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Look out for the Robotrons! This release celebrates Robotron 2084, the classic shoot 'em up style arcade game where you must save what's left of the human race from a collection of super intelligent, self-aware robots who revolted against their human creators.
With AI-powered digital operations insight pop ups and incident automations you can share with your teams, our Robotron release lets you harness the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence to become the hero of your incident management process.
Before you dive in to learn about all the improvements included in this release, here are some important dates:
- Non-production environment access: Tuesday, March 28
- Production environment access: Tuesday, April 11 (enabled between 10:00-10:30am Pacific)
Future feature release
As a special bonus, we'll also give you a sneak peek at an enhancement we're working on for a future release:
- Redesigned on call scheduling & calendars – Superior and effective on call management.
- SCIM 2.0 API – Communicate user identities across cloud-based applications.
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In a hurry? Here's an overview of this doc if you want to skip ahead to something awesome:
- Incident Response & Service Intelligence
- Digital Operations Insights
- Incident Automations
- Get Targeted Resolver Delivery Failure Warnings in the Console
- Indicate Services as Resolvers
- Filter Incidents by Source and Resolver
- Add Response Options Anywhere in Your Email Messages
- User Experience
- On Call Management
- Reporting & Analytics
- Flow Designer
- New & Updated Workflows
- New & Updated Steps
- Usability Improvements
- Flow Designer
- Mobile Updates
- xMatters REST API Updates
- Sneak Peek: SCIM 2.0 API
- Early Access Program & Feature Delivery Update
Incident response & service intelligence
The xMatters service reliability platform embeds services directly into its incident management capabilities to supercharge your response to digital service interruptions and continually provide value to your customers. In this release, we're doubling down on service intelligence and the components that support it, including process-centric AIOps enhancements to guide you through the incident management process and the ability to share helpful incident automations between teams in your organization.
Digital operations insights
In our last release, we unveiled new, AI-powered insights driven by machine-learning to provide incident commanders and resolution teams with immediate, actionable information to help mitigate and resolve incidents faster, and to provide additional context during post-incident review.
For this feature's initial design, insights were globally accessible from the top-navigation menu to all users with permission to manage the incident. A badge count on the Insights menu item indicated the number of new insights as they became available.
In this release, we iterate on this feature's design, to surface the most important insights and make them more visible to incident commanders. We also provide access to additional context about suggested resolvers, which can help commanders decide if they want to notify them to engage.
While the red badge count on the Insights menu definitely catches the eye when it appears for the first insight, it might become a bit less noticeable as the count increases when additional insights come. What if there's a really important insight that we think you'll want to act on right away?
Now when we have high confidence a particular insight will be especially likely to help resolve the incident, we'll display it as a popup in the Incident Console. For example, this includes adding the owners of services impacted by the incident as resolvers. By surfacing the most important insights, the incident commander and resolution team can act immediately, ultimately reducing the time to resolve the incident.
Of course, we realize there may be times when you're in the middle of a task, such as entering a note in the timeline, and you don't want to lose focus. To accommodate this, we've added the ability to snooze popups for 5, 10, or 15 minutes. You can also choose to snooze them until the incident is resolved—this can be useful for linking similar incidents that you'll want to refer to later as part of the post-incident review.
And when you need total, uninterrupted focus to mitigate an incident, you can always use Do Not Disturb mode to turn off insight popups. When you're ready, all of your insights will still be available from the Insights panel, and they'll always contribute to the badge count.
View group & user info cards
Sometimes you want to know more about the suggested resolvers in your insights before you notify them to engage in an incident. For example, if they're in a different time zone and you'll be waking them up at 3 am. the suggested resolver name now links to an info card for the user or—in the case of a group—to the user who's currently on call for the group.
Automations are a solution for automating pre-built flows of common tasks for an incident that resolvers can run with a single click—such as notifying resolvers, sending alerts, creating Jira tickets, or rolling back a deployment—without interrupting the incident management process. While automations were previously available to incidents in the same workflow, this release includes exciting new capabilities to share and use automations between different workflows.
The ability to share automations allows other teams or departments in your organization to easily use the same automation without having to rebuild it. It also means that if you ever need to change the steps in your automation or modify their configuration, you can conveniently do it in only one place.
