xMatters 5.0 Release Notes

Table of Contents

Release Overview 

Build/Revision: r50966

These release notes highlight important changes, new features, known issues, and other information pertaining to the initial release of the xMatters 5.0 software (please see our "Release Overviews" for 5.0 patches to get a complete look at the current state of 5.0) Documentation for this release can be accessed here

NOTE: This document is subject to change after the initial release of the product. 

Support Policy

You can access the latest Client Support Policy document here

Availability

Currently the release is available for new installations on Linux and Windows 2008 running on Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2. We are currently busy building out an upgrade version which will be available at the end of 2012. We are not planning support for HP/UX, Solaris, AIX or DB2 with version 5.

New License

The 5.0 product uses a new license key, so make sure you talk with our Client Assistance team to request a new license if you are going to play with 5.0.

Features Added In This Release

The following new features list includes:

  • Enhancements made after the initial 4.1 release via patches; and,
  • Features developed for xMatters on demand and xMatters 5.0.

If you are currently on the latest 4.1 patch release, you may recognize some of the following features; however, many more features are new to our premises-based 5.0 software release.

New Installer

This release introduces an all-new installer that includes built-in support for Oracle RAC. The GUI installer allows you to save all of the settings specified during the installation as an automated deployment script. The generated file can then be used with the console installer to make additional installations simpler and faster, as it eliminates the need to specify individual settings step-by-step in the installer workflow. This is especially useful when most settings will remain the same (e.g., when installing multiple nodes or web servers).

Browser Support

Browser support has been updated to include Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 & 8, Mozilla Firefox 3 or higher, and Google Chrome 13 or higher.

New Sign-on Page

We've redesigned the xMatters sign-on (login) page to include several new convenience features:

  • If a User reaches the sign-on page using an unsupported web browser, a warning and a list of supported browsers is displayed (note that the User is not prevented from attempting to log on).
  • A new Remember Me check box has been added to speed up the login process for those Users who typically log into xMatters from the same computer.
  • We've made the "signOn.do" part of the login URL for a Company optional.
  • We've also made the sign-on page highly-customizable, with the ability for you to modify the logo graphic, Company prompt, marketing message, system status message, copyright details, and disclaimer text

Updated UI and Comprehensive xMatters Branding

The first thing you'll notice when you sign on to xMatters 5.0 is the sleek modern look, thanks to some pretty cool CSS changes. We've also cleaned up, reorganized, and decluttered many pages to make them more useful and intuitive.

Updated UI and Comprehensive xMatters Branding

The first thing you'll notice when you sign on to xMatters 5.0 is the sleek modern look, thanks to some pretty cool CSS changes. We've also cleaned up, reorganized, and decluttered many pages to make them more useful and intuitive.

 

Rebranded and Enhanced Notifications

While we were at it, we rebranded our email notifications, improved the default messaging, and added response links for supported Devices (email, BlackBerry Push, etc.). So, now instead of having to reply to messages by typing out responses and replying to the message, Users can now simply click a response link and they'll receive instant feedback about whether their response was accepted by the system! Finally, we didn't forget about voice notifications: we spent a lot of time improving voice usability for call-in, call-out, and Device validation messages (difficult to document, but easy to hear).

Typeahead Selection

Typeahead functionality has been added to several user interface areas to make doing things like populating Teams and selecting Recipients even easier. Just start typing a name into a typeahead search field and results will almost instantly appear in a selectable drop-down list. To get a feel for this handy feature, check out the updated Recipients area on the Send a Quick Message panel or the Team Details page (among several others).

Groups, Coverages, and Teams

Simple Broadcast Group Creation

Group Supervisors want to create simple broadcast (FYI) Groups in as few clicks as possible, with minimal screen clutter getting in the way. With this in mind, we cleaned up the Add Group page by hiding the Advanced Options. If you're creating a simple broadcast Group, just fill in the Group name and optional description, we'll create a default Team and Coverage name and move you straight to our typeahead selector for building out your team. Just add some Team members and you're done in seconds!

