Wonder Boy (Jun/Jul 2024) Release Overview

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Grab your skateboards and ready your stone axes, because this release is going to rock your incident management world! Luckily, technology has advanced far beyond our prehistoric pals, and we’ve learned from the past so we can look to the future to bring you all the latest and greatest incident fighting features.

With Wonder Boy, you can:

  • Create shift rotations that include both on-call and off-duty members to give people a break from receiving notifications.

  • More easily manage your applications and technical services with a new Overview tab that includes active incidents and the ability to add links.

  • Share a customized version of your on-call schedule outside of xMatters through a downloadable ICS file.

  • Change the path of flows based on required conditions with the new Condition step.

... and so much more! Keep exploring for details.

Availability

Before you scroll down to see all the improvements included in this release, here are some important dates:

  • Non-production environment access: Tuesday, June 25
  • Production environment access: Tuesday, July 23 (enabled between 10:00-10:30am Pacific)

Though we aim to include as many features in each release as we can, it's possible that not everything in the release will be available at the same time. If that's the case for a specific feature, we'll include a note about availability in its write up below.

Sneak peeks

As a special bonus, we'll also give you some sneak peeks at enhancements we're working on for a future release:

Incident response & service intelligence

The xMatters service reliability platform embeds services directly into its incident management capabilities, ensuring greater situational awareness and enabling faster response to digital service interruptions. 

In this release, we're expanding the capabilities of your incident management playbooks, adding more organizational options to the Document Library, and updating the presentation of services within the user interface.

Expanded playbook capabilities

Availability: Non-production July 2; production July 23

We introduced playbooks in the Vanguard release to make it easier for you to ensure your incident commander and resolvers have everything they need to resolve incidents right at their fingertips. With Wonder Boy, we're expanding that foundation so you can use your incident types and their property values to create more granular playbooks for different use cases.

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You can also automatically add files from your Document Library as attachments on incidents when you initiate them. Create more powerful and specific playbooks to ensure that your incident commanders have immediate access to the correct tasks and attachments.

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For example, you could create a playbook tailored for security-related incidents that includes specific tasks and information related to CVEs or standard operating procedures for cybersecurity breaches. The playbook would automatically add templates or checklists to help ensure that resolvers meet compliance guidelines without needing to search a wiki or track down physical documents. You could separate and refine your playbooks further by checking for specific incident properties related to different DevSecOps scenarios. You could even create playbooks that introduce a region-specific task list when an incident requires specific governmental or regulatory requirements.

Enhanced landing page for services

Availability: Non-production July 2; production July 23

Managing a digital service can be complicated and there might be many tools, documents, and other collateral you need to be easily accessible and discoverable during an incident. To help resolvers access these resources quickly, you can now add links to your services in xMatters.

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The first 3 links for a service are displayed in its popover for quick access during incidents, but you’ll be able to add up to 100 links on the new service Overview tab. The Overview tab also features a visual indicator of any active incidents that are impacting the service.

New organization options for the Document Library

Now that you're storing files in the Document Library for quick and easy attachment to incidents, you might be finding it a challenge to find what you need. To help you sort your documents logically and group related files together, you can now create folders within the Document Library.

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To help keep users from getting confused about which documents to use and to ensure that any sensitive files aren't accessible to anyone who isn't authorized to access them, you can apply permissions to folders that control who can manage or use the documents in each folder.

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The owner of a specific document retains all management and access rights over it, regardless of the folder it's sorted into. For support and overall maintenance of your files, Company Supervisors have full management permissions for all documents and folders in the library.

Clickable URLs in Timeline entries and incident properties

We’ve made it easier than ever to share and access links of all sorts on the Incident Console by allowing users to click on URLs that are mentioned in incident notes or entered as incident type properties.

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Sneak peek: Notify assignees about incident tasks

During an incident, you may need to assign tasks to users who are not engaged in the incident. To help bring those users up to speed with the situation without needing to add them as resolvers, you’ll be able to enable an automatic task notification to let them know what they need to do.

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Groups & on-call management

In this release, we continue to expand the on-call scheduling options and capabilities available in xMatters by allowing you to cycle group members on and off duty, making it easier to see whether your configured escalations and rotations will behave the way you expect, and giving users the chance to share their on-call schedule with other calendar applications.

Off-duty shift members

Availability: Non-production July 2; production July 23

Long time users of xMatters are likely familiar with the '9999 hack', where adding a wait time of 9999 minutes between group members in an escalation ensures that any group members after that delay will never be notified as any alert will time out long before the wait time elapses. But that workaround isn't as effective or useful if you want to repeat an escalation sequence in case no one responds during the initial round of notifications. The users' schedules will also indicate that they are on-call and they may even receive reminders about their upcoming shifts, depending on how they've configured their on-call reminders.

To provide a more streamlined solution to this problem, we're introducing an 'Off Duty Members' list for on-call shifts.

