39 Replies Latest reply on Dec 20, 2013 4:23 PM by uidzer0

    Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

    Hans De Leenheer

      Today I was at the Nordics VMUG in Copenhagen (Denmark) and in a few session we kept seeing that management layers shift or at least are shifting. About 10 years ago we were all, with a few exceptions maybe, managing a few physical servers, each with their own very specific use case and physical design. Even identical physical architectures were a dream because we bought hardware for 5-years use and in between new business demands entered. To manage these servers we used RDP and maybe some iLO (HP) or iDRAC (DELL) for physical management when the OS wasn't there yet. It was a rare use case where someone actually used a HP Matrix system to manage all the physical hardware in a Single-Pane-Of-Glass.


      Over the last 10 years now we have been managing our servers as Virtual Machines. From adding new physical devices we went to adding physical resources when needed and gave us a very short time-to-market. Whether you are using VMware ESX(i) or even Microsoft Hyper-V, we have all our machines in a cluster manager or maybe if you are small enough just per host and you manage everything through your virtualization management client like vCenter Client. Lately these management interface have even shifted to web-based interfaces so that local installations are no longer needed. And although some hardware vendors do have management plugins, we don't have today our Single-Pane-Of-Glass. We are still logging in to our Backup Server, Network Firewall, Storage Array, ...


      Fast forward to today tomorrow. With the Software-Defined-Datacenter entering our world, the possibility of bringing EVERYTHING in to that Single-Pane-Of-Glass has become closer than ever. In essence the SD-hype is about splitting the control plane from the data plane, which provides us the possibility to pool and automate resources. Waaw, nice sales pitch there, right? You would not have to go into the Storage or Networking management interfaces anymore because everything will be controlled through API's and scripts (Puppet/Chef/...) Time to market? The speed of light


      How many User Interfaces do YOU have today? I'd love to see you list all of them and tell me which ones you think/hope to get rid of in the not so distant future and how.

        • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

          6+: Web.  Console (Telnet/SSH/Serial).  IP KVM.  vCenter Client.  RDP.  Proprietary Clients (Barracuda, Netscreen).

          Then add VPN to enable remote use of all these. 


          I like the theory of having a single management interface for everything (one tool to rule them all?), or to at least consolidate as many  related systems as possible to one interface. However, I don't think that a web browser is the best choice.  I like that it provides a client-less way of management and can give a solid visual representation, but it's just not efficient (forward, back, what did that last page say?, JAVA?!?!....).  That being said, if the One Tool were to come about and it used a web interface, I would buy in.

          • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

            I've spent a lot of the past few years with large organizations (ISP and government sized). In groups like that, there is never a single IT team. All have several teams for networking, servers, backup, storage, DBAs, security, monitoring, etc.


            With that in mind, the single-pane-of-glass concept just isn't something they seem interested in. Single-pane-of-glass for all monitoring tools, or all networking tools, etc. is ALWAYS highly sought after. But a single-pane for ALL tools (one tool to rule them all) runs into resistance when you have 10 managers with their own teams, own agendas, and own ideas.


            That being said, for smaller shops; this is a need long overdue that is really exciting to watch unfold. The cost-savings are immediate and we are moving away from the antiquated network engineer, server admin, DBA, storage engineer stuff and migrating to the "super-engineer" of the future. Fun times!


            EDIT: Should have known to hit post before leaving for coffee, one tool to rule them all joke fail

            • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

              I agree with zackm here, I too have see both sides of the spectrum. Small IT shops deperately need this along with the right person to manage everything. I think the time a "super-engineer" is past us. As more people get into what they call IT they seem to stay focused on their nitch, be it networking, server admin, storage, etc..., maybe the government/ large company mind set is to blame. I do agree with the separation of duties, to a cirtain point, but personnel are just not willing to go above and beyond their daily duties, shame, shame, how else are 'super-engineers' going to be made.


              So one tool for everything is great but the right personnel has to be behind it.

              • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                I agree with 802jr small shops would benefit; but large shops with politics and different department budgets may cause an issue with ownership and possible usage rights as zackm mentioned. I also do believe that this era of a new laziness overshadows our true performers today. Coming from a desktop background, incorporating A/V Production and engineering, being an intel channel partner and getting to understand design and Architecture of the technology, self and school taught web/kiosk design moving to network and monitoring, having use of a nice tool as the SW Suite to learn more about network devices, linux, vms, etc. I have not lost hope in the Super-Engineer... though far from that title I do not consider the path to being that entity an unnavigable path; just one of dedication.