Configurable Rotation Direction

The Team Details page now includes a Rotation Direction setting that allows you to choose between "Second to First" or "Last to First". The setting was requested at one of our 2011 Client Forums - ensure you attend the 2012 Client Forums so that you can be heard as well!

Coverage Rotation

Previously, rotation options for Teams were time- or event-based. Timed Rotation Teams rotate at a defined time interval regardless whether there is a coverage on any given day. This makes it impossible to create a rotation such as a Team that works shifts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and that rotates once a week or once a day. However, the new Coverage Rotation setting allows you to do that and more. There's a lot to this great new feature, and you can learn much more about it here.

Group Details View Opens To Collapsed Coverages

Previously, if you viewed the details for a Group with many Coverages, you were presented with an expanded view of every Coverage in the calendar graphic. In some cases, that view ran right off the page, when really all you wanted to do was quickly click a Coverage name to make some edits. Now the Group Details page displays a collapsed view of Coverages, making navigation and at-a-glace gap checking simple.

 

Improved Holiday Behaviors

Holiday coverages in previous versions would allow other non-holiday shifts to overlap. At the request of several clients we updated this behavior to that of our previous generation product where the holiday coverage will override any existing coverages wholly or in part.

 

 

Use Other Teams in One Time Coverages

One-Time Coverages can now leverage other Teams marked as reusable in the Group by using the "Assign Existing Team" option

Dynamic Teams Using Site

Dynamic Teams are a great way to locate a bunch of people and send them a message. We've made targeting recipients even more precise by allowing you to specify Site as one of the selection criteria.

Scenarios 

Conference Bridging

When a system is down or you're involved in a crisis situation, there's nothing like the speed and efficiency of getting people together on a conference call. To that end, xMatters has added conference bridging (the ability to organize conference calls) to Scenarios. Scenario recipients will receive phone calls that allow them to transfer straight to a live conference bridge. And because you want to get the right people - and the right number of people from each department - Fill Counts work with conference bridging.

 

You have a choice between using an xMatters-hosted conference bridge, or you can use an external provider of your own. The xMatters-hosted solution includes a management screen from which you can really control the call, with the ability to view, mute, and remove participants, end the call, and review the conference history.

 

 

New Scenario Roles

We've create three new Scenario Roles that provide more control over how Users can interact with Scenarios:

  • Scenario Administrators can create, view, edit, delete and initiate any Scenario
  • Scenario Supervisors can add, find, edit, delete, initiate (and modify) Scenarios for which they are Supervisors
  • Scenario Initiators can find, initiate (and modify) any Scenarios they can view

With these new Roles in place, we think you'll find managing Scenario interaction significantly simpler.

 

Scenario Initiator Permission Mods

We've also done a complete revamp of how permissions are handled on the Scenario Initiator page. The bottom line is that permissions for editing, testing, and initiating Scenarios are much more granular, and now include the ability to grant initiation permissions on a per-Role basis.

 

Scenario File Attachments

Now it's easy to add attachments to your Scenarios during creation or initiation, and you'll see a list of those attachments on the Initiate Scenario page. This feature is extremely useful when you want to provide business process documents, emergency procedures, maps, and other important content when targeting Email Devices

 

Improved Scenario Define Responses Page

We've updated the Define Responses page so that Scenario creators can create terse content for some Devices (e.g., SMS/Text Phone) and more descriptive content for Devices such as Email and Voice Phone. And, to make it easier to understand how each Response setting is used, we've also added an explanatory info bubble that includes examples.

 

Enhanced Scenario Status Visibility

Because collaboration and visibility are key components of a successful incident response process, we've enhanced the access rights for viewing and interacting with in-process Scenarios. You'll notice two important changes:

  • All users with a Role allowing for Scenario initiation will be able to see all running Scenarios (previously, only the initiator of the Scenario could see them).
  • Only users who are allowed to launch or test the Scenario will be able to see and use the Halt, Suspend, and Resume buttons, and drill into the Conference Bridging controls (previously, only the initiator of the Scenario could see this link). 