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Now in a shift's escalation settings, you can move shift members into an off-duty state while keeping them as part of the rotation. When members are off-duty for a shift, their schedule doesn't indicate that they're on call, they won't appear in historical on-call reports, and they won't get reminders about the shift. 

And to help optimize your screen real estate, you can choose to show or hide the list of off-duty members when updating or editing a group's shifts.

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Off-duty members automatically rotate to on duty again following your shift rotation rules and the appropriate members will rotate to off duty. No more 9999 delays required!

Preview shift rotations

Sometimes—no matter how much care and effort you put into them—your on-call and escalation schedules don't come out exactly as you intended. Whether it's a rotation going in the wrong direction or a member winding up on the wrong side of a wait time, it can be frustrating to create what you think is the perfect schedule only to have minor errors show up after the schedule goes into effect. 

To help give you peace of mind that your escalation schedules and rotations are set up correctly, we're adding the ability to preview the next 10 rotations for any on-call shift. 

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Just set up the escalation and rotation for your shift the way you want in the Edit Escalations panel, and then click Preview Escalations to scroll through detailed previews of the next 10 times the schedule will rotate. And of course, this feature works with the new off-duty option so it also allows you to easily see how members are rotating in and out of the schedule.

Shareable calendars in ICS format

Availability: Non-production July 2; production July 23

Ever feel like you need to maintain your schedule in too many places? If you've been looking for an easy way to combine your on-call schedule in xMatters with your personal or corporate apps, then simply navigate to your schedule page and click Calendar Settings > Share Calendar.

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To share a calendar from xMatters, download an ICS file (a standard exportable calendar format) that contains a snapshot of your schedule for the next six months. You can then import the file into whatever app you use to manage your other appointments, be it your personal calendar, a content management system, or even a chat app. It's also easy to attach to the file to an email if you need to share your calendar with your team members.

Whenever your xMatters schedule changes—be it a new shift rotation, updated escalations, or a temporary absence—simply download the latest version and reimport it so your schedule is always up-to-date.

Sneak peek: Share live calendar links

While being able to export your calendar to an ICS file provides a quick and easy way to share it with other people and applications, it does require you to export and import it manually whenever your schedule changes. That's why we're working on a way that will allow you to share a live link to your calendar as well.

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When you share a live calendar link, you're creating a copy of your schedule that updates automatically every 24 hours. By pointing your calendar app at the link instead of importing a file, your app will receive a new copy of the file whenever it refreshes, and any changes to your schedule will be reflected in the calendar app.

Live Call Routing

Availability: Now available in xMatters Base and Advanced

As we previewed in the Vanguard Release Overview, users can now connect to the appropriate on-call team by calling in and choosing the group they want to talk to using the same on-call group structures and user devices you've already configured.

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For anyone in need of immediate or emergency help, this means no unwieldy call trees, no conference bridges, no message forms, and no logging in—just connecting to exactly the right assistance they need, live and in-person. 

Automation & integrations

For this release's updates to our automation and integration platforms, we're introducing a new way to include logic in your workflows, improving access to incident attachments from within Flow Designer, expanding our library of built-in steps, and enhancing some of our most popular integrations. We're also developing SCIM-based synchronization for users and groups from Microsoft Entra ID or Okta into xMatters.

New Condition step in Flow Designer

The Switch step in Flow Designer lets you build out multiple pathways for your flows to follow based on the value of almost any property in the flow. However, it's limited to making decisions based on a single variable, which can result in more complex flows requiring a series of Switch steps or even custom steps to compare values in various ways. With the new Condition step, you can much more easily build intricate logic for path selection, reducing your flow complexity and the amount of custom work required.

This step allows you to create multiple paths similar to the Switch step, using AND/OR logic and a range of conditional operators to compare both string and numerical values to direct the flow along the appropriate path.

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To use it, simply drag the Condition step onto the canvas and connect a trigger or upstream step to its input. Then double-click it to open its configuration settings and create your condition sets using the values from the upstream steps and the available operators.

As an example, here's how a single Condition step can replace two Switch steps in our ServiceNow integration's "Engage with xMatters" workflow. Instead of using one Switch step to identify what type of conference bridge is required and then another Switch step to determine whether a new bridge needs to be created, the Condition step checks for bridge type and determines if there's an existing bridge in a single pass.

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Having all of the logic in one step that's accessible to all of your workflow designers allows you to easily create and modify whatever complexity your particular use case calls for.

Get Incident Attachments step

Now that you can attach files from your Document Library to incidents, you may need to provide responders and stakeholders access to those documents in their notifications. The new Get Incident Attachments step takes an incident ID and returns a list of links to the incident's attachments in HTML, Slack markdown, plain text, and JSON formats.

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This allows you to insert the links into alert notifications, post them in Microsoft Teams or Slack, add them as comments to records in other systems, or pass them to other steps for further parsing or transforming into other formats.

Fusion Risk Management: Add Impacted Sites step

If you've added our built-in Fusion Risk Management steps to your flows, then you've already automated the process of creating and updating Fusion incidents via xMatters. With the new Add Impacted Sites step, you can extend your integration and further streamline your process by providing a Fusion incident ID and a list of site names.

