Demystifying Data with User Interface Design

By June 4, 2014Design, Product

Somewhere far away, your sprawling enterprise network is on fire (figuratively, hopefully).  Help desk is getting swamped, but users are unable to articulate the precise nature of the issues.  Since you can’t rely solely on user-reported data, you turn to your monitoring data.  But even if you have all the data you need, what’s it worth if it’s just, say, a mass of minimally formatted event logs?

You still have to do all the work of figuring out what these logs and numbers are telling you.  The bigger and more complex your network, the bigger chore this task will be.  The more time it takes to decipher the data to pinpoint the problem, the more productivity and money the company loses.  Not a good situation.

This is where NetBeez comes in.  One of our major priorities is to create a smooth, centralized workflow with no-nonsense troubleshooting, diagnostics, and analytics.  Not only does NetBeez collect all the data you need, it parses, interprets, and visualizes that data for you, enabling you to identify issues quickly or even before they cause outages and downtime.

 So, where do you even start?

All the trees make it hard to see a forest fire

When you have a network problem, it’s hard to see the big picture through all the components

 Seeing the forest despite the trees

If there’s a forest fire, a terrible way to go looking for it is to run around on the ground where your view of the forest is obstructed by all the trees.  In my research of various IT monitoring solutions and other similar user interfaces, I saw plenty of overview dashboards that showed me a lot of info on the status of all the individual network components but gave a poor picture of the network itself and made it unnecessarily difficult, in my opinion, to get a sense of where, or even what, the issue might be.

Without a good overview of your network, the path to the diagnosis might not be clear.

Without a good overview of your network, the path to the diagnosis might not be clear.

At NetBeez, we’re handling the UI a bit differently.  Instead of just listing agent and target component data in a table and calling it your main dashboard, we’re using that data to paint that big picture for you.  By means of intuitive analytics and visualizations, and sensible, relevant metrics, the NetBeez overview dashboard will represent the network as an entity, giving you a strong sense of overall health while clearly showing the presence of global or isolated problems and how the network is being experienced and taking full advantage of the end-to-end monitoring NetBeez provides.

 Drilling down

If there’s an issue with your network, the NetBeez dashboard will point you where you need to look, whether it’s a particular network location, a particular group of targets, or one of the network layers.  The NetBeez UI provides agent and target data in a variety of contexts, giving you a better sense of what’s going on in ever increasing amounts of detail, enabling you to pinpoint the source of a problem or bug without being bombarded with too much data and detail up front.

By means of the UI, we’re implementing a strong and clear hierarchy of the distributed network data we collect.  Here’s what the workflow will look like:

  • Network Overview
  • Agent Groups
  • Targets and Agents
  • Tests
  • Data logs

With a workflow that moves seamlessly from a high-level network view all the way down to individual log entries, you can get the data that you actually need and skip everything else.  No one likes clutter and red herrings.

A much more sensible workflow that quickly directs you to the source of the problem.

A much more sensible workflow that quickly directs you to the source of the problem.

 Where we’re going

The NetBeez network monitoring solution is always evolving.  We’re still building the overview and group dashboards and will let you know as soon as we release them.  There are plenty of UI design and data design challenges ahead, but we’re looking forward to tackling them.  We’ll be sure to keep you up to date.

At the end of the day, network data is highly important and very powerful in managing your network, but it’s only as effective as the UI that displays it.

If you want to learn more about NetBeez, download our PDF “Introduction to NetBeez” or submit a demo request.