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11th Systems Administration Conference (LISA '97)

Automating 24x7 Support Response To Telephone Requests

Peter Scott
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology


Demands for uninterrupted availability of systems that were hitherto not viewed as critical to the success of the enterprise has placed a burden upon support infrastructures for those systems. The small-to-medium help desk for a system that comprises part of an enterprise information system is under increasing pressure to provide round-the-clock support, while staffing budgets may not have caught up with the fiscal realities of covering second- or third-shift on-site personnel. While the volume of calls outside normal hours may be small, a guaranteed turnaround and response to emergencies is essential for many IT operations to gain the trust of their customers.

This paper describes a system for automated answering of the help desk telephone during non-peak hours, and for notifying on-call staff of emergencies within minutes. The system uses two voice-capable modems on a well-maintained computer for presenting to the caller a typical phone menu hierarchical menu which may include an option to record a message about some type of emergency. In this event, the system will notify the staff who are on call at that time for that type of emergency, contacting them by means they have specified in advance, such as voice telephone, numeric or alphanumeric pager, or other means. The system is currently undergoing testing in the Enterprise Information System File Service at JPL.

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