In anticipation of our New York City Summit Event on October 19th, we’re highlighting some of the great partners who will be in attendance in this Exhibitor Series. We’re excited to share our latest Q&A with Abbas Haider Ali, CTO of xMatters.
AppD: What issues was xMatters founded to address?
AHA: The core principles behind our product are built around making the lives of IT teams better by automating collaboration and improving handling time for all manner of events – failed build, incidents, major outages, service disruptions, application performance issues, and more. Our market focus has been on enterprises who have to support both autonomy and velocity for teams leading their company’s digital transformations, while meeting the compliance, governance, and collaboration requirements that come into play when you have tens of thousands of people in your technology organization.
AppD: What are the main three differentiators for xMatters?
AHA: Our primary differentiators stem from the “integration-driven collaboration” philosophy that we deliver in our product. Whether you’re a developer, infrastructure engineer, DBA, ops engineer, SRE, service desk process owner, or any other member of an IT function in an enterprise, you have a core system or two that serve as the focal point of your day. Our goal is to make it really easy to connect any product into xMatters so that when it needs to get a hold of you or someone on your team, it can do so, utilizing either an on-call schedule or other ruleset, or using other systems in your enterprise to figure out who needs the info and can act on it. Three differentiators that stem from this philosophy include:
Enriched Notifications: Since xMattters connects your entire IT ecosystem, every notification can become an actual business insight. Our view is that a single system often provides only one piece of the puzzle that’s required to solve complex issues that arise from managing the software delivery lifecycle.
Actionable Alerts: Actionable doesn’t entail just a simple acknowledge, escalate, or resolve sort of behavior—it connects the recipient of an xMatters alert to the workflow to get their job done. The actions in xMatters are not only useful for the immediate recipient and the team that they’re on, but also across teams. This means you can get help from teams outside your service, or if needed, move ownership over to other teams with full context using the appropriate task management system (e.g. JIRA or ServiceNow).
Multi-step workflow: xMatters lays the foundation to connect your data, tools, teams, and people. This means that any business process that spans any combination of entities has the ability to do so in an automated, context-driven, and curated fashion. As data moves at unprecedented velocities to support continuous delivery initiatives, xMatters can make sure that required issues get the visibility and efficient resolution they deserve.
AppD: We have several sessions on DevOps at AppD Summit New York – how can xMatters help speed DevOps adoption?
AHA: DevOps teams in enterprises face unique challenges that xMatters is particularly suited to address. Collaboration and automation are key tenets of a DevOps approach to building and running applications. In an enterprise, the tricky thing is that even the newest applications have dependencies on services that may not run with a DevOps approach. That means you have different parts of enterprise tech teams that run at various velocities, with different tools, under different constraints, and somehow they all have to work under a governance and accountability umbrella that is very different than what you’d find at a startup.
Our integration-driven collaboration approach steps in to allow the DevOps team to get their work done at the pace they need, while the job of moving information across tools and teams is handled transparently by xMatters. Systems of record get current state, updates, and activity logs, while operations teams can move alerts between teams as they need to. And if any of them need to work on something together, it’s a breeze to engage just the people you need into collaborative sessions in the enterprise’s platform of choice – conference calls, web meetings, Slack, Hipchat, etc.
AppD: Tell us about the joint xMatters and AppDynamics story; what does it offer?
AHA: There’s no doubt that application performance management systems are at the heart of how enterprises should be managing their IT business. At the end of the day, it’s the information in AppDynamics that tells companies how effectively they are at serving their internal and external customers. And if something goes wrong, or is about to, it’s a great place to see what’s happening and get into resolution mode quickly and in a targeted fashion. That also means that there’s a very natural connection point between our respective products. When AppDynamics sees something starting to go wrong, call it a “yellow alert,” the integration between our products and the larger xMatters integration ecosystem, is to determine who is best suited to take action on the information or what other system in the tech stack needs to be contextually aware. And the better the AppDynamics early detection is, and the better the xMatters resolution process is, the less of a business impact there will be. For “red alerts,” the impact tends to be immediate in which case the joint value proposition is even stronger.
AppD: Can you share your favorite xMatters customer success story?
AHA: One of my favorite xMatters and AppDynamics joint customer stories is FamilySearch. FamilySearch is the world’s largest, free genealogy organization. They are running 20+ petabytes of data, have 15 million page hits per day and have over 800 new names added to family trees every minute. In 2011, the site had performance issues and their ability to deliver new features was trumped by their need to respond to incidents and fix existing stability issues. Today their team is broad but nimble, and includes a DevOps organization consisting of 300+ engineers split into 45 teams, with each team having responsibility over their specific area. They also have several hundred volunteers who help index and archive assets (photographs, digital documentation, metadata, etc.).
Their event management system was built in-house. For monitoring and operational tools, they use AppDynamics, Splunk, Apica and Jira, which all feed into their event management system. They also integrated xMatters with Slack, giving software developers yet another means of getting events, as well as the ability to collaborate on the solution to problems. Monitoring also occurs at every stage of the application life-cycle. They gather the results of unit testing, acceptance testing, regression testing, and deployment. They gather metrics related to application, server, and network performance. AppDynamics is used as their primary application performance monitoring tool with Apica, and CloudWatch and Splunk as supplementary tools. The organization redefined the architecture, automated everything, and now can continuously deliver features and fixes – on a common platform, and measure for improvement. Uptime is now in the three-9’s range for most components with some in two-9’s.
AppD: Why should delegates come and visit the xMatters booth?
AHA: The xMatters booth is a great place to swing by and talk to one of our engineers who can help map out a delegate’s immediate and cross team toolchain, and walk them through how our product can help them get things done more quickly, minimizing the bombarding of alerts that turn out not to be useful or actionable.
Register here to book your free place at the NYC Summit on October 19th and meet the xMatters team there.
Abbas Haider Ali brings over 16 years of experience in networking, cloud services, software, and cloud communications. As CTO of xMatters, he is responsible for evangelizing the adoption of communications-enabled business processes, and has worked closely with more than 400 global enterprises and IT organizations to create a vision for adopting intelligent communication strategies across business scenarios. Abbas holds a BASc in Computer Engineering from the University of Toronto.