Scenario Status Summary Report Improvements

We've made the Scenario Status Summary Report even more useful by adding the following features:

  • You can now sort data (ascending/descending) by clicking the available column titles. Additionally, you can display all report details by clicking the new plus sign icon to the left of the Recipient column (of course, you can still show details for individual Recipients by clicking their associated plus sign). Finally, by default, Recipients are displayed in alphabetically order.
  • It would be awfully convenient to create new Groups out of Users who respond to Scenarios (e.g., create a Group from Users who have responded with "I can help immediately"). Well, now you can, simply by clicking the icon related to the response category and giving the Group a name. Then you can target the Group with further information as required.
  • And, if you can create new Groups out of Recipients, how about adding Recipients to existing Groups? Yup, we've added that functionality as well, available from the same icon.

 

Other Scenario Usability Enhancements

Well, we could go on and on about Scenario usability enhancements, but here's a grab-bag to give you the flavor:

  • Scenario send buttons have been clearly differentiated to help ensure that you don't mistakenly go live with a Scenario that you really only wanted to test. And, just to keep you extra-safe, when you click the Initiate Scenario button, you're now prompted to confirm your choice.
  • Scenario Duration now defaults to three hours.
  • My Shortcuts page replaces the Favorite Scenarios page.
  • Actions for initiating, editing and marking Shortcuts have been added to the My Shortcuts and Find Scenarios results pages.
  • Scenario menu has been cleaned up and simplified to be more intuitive (result: fewer and clearer choices).
  • One-time Scenarios always saved (removed Save For Future Use check box so that all new Scenarios are saved for future use).
  • TTS suppressed when recording present, providing an optimized selection between TTS or recording playback.
  • Scenario recording feedback improved so that the User is presented with a message stating that the callout is in progress.

 

Notification Handling

Bypass Phone Intro

Sometimes, recipients need to hear the key message content of a voice notification as quickly as possible. To speed things up, you can now select the new Bypass Phone Intro check box in the Handling settings for Quick Messages and Scenarios. When this setting is selected, the system will skip the greeting message (including any branding) during message playback.

 

Voicemail Options

Other times, you want to protect key message content from prying... ears. The new Voicemail Options setting can help you protect sensitive messages from being stored in a medium that is not secure. You can select one of four options for handling system behavior when a voicemail system answers a call from xMatters:

  • Callback Info Only: (default) a voicemail is left with callback information only (allowing the recipient to call in to retrieve the message)
  • Message Content and Callback Info: a voicemail is left with message content and callback information (this option is not available when Require Phone Password is selected)
  • Message Content Only: a voicemail is left, but no callback information is included (this option is not available when Require Phone Password is selected)
  • Do Not Leave Message: no voicemail message is left

 

Quick Message Responses

Although Quick Messages are typically used for informational/FYI notifications and other situations that do not require a recipient response, in some cases you may want notifications to stop once someone has accepted the notification. Now this is made possible using the new Responses setting that allows you to choose between the following options:

  • None: (default) the notification is sent to all recipients, without any response options
  • Notify Until Accepted: notifications stop once a recipient has accepted the message

 

SMS & Short Code Compliance

The regulations for SMS delivery have changed a great deal in the last few years. Self-policing bodies such as the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and, in some cases, governments are placing requirements on how messages can be sent and responded to. A number of new features designed to address these requirements are built into 5.0. 

Destination Definable MMA Behavior

Because not every User with an SMS Device needs to be sent MMA information, we've added a Short Code Compliance check box to the SMPP Protocol Provider settings that allows you to send these messages selectively to Users. When the check box is selected, xMatters sends a message explaining the terms of service to SMS Devices whenever they are added, modified, or activated.