Advertise your automation
Incident automation triggers include a new 'Share this automation for use in other workflows' setting that you can use to make the automation available to other workflows. This won't automatically add the automation to every other workflow in your environment—you'll have to add it to the specific workflows where you want to use it.
Manage a workflow's automations
The settings menu (gear icon) for every workflow in the Workflows list now includes an option to 'Manage Shared Automations'.
Selecting this option opens the dialog window where you can add or remove any automations that have been shared for use in other workflows.
The next time you go into the Incident Console for an incident created by that workflow, you'll see the shared automations you added to the workflow.
Streamlined automation set up
When configuring an incident automation trigger in Flow Designer, you need to specify which flow trigger form you want to use with the trigger. This previously meant you would have to go back to the Workflows tab to create a new form if you hadn't already created one. Now, when adding the trigger to your canvas, you have the option to select a form or instantly create a new form as part of the setup process.
Get targeted resolver delivery failure warnings in the console
Notifying the right people at the right time on the right device—it's what xMatters was built for, and it's what incident commanders rely on for effective incident response. However, configuration issues with on-call schedules and users' devices sometimes prevent incident notifications from reaching resolvers, leaving you wondering why they never showed up.
When an incident commander notifies a resolver to engage in an incident, it's important for them to know if the notification could not be delivered. Delivery failures can occur for several reasons, including missing or misconfigured devices, empty or inactive groups or shifts, or services without an owner.
So you're not left hanging, the Resolvers section of the Incident Console will now display a failure badge, indicating to the Incident Commander that they should find another way to notify the resolver or engage a different resolver instead.
The incident timeline will also include an entry for the delivery failure, with a direct link to the alert log where you can find out the exact reason and details for the failure.
Indicate services as resolvers
As an Incident Commander, it's important to have a clear understanding of each resolver's role and responsibilities in mitigating the incident. While you can manually add descriptions of resolvers' roles in the Incident Console, this takes valuable time which you may not have.
Now when you add a service as a resolver, the group that owns the service is listed and the name of the service is automatically assigned as their role.
As part of this work, we also updated the incident's timeline and Alert report to include the services you've notified to engage, rather than just the group that owns them.
Filter incidents by source and resolver
Maybe you've noticed concerning metrics in your incident performance reports and you'd like to understand the details of the underlying incidents so you can help users or groups improve their performance. To assist with this, we've added new 'Resolvers' and 'Source' filters to the Incidents list.
The 'Resolvers' filter is handy to look up the incidents where particular users or groups you supervise, or other resolvers, were engaged.
You can use the 'Source' filter to look up which workflow the Initiate Incident step that created the incident belongs to. This is handy if you're testing a workflow and want to identify the incidents created by your tests, or if you want to look up incidents triggered through specific monitoring workflows.
Add response options anywhere in your email messages
If you'd like to make the response options in your email notifications more visible to resolvers, then you'll want to take advantage of this latest enhancement to add response options anywhere in your emails and style how they look.
In the message editor, drag the new Responses property into the body of your email message. When you send the message, this property is replaced with the response options from your form. If you'd like, you can then use the editor's code view to style how the responses look using your own custom CSS.
User experience is a central theme of every feature and enhancement we build here at xMatters. In this release, we focused extra effort on incorporating our world class feature documentation directly into the web application, so you always have a helping hand exactly when and where you need it.
New in-app Help Center
Welcome to a new Help Center experience! We've embedded our online help directly into the web user interface. You can now find answers, watch tutorial videos, and search for more information without ever having to navigate away or switch between browser tabs. Simply click the Help icon or any 'Learn more' link to instantly access the Help Center in a side panel next to the screen you're on.
Nobody does on-call management like xMatters, but that doesn't stop us from continually looking for ways to improve and update our platform based on customer feedback, usability studies, and trends in the marketplace. In this release, we've redesigned dynamic teams and added the ability to copy and convert On-Call and Broadcast groups. As you'll see in a sneak peek, we're also in the process of overhauling our on-call calendars and scheduling capabilities with all the latest advancements to keep our on-call scheduling system the best on the market.
