed information about the monitored device (A monitored (or monitoring) device is grouping of monitoring tasks.), the task name, the affected monitoring location(s) , the error code and the error description.
  • Wireless e-mail (text messaging) – This is a common method of sending alerts to wireless phones and pagers in the U.S. Wireless e-mail messages provide basic error information, such as the device name, monitoring location, error code and a brief error description. Dotcom-Monitor formats wireless e-mails as 180 characters to improve readability on most pagers and phones. Within the U.S. and Canada, the sending address is displayed as a phone number followed by a domain name, such as 6125551212@vtext.net. Outside of these regions, wireless text alerts are available using the SMS option. There is no additional cost for wireless e-mail; however, there is a charge for SMS when this option is used.
  • SMS (Short Message Service) – SMS is a delivery option for wireless devices, but unlike wireless e-mail, the service is not based on e-mail. SMS addresses are entered in the same manner as phone numbers (country code + area code + number) and delivered over a mobile telephone network. Dotcom-Monitor assesses a surcharge for each SMS sent.
  • Phone – Alerts can be sent to any voice-enabled phone. This option provides a specific message with the details of the problem. Dotcom-Monitor’s automated system can detect whether an individual has received the call or if it is forwarded to a voice-mail system and treats the call accordingly. Phone alerts are interactive and provide an option for postponing additional alerts to the number called, which prevents repeated alerts while the issue is being resolved. Dotcom-Monitor assesses a surcharge for each phone alert.
  • Pager – For this option, Dotcom-Monitor calls the pager number and enters a numeric code. These codes are preset for specific monitored devices and show which monitored device is experiencing a problem.
  • SNMP trap – The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) alert sends an SNMP trap to an SNMP management console or server. This option integrates Dotcom-Monitor alerts directly into an IT management system, so alerts are treated and routed like any other alert within an enterprise. Currently, Dotcom-Monitor supports SNMPv1. Dotcom-Monitor has a registered EnterpriseOID, which is 31201. Alerts are sent as an Enterprise type, which is value six. For custom bit, an Error alert is value one ; an Uptime alert is value two; and a Test alert is value three. Alerts are sent over the Internet on a standard SNMP port.

Alert Groups

An alert group is a grouping of alert addresses assigned to a monitored device. For example, an alert group could contain e-mail addresses, SMS addresses and phone numbers as alert addresses. There is no limit on the number of alert addresses assignable to a group, and there is no limit on the number of alert groups per account. Alert groups are visible under the Device>Edit screen. Multiple alert groups can be assigned to one monitoring device, and changes take effect immediately.

Alert Templates

Dotcom-Monitor uses a default format for alerts but allows modification for any type of alert device. Users can create custom templates with a set of variables that Dotcom-Monitor provides. Templates can be created for any alert address. Once templates are created, they appear on the Group Alert screen.

Scheduler

The scheduler allows assigning specific activation periods to alert groups, which enables on-call coverage between specific groups of persons or disables alerts during specific time periods. Dotcom-Monitor allows for multiple schedules within the same account. Once a schedule has been created, it can be assigned to an alert group.

As an example, three schedulers could be created as follows:

  • Scheduler 1 – 08:00 –15:59, Monday  – Friday
  • Scheduler 2 – 16:00 –23:59, Monday  – Friday
  • Scheduler 3 – 00:00 –07:59, Monday  – Friday, all-day Saturday and Sunday

In the following example, there are three groups in the account with the following alert types:

  • Alert Group A – E-mail, Phone
  • Alert Group B – E-mail, SMS, Phone
  • Alert Group C – Wireless e-mail, SMS, Phone, SNMP trap

Using these examples, Scheduler 1 could be assigned to Alert Group A, so the individuals whose e-mail and SMS addresses are specified in the alert device will receive e-mail and phone alerts Monday through Friday from 08:00 –15:59 only.
If no schedule is assigned to a group, it is assumed that the group is eligible for alerts 24/7.

Filters

Filters are used to define error conditions. By default, any problem that Dotcom-Monitor detects is an error, but alerts can be blocked using filters, as follows:

  • Error is reported for less than (X) minutes – This filters problems based on the frequency of an occurrence. For example, a five-minute setting filters out any problems that last for less than five minutes. Additionally, this option might be used for a brief rebooting of a web server when no alerts are desired.
  • Error if it is not confirmed by (X) monitoring locations – This filters errors based on the number of monitoring stations reporting the error. For example, a single monitoring station might not connect to a specific URL but other stations do connect, which signals that the problem lies with a backbone provider for that single station. Dotcom-Monitor recommends setting this filter value to two or higher to help filter out problems that are occurring on a specific backbone.
  • Error detected in more than (X) tasks – This filters alerts based on the number of task errors occurring in a monitored device. For example, a monitoring device might consist of tasks that access three web servers in a server farm. If two of the servers fail, the device will still work as constructed using only the remaining server. By default, Dotcom-Monitor would send a alert because the two servers are unavailable, but the monitoring device is still performing correctly only on a single server. If the filter is set at two, an alert is sent only when two tasks in the device fail.
  • Error if owner device is down – This filter allows the specification of a parent device so that the alerting is modified should the parent device experience problems. An owner device is one on which other devices are dependent; it is a primary or parent device on which dependencies are built. For example, 10 different websites may be monitored as 10 different monitoring devices, but all the websites may be dependent on a single router. If the router fails, all 10 websites would become unavailable, and, by default, Dotcom-Monitor would send an alert for each website as an individual monitoring device.
  • Errors that meet below conditions will be ignored – This option filters out certain user-configurable errors. For example, DNS errors could be filtered out based on who is responsible for DNS server operations.

Filters are assigned to devices and alert groups.

Escalation

The escalation feature enables selective alert based on the duration of an error. For example, once an error has been detected and is cleared through any filters that may have been created, a specific group can be immediately notified. If the error condition persists for a specified duration, an alert could be sent to a secondary group to escalate the issue. A third group could also be notified if the error condition still exists after a specified amount of time. The escalation feature is located in the Alerts options under Device>Editscreen.

Throttling

Dotcom-Monitor’s throttling option is used to limit the number of alerts sent in response to an error condition. Without this feature, the number of alerts from a single outage can become burdensome. For example, assume there are 10 monitoring devices with a monitoring frequency of once per minute, and a global outage occurs. By default, Dotcom-Monitor would send alerts at the rate of 10 per minute for the entire duration of the outage. Throttling is accomplished at the alert device level, and is found in the Advanced options under Device>Edit. Additionally, SMS alerts could be throttled down to once every 60 minutes throughout the duration of an event.

Uptime Alerts

This option generates an alert to all addressees when a problem is resolved, and the service- affecting event is no longer detected.

Setup Order

To setup the following options, we suggest following this order:

  • Setup templates.
  • Setup filters.
  • Setup schedules.
  • Create an alert group.
  • Assign a schedule to the group.
  • Add alert addresses to the group.
  • Assign templates to each address.
  • Create a monitoring device.
  • Assign filters.
  • Assign alert groups.
  • Create an escalation procedure.
  • Setup Uptime alert(s).
  • Configure throttling.