streamWrite / ATI Blog

News, events and useful information

Portals Heartbeat Monitoring -- Checking the System Pulse Every 20 Minutes

Portals Monitoring Enhances Service Visibility

Portals sends heartbeat information every 20 minutes to our support center for customers with an active Portals support contract. This information includes a variety of information about errors and system information so that we can see, at a glance, the health of your system and related services.

Portals systems are displayed on a large dashboard in our service center with color coded bullets indicating system health status:

  • Green: system running normally, with current activity and no major errors
  • Yellow: system may be running normally but shows a lack of activity (perhaps no phone calls for the most recent reporting period) or one or more minor errors
  • Orange: More significant alerts are seen and may need follow up
  • Red: System has not received heartbeat information in the past 20 minutes or is reporting significant errors

Monitoring for Lack of Activity

While Portals Monitoring reports the number of telephone calls, Web and/or SMS sessions since the last heartbeat, one of the key things we look for in the dashboard is lack of activity. Even though Portals may be up and running, reporting heartbeats every twenty minutes without any errors, external conditions can knock us out of service without any visibility to the problem. A telephone circuit can get taken out of service for example. And, while Portals is running correctly, it may not be receiving any telephone calls. When a lack of activity is noticed, our support desk can check to see that all systems are continuing to function properly by making a test phone call and contacting our customer with critical information, if necessary.

Additional Information On Hand for Review

In addition to heartbeat information on system activity, monitoring also reports additional data to ensure systems are working properly and are being maintained as needed. Some of the data comes in with the 20 minute heartbeat, while other system information is reported less frequently such as once per day:

  • Database check: the 20 minute heartbeat includes a low-overhead query to your back end database(s) to ensure that lost connectivity to your database is visible on the dashboard
  • Portals software versions
  • Windows system up time in days
  • Windows Updates last run
  • Hard disk space available
  • CPU usage
  • RAM usage

A Tremendous Safety Net

With Portals Monitoring we have captured major system outages of a variety of types and reported them to our customers before they were aware of the problem. We have caught significant telephone system failures, database services going offline, carrier service issues and more.

Portals Monitoring has been a home run for our customers by enabling us to be constantly aware of the health of these mission critical systems and related services.

Genesys G-Summit contact center conference promises to demonstrate new technologies including machine learning applications.

2017 marked exciting new discoveries and improvements in artificial intelligence field, and was referred to by many as “The Year of Intelligence”. 2018 is where we see AI and Machine Learning applications becoming more mature and going mainstream for consumers and enterprises alike. The field of customer experience is expected to evolve rapidly as technology leaders and enterprises implement new capabilities.

September 6th marks an excellent opportunity to interact with the customer experience visionaries, partners, and industry thought leaders gathering at the Genesys G Summit in San Francisco. Industry experts will be discussing the latest innovations and how they can transform the customer experience in the years to come. By connecting with peers, and attending breakout sessions that include presentations and panel discussions, you will discover ways to revolutionize how you engage with customers.

As a trusted Genesys partner with many years of experience with data-driven applications and CX solutions, ATI’s goal is to help guide organizations on their customer experience journey, so they can build strategies that enable them to leverage new capabilities and maximize the value of investments.

Register for G Summit

Portals Interactive Texting Puts Information At Your Customers' Fingertips

Portals Interactive Texting puts information your customers need into their hands as quickly as they can type a text message. With interactive texting a request is typed into a text message addressed to a phone number for your application. The request is picked up by the Portals server where information can be looked up and sent back out as a text message reply. 

Whatever information you choose to make available, account balance, status information, appointments, etc, it can be accessed via a simple text request. Portals Interactive Texting can even handle requests for secure information by "escalating" the dialogue to a secure web session automatically.

Many Portals customers are now using this service for Jury status lookup, balance due information, upcoming appointments and more.

In addition to user initiated requests, an Interactive texting session can be started from an outbound message generated by a status in your database. In other words, we can create a process for users to opt-in to a reminder. When the message goes out, that reminder could be setup to launch an interactive session if the user responded by text with a request for more information.

And best of all, Portals Interactive Texting leverages the power of Portals by using existing database interface programming from your IVR, IWR or automation application if applicable, as well as Portals reports, monitoring and administrative tools. By leveraging existing Portals services, adding Interactive Texting to an existing Portals application reduces time and expense for our customers.

RCS Poised to Replace SMS for Texting

RCS, short for Rich Communication Services, is the newer technology poised to take over for the aged Short Message Service (SMS) we've been using for the past decade or more. While SMS is very affordable and available on every device, it has some obvious shortcomings. Message delivery is not guaranteed and there is no mechanism to validate that a message has been delivered. One statistic I found indicates that 1% to 5% of SMS messages are lost completely and many others may not be delivered to the recipient until much later. Using SMS services for emergencies is a questionable practice.

Rich Communication Services

All of that said, in the United States, 6 billion SMS messages are sent each day according to Michael O'Grady of Forrester. The demand is there and a big improvement seems long overdue. 

RCS Brings Improvements

Rich Communication Services intends make the needed improvements. This new service intends to provide:

  • Instant Messaging
  • Person to Person Chat
  • Group Chat
  • Content And File Sharing
  • Person Presence Information
  • VoIP Calling
  • Video Calling
  • Geolocation Information
  • Audio Messages
  • Network Blacklisting
  • Capability Sharing from Presence or Other Available Options

In addition, RCS will support video files of up to 10 MB, while MMS max file size can vary from 250 KB to 1.2 MB.

Not A Perfect Service

RCS is not a perfect service. End to end encryption for chat services is not supported, leaving everything you type into a chat window, wide open to be intercepted just like in an SMS text message today.

Additionally, while Android is adding support for RCS, iPhone seems to have no intention to do so, meaning Apple and Google users won't be able to share the benefits of RCS across platforms (Android users can share the benefits of RCS among Android users and iMessage already shares these benefits but only among Apple users).

Carrier Adoption

On a positive note, it looks like RCS is being adopted by several carriers in the U.S. MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T have all adopted the service to date. It appears as though Verizon Wireless has yet to adopt the service.

While adoption is not yet 100%, there is good momentum for RCS and it does promise big improvements over its predecessor. I'll remain hopeful that my iPhone with Verizon Wireless services will someday soon see RCS as a standard feature and I can share in the greater eco system with messaging benefits across all device types.