Redesigned dynamic teams
Availability: Now in Early Access Program & non-production; April 27 production
We've redesigned dynamic teams to share the same look and feel as our latest groups interface. The new design incorporates a lot of enhancement requests we've received over the years for this feature to simplify the creation process of defining the criteria teams are based on.
A new Overview tab lets you quickly see your team's critical information at a glance, including its admins and observer roles, the search criteria used to find members, and a summary of users that currently match the criteria who will be notified if the team is targeted.
On the People tab, you can manage the admins and observer roles for the team, and define the search criteria used to determine team members.
The updated design makes it simpler to define and understand the criteria used to determine members of the team. It also provides a preview of all the users in your system who currently match the criteria and will be notified if you target the team as a recipient.
Copy & convert groups
Estimated availability: May 15
Want to save time and reduce errors when setting or replicating a complex scheduling pattern for a new group? Do you have On-Call groups with 24x7 schedules that you'd like categorized as Broadcast groups so they're simpler to manage and you can better filter for them in the web user interface? Want to take advantage of scheduling features in a Broadcast group?
You can do all these things and more using the new 'Convert' and 'Copy' functionalities we're adding for both On-Call and Broadcast groups.
A few things to note:
- To convert an On-Call group to a Broadcast group, the group must contain no shifts (or just the default 24x7 shift), and no escalations or rotations. Once converted, scheduling options are no longer available, and members of the Broadcast group are all notified at the same time.
- Converting a Broadcast group to an On-Call group adds all members to a default 24x7 shift. You can then create a shift schedule with escalations to notify primary on-call responders first, and then rotate responsibility.
- Converting a Broadcast group to an On-Call group is available for groups with up to 200 members.
- Copying a group is available for Broadcast groups with up to 1000 members and for On-Call groups with up to 200 members.
- Copied groups are not added as recipients to the same forms and lists as the original group. You must add the group as a recipient to any messages or forms that you want to target it.
Sneak peek: Redesigned on-call scheduling & calendars
Availability: May 1 Early Access Program & non-production; June/July production
We're currently updating our group calendar with many new improvements to help group admins manage their on-call schedules, including:
- A familiar layout with a more modern look and feel.
- Improved navigation, including the ability to select a specific date.
- A new side panel to allow you to edit shifts while still viewing the calendar.
- Enhanced highlighting and management of shift gaps in the side panel.
- Creation of a recurring shift that can cover all your shift gaps.
- Progressive disclosure of user information when viewing single shift occurrences.
- Checking a user's device set up directly from the escalation summary.
- Increased visibility and support for time zones on shifts, including the ability to see the time zone each shift was created in.
- The ability for admins to set or change a shift's time zone when creating groups that need to follow the sun.
- A more consistent color palette for shifts between views.
... And lots more!
Reporting & analytics
The reporting capabilities of xMatters—and our expanding set of analytics—give you greater visibility and insight across your business, to help identify opportunities for continuous improvement and more effective incident response. In this release, we perform long-awaited design and data retention improvements to the Notifications report, expand the filters and charts available to the Incident performance reports, and incorporate customer feedback to improve the Alerts report.
Redesigned notifications report
By popular demand, the Notifications report gets a design overhaul—and you'll be be happy to hear we've extended its data retention too!
Increased data retention
The report now includes data going back to 2020. You can access up to 90 days of data using a sliding window and export over one million records at a time.
New filter, columns, and charts
New columns for 'Form', 'Source, and 'Failure Reason' make it faster to troubleshoot notifications.
We've added filters for 'User', 'Alert ID', and 'Delivery Status' to narrow down the report to the notifications you care most about.
A new Notification Delivery by Status chart indicates trends so you can make sure you have fewer failures over time.
Incident performance report updates
In our last release we added an Incidents tab to the User and Group Performance reports to enable incident managers to review how incidents are affecting users and groups. We continue that work this release by adding new performance charts and filters.
Incident performance charts
The Incidents tab of the Group Performance and User Performance reports includes new graphs to help you track trends and spot opportunities for operational improvements in your incident response. For example, you could use the following graphs to find out if any of your resolvers are getting slammed by incidents and could use some help before burnout sets in, or to asses whether MTTA and MTTR are trending down over time like you were aiming for:
- Incidents – The number of incidents the resolver engaged in.