                1 of 1 people found this helpful
                • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?
                  Andy McBride

                  I have heard of the SPOG concept since about 1993. At this point I don't know that the concept has enough benefits to justify the investment. The issue I see is that my SPOG (on my 2 monitors) has different requirements than the NOC SPOG or the management SPOG or Larry's SPOG and so on. I agree with 802jr on this one. The need to specialize is trumping the need to manage everything in one interface.

                  • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                    No SPOG here, nothing that would take less time to set up than it takes to actually manage everything by itself so we wait... but we feel the need growing by the day.

                    • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                      I swear by Terminals Terminals - Home

                      Though it's not perfect, it's the best I've ever seen for allowing me to manage RDP, telnet and SSH sessions in one app, with tabbed windows.


                      The password protected device database means I can share the Terminals config with colleagues easily & securely.

                      • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?
                        michael stump

                        I spend a non-trivial amount of my professional life switching between UCS Manager and the vSphere Web Client, for operational stuff. For monitoring, it's Orion and various apps like NPM, NTA, and SAM, with a side of vCOPs. For storage, UniSphere. While it'd be nice to have access to all of this stuff in one place, I don't see a practical way to combine these management portals. And there's always the single pane of glass vs. single point of failure conundrum.

                        • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                          We have a list of user interfaces a mile long.  On any given day I enter at least 10 different web interfaces, 4 different Java interfaces, 5 different fat clients and numerous RDP, Telnet and SSH connections.  It would be nice to see them all in one pane of glass, but I don't think we will ever see that day happen.  I have tried to combine as many connections as I can into programs like SecureCRT and use password managers for the web applications to make them easier to manage, but the number of products I support continues to grow each and everyday.

                          Microsoft tried to combine many of their programs into the MMC and we see where that went.  I am back to fat client installs for exchange and SQL management.On the

                          Now, with all of that being said,  I do appreciate the ability to access programs and servers via various methods.  if i can't RDP, I can VNC or use Dell DRAC or HP iLO so I do appreciate the flexibility of not relying on a single pane of glass.

                          • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                            No SPOG here, but with AlertCentral I'm hoping to get to 2 POG to cover everything and have it in the 24x7 NOC...Hopefully.

                            • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?
                              Scott Sadlocha

                              I agree with what a lot of others have said. I don't think a SPOG is possible in a larger shop with multiple groups/managers/areas of responsibility. It would be beneficial in a smaller environment where one person does most of the work. Still, I can see many hurdles to overcome, particularly with items or applications that need different permissions than others. The concept of a single pane with multiple permission sets based on the area of the environment that is being accessed for a single person makes me think of quite a few security problems. I think if something like this were to exist, it would have to be web/browser based, but that is less than desirable what with security issues and quirky inconsistencies (Java? No thanks!). I think it would be desirable to get to a point where we have Minimal Panes of Glass. Maybe a few that are centered around certain responsibilities or areas of the environment. Maybe something we haven't seen yet, such as a "frame" type application where minimal protocols are used, bloat and overhead are completely cut out, and ease of management is key. I can dream!


                              Right now, I use a few panes of glass for the most part. Of course there are a ton of utilities software components I use periodically, but these are what I use for much of my day to day work--


                              Solarwinds - of course! Many of the components are manageable from the browser management, and I have added a few more in there to be framed in the browser for ease of use (LEM).

                              McAfee ePO - for all of our endpoint security products (VirusScan, Endpoint Encryption, SiteAdvisor, Host Data Loss Prevention, Network Data Loss Prevention, and a myriad of their other point products)

                              RDP - to access many of our servers directly

                              VSphere Client - to access our VM servers through the console

                                • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                                  Hi Scott,


                                  Not sure if you are using SolarWinds Virtualization Manager, but if you are - Would it make sense/be easier/seamless/etc. for you if we somehow embedded the vSphere client console into the SolarWinds Orion Virtualization console, so you could at least not have to switch contexts? Just a thought to reduce your Panes by 1...

                                • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?
                                  Kurt H

                                  We have multiple monitoring tools on everything. From Application monitoring with SAM, FlukeNetworks, etc. To Circuit and device monitoring with NPA, NTA, SAM, UDT, IPAM, FlukeNetworks, CiscoWorks, etc. I currently have three screens on my desk with different monitoring tools on each of them, usually two or three deep.

                                  • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                                    I have use NetIQ, SCOM, SolarWinds NPM in past and currently using NPM, SAM, NTA and NCM. I am evaluating Alet Centeral which it's free and hoping it will intergrate with NPM alert mangaer and escalations for on-call engineers.  It would be great to ACK alerts (15 minuntes) within text or emails with no VPN access (security).  Let's hope it works!

