Business Productivity

NEW – Monitor connection status for shared devices with Alexa for Business

As an administrator, you can now use Alexa for Business to view and manage the connection status of all your shared devices. For example, you get a notification when a critical number of shared Alexa devices lose network connectivity within a single building. You can then dispatch your resources to resolve the problem.

Alexa for Business provides the following device status values that you can view from the console or by querying the API:

  • Online – The device is connected to the network with all skills and settings applied.
  • Offline – The device isn’t connected to the network.  The device might be unplugged, or the network might not be working. The time stamp next to the status shows the date and local time when the device was first detected to be offline.
  • Sync in progress – The device is connected to the network, and Alexa for Business is applying skills and settings to the device.
  • Sync needed – The device is connected to the network, but not all skills and settings have been applied to the device. Alexa for Business may have tried to apply the skills and settings when the device was offline.

Even though devices in the Sync needed and Sync in progress states are online, they may not have all skills and settings applied. You can either request the device to sync from the console, or wait for the device to get a software update and then request a sync. For more information, move the mouse over the device listed and follow the instructions for syncing.

View the connection status of registered devices

In the Alexa for Business console, the Shared Devices page shows the serial number, type, device name, assigned room, and status of the registered devices.

Monitor device state using Amazon CloudWatch

Another way to monitor status is to graph metrics using Amazon CloudWatch, and set up alarms on the metrics to alert you whenever a critical number of devices goes offline. For more information, see View Available Metrics in the Amazon CloudWatch User Guide.

Here’s a quick look at how to set an alarm that sends an email notification whenever one or more devices in a specific building go offline. In this case, you want to publish the alarm to an email alias, such as building1oncall@anycompany.com. This creates an Amazon SNS topic with an email subscription to the topic, but you could also publish this directly to an existing SNS topic.

Creating an alarm

  1. In the CloudWatch console, choose Alarms, Create Alarm.
  2. Choose the namespace AWS/A4B, and choose a metric dimension. For this post, you only want to know when devices in Building 1 go offline, so choose Room Profile.
  3. Search for the metric Building 1 OfflineSharedDevices. Because the only way for a shared device to have a room profile is to be assigned to a room, new devices do not trigger the CloudWatch alarm while they are being deployed.   
  4. Select Average, Min, Max, or Sum, depending on the measurement that you’re most interested in, and the sampling interval.  For this post, use Sum, and a threshold of “1”. If the sum of the metric equals or is over that value, then the metric goes into alarm state and the alias is notified. Choose Next.
  5. Enter a name and description for the alarm.
  6. Enter in a name for a new SNS topic to create, such as “Building_1_important_people”. Enter the email address, such as building1oncall@anycompany.com. This is the actual name of your email distribution target.
  7. Choose Save. You are notified that an email is being sent to the distribution, to validate that you have access to the alias.
  8. In your inbox, open the link provided, to confirm the subscription to your new alert topic.

That’s it, you’ve successfully created a CloudWatch alarm to look for any devices that go offline and notify you through your email alias.

Summary

The new features from Alexa for Business allow you to know how many devices are in an Offline state, and to create graphs or set alarms using CloudWatch.

You can also set up a dashboard with a graph of your offline device count. For more information, see Graph a Metric and Create an Alarm from a Metric on a Graph.

Many popular monitoring packages integrate with CloudWatch, so if you use a different package that integrates with CloudWatch, you can view your metrics there as well.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us in the AWS Forums or through AWS Support.