Is "A Picture Worth A Thousand Words?" Maybe even more than that!
I frequently receive requests to show departments / teams how their system(s) may be performing on the network. It's not enough to just tell them "Your server's latency is sub-millisecond, it's connected at 1 Gb/s at Full Duplex, and no network errors have been recorded on its switchports in the last three months." When you offer that kind of information it's accurate, but it may not fill the actual need of the request.
Maybe they want to know a LOT more that NPM can show about even basic network status of a system:
- Throughput on multiple interfaces
- Traffic trending over time--especially with an eye towards predicting whether more resources must be allocated for their system(s) in the future:
- More memory
- More bandwidth
- More storage
- Growth over the last year in various metrics:
- Server bandwidth consumed
- WAN bandwidth utilization
- Latency changes
I never found a canned NPM Report that would show everything the customer wanted. But I learned how to build one!
Check out my method of building a Custom View that shows multiple windows in a single screen--my own little "single-pane-of-glass" deployment here: How to create a simple custom view of multiple interfaces' bandwidth utilization
It's incredibly easy to build a blank custom View that has as many monitors/ windows/ reports as I want:
- Create a new View
- Add the right number of columns and add the right Custom HTML (or other) resources to them
- Edit those resources to display useful and intuitive titles and subtitles
- Test that they show the time frames and polling frequency most useful to the customers
- Give the customer access to them
- Sit back and listen to the praise and excitement!
I just built a new view for all the interfaces on a Core 7609 yesterday using this process, and will build another one today on another 7609. In the screen shot below I've zoomed far out to give you an idea of what I can see--a graph for each interface's utilization. Normally I'd have the browser window zoomed in enough that the three columns fill a 24" display and are easily readable, and easy to scroll through vertically.
- I need just one screen that shows everything physically connected to those core routers.
- My team sees the labels and information displayed; that helps them understand what needs to be worked on as we move those interfaces onto replacement Nexus 7009's.
- My boss is able to track progress, see interfaces and throughput change.
- His boss knows the work's being done, sees what's left to do, and can answer the CIO's questions quickly and easily.
What would you pay an outside vendor to build this kind of custom view for you? $5K? More? Depending on the complexity and number of interfaces, I can start and complete a new multi-interface view, complete with custom labels and customized monitoring periods and granularity in less than ten minutes--AND provide a wealth of useful, specialized information to whichever customer wants it. Better still, I can show them how to tweak the individual windows' views to reflect differing amounts of polling granularity and time covered by the graphs.
The ability to build this has filled needs by my team, by our IBM Big Iron team (always wanting to see how much of the multiple 10 Gig interfaces they're consuming at once), our Bio Med group (which LANTronix devices have the best or worst uptime--and where they're located!), the Help Desk (what sites or systems are impacted by any given port being down), and more. I've built all these specialized views / reports and made them available via NPM to multiple teams, and the need for this info only grows. I've also built custom multi-graph windows that provide information about:
- Corporate WAN utilization for interfaces that connect campuses in multiple states
- Contracted EMHR customers' uptime, reliability, and throughput
- Performance and availability of WAN connected sites based on WAN vendor to track SLA's
- Cisco UCS Chassis interface utilization
- Vendor-specific systems and hardware (particularly useful when the vendor blames our network for their hardware or application issues)
Take a look at my "How to" page here: How to create a simple custom view of multiple interfaces' bandwidth utilization. Then talk over the idea of providing this kind of information with your favorite (or problem) customers, and you'll see you can build bridges and service unmet needs a lot easier than you expected. It's another way NPM shines--with information already available to you!