What is our primary use case?
We use this product for engagement to critical outages, so we use the smart bridge functionality. All of our entire support staff is in Everbridge. Anybody and everybody that we need to get ahold of from a production perspective is in Everbridge, and we use it to engage them. This can be both singularly as an individual or as a group, and it has a calendar that escalates up the chain.
If a primary or secondary don't respond within a given amount of time, it'll go all the way up to, in our case, the VP, which is what's required by our organization.
We also use it to send out notifications to support staff, if they have a ticket in their queue that hasn't been assigned to somebody after given an allotment of time. I think it's about 30 minutes. So, if a ticket is sitting unassigned, it'll notify that team saying, "Hey, you've got a ticket out there", and they can actually respond to that particular text message saying, "yes, I accept".
At that point, Everbridge will then tell ServiceNow that this support person has accepted the ticket, and ServiceNow will then assign that ticket to that person. So, they don't even have to log into the system in order to do that.
We also are using it under certain conditions for critical alerts. If we've got a set of alerts set up such that if one of these is triggered, something imminent is going to happen, then it will engage both a SWAT team and my incident command team at the same time, stating that a bridge needs to be set up immediately for this particular issue. Everbridge does all that for us.
It also does incident subscriptions. For example, if you want to be alerted for a given platform, for a given priority, it'll send you a notification saying, "Hey, there's an issue in your platform". We send communications through it, which are self-serve from the business perspective, stating that, again, what type of platform or application that you want to be notified on. If there's an issue in that particular platform or app, you will get the notification, again, that something is going on and all of the details thereof.
It is also selected by priority, so if you want only to know about the priority one, twos, you can select just those. Or if you want to know about the non-majors, threes and fours, you can also opt into those.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable feature is the support calendars.
In the past, in my previous company, we actually did a survey and we spent over 45 minutes trying to notify and engage personnel for any given major incident. Everbridge has managed to actually reduce that to under three minutes.
Even in my new company, our engagement time is sitting right around three minutes to engage personnel to a critical outage. This means that we don't have to spend time finding out who the on-call is, or find out what their contact information is. If they don't respond, we don't have to look up their manager or their director or their VP. Everbridge does that all behind the scenes and quickly.
We are just getting into smart orchestration, which I don't have much experience with yet but I am pretty sure that I will be learning a lot about it within the next year. To this point, it has saved us time compared to my previous experience with deployment.
What needs improvement?
I would like to have a little bit more flexibility in the member portal. For example, if you are set up with primary and secondary and those individuals just want to swap, where the secondary will take the primary position, and the primary we'll take the secondary, that's not possible through the member portal. Instead, a manager actually has to go into the calendar itself and do that flip. All other vacations or swaps can be handled from the member portal.
All other vacations or swaps can be handled from the member portal, as long as they aren't on the same day. If you want to swap with somebody next week then you can do it from the member portal, but if you're both working the same day then you can't do that flip.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been using Everbridge IT Alerting for more than three years. The company that I currently work for has only been using it for about a year.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
They're actually very good at fixing bugs or getting updates because they've made modifications to their calendar, to the escalations to be more flexible. So far they've checked off most of my request requirements on my list.
Considering how often we use it and the number of tickets we send through, it's very stable. The redundancy that they have is good.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We send a lot of tickets through it and I think that it scales well. In one year, we had 243,130 tickets processed by the system.
You can implement what pieces you need. We started out with the API, which is a very simple integration between ServiceNow and Everbridge. Then you have Smart Orchestration, which allows you to have more control on the Everbridge side than the ServiceNow side. This is what we wanted.
Initially, we started out with just engaging for support teams. Then, that has grown into sending instant subscriptions to technical managers and executives, and that expanded into sending communication notifications to the business. From there, it is expanding to opening up a secondary informational bridge that runs in parallel to your technical bridge, all through the same platform. So you've got your business users on one bridge allowing them to not interfere with the technical investigation being held on the technical bridge.
Our communication platform actually starts in one week. We've got it all built out and we activate it next week. But, we are constantly looking at integrating more. So, to spec what we want to do with it, we're at 100%. But, say next month we find another critical alert that we need to have an immediate response on, we'll integrate that into the system.
We're constantly looking for ways to better utilize the functionality of Everbridge into everything that we do.
How are customer service and technical support?
The technical support is very good. Whenever I've got an issue, I talk to either support or my direct contacts. My Account team on the Everbridge side, along with the person that helped us install, I've got direct lines too and they are very responsive.
Their Command Center, their Service Desk, is also very responsive. You can actually do a ticket online and they usually respond to you within 24 hours that way. There's an 800 number that you can call for immediate assistance if it's something that needs to be done ASAP. They take down the information and do the initial investigation and usually have some sort of response to you.
In my typical case, it's usually by end of the day when I get a response. In some form, either that they're still investigating or that they've found something and are turning it over to level two or something like that. They do keep us informed.
They take every issue you have to heart and dive into it as far as they can. If you don't like the answer they've come back with, they will continue to dig into it, to our satisfaction.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
In my previous company, that's one reason why it took us 45 minutes to engage personnel. It was all manual. At this company, I do not know what they had prior to Everbridge.
How was the initial setup?