                                    • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                                      Single view for IT teams would not be too useful at our orginization, except for in the NOC maybe since they monitor everything. Where the single view would be useful for me would be in regards to CIO Dashboards. That is what is killing me. Trying to come up with basic value adding dashboards that are CIO friendly. I plan to use netowrk atlas to make some red light yellow light green light views when I get time.

                                      • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                                        I've gotta agree with the other responses here:  a SPOG isn't really feasible beyond a very limited network.  Every group has a different definition of what is interesting and should be immediately visible.

                                        I have been at a customer that did actually implement a single display that had the information needed for multiple groups to monitor a power distribution grid.  That single view required the space of 2 stories and 2 sides of the building and I have no idea how many hosts, video cards, and projectors to generate the display.


                                        What do I look at?  The NPM list of nodes (organized by location) and Last XX events, combined with reports that provide status of power supplies and linecards.  Management of the devices is done via CLI (typically putty).

                                        • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?
                                          Hans De Leenheer

                                          Most of the answers I kind of had expected. It does show that going to that "one tool to rule them all" will always be hard and probably unreachable. I do see that a lot of you do see the value of having more tools than today in less interfaces than today. What I did found odd is that a few actually gave user-roles as a differentiator of the interfaces to use. I have to disagree on that entirely. It is a given that people in different roles have different needs of the processes to go through, it doesn't mean they shouldn't be doing it from the same interface. I think if you look at how the concept of the Microsoft System Center stack is built is a good example of how it could be done. I am absolutely not saying it is a finished and good interface today, but the concept should give you that opportunity.

                                          • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?


                                            Wondering if there's a freudian slip in there somewhere.

                                            Setting up and maintaining a Single-Pane-Of-Glass can be a pain. Almost as bad as NOT having a SPOG.

                                            • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                                              RDP, vSphere, Solarwinds, SecureCRT, and a couple of web frontends for Riverbed, VPN admin, etc.

                                              SDN/SDD initiatives will push this, sounds like. When there's a software-defined load balancer, VPN appliance, firewall, WAN accelerator, router, backup solution(hardware and software), and everything else running off the same stack, it'll be a logical move to have a single interface. Until then, I feel lucky to have only about six or so. I know lots of people in this thread might use more.

                                              • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?
                                                Kevin Rak

                                                For the most part I think a single-pane-of-glass idea is great... in theory.


                                                When it comes right down to it, some interfaces are better suited to some tasks. We use vCenter for our virtual enviroment, but I often find my self using RDP to connect to these servers anyways. We have a BELKIN KVM in our server room which we rarely use, but we're considering upgrading to a new one which can do KVM over ethernet so we can connect to the console of our branch servers while they're rebooting. That's something that would be pretty hard to do with any other technology.

                                                • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                                                  uugghhhh... more like a multiple-pain-in-the-glass for us... we have around 15 different systems, varied between provisioning, monitoring, and alerting... NPM and NTA are about the only two within the same system.  on the plus side, it does make us appear to be super busy all the time...

                                                  • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                                                    How many interfaces? Too many.


                                                    Hyper V, VMware vcenter, storage manager,  about half a dozen with Putty, RDP for individual servers, lync for two separate communication UI's so to speak  and outlook for communication, phones, many other things . Heck, people don't even have true unified communication methods themselves - we can't even resolve "how do I reach someone for status", let alone at an interface level. We have a (pain - literal) of glass for people!


                                                    Even from an Orion perspective I'd say we have multiple interfaces between custom views and separate necessary tabs and areas where integration could be better (and isn't) - such as a lack of NPM/IPAM integration.


                                                    We all have a long way to go, and I don't think this is a problem that will ever be fixed.

                                                    • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                                                      User interfaces I have are Orion Webconsole, RDP connection manager, vSphere, Putty sessions, manager, SQL management studio.


                                                      I like what SW have done by brining in the real time process explorer \ event viewer and Service control manager. A nice addition would be to have

                                                      an RDP button (must get back to adding that in, I can't remember how far I got before I started being a bit busier .. As far as I recall it was editing the registry to introduce "RDP:" protocol to the browser or some such)


                                                      It would be nice to have something similar on networking nodes but with putty, although that could be quite tricky to get it to recognise when a node is telnet / ssh / et al.


                                                      Same again with the virtual Machine Details resource, it would be nice to have a button there that could take you to the virtualisation manager and to that virtual machine. Just idea's.


                                                      Those extra buttons would bring the Orion web console a step closer to being our SPOG.

