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IT departments driven batty by alerts

Technically Incorrect: And a startup called Big Panda aims to be the cure for notification-overload.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Is this the hell of an IT manager?


Are all the notifications getting to you?

Does your phone buzz, ping and ding with far too many deeply unimportant messages?

Imagine, then, you work in an IT department.

It seems that, at least for some IT people, their brains are being addled by a constant stream of alerts.

Can so many things be going wrong with IT systems? Are at least some of these alerts false alarms? How can you tell?

A startup called BigPanda says it talked to more than 1,700 IT professionals in such industries as telecom, finance and health care and discovered that many are being driven demented.

More than 40 percent reportedly said they weren't happy with their ability to respond to these alerts. Fewer than 20 percent said that they managed to resolve the majority of the alerts within 24 hours.

Naturally, my nonsense alert system pinged when I discovered that BigPanda claims to be "The Cure For IT Alert Overload."

It says its service detects real issues faster by "automatically correlating noisy alerts from fragmented monitoring tools into high level incidents."

Don't they all say that?

Well, OpsGenie says it provides "the tools you need to design meaningful, actionable alerts and ensure the right people are notified." Pagerduty says it allows IT managers to "automatically centralize, group, and enrich all events in a single hub. Suppress irrelevant alerts and reduce alert noise."

This is clearly a painful issue.

As an example, BigPanda presented its client, the Gap.

This fine, but slightly ailing retail organization suffered greatly at peak IT demand time -- yes, when far too many people needed a relatively cheap clean white shirt. Or on Cyber Monday.

The Gap's IT department struggled with all the alerts it was getting. Which ones needed to be addressed immediately? And which were someone, say, pressing the wrong button?

BigPanda offered me this quote from Vismay Thakkar, senior IT director of the Gap: "We added BigPanda to our operational tools suite to help us find the right alert before any customers are impacted." And apparently it worked for the Gap.

I cannot vouch for BigPanda's genius. Though naming your company BigPanda surely shows at least a touch of courage.

What I do know is that as IT systems get ever more complicated, their functionality gets ever more cloudy and the potential for driving IT people bonkers is ever greater.

If an IT manager has to tolerate even half the pings that my phone sends me, I'm amazed that there are any sane IT managers left.

What did you say? "Are any of them sane in the first place?" I don't know what you mean.