- Mean Time to Resolve – The mean time from when an incident was initiated until it was resolved.
- Mean Time to Acknowledge – The mean time from when the resolver was notified until they engaged.
Severity and impacted service filters
Get more granular with your incident performance metrics—we've added 'Severity' and 'Impacted Services' filters so you can better narrow the performance reports down to the incidents you care most about. For example, this might include:
- Incident specific severity levels (for example, only critical and high severity incidents).
- Incidents that impacted a particular service or services.
Once you’ve filtered the report you can now also drill through to the Incidents list to see the underlying incidents. Rest assured users who drill through will still only be able to see the incidents they have permissions for.
Alerts report enhancements
Based on customer feedback, we've made the following improvements to the Alerts report:
New default view
We've updated the Alerts report with an 'All Alerts' view. As the new default view for the report, this view displays all alerts within the past 30 days (excluding system alerts). If you'd rather not see suspended or terminated alerts, you can select the 'Active Alerts' view instead. Or, to view alerts that meet other specific criteria, you can create your own custom alert views.
Notification streams by form level
We also scoped the notification streams filter down to the form level rather than the workflow level to reduce noise for users with many subscriptions.
Our main focus this release was to upgrade some of our existing workflows and steps to take advantage of new features and functionality in xMatters and the external products we integrate with.
New & updated workflows
If you're using the latest and greatest version of ServiceNow, then you'll be happy to hear that Version 5.7 of the xMatters application for ServiceNow is certified with San Diego, Tokyo, and now Utah! For more information about getting integrated with ServiceNow, see our integration guide.
New ServiceNow 5.x Workflow
Availability: Late April
We're currently in the process of building a new version of our ServiceNow integration that is specifically designed for Flow Designer. This means you'll be able to take advantage of Flow Designer's ability to automate actions such as creating and posting to Microsoft Teams or Slack channels when a new incident is created in ServiceNow, posting updates on an incident's status, and adding custom conference bridges to your alerts. This new ServiceNow 5.x workflow will include a new trigger and integration update step that customers can also use in any of their new or existing flows.
New & updated steps
Get Dynatrace Problem Details
You can now automatically get the details about a specific problem in Dynatrace so you can add them to a Jira ticket, share them to Slack, or post them to an xMatters incident. To do this, add the new Dynatrace Get Problem Details step to your flow and provide the ID of the problem you're interested in.
Get Moogsoft External Incident
You can now use our new Moogsoft Get External Incident step to get the details about an external incident associated with an incident in Moogsoft. For example, you could use the outputs of this step to add a Freshservice ticket, share to Teams, or post to an xMatters incident.
Conference support for creating alerts
Automatically creating conference bridges as part of your flows just got a whole lot easier! We've updated the Create Alert and Create Alert Using a Form steps with a 'Conference Bridge' tab to provide the details of the xMatters Hosted or External conference bridge to use for the alert. Or, if you'd like, you can define the bridge dynamically as part of your flow using an output or a constant value.
If you're using the Create Alert step, you'll now be able to configure which responses join the bridge from the Responses tab of your step configuration. If you're creating a new xMatters Bridge, simply add the Create xMatters Conference step to your flow and supply the bridge number to the Create Alert step.
Create Alert Using a Form
If you're using a messaging form, you can now use external bridges in addition to xMatters hosted bridges for the alert. The Conference Bridge tab of the Create Alert Using a Form step will reflect the bridge types configured for your form. You'll continue to set which responses join the bridge from the Responses section of your form.
New Create Meeting step & new endpoint
We've updated our Zoom Create Meeting step to use a new Zoom Server-to-Server endpoint type in Flow Designer. This endpoint replaces the JWT authentication method previously used by Zoom, which will be deprecated on June 1, 2023. If you're using the Create Meeting step, you'll need to create a Zoom Server-to-Server OAuth app and update your step to the latest version to use a new Zoom Server-to-Server endpoint created using your app's credentials.
ServiceNow Trigger & Integration Update Step
Availability: Late April
We've added the following new ServiceNow 5.x trigger and Send Integration Update step in support of our new Flow Designer ServiceNow 5.x workflow.