                                                      • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                                                        When it comes to managing infrastructure I think SPOG is the Holy Grail, always sought after but never achieved.


                                                        One of the big problems continues to be different vendors implementing their own "standards" and not playing well with others.  For this to be possible I think it would take a 3rd party software vendor (such as SolarWinds) to come along and create a solution that had ties into each different vendor's API for control and management.


                                                        If we are just talking a SPOG for monitoring, then I think there are several good options out there including the products provided by SolarWinds (which is what we use for this).

                                                        • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                                                          Definitely one SPOG is the "Holy Grail" and the preferred option for me.  Still trying to implement the "ONE", but nothing is all inclusive that I have found yet...  I agree with many of the thoughts posted in this thread, desired, wanted, wished for, too many vendors not playing well together, etc... SolarWinds is the best option that I have in my arsenal for bringing most all of the usable POG together into a SPOG.  With all of the options afforded by SW, including adding web pages to the menu bar, it is as close to one SPOG as I have found yet, barring creating my own. (and I really don't have the time to do this!!)  As time has passed, even SW has added more products to their line that aren't totally integrated, yet.  They are working diligently to get this done, but with that said, I wish the implementation was faster and more seamless!  From NPM, SAM, NCM, VNQM, and Toolset, to other's I do not have yet, I have demoed them though, the integration is very nice and very seamless!  With that said, LEM still isn't integrated yet, as well as others in the SW inventory. I hear that it is in the works, still waiting on that BETA!  I will gladly participate!  :-)  So, even SW has it's issues with creating the one desired SPOG that we, or I would like to see and have in my arsenal!  This would make a NOC view that is not only all inclusive, but very functional.

                                                          • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                                                            I must say, I prefer a single pane of glass to any number of pains, glass or otherwise.

                                                            • Re: Where's your Single-Pain-Of-Glass?

                                                              The single pane of glass could be a reality, the biggest inhibitor on my opinion is rigid organizational structures do not nurture the idea.  You got your Support people for users, the networking people, the server people, the virtual server people,  the exchange people, the bean counters.. you get the point.  Each of these teams birth their own processes, deploy any given tool, and write documentation in a manner suitable to them selves because it aids them in service delivery.  What lacks is some structure from the top.  Structure that allows one teams stuff to be used by others when necessary, think cross pollination.   Teams should be structured in a manner that any established silos of today are placed beneath an umbrella of a deliverable, rather than a technology.


                                                              Example:  Systems Delivery Team:  Comprised of the SAN team, Networking team, Server Hardware team, Virtual Server team, Backup team.  Their sole mission, provide always on servers.   You remove the impediments and unify the mission with this type of team structure.


                                                              Once you establish teams like this it becomes easier to build the window.  A window that is contextually valuable to the person using it.  A router sub team member, when viewing an application is presented with putty links and wiring diagrams to associated routers but  the virtual server guy looks at the server they see Vsphere, Rdp, etc.  This allows team members to grow because there is more visibility for both tools and data since its structure to support a single deliverable.  The SPOG doesn't have to wrap every tool within its code.  It just needs to be intelligent enough to know who is using the system and  present the tools or documentation to apply to their role.  The only trick is mandating some minimalist pieces of structure.  Example, any piece of documentation you produce must have an application name field.


                                                              It's obvious a rip and replace of silos would have very negative affects, you can start seeding the corporate change by pulling a member from each of the example teams above and turn them into a cross functional team who's sole mission is to find connect the current gaps.


                                                              Little real life example, at least to me


                                                              During our deployment of Solarwinds i took the opportunity to begin roaming and talking.  I figured that i'd start small.  I knew documentation existed everywhere for each of these teams but it was scattered and not available when i needed it. To help in solving the problem, i wrote a custom http handler that wrapped in some intelligence not provided by Solarwinds, and then items exposed as links within Solarwinds.  Solarwinds gives me an nodeid everywhere, so placing in the handler a function that converts node id to server name it makes it possible to filter data.  When viewing a server, in a single click they can look at user departments the use the system, what are the associated patch tiers and their schedule, name of the application running on the server, link to supporting docs for the associated application.    Inversely when looking at a SAM application they can in a click see all servers that participate in serving the application, the departments, patch tiers, etc, etc.


                                                              It will be another 5-10 years before there can be a marketable pane of glass.  Until then it will be a in house development item.  When it happens, there will be more done with less which means less people will be required for any given function.  Reports say in the next 10 years 42 percent of us will be automated.  The real enabler for this shift will be when the cloud providers come up with a standardization of their API's


                                                              "Success is not measured in effort, but achievements"


                                                              My 2 cents.