 

 

SMS Help and STOP Responses

SMS HELP and STOP responses can now be be configured for Users. By default, these responses have the following effects:

  • HELP: xMatters sends the SMS Device instructions about how to contact support.
  • STOP: xMatters locates all Users whose SMS Device (i.e., Text Phone Device) corresponds to the source SMS Device, and sends an SMS confirmation message to the Device (this message is configurable either in scripting or in a text file).

India SMS Handling

The Government of India wants to be a little bit different; hey, we here at xMatters get that. The Indian Government has mandated some SMS rules that caused us to add a Reply To setting to the Country-Specific Overrides section of the SMPP Protocol Providers page. This allows you to append a reply address to the message that is different than the source address. And, although this field was added specifically for India, the setting is available for all countries in the system. 

Per-Country Source Address For SMS via HTTP-Client

You can now configure country-specific overrides for the source address of SMS messages, allowing you to target messages in various countries that require specific unique short or long codes. (By the way, while were were at this, we incorporated the changes made for India SMS Handling described above.)

SMS Responder Validation

On SMS, if a User mis-keys the intended notification identifier but still inputs a valid identifier, it may cause incorrect action to be taken on that valid identifier. In an effort to save us from our all-thumbs selves, SMS responder validation prevents this from happening by comparing inbound as well as outbound phone numbers against notification identifiers. For a response to be validated, the inbound phone number must match the outbound number for a given notification identifier. 

Reports 

EPIC CloudSync & ZipSync

The existing Synchronization Report now includes results from EPIC synchronizations so that you can quickly see and evaluate your EPIC results. You can get more info on those updates here.

Network Node Statistics

The new Node Network Statistics Report provides the ability to assess and troubleshoot the performance of node communication over a specified time period. This report returns data regarding the number of network interruptions, application layer latency between nodes, and whether the network connection was symmetric for a specified period. (Note that by default this report is available only to Super Administrators).

Notification Timing Measurements

We have received a lot of requests for direct table access to xMatters data. As a first step we are providing a new table which contains important timing metrics for every notification that flows through our system. xMatters Administrators can query a database table (NOTIFICATION_TIMING) to assess the messaging process, and to ensure that notifications are delivered within acceptable timeframes.

View Web Server Sessions (new EXT_USER_SESSION table)

It would be pretty cool if you were able to tell who is logged into your web servers before doing some maintenance. Now you can: we've added a new queryable database table (EXT_USER_SESSION) that contains information about the User and their related web server. 

Time Travel (okay, fine...Event Replay)

Troubleshooting notifications and diagnosing delivery problems is a lot easier when you can turn back the clock and have another look at what happened. The new Replay Event link on the Event Summary Report allows you to do just that: launch an existing Event again and watch it in action. You can even tweak some event details to see how they affect event and delivery progress!

Notifications 

xMatters SMS service adds web proxy support

Our convenient, fast, and reliable xMatters SMS service just became much easier to place behind your firewall. That's because we now support HTTP proxy communications outbound. 

Support for BlackBerry OS6 changes: OS5/6/7 supported

First, some history: we have worked long and hard to provide a workaround for BlackBerry OS6's unintended breaking of push handling. The problems you might have experienced with your OS6 devices relate to Research in Motion's acquisition of a new browser technology - RIM has encountered challenges while combining that technology with the existing BlackBerry environment. Now, let's come back to the present for some good news: RIM has worked with us to supply a workaround that supports the very latest OS5 versions, as well as OS6 and OS7 (note that this workaround does not work with earlier versions of OS5). As such, we have created a new Protocol Provider switch that allows you to specify support for OS4 and OS5, or OS6 and higher. Using the OS Version setting, you can create two User Service Providers: one to handle RIM smartphones running an older OS, and one to support those running a later OS. 

Fax as a Device (Phaxio)

In the back-to-the-future file, we now support Phaxio fax as a Device.

Long SMS and Simple SMS replies over SMPP and GSM

Support has been added for long SMS and simple SMS replies over both SMPP and GSM. Long SMS allows messages longer than 160 characters, and simple SMS replies allows users to respond to notifications with a only a single digit rather than a more cumbersome text string or response code.

