There are a few marketing trends that annoy me. One in particular is the Single Pane of Glass. This is a notion that an administrator or NOC team can look at everything from a window. What has ended up happening is that each vendor has their own Single Pane of Glass. This results in people having entire Windows to manage their environment. (Boom! See what I did there.) I think this misguided marketing term has an element of truth. If you distill it down what is trying to be achieved is Unification of management.

If you take a look at an example of vSphere Web Client you have an interface that allows administration of your Storage, Compute and Network elements. The same theme and hierarchy that is presented in the vSphere Web Client is applied to supplementary tools like Log Insight, vRealise Automation and Operations Management. Firstly there is a stylistic unification that ties it all together. The interface, placement and knobs are consistent. This allows a familiarity to the system. It means that there will be consistency to similar tasks. The flow, the inputs and outputs and most importantly, the end result will require an administrator to focus on the technology and not where buttons hide.

Troubleshooting approaches differ for many people as well. Based on the information received in a trouble ticket, information being sought after for a report, or information used in a new design, there are many ways to find and use this. Log Management systems can highlight statistics and trends and pickup errors. This might be a first point of call for a help desk or NOC person but maybe not an architect. If logs referencing a domain name or virtual machine were linked into their asset then the approachability widens. An architect may look at a visualisation display of network topologies and application topologies and see how that will affect integration and designs. If he requires a drill down, a unified system will allow him to reach log management or individual device details where permission allow.

The ease of access to information where allowed will shape the ability to use a product. A product that can stand alone but could also be tightly integrated is something that needs to be standard these days. Modular is good. Closed eco-systems are dead. They breed single-use troubleshooting that is applicable to one vertical. Wide-reaching troubleshooting skills are bred through unified far-reaching visualisation and troubleshooting tools. Whether it is Observium that allows drilling down on devices, Cisco Security Mananger allowing numerous information displays across many ASA devices, or LogInsight drawing logs from Physical and Virtual application topologies, a unified interface with open data access drastically simplifies troubleshooting and management operations. Demand it.

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