ServiceNow 5.x trigger
Triggers a flow when it receives a signal about an incident or engage request from ServiceNow (requires xMatters integration version 5.5 or later). Outputs include information about the ServiceNow incident or engagement request that triggered the webhook.
Send Integration Update
Sends an update to ServiceNow via the xMatters integration (version 5.5 or later required). Any inputs excluded from the request retain their current values and are not overwritten by the update.
Flow Designer may be the premier low-code automation tool for service reliability, but that doesn't stop us from looking for ways to make it better. In this release, we've greatly improved the Workflow Templates directory to help you find the workflow you need as quickly as possible.
Redesigned Workflow Templates directory
Our Workflow Templates directory recently got a facelift. With its new design, we've organized workflows into sections so it's clearer what's available:
- Basic Workflows – Quickly get started triggering alerts and initiating incidents, or build your own custom workflow from scratch.
- Workflows for Your Tools – Use one of our low-code workflow templates to easily integrate with a third-party tool.
We've also added handy filters that you can use to browse the available workflows by their type (for example, Change Intelligence, Monitoring, Major Incident Management, etc.).
This release includes the following great updates for the xMatters mobile app on our Android and iOS platforms.
View alert details
You can now 'Show more' of an alert's details to view priority, source, and other critical information about the alert at a glance.
Default device wait times
In our last release we introduced a company-level setting to customize the wait time that's automatically added between users' devices. If your company has set a default wait time between devices, you'll now see it when adding new devices through the app.
Improved scroll & load behavior
You can now keep scrolling to see all available options when you're selecting recipients for a message or resolvers for an incident (previously, the app would display just the first 100).
xMatters REST API updates
We continually enhance our xMatters REST API calls to replace older REST methods and add more endpoints to increase programmatic interaction. These calls not only support customer integration needs, they're also the foundation for data access by our mobile clients, the web user interface, and other key xMatters services.
We've added two new query parameters to the GET /incidents endpoint that you can use to retrieve incidents that meet the following criteria:
- Incidents with specific impacted services – Include the
impactedServicesquery parameter to find incidents that include any of the specified services as impacted services. You can identify services by their target name or unique identifier. For example:
- Incidents where a specific group is a resolver – Include the
resolver.groupquery parameter to find incidents with a specified group as a resolver, regardless of incident status. For example:
Sneak peak: SCIM 2.0 API
The System for Cross-domain Identity Management (SCIM) is an open standard designed to make it easier to manage user identities across cloud-based applications. The SCIM API is used to communicate user identity data between identity providers like Okta or Microsoft and service providers like xMatters that require user identity information.
Automated user provisioning is the basis for identity governance and has a number of key benefits:
- Managing user identities from a single authoritative source.
- Reducing risk and increasing security through a single interface that defines access by role or status.
- Meeting compliance and governance by tracking who has access to applications.
- Reducing costs through automation and the need for custom solutions for user provisioning.
SCIM 2.0 will not be the right solution for all customer needs, but does offer a quick and easy way to get up and running faster if you use identity management. Our initial goal is to support Okta and Microsoft Azure identity providers, with support for User resources available in Robotron and Groups in an upcoming release.
Early access program & feature delivery update
The goal of our current delivery model is to balance feature delivery with customer change management processes. This means providing visibility into upcoming changes for customers that want it, while allowing other customers to have a more standard non-production environment that matches production.
If you aren't familiar with the current model, you might not be aware that we release features only visible to admins/developers at a faster pace than the quarterly release process. These features should not impact end users until a customer provisions them into their workflow. Customers can opt their non-production environments into the Early Access Program to see features and functionality enhancements that impact end users before they're released on a quarterly basis. All customer non-production environments are updated two weeks prior to an official quarterly production release to allow for testing and training on new features.
We regularly reevaluate and improve our deployment processes to ensure they reflect industry best practices and customer feedback. For more information about our deployment process, see our On-Demand Deployment Process and Early Access article. We'll update that document whenever we make a change, and let you know about the change through other appropriate channels.
These are the main features for this release, but be aware that there are several other small changes and enhancements we're delivering to keep xMatters looking sharp. Detailed information and instructions for using these new features will be available in our online documentation.
See you next time!
The Robotron release is now available in production environments.