I was involved in the setup at my previous company and I felt that it was a straightforward process. The hardest part is actually getting the calendars out into Everbridge. If your support team has a standard rotation, no matter how complex that standard rotation is, it's very easy to build that out in Everbridge.
It's when you have groups that don't have any type of standard rotation. Getting them to move to that when they're used to working off a spreadsheet and they prefer working off a spreadsheet, can be a difficult transition because now they're going to a tool.
The API integration was a little tricky in ServiceNow, but I don't know if that was due to Everbridge or my ServiceNow. We did get it worked out and again when I say it was tricky, it took us an extra a couple of weeks because we found some nuances that we weren't expecting. It took us a while to track that down and get that switched.
Now, going to Smart Orchestration, which is what we are implementing right now, so far has gone much smoother than what the API integration was. Mainly I think because I and my partner have access to actually see what the Smart Orchestration is doing versus with ServiceNow, the admins did that. It was out of our control and we didn't know what was going on behind the scenes.
With respect to how long it took us to deploy, I want to say it probably took about three months. We thought it was going to take us about a month to two months through the API, but it took us three because we ran into a little snag.
In comparison, for this Smart Orchestration, we actually have fewer resources working on it and we've only been working at it for about a month and I'm told that we're just about done. It has taken a third of the time and fewer resources.
In terms of the deployment strategy, we had very similar work streams that we wanted to accomplish through this. We wanted to send engagements under certain conditions, and implement call-outs under certain conditions. In fact, under Smart Orchestration, we have even more work streams going than what we did through the API. I wouldn't say that it was more complex this time around, but it's larger. There are more ways of triggering events through Smart Orchestration than what we set up with the API.
What about the implementation team?
We used an Everbridge consultant to assist us with the deployment, and it was very helpful. This person is very knowledgeable and we had the same one for both deployments. It may have made this deployment even faster because we know each other.
There are 16 of us that are active, using it on a daily bases. My team is eight and the communication team is, I think, six. There are four people who take an administrative role, including myself, my counterpart, and two of my teammates. The administrators can actually go into the tool and work.
From a group manager perspective, I've got just shy of 2,500 people as support team members in the system. I have 259 groups, each with a corresponding administrator to maintain schedules.
What was our ROI?
Well, considering I save 42 minutes per outage, coupled with customer satisfaction, I would say it is well worth the cost to me. It's always an intangible, but I think it far pays for itself many times over, each year.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Everbridge is not an inexpensive tool, but as the adage says, you get what you pay for. Everbridge stands behind its product and in my three years, I think it had issues once that affected my company, and that was only briefly. Considering how many tickets I run through, in my book that is definitely a five-nines type of scenario.
In the past when we initially signed up, SMS was free. However, due to the new legislation in certain countries and whatnot, they had to make some changes to that, so they've gone to a message credit. There is now a possibility that you could incur SMS costs, depending on how often and where you're sending things. Otherwise, their fees are pretty self-explanatory.
The service is subscription-based and you've got two different user licensing schemes. One-way and two-way. One-way is very inexpensive and I don't know the pricing. Two-way is a lot more expensive. Hypothetically, it might be $1 for a one-way license, but it's $12 for a two-way license.
One-way means that you're not in a calendar essentially, I think is the way they describe it. So, you are not being pooled into an outage bridge, which means that you're not in a rotation of some sort. A one-way also means that you're just getting a notification saying, "Oh, Hey, here's an issue that we're going to tell you about," but you aren't going to be pooled into something that says, "Oh, Hey, I want your assistance to resolve this." Whereas a two-way license says, "Okay, hey, here's the issue. I need you on this bridge and you need to be there in less than three minutes."
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
Before choosing Everbridge, I looked at others including xMatters, MIR3, and there's another one too and I can't remember the name of it. Ultimately, Everbridge is what we felt fit what we wanted better.
MIR3, which is now known as OnSolve, just wasn't evolved far enough. Their functionality just wasn't anywhere close to what we needed it to be. They did not have bridge functionality. xMatters, at the time, did not either. I'm sure that they probably do today but at the time, xMatters could not stand up a bridge. It would have to be an external issue and we wanted everything under one platform.
There's something different with the calendar functionality, too. But since it was three years ago, I honestly don't remember. In any case, the main parts were the bridge functionality that Everbridge had at the time was far superior to both xMatters and MIR3. The engagement between xMatters and Everbridge was pretty similar. They both were very robust as far as trying to get the people that you want to get.
What other advice do I have?
My advice for anybody who is implementing Everbridge is to do your homework. Make sure you know what you want to implement and why. If you have a clear path forward, then the implementation is pretty straight forward.
Also, if you use Everbridge to help implement, listen to what they have to say. They know the tools inside and out and may have a better way of implementing it than what you might have thought.
The biggest lesson that I have learned from using Everbridge is that doing it manually is a waste of time and resources. It has given my team more the ability to focus on what it needs to, on resolving the issues. This has allowed us to cut our mean time to respond, leading to a reduction in our mean time to resolve. Basically, when you don't have to worry about your people and the escalation going on behind the scenes, it allows you to focus on what really matters in clearing out the outage.
In summary, this is a really good product but there is always room for improvement. In my opinion, they are really close.
I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?