The Orion® Platform is designed to consolidate monitoring into a single source of truth, taking massive amounts of data and making it easier to identify issues in complex environments. A key component to this is the organization of data. As an example, if I were to present you with the dashboard below, you can see it’s aggregating a ton of information and highlighting issues from multiple modules like Network Performance Monitor (NPM), Server & Application Monitor (SAM), Virtualization Manager (VMAN), and Storage Resource Monitor (SRM). Single pane of glass, right?  However, it’s not interesting, not even a little bit, and most importantly, it’s not easily interpreted. This dashboard doesn't really help me understand the problem or where to focus.

 

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Simplifying how data is interpreted through better visualizations can provide drastic improvements for understanding problems. Now, if I present you with this view, can you tell me where the problem areas are?

 

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The Orion Maps team believes visualization of your data can be a powerful tool when put together in a meaningful way. Ensuring critical data is available but presenting it in a clear and concise manner allows you to quickly see the problem and its potential impact. Visualizations help tell the story, and can help members of your organization, or clients, understand the breadth and complexity of what you manage on a day-to-day basis. For those of you unfamiliar with the Orion Maps project to date, you may want to review the following posts. These should help paint the picture, no pun intended, on what we’ve delivered with the previous releases.

 

Orion Platform 2018.2 Improvements - Chapter Two - Intelligent Mapping

Orion Platform 2018.4 Improvements - Intelligent Mapping Enhancements

 

With the release of 2019.2, we’ve incorporated some new enhancements designed to extend the flexibility of the platform and provide some amazing new options for representing your environment and critical services.

 

 

ORION MAPS MENU & MANAGEMENT PAGE

 

As a new entry point to maps, an "Orion Maps" menu is now available under My Dashboards and Home.Selecting this option will transport you to the Map Management page.  This will be blank initially, prompting you to create a map.

 

 

It’s important to note here that any user can create a map. If you have access to this menu, you can create maps. However, each of you will only be able to see the maps you created yourself in the list view. The current features on this page will allow you to sort your list by Map Name, Last Updated, and Created Date. There’s also a search bar allowing you to search for maps by name.

 

 

Any Orion Administrator will have an additional function when they access this view. A very helpful tool is available in the upper-right corner allowing you to toggle the view to include all user maps vs. just your own. The main components to this page provide the capabilities to create a new map, edit existing maps, delete maps, or view a map by selecting its name.

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MAP EDITOR

Let’s begin by creating a new map via the Map Editor. Selecting New Map will open the basic editor for building maps from scratch. You’ll be greeted by an entity library on the left side, which defaults to a paginated list of your nodes. You can click the drop-down to choose from any entity type in Orion Maps. As always, a search bar is also available. The empty canvas will take up most of the view, and a few controls will be noticeable in the bottom-right corner, along with a Save button and More menu in the upper-right side. Building a map from the basic editor is for those of you who know exactly what you want in the map. For now, this is single drag-and-drop functionality, and any relationships or connections identified will automatically be drawn.

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Like any design tool, built-in functions allow you to manipulate the map. Holding the space bar will allow you to pan the map. Selecting entities will allow you to move objects, and holding the Shift key when moving objects will perform a snap to grid function. Using arrow keys will gently nudge the entity in a desired direction. Holding Shift while using arrows will move the object in larger increments. Holding the Control key or using the + or - buttons will allow you to zoom in or out while working with your map. Probably one of my favorite tools is the Center key in the bottom right. This will not only center your map, but perform a zoom to fit, ensuring the entire map is placed in the viewable area. This is an excellent tool as you expand or condense maps of different scales. Any entity can be removed from a map by selecting it and hitting the Delete key on your keyboard.

 

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Once we have our map situated how we want it, you’ll notice any change in the canvas enables the "Save" button in the upper-right corner.  Clicking save will generate a dialogue, which will allow you to add a unique name. This will warn you in the event you attempt to name your map with a previously used name.

 

 

Under the MORE menu, a number of options will be presented to you. "New" will allow you to start a new map and a blank canvas, much like the name implies. "Save As" is particularly useful if a map has been shared with you, or as an administrator you’re editing a map you didn’t create. Unless you’re the one who created the original map, you won’t be allowed to "Save" but will have to perform a "Save As" and rename the map. "Delete" needs little explanation, but again, if this isn’t your map, then the delete option will be grayed out. I’ll cover the "View" button a bit later in this post in more detail, and the "Help" button of course links to formal documentation for much of the items discussed in this post.