Additionally, our GSM communication can now attach UDH headers to control long message delivery.

 

User Upload (Onboarding)

We know it can be a pain to upload Users and their data to any system, so we wanted to create a simple, fast, and flexible onboarding method. So, we created the new User Upload Wizard (available from the Admin menu), which allows you to run and troubleshoot multiple upload jobs. The process is very straightforward:

To get you started, we provide a simple comma-separated values file as a template that you can use to add your own data. The My Import Jobs page is your reporting dashboard, providing at-a-glance information about all of your User Upload Jobs, including their status, size, and when they were created. You can also remove jobs or click job links for detailed status information. If you run into any onboarding issues, extensive plain-language error messages help guide your troubleshooting toward eventual data upload success. 

Once you're satisfied with the data in your system, the wizard steps you through creating a customizable onboarding notification that is sent to new Users, who can then click a link that signs them into xMatters to change their temporary web and phone passwords.

Constants

xMatters provides a very flexible system, but much of the flexibility is tapped by checking business processes (Action Scripts) in and out of our integrated development environment (IDE) - that stuff can scare some administrators. To alleviate this relatively heavy process we created a "Constants" feature that allows variables to be defined at a Global, Company and Event Domain level. These Constants are defined and edited in the web interface, so changes to them can be made without using the IDE. As such, different business process behaviors can be toggled right through our user interface. 

And, constants are very flexible: you can even define your email notification's CSS in a constant so your email's look exactly how you want (that's what we did with an out-of-the-box Global Constant). Other constant uses include storing authentication information, web server addresses, phone numbers - whatever makes sense for Global and Company scripting purposes. 

A couple of navigational things to keep in mind about constants: Global Constants are available only to the root User (Super Administrator) on the Admin tab under Configuration; Company constants are available to Company Administrators on the Admin tab under Company.

 

 

Web Services

Several important updates and additions have been made to xMatters web services:

  • FindWhoIsOnDuty has been optimized to accurately return any Temporary Replacements in a given schedule
  • FindPersons now includes search parameter support for the Role attribute (roleName paramter)
  • FindActiveUserNotifications added to return active User notifications 

Data Synchronization 

EPIC DataSync: CloudSync & ZipSync

This is big (well, EPIC). Synchronizing data between disparate systems is always a challenge. Undaunted, the tall foreheads here at xMatters Engineering gathered by a very large whiteboard and what emerged is a whole new approach to datasync: Export Plus Import Controller, or EPIC for short. 

The EPIC Data Synchronization utility is a command-line tool that allows organizations to synchronize their user, device, and call-tree data with xMatters on demand. The utility uploads a data snapshot via a web service call. Two run modes are available from the same executable:

  • CloudSync is our process for synchronizing data from a live xMatters software installation with our on demand system. Clients using xMatters software in their organization can use CloudSync to push existing information from their xMatters software to xMatters on demand.
  • ZipSync is our process for allowing you to create files from any system for the purpose of synchronizing data with our on demand system. ZipSync allows clients to export data from any system into a predefined format which is then zipped up and synchronized with xMatters on demand. 

EPIC is so big that it gets its own chapter in our xMatters 5.0 installation and administration guide - check it out.

 

Legacy Data Synchronization Updates

While EPIC was a big project, we still found time to sneak in some updates to our existing Data Synchronization tool. Support has been added for Round Robin Rotations, One-time Coverages, and Temporary Replacements. 

Action Scripting 

New Methods for Escalations

A pair of new scripting methods has been added to add flexibility to escalations:

  • isEscalatable checks whether the next Team member is notifiable, and allows you to modify the response choices for the current Team member if no further escalations are possible
  • notifyNext bypasses any remaining escalation time between the current and next recipients within a Team, allowing you to add immediate escalations to your scripts based on User responses 

IDE Security

To prevent tenant Company Administrators from modifying another tenant Company's scripts, Developer IDE access is now restricted to the Default Company (i.e., the Host Company in a multi-tenancy deployment). 

