Greenville Health System (GHS) needed a way to integrate SolarWinds events into ServiceNow then automate incident routing and resolution in order to improve visibility, communication and accountability between IT Operations and IT Service Management teams. With the hospital emphasizing reduced downtime and improvements to workflow automation, IT managers began looking for a tool that could help them.
Established as City Hospital in 1912, GHS is a public not-for-profit academic healthcare delivery system currently employing nearly 15,000 employees across seven hospitals and emergency centers. After implementing ServiceNow as a Service Management platform, the IT group was able to prioritize, route and resolve P1/P2 incidents based on impact to the organization. Next, the organization recognized a need for monitoring so they installed SolarWinds, but Systems team members were the only ones getting notified; service desk personnel didn’t have access to the same event information. Consequently, Service Management asked to move the Solarwinds alerts into ServiceNow in order to track events and notify support staff of critical issues before end users began calling the help desk.
Steven Young, a GHS Application Analyst who spends the majority of his time working in ServiceNow, was asked to evaluate “connectors” that could send SolarWinds events into the ITSM system. His criteria were specific and straightforward:
“Steve determined right away that Evanios’ pre-built SolarWinds/ServiceNow connector could be the ideal solution. “I looked at a few different vendors,” he explained. “But each one required some scripting for customization. Evanios had everything built already and could just ‘snap in’ to our system. The customization already done by the integration was enough to choose Evanios. This was as easy and doing a small setup on the SolarWinds Server, adding a file to the mid server, and doing 2 update sets in ServiceNow.”
After he determined that Evanios would be able to integrate monitoring into the IT Service Management platform, improving both team communication and event/incident response, Steve’s managers told him to “go for it.”
Success was evident immediately. “We installed the SolarWinds integration during a one-hour conference call,” Steven said. “Evanios is not hard at all…it’s basically self-explanatory. Each rule lists a condition that triggers an event, so it was really like ‘set one thing and everything else follows suit.’”
From beginning to end, GHS’s project consisted of:
“Most other integrations would have required extensive research, a complicated decision, customization, building and testing that would have taken weeks or months,” Steven believes. “With Evanios, we were ready to go live before GHS was even ready to say ‘yes.’ If I had to build this, it would have taken months. Evanios works seamlessly and does exactly what it should do. I believe that when I was given the go-ahead to implement, they thought this would have taken about 6-8 weeks, not 3 days total.”
To a certain extent, the Evanios installation represents not just technology change but a cultural shift as well. As Steven explains, “The Service team is getting the hang of dealing with events since they aren’t used to it. We’re baselining right now in order to set up performance indicators. Eventually we’ll automate much of the management, but for now we want our operators to understand both the process and root cause, which includes manually viewing and closing tickets.”
“We’re also using Evanios’ deduplication capabilities,” he adds. “So all incidents related to the same server/service will update the same ticket instead of creating new tickets for every alert. “Also we added a SolarWinds exclusion on the CMDB CI table — so if we don’t want a ticket to be created during a change or at all on a specific CMDB item, we can just check a box and the filters will pick up the exclusion. Plus, we created a script that looks at the CMDB CI software table to determine lead analyst, support group and oncall phone numbers and manager associated with impacted devices/services, for a phase 2 update. In phase 2 of the rollout, this script will route events to the right person: for example, if a server goes down we can notify the application team at the same time that we are notifying the systems team to check the hardware and keep both managers informed. Now our systems on-call representative is aware of events so when the service team calls him or her, a resolution is already in progress.”
With the hospital already completing it’s monitoring integration initiative and realizing progress toward its goals of reducing downtime and improving workflow automation, what’s next for GHS and Evanios?
“Phase one was just to get the events into ServiceNow and create incidents. We have accomplished that goal. Phase two will include implementation of the script that looks at software. As we continue to grow our CMDB and link stuff together, this can only get better. And when we complete our baseline and find additional problem areas, we will use the “Service Status” module that comes with Evanios for the Service Desk to see issues as they occur in real-time.”
“Plus, we’ll continue improving organizational awareness,” Steven says. “Part of that will be baselining, and very quickly we’ll address service status through visualization of all IT service items. Then we’ll work on tightening everything up by closing out incidents through automation. All of this will be significantly helped through Evanios’ ability to automate and enrich events and incidents.”
“Like any integration, there will be constant refinement to best meet the needs of the organization. As baselining continues, I’m sure we’ll see areas where improvement is needed. Refining events can be very simple because the integration is so robust and so much was thought of when building. I look forward to future releases to see the improvements on an already good product.”