Using Outlook and RSS to get realtime notification of system events in Bullhorn

The new Bullhorn status site is a major upgrade to the way Bullhorn communicates about system and service status. A few months ago the VP of Infrastructure, Chris Lalonde, blogged about the rollout of this new feature. I want to remind Bullhorn customers, especially the IT and support folks out there, of what’s special about the new Bullhorn status site and how they can use it to keep up-to-date with maintenance and other service related events.

The most significant upgrade is that the new status site is hosted by a 3rd party, Watchmouse (now known as CA Technologies). This means that the metrics about uptime and performance are not produced, edited or presented by Bullhorn. Not that you don’t trust us (of course!) but having a neutral 3rd party testing our site quality shows Bullhorn’s strong commitment to operational transparency. It also helps the Bullhorn ops team by separating the status environment from our own infrastructure, giving us confidence in the data, and access should our own systems be inaccessible. Watchmouse has presence in datacenters throughout the globe. From these testing stations they test both the network and host performance. This data is the “current performance” metric you see on the status site. Let’s dive in to understand what these metrics tell us.

Network performance is the time the data spends traversing the internet from our datacenter to your browser. Many variables can impact network time and this can be a significant contributor to poor performance. One thing to note about how the “current performance” metric is calculated is that it is a snapshot of performance from the most recently queried testing station. This may be a station in India, in which case you may see that “current performance” approaches 1 second, which is acceptable performance from that location. As the service cycles through the set of testing sites, this number will oscillate depending on proximity to our datacenter. Host performance is how long it takes our servers to produce the data. Added together, host and network time is biggest slice of the performance pie. There are other factors, such as the client network and/or the power of the client computer, but what you are seeing on is a very useful picture of the overall health of the Bullhorn service.

The other very useful feature of the new status site is that all messages are available as an RSS feed. Many RSS readers will be able to sniff out the feed from the main status page, so you can just use as your feed URL. For those of you using Outlook, you can configure Outlook to treat new RSS posts as incoming email, generating a new mail alert and, even better, you can apply rules to these posts. This can help you tailor your feed so you only get notified for items of interest to you. For example, if your company is on CLS4, you will want to get status updates about service issues and maintenance related to this cluster and you probably want status updates that affect all of Bullhorn. This is easy to do since we publish these status messages with headers that reflect the specific cluster and/or event type: Cluster: (all, cls2,cls4,cls5,cls6,cls7,cls20) Type: (performance, availability, maintenance, release) Service: (all, email, searching, reporting, api, mobile, calendar) Status: (resolved, researching, scheduled, completed)

The new Bullhorn status site is an excellent tool for staying current with service changes to Bullhorn, both planned and unplanned. By using RSS and Outlook to get real time system alerts from Bullhorn, you can be proactive with your employees about events that might affect them. Instructions for configuring Outlook RSS to link to Bullhorn’s status site.


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