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Automate/Manage Integration Best Practices

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Good morning everyone,

I'd like to share how we're handling the ticket integration as well as hear your opinions on efficiency with tickets, devices, configs, etc. We are really struggling on the device/config side of things, but I feel like we have a really good handle on tickets... so that's what I'll be sharing with you.

All Automate tickets are synced with Manage and those tickets will end up on 1 of 3 different boards. 100% of the tickets sync to an Automation board and CW Manage workflow rules will move them to another board which gives a central management location for the direction of all automated tickets and avoids questions like (Did Automate send this to "x" board or did a Manage workflow rule move it from "y" to "x").

Here's a quick breakdown of the 3 boards:

  1. Automation - This is where 100% of the Automate tickets are synced. This board should be self healing. Automate should open these tickets, sync them with Manage, resolve the issue, and close the ticket in both applications.
  2. Alerts - In a perfect world this board should remain empty. This board is for tickets that should be self healing, but aren't. We have a workflow rule that will age unresolved tickets out of the Automation board and into this board. This board helps expose where Automate is failing. You'll see a trend of tickets that all have the same issue on this board and once you figure out the problem on Automate's side, then you'll most likely see all of those tickets resolve themselves. This has greatly increased the efficiency of our Automate server because it separates the noise of self healing spam from legitimate issues with Automate.
  3. Service Board - This is the normal service board where all of our tech live day in and day out. This is where the vast majority of our company's 'hands on' tickets go, so this is the perfect place for emergency/critical Automate tickets to go (via Manage workflow rules). Our service team will immediately have eyes on these tickets to get them resolved quickly (Offline server, critically low disk space, stopped crucial services, potential Ransomware infections, etc)

A few notes:

  • Even though Automate is only sending tickets to the Automation board, it's very important that you check the boxes to sync with every board that an Automate ticket might end up. If the ticket is sent to a board that Automate can't see, then the integration breaks and Automate can no longer update/close that ticket.
  • Nearly all partners have a "closed loop system" enabled on their service board meaning that the customer gets an email any time a ticket is created/updated/resolved. Some people might not want their customers to see critical automate tickets (i.e. - issue comes in, tech gets it resolved, tech then shares the resolution with the customer before they even realize there's a problem.) This helps provide the "crystal ball" experience where the customers think that you're so on top of things that you can resolves problems before they even exist. The easiest way to do this is to create board called "Emergency" or "Critical" and have those ticket flow into that board instead. Then you can create a 'view' for your techs to see both the 'Service Board' AND the 'Emergency Board' in a single board view. (I'll provide more details on how to set this up if you're interested)
  • If the Alerts board is overbearing then there are a couple of things you can do to remedy that. First, you can turn off monitors that you don't care about. Automate can get pretty noisy and if you don't have a good handle on all of your monitors, then it can wreak havoc on you via ticket SPAM. There's no harm in turning them off because they aren't beneficial if they're out of control and are actually causing more harm than good. You can always go back and slowly turn them back on and reign them in better one monitor at a time. The second thing you can do if your Alerts board is out of control is to utilize Brightgauge (or another dashboard/CW Manage's MS SQL database). Use these tools to help determine the top 3 alerts that are spamming your board. That will give you great direction for what to focus your time on by either fixing those issues or turning off the alerts.

So there's the somewhat detailed blueprint for our ticketing. I'd love to hear your comments, questions, and concerns as well as any tips regarding syncing devices/configs, especially for billing purposes.

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Great post! I like the idea of having 3 boards. It can be difficult separating actionable from non actionable alerts. 

A few questions...

  • How do you handle alerts that are generated via email from outside of Automate? For example, Meraki alerting if an appliance is down. An email will generate a ticket for a failure notice, but then a separate ticket for a success notice. Do you automate these types of tickets as well?
  • Do all of your techs look at the same service board? Or do they only work tickets that are dispatched / assigned to them? 
  • Are your workflows / reporting primarily built around ticket summary description or Type, Subtype, Item. Would you mind sharing some examples of what your ticket Type, Subtype, and Items are for manage? 

In regards to syncing devices, I am testing having 2 additional locations at each client for "DoNotBill" and "Offboard". Then, I will configure the CW Manage Plugin agreement mapping to target specific client locations, not the whole client. Any devices that should remain under the Client, but not count towards their agreement will go in the "DoNotBill" location and any devices that should be offboarded and have any software removed will go into the "Offboard" location. This way, the devices stay under the same Client when syncing configs to CW Manage. 

It is a bit more to manage and set up, but currently we are moving devices to an entirely separate client "PendingDeletion". Doing this breaks the config sync, since the Client is changing for the device. 


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