Clarity with Server Monitoring Dashboards

Server monitoring dashboard

By Harry Wincup, Founder, Design Lead at Server Density.
Published on the 24th October, 2013.

Update: This was released in Server Density on 5th Nov 2013.

What is a dashboard?

A dashboard is a single location that provides all of the information required to gain a complete understanding of a situation. It’s the place you go to when you want a visualisation of the current state of a system, end-to-end. In the context of Server Density, our dashboards aim to provide users with a platform for problem solving. They offer insight at the highest level, and present a starting point when you simply don’t know what part of the pipeline is causing trouble.

We use dashboards for monitoring our infrastructure (shocking, right?) and it is from this angle that I’d like to spend a few moments explaining some of the thoughts that have gone into building the new dashboard functionality in Server Density, due out at the start of next month.

Server Monitoring Dashboards

Design considerations

As with any feature, our primary concern when designing the dashboard has been to create a solid foundation that affords us the flexibility to easily develop a wide range of functionality further down the line. Users of Server Density know their systems well and often have particular ways they like to view their infrastructure. For this reason, we realised there would be a few things the dashboard absolutely needed to support from the get-go:

  • Multiple, named dashboards
  • User-specific dashboards
  • Customisable layout

Multiple, named dashboards

A single dashboard can be great if your infrastructure is compact or you’re a member of a small team all doing similar work, but when your network expands or the team splits into more specialised roles, it’s likely that you’ll each want to focus on completely separate areas of the system. With this in mind, we’ve established the core concept of multiple dashboards, providing you with a clean and simple means of visualising your network into a way that matches your role and workflow.

Database admin? Configure a DB dashboard that lets you keep on top of all your MongoDB clusters without the distraction of other areas of the network. Or perhaps you’re a small team of devs working on a project and want to keep on top of performance bottlenecks, simply set up an ‘Awesome project’ dashboard to track end-to-end impact and quickly discover problems as they happen.

User-specific dashboards

Having a dashboard for the whole team is useful for collaboration, but perhaps you like to organise things in your own way to better understand a problem. We’ve addressed this by saving all dashboards you create specifically to your user account (with an option to share coming soon!). This gives you the freedom to choose the specific data that you personally will find most useful to solve the problem without worrying about (re)moving a widget that somebody else is using.

Customisable layout

Server Density dashboards are widget-based. This means that you have the option to set up any combination of widgets + metrics that your situation requires. As with any widget-based UI, you’d expect to be able to drag and drop the elements to reorganise according to your preference and drag’n’drop you can! Simples.

Custom Graph Builder - Server Density

So there you have it, a brief explanation of a feature we are pretty excited to get out there.

“When can I get it?!”, we hear you say

Dashboards and custom graphs are available now!

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