IDE Converted to Use Web Services

The IDE now connects to the system via web services instead of a direct database connection so you do not have to provide database credentials to developers.

Multi-Company Deployments

Voice Recording Segregation

We've given a rethink to how recordings are handled, making their segregation more robust yet flexible. Now you can create recordings at the Global, Company, and Event Domain level without impacting other Companies or Domains. The @phone::play() method starts looking for Event Domain recordings first, and if necessary moves on to the Company recordings, and finally to the Global recordings. 

Template Company Data Now Configurable

In the past when you added a Company in a multi-Company xMatters environment, you had no control over the basic configuration of that new Company. We've solved that issue by creating a Company called TEMPLATE that is the basis for all new Companies that you create. Company Administrators for TEMPLATE can modify the configuration as required (for example, by specifying Event Domains, Script Packages, User Service Providers, Device Types, Roles, Countries, Languages, etc.). This really speeds up new Company setup and avoids the almost inevitable setup errors that arise during manual configuration. 

Script Defaulting

In addition to the TEMPLATE Company data, you can now also define a set of Action Scripts that your Companies use by default. This means that you can create custom behaviors to specify your own default scripts, or you can stick with the out-of-the-box scripts if they get the job done for you.

Enhanced Hosting: Support Organization

We've added a new feature to our already powerful multi-tenant enabled relevance engine platform: the concept of a support organization that can be notified from the tenant Companies. This feature is far-reaching, covering many parts of the platform. However, the most obvious benefit is that support organization Users can be defined in a single Company, and the Users and Groups within the support organization can receive escalations from any of the tenants in the system. As a result, data management is greatly simplified because the support Users only have to maintain their contact information and escalation processes in one place. (Note that this feature requires a multi-tenant license.)

Other Usability Enhancements 

Info tab

You'll notice a new Info tab near the top of the xMatters interface. By default, the Info tab includes links to tutorial videos, manuals, and the xMatters Community, but you can also customize this page for your own deployment and add your own content.

Add current User to Recently Used list

The currently logged-in web user is now added to the Recently Used lists in our messaging and Group maintenance screens when they use themselves in their processes. 

Revised Expired Session Behavior

Previously, when an xMatters web user interface session expired, the User wasn't directed back to the xMatters sign-on page. That was kind of annoying, so we fixed it: when a session expires, an explanatory message appears along with a link to the sign-on page for the User's xMatters Company (after a 10-second delay, the User is automatically taken to the sign-on page). 

Administrative Improvements 

Case insensitive contains filtering for predicates in Event Activity Reports

Clients requested less restrictive searching when working in the Event Activity Reports. Previously, the Event Details fields were case-sensitive and used an equals operation. Now, the Event Details are case-insensitive and use a contains filter. This has made finding the details for a specific event much easier. 

LDAP Server Page Reboot

We really went to town on usability enhancements for the LDAP Servers page, which now includes the ability to:

  • Add multiple LDAP servers in an orderable list
  • Perform an authentication test on an LDAP server configuration by clicking a button
  • Specify one or more LDAP servers per User

Simple License Export for Support

The next time the good folks on the xMatters Client Assistance Team ask for your license file, you'll be ready. We've added an Export link to the Active Licenses page to make it easy for you to save the file to an Excel spreadsheet, and then send it along as needed. 

License Quota page for single user installs

In the past, only our multi-tenant-enabled clients had access to an overview page of how any given tenant is tracking against their license quotas. However, we've now added a quotas page that's available to Company Administrators and/or Super Administrators that shows how that Company is tracking against its subscribed licensing

Purge Security and Web Services Audits Added to Scheduled Job

In an effort to keep the xMatters Database clean and lean, we've added the ability to purge Security Audit and Web Services Audit data via the Process Expired Data job (available to Super Administrators at Admin > Schedule Jobs). 

