Configuring Messaging Software for Overnight Monitoring
February 20, 2008 Hey, Joe
For our System i messaging software, we email critical system messages to the BlackBerry phones that our techs carry. However, we want to make sure that the techs realize that an important message has arrived and that it doesn’t get lost in the tons of other email messages they receive. Do you have any ideas for segregating critical i5/OS error messages from regular email?
We recently went through a similar situation when we were deploying Bytware’s MessengerConsole monitoring and paging software on multiple System i boxes. Like you, we wanted to make sure that the important messages jumped out at the techs. We also had another goal. Our techs provide 24×7 support, which means that they need to leave their BlackBerry phones on tone alert at night while they are sleeping. This created a problem because the phone would buzz for both critical and non-critical email messages. We felt that if we were asking someone to wake up at night and check their Blackberry, the least we could do was figure out a way to suppress the tone alerts for non-essential messages and program the phones to only play a tone when a critical system message arrived.
Here’s what we did.
First, we took advantage of the fact that a BlackBerry can receive both email and text messages. On a BlackBerry phone, you can set up separate tone alerts for phone calls, incoming emails, and incoming short message service (SMS) text messages. By setting these alerts correctly, you can program a phone to ring whenever a phone call or text message comes in but remain mute when an email arrives. You can even set up different ring tones for each different type of incoming traffic. These setups are covered under basic BlackBerry usage, and they are enabled by modifying the settings in the phone’s active profile.
Once we programmed the phone to only activate ring tones for incoming phone calls and text messages but not for email messages, we made the following rules about how and under what circumstances we would send urgent system messages while the techs were asleep at night.
With this criteria in place (email for non-urgent messages; SMS text messages for critical messages; and phone calls for extremely urgent contacts), we had a plan in place for letting everyone sleep unless an urgent call came in. The only thing left to figure out was how to program our paging software so that it sent text messages instead of email messages when critical events occurred.
Performing minimal research, we quickly found out that you can send a text message through your system’s email software. It’s very easy, and you can do it by sending a message using the following email address format:
The phonenumber equals the 10-digit BlackBerry phone number of the person to receive the text message. The company_text_domain is the domain name that your cell phone company uses to convert email messages into text messages. Each of the major cell phone companies has a separate email domain where all properly formatted emails sent to the domain will be converted to text messages and delivered to the subscriber’s cell phone. Here are the email addresses and domain names for sending text messages via email for six of the most popular cell carriers:
Contact your carrier for their email-to-SMS address template if they are not on this list.
Once we had the carrier’s SMS email address, it was a simple matter to go through our MessengerConsole monitoring filters and set up the critical filters to send pages out as email text messages. Our tech support people then would know that a critical message had arrived when the SMS text message ring tone went off. Since the BlackBerries were business phones and the techs weren’t supposed to be using text messaging too much for personal usage, the phone’s text messaging function was largely devoted to this function.
In our case, this template turned out to be a simple yet elegant way to segregate critical monitoring messages from run of the mill everyday email. The nice thing about this technique is that you can use it with any monitoring software that sends out emails, including as Help/Systems’ Robot/ALERT software. It’s not unique to Bytware MessengerConsole.
Hope these ideas help with your solution.