I've found that dashboards can be a huge help when managing the network, so I wanted to share some thoughts on the topic. A picture can be worth a thousand words in my experience. The dashboard I use (see below) makes it easy at a glance to see the status of the network and drill down into device details and troubleshoot network problems.
Of course setting up a dashboard that really provides value can be a time consuming process. To make the process easier, I've found it helpful to decide up front what elements are most important to display and then create the dashboard. Another key step is picking the right tool to create your dashboards. Three key questions can assist you in picking the right tool and avoiding confusion and disappointment later in the process.
1. How easy is it to create a dashboard? (Does it require importing or code?)
2. Can it mash-up network topology maps, performance data and alarm data?
3. Does the drill down capability provide for rapid jumping to detailed device/alarm data?
So why are dashboards so valuable? I'm able to display the information that helps me manage the network more effectively. For example, the screenshot of my dashboard below shows a distributed site. When managing across a WAN, I add elements into my dashboard that include where the alerts are, what type of network services are potentially impacted and the overall health and status of the network (bandwidth, router CPU load, etc). My dashboard shows all of these elements, and also goes a few steps further by including a network topology map, the top alarmed devices and customized pieces that show response time and availability of a specific website.
Depending on your specific situation, the dashboard capabilities can extend across multiple systems or take a deep dive into a single service provided by an IT organization. For example, an application dashboard would have a blend of device status, applications status, application services, and status of key dependencies all on a single page.
The dashboard that I've included was created with dopplerVUE my network management system of choice. If you're interested in easily creating a custom dashboard give it a try by downloading the 30-day free trial.-----