Custom Fields Tune-up

The Custom Fields page has received a thorough makeover. The beautification includes a snazzy new look, of course, but also adds drag-and-drop reordering and the ability to group fields using named line dividers. All this makes adding Custom Fields fun. Seriously. 

 

 

Organization Name in URL

We've added another neat bit of potential customization on the Company Details page via the new Hostname Prefix setting: the ability to add your organization's name to the URL of your xMatters deployment. For example, if you want the URL to be myawesomecompany.domainname.com, you would specify myawesomecompany in the Hostname Prefix field. (Of course, you'll have to ensure that your Domain Name Server is configured to resolve the custom URL to the web server address). 

Alert Messages on System Access

Nobody likes to be surprised by an expired software license that shuts down their system. While this is unlikely to happen (if the finely-tuned xMatters Sales Team has anything to do with it), we've added an extra layer of protection with new sign-on alerts for xMatters Administrators letting them know that their license will expire. These alerts start 60 days ahead of expiry, which should give you plenty of time for a friendly chat with the xMatters Mothership. And, just a teaser: we've got plans to allow User-defined sign-on alerts in the future ("System datasync at 3AM Sunday", and so on). 

Under The Hood 

System Throughput Improvements

Let's start this section with some great new xMatters system metrics, all based on a 15-minute duration:

  • Voice Density – up to 7,500
  • Email Throughput – up to 50,000
  • SMS Throughput – up to 50,000

Of course, your mileage may vary, but we're talking about some big improvements over legacy versions of our product. 

Log File Archiving

A new Compressionsetting has been added to the Log Settings area on the Global Configuration page. This allows Administrators to specify whether to use ZIP, gzip, or no compression for log files. Compression allows a greater amount of log data to be accumulated, which can help with troubleshooting and for sending logs to xMatters Support. 

 

Predicate Validation

Optional validation is now available for Event Domain predicates, with a number of preset validation choices and the abilty to define custom validations via Java regular expressions. If the predicate value does not match the pattern, or if a list item does not match one of the specified list values, the event will be rejected and no notifications will be sent. xMatters will also send out a Health Monitor message about the failure, and the Exhaustive Report for the event will also include failure details. The practical result of all of this is that integration authors can validate data input fields prior to entering a business process script, which simplifies such scripts.

 

Health Monitor Trigger Logic Improvements

While it's good to be notified when something goes wrong, sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. Clients told us that while they appreciated the intention of Health Monitor messages from xMatters, they felt they wanted fewer, but more useful alerts. We agreed, and then revisited, tore apart, and rewrote all of the logic that triggers Health Monitor messages. In the process we rationalized redundant or unnecessary messages, and really focused on triggering only the most important messages.

 

Simple Integration Point

If you require the ability to integrate xMatters with your own systems and processes, but you've been waiting for an easier method to do so, your wait is over. We've created an out-of-the-box API using the xMatters integration agent specifically for this purpose - we call it the Simple Integration Point. For example, you might use the Simple Integration Point to integrate with an open-source help desk application, or to have parsed email messages trigger event injections. In turn, injected events can generate email, SMS, paging, and voice notifications. Check out the xMatters 5.0 Online Developer's Guide for details. 

Integration Agent Throttle

The Company Details page includes a new Integration Agent Throttle setting that specifies whether to enable event input throttling for the integration agent, and the rate per minute at which to throttle events. This helps ensure that your system will be ready for that inevitable event storm. 

Highly Available integration agent Configuration Achieved

We recently took on the challenge of building a complex, highly-available and load-balanced integration agent environment for a client. Some great new features emerged from the effort, which you can read about here. What we learned has resulted in an xMatters integration agent that is more robust than ever, and better able to deal with outages. 

Event Priority

xMatters processes notifications fast, but in some cases you want the most important messages to head straight for the front of the queue. We've added a new event priority token (xm_priority) that allows you to designate specific types of events as low, medium, and high priority, with the latter being the first to be processed. This token is supported in all xMatters event injection interfaces (integration agent, Quick Message panel, Custom panels, Scenario launch panel, Web Services, and so on). To learn more, give the new "Event Priority Configuration" section of the xMatters 5.0 installation and administration guide a read. 