Whenever the flow executes, the step automatically adds the specified names to the incident's list of impacted sites, ensuring that your resolvers always have up-to-date information.

Enhanced authentication for Azure Boards steps

The Azure Boards steps (Create Work Item, Update Work Item, and Add Comment) have been updated to use a Basic Authentication endpoint instead of the previous method. This change simplifies configuration and enhances the security of your credentials.

Auto-provisioning with SCIM

The System for Cross-Domain Identity Management (SCIM) is a specification designed to automate the management of user identities across cloud-based applications and services. It reduces the cost and complexity of managing users by providing a common user schema and binding documents to provide patterns that allow systems to synchronize data. In short: it makes it fast, cheap, and easy to sync users and groups from your existing management or HR system into xMatters.

In this release, we’re introducing SCIM integrations with two of the most popular identity provider applications: Microsoft Entra ID (formerly known as Azure Active Directory) and Okta. These integrations remove the operational and maintenance costs of running custom ETL processes as part of the xMatters EPIC data sync and provide a self-service option to automate provisioning of user identities and group information in xMatters. Unlike the current EPIC sync process, these integrations are built specifically for a single identity management system.

If you’re using Entra ID or Okta to manage your user data, you’ll now be able to automatically update and synchronize your users and groups to your xMatters instance so your service teams and schedules will always be up to date.

For more information about SCIM integrations, follow the Product Updates section where we’ll be posting updates along with links to documentation as it becomes available. Or reach out to your CSM if you have questions and want to see if SCIM is right for you.

Messaging

The xMatters messaging capabilities allow users to quickly populate predefined forms or scenarios and send notifications to recipients on any device they choose. In this release, we're providing access to our newly redesigned messaging forms when sending a message from the Communication Center.

Updated messaging forms on the dashboard

Consistency is key for a quick response to critical events. That’s why we’ve updated the Send Alert widget on the dashboard to use the same new messaging forms you find on the Messaging page. Whether the widget is configured to open a basic form or a pre-filled scenario, you’ll now see it open in a side drawer, where you’ll have access to all the features of the new forms.

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With the new side drawer presentation, you get improved screen real estate, sites as searchable recipients, more information about which recipients are targeted by your message and how many, more in-context validation about misconfigured properties, and instant feedback on whether the message has been sent.

Reporting & analytics

The reporting capabilities of xMatters give you insight and visibility across your entire service architecture to help identify possible areas for continuous improvement and ways to make your incident response more effective and efficient. In this release, we're enhancing the System Audit report to provide even more information about changes in your xMatters environment.

More audits in the new System Audit report

Availability: Non-production July 9; production July 23

We continue to migrate audits from the legacy audit reports into the new System Audit report. The new report is much more human-readable, making it easier for you to find out what changed, who changed it, and when. The latest additions include audits of changes to users’ devices and custom properties, which can help you troubleshoot notification issues that depend on these settings.

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Mobile updates

Our users depend on the xMatters mobile apps to respond to notifications, resolve incidents, and send messages to their teams. We're continuously working to ensure that people have the tools they need at their fingertips, no matter where they happen to be. For the mobile apps in Wonder Boy, we're streamlining and updating the overall presentation of incidents within the app, adding the ability to add impacted services when initiating an incident, and showing whether an on-call group has any repeating escalation sequences.

Incidents view

Viewing incidents on the mobile app now provides a streamlined and more intuitive overview of critical information during an incident. Resolvers and stakeholders can be viewed together on the Participants tab, the Incident Overview is cleaner and easier to read, and Timeline information has a more concise display.

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The new Tasks tab also provides fast access to the currently assigned tasks for an incident and allows you to change their status.

Add impacted services to an incident

If your initiate incident form is configured to include the impacted services field, you can now add any services you know to be affected when initiating an incident from the mobile app.

You can quickly search through your list of services and add as many as you need before submitting the form. Any services you specify will be flagged as affected in xMatters and included in the incident details.

View repeat escalations for on-call groups

Previously, we introduced the ability to repeat escalation sequences for on-call groups to ensure that a team has every opportunity to respond to an alert. Now you can see whether an escalation sequence is set to repeat when viewing a group's details in the mobile app. 

A summary of the repeat escalation settings shows when and how often the escalation will repeat so you can be sure a group will continue to be notified if none of the members are able to acknowledge the alert the first time.

Learn more

These are the main features for this release but, as always, there are several other small changes and enhancements we're delivering to keep xMatters forging forward. Detailed information and instructions for using these new features will be available in our online documentation.

We hope you enjoy Wonder Boy in all its glory! We'll see you again very soon for our Xenon release...

 

 

 

The information in this article is the intellectual property of xMatters, an Everbridge Company, and is intended only for use with xMatters products by xMatters customers and their employees. Further, this intellectual property is proprietary and must not be reused or resold.

 

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