 

 

LEVERAGING CONTEXTUAL MAPS

We have massive plans to improve upon the function of building maps as we understand one of the biggest needs is expediting map creation and limiting the number of touches to maintain them. Feel free to share what you believe would make a difference in the comment section below. In this release, we’re taking advantage of the framework and functionality delivered previously through the contextual sub-views. If or when viewing an automatically generated map from the Node or Group Details sub-views, you’ll now see a new button added to the menu bar, "Open Map in Editor." Essentially, I can use the existing functionality to take a pre-built map, expand it further, and have what was done within the sub-view persisted and sent to the new map editor with the click of a button. The images below should show a basic demonstration of this workflow. This is a great way to build maps quickly and then make final adjustments in the editor before saving.

 

Navigating to Map sub-view from Node Details page

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Expanding the map through automatically discovered relationships

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Open Map in Editor

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Of course, using the built-in tools to move objects around the canvas, snap to grid, and taking advantage of the center/auto-fit tool as you make adjustments can help you properly create a representation that makes the most sense for your organization. Once I’ve saved the map, what do I do now?

 

ORION MAPS WIDGET

As maps are saved, they’ll be accessible as a Map Project from the list view under the Map Management page. You’ll also find a new widget available in the Widget Drawer, allowing you to add any of your custom maps to a dashboard or view. Click the pencil in the upper-left side marked Customize Page, then click Add Widgets, and the resource will be located under the Network Maps section called Orion Map.

 

 

Drag and drop as many of these widgets out to the page as you wish, and click "Edit" or "Choose Map" to specify a map from your list. A dialogue will contain options to customize a title or subtitle and specify the widget height by pixels. A list of maps will be shown, along with a search option for quickly identifying the map you wish to use. Like the Map Management page, admins will also have the option to see all user-created maps by clicking the toggle on the right side.

 

 

Click "save" and your map will now be available. Another one of my favorite features is we managed to build the widget where it‘ll automatically scale the map according to the size you specified. By adjusting the height and the column width, your map will auto-fit the available space, making it fast and easy to get the map exactly where you want on your dashboard, at just the right size.

 

 

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With the ability to incorporate these maps alongside other widgets in the dashboard, you have some amazing new ways in which to roll up critical problems within your environment.  Below is a quick example of what one may look like.

 

 

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ENHANCED NODE STATUS

If you are unaware, or have yet to come across this post, Orion Platform 2019.2 - Enhanced Node Status by aLTeReGo, we’ve included some very significant updates in how we highlight status in the Orion Platform. The desire for improvements in status was a consistent theme we heard during user research with maps as well, and the difference this change makes is awesome. To steal an excerpt from aLTeReGo's post: The example below shows the exact same environment. The first image shows what this environment looked like in the previous release using Classic Status. Notice the absence of any obvious visual cues denoting issues in the environment. The next image to the right is of the very same environment, taken at the exact same time as the image on the left. The only notable difference is this image was taken from a system running Orion Platform 2019.2 with Enhance Node Status.

 

 

In both examples, there are the exact same issues going on in the environment, but these issues were obfuscated in previous releases, making the troubleshooting process less intuitive and unnecessarily time-consuming. With Enhanced Status, it's now abundantly clear where the issues lie, and with the topology and relationship information from Orion Maps, it's now easier to assess the potential impact those issues are having on the rest of the environment.

 

 

Classic StatusEnhanced Status

 

 

INTERACTING WITH THE MAP WIDGET AND VIEW MODE

Now that you have an amazing visualization of your environment and the issues are clearly identified, a closer look may be in order. There are a couple of different methods for interacting with your maps. The first method takes advantage of the improvements made to the Orion Hovers and are accessible from the Map Widget.  By hovering over an entity in your map, performance status will be available and should highlight exactly why your entity is in a degraded state. You will also be able to access the Commands menu, which will allow you to Go To Details pages, Edit Node, Mute Alerts, or Unmanage the entity directly from the map!  This behavior will be the same if a group is on a map, or if you have nested maps.  You can see that the commands option for a map includes viewing a map, editing a map, or muting alerts associated to a map!  From here, you can choose to use the command options or simply click on the entity in the map. By doing so it will take you to the details page automatically as pictured below.  The View Mode, which can also be accessed as a button in the top right of the Map Widget, is a full screen depiction of that map and all its entities, allowing you to investigate further utilizing the inspector panel to show related entities, alerts, and recommendations, if viewing virtual entities.

 

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FEEDBACK

This release marks another significant step for the Orion Maps project and we hope you find these new enhancements valuable and useful in your environment.  I plan to write and attach a couple other posts to this announcement around using Maps in Alerts and Reporting.  Of course with each release, we find your feedback extremely valuable, and much of what has been done to this point centers around your asks.  Please be sure to comment below and SHARE YOUR MAPS and DASHBOARDS!  Stay tuned as we are already hard at work on the next major release and have some very cool stuff in store. 

 

Check out the other posts form serena and aLTeReGo on 2019.2 Platform improvements if you haven't already!

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Install/Upgrade Improvements Part 1

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Install/Upgrade Improvements Part 2

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Enhanced Node Status

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Additional Improvements