Installing xMatters 5.0

For detailed system requirements and installation information, refer to the xMatters 5.0 installation and administration guide

NOTE: xMatters 5.0 uses xMatters integration agent 5.0 only.

Important Installation Changes

If you are familiar with the installation process for xMatters 4.0/4.1, be aware that several important changes have been made to this process, including how the installer is delivered and how licensing is handled. Refer to the xMatters 5.0 installation and administration guide for details.

Important System Requirement Considerations

Additionally, xMatters 5.0 has the following important system requirement considerations:

  • Red Hat 5.X, CentOS 5.X and Windows 2008 R2 operating systems are supported for our Nodes (HP/UX and Solaris will not supported, AIX and DB2 are still under consideration)
  • Only Oracle and SQL Server databases are supported
  • Dialogic cards are only supported on Windows - Linux is SIP only for voice
  • AlarmPoint Java Client no longer supported (the xMatters integration agent 5.0 replaces it)

Support for other operating systems, databases, etc. will be added in subsequent releases. Refer to the xMatters 5.0 installation and administration guide for version and other details.

Upgrading

Currently, there is no upgrade path from previous versions of xMatters to version 5.0. An upgrade path from xMatters 4.1 is planned for a future 5.x release. If you are on xMatters 4.0 and eventually want to upgrade to version 5.x, you must first upgrade to the latest xMatters 4.1 patch. Contact your xMatters representative for further information and licensing options. 

Known Issues 

Platform support

Because it was our priority to bring you this 5.0 release ASAP, we decided to employ a progressive release process. The latest 5.0 release (5.0.1) is available for new installations on Red Hat and CentOS Linux, or Windows 2008 R2 running against an Oracle 11g database (Oracle RAC is also supported) or SQL Server 2008. An upgrade path from xMatters 4.1 will be provided for existing Clients in October 2012. For a few more details, see the "Installing xMatters 5.0 section" above. 

Data Synchronization Object Gaps

It was our original intent to close all known Data Synchronization object gaps with the initial launch of 5.0. However, while we did tighten up several areas, we decided to release with the following known gaps: Escalation Type in Teams, Coverage Rotation and Schedule Rotation, Dynamic Teams, Device Priority Threshold and Fax Devices. We will continue to address these in 5.0 patch releases. 

STOP message affects all Devices with the same address

When a STOP message is sent from a mobile phone, all Devices matching that phone's address are deactivated in the system (regardless of the Device owner). However, because there is no way to limit the STOP message to the User that actually sent it, this is considered valid behavior. 

No error message is thrown when messages are injected in APClient.bin with SSL enabled on apclient-gateway

For the xMatters integration agent, when SSL is enabled and a message is injected using APClient.bin, no error message is displayed in the user interface informing the user that APClient.bin does not support SSL. APClient.bin supports only HTTP communication with the integration agent, even if the value of the --http-post parameter is an https URL (however, the integration agent can communicate back to the Management System using any of the secure protocols supported by the Management System's API.).

(xMatters Reference: XFO-1705) 

Internet Explorer blocks popup for adding Scenario Recordings

By default, Microsoft Internet Explorer 8's popup blocker prevents the dialog box for creating Scenario Recordings from popping up.

(xMatters Reference: APO-1139) 

Long message SMS options can cause messages to be discarded by aggregators/carriers on CDMA

Long message support on CDMA carriers appears to vary. In some cases, we've observed aggregators and carriers discard entire messages when long message headers are set.

(xMatters Reference: APO-1139) 

Avaya Compliance

The 5.0 version of xMatters is not fully compatible with the Avaya 6.x Communications Manager and Session Manager services, specifically the Transfer with Consultation Hold call feature. For more information, see the knowledge base article here(xMatters Reference: DTN-2856)

xMatters Reference

JDN-3040 Originally created by Cameron Stewart

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