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NetