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A single pane of glass with opCharts and NMIS

By Daniel Carter

What is a single pane of glass and why is it so important?

The phrase, Single-pane-of-glass is often used as a synonym for a dashboard, however, it is more than that. It is a dashboard that is able to summarise data from multiple sources and display it in a clear and coherent manner on a single screen (pane of glass).
There are a few benefits to using this type of dashboarding in your organization:
Increased visibility – Your operations team can ensure that the status of your network is always visible and issues are quickly noticed.

Reduced operational complexity – Your team will have the ability to see the complete operational environment in a logical display that will reduce any complexity within your infrastructure.

Reduced time to a root cause analysis – There are no silo’s within the organization, all technologies, vendors, operating systems are displayed in a single location.

A true single-pane-of-glass management system will support:

  • Multiple vendors
  • Multiple technologies
  • Multiple operating systems

This management system will also allow you to:

  • See the current state of all systems in one location.
  • See the full history of all systems in one location.
  • Provide operations teams with a single place to login and see live data.
  • Be flexible enough to incorporate new technologies.

An example of a well-designed dashboard is displayed below:

Note the clear layout of all the dashboards, all of the elements are clickable to retrieve live data and be further inspected.


This can be built for free today using NMIS and opCharts
First, install NMIS, there are two choices in going about doing this:

1. Install NMIS from scratch. Here is a link to an NMIS installation guide available on the Opmantek Community WIKI.

2. Instal the Opmantek Virtual Appliance that has NMIS and opCharts already installed and configured, here is the Virtual Appliance Installation guide.

If you installed NMIS from scratch then you need to Install/upgrade opCharts
Install/upgrade opCharts – opCharts Installation Guide
Get a free trial license key for opCharts –  here

 

How much data is the right amount, and how much is too much?

Before getting into creating a dashboard you should understand what goes into designing a useful dashboard.

1. Limit each dashboard to 5-7 groups of data.
2. Group layout should be organized by data, time- period or visualization.
3. No group should have more than 5-7 data sets.
4. Each data set should be easily distinguishable from the other data sets in the group.
5. Similar data sets across groups should use similar colours/icons.
6. Colours and shapes should be used with purpose and definition.
7. The entire dashboard should be visible at one time, as should each group.
While looking at the image below, we can understand why the dashboard is poorly designed:

Creating your Single Pane of Glass Dashboard

Now that you understand what separates a well-designed and useful dashboard from a poorly designed one it’s time to create your own.

Start by creating a new dashboard:

Navigate to menu -> Views -> Dashboards



On the following screen, click the blue “+” icon to create a new dashboard

From this screen you can add data in one of two ways:

1. Give your new dashboard a name, description, and assign it to a dashboard group if required. You can begin by adding components to the dashboard by clicking the add component button. A new component info box will open up and you can select the data you wish to display, change the size of the window and design the dashboard in a way you see fit.

For example, you may want to add a Map you have created to your dashboard, you can do so by navigating to Menu -> Views -> Maps then selecting a previously created map. When the map has been loaded, click the drop-down menu on the top right of the map and select Add to Dashboard.



The add to dashboard menu will open up, select the dashboard name from the drop-down menu that you wish to add the nap to then click save. Once you navigate back to your saved dashboard this map will be displayed. You can follow this same process to add any components to your dashboards.

2. The second way to add data is from the new dashboard screen, click the add component button. This will open up the component info menu allowing you to adjust the width and the height of the component you are adding to your dashboard. After selecting the size, click the data source type drop-down menu to select the desired data for the Dashboard. Once the Data Source Type is selected, another drop-down menu will appear allowing you to choose the specific data point you want to display on the dashboard. You can repeat this process to organize and add as many Components to your Dashboard as you want.



Watch our webinar on dashboard design:

Webinar Landing Page Image

 

More information on creating Dashboards can be found below:

opCharts Dashboards

opCharts Chart

Dashboard Design Considerations

Creating Charts with the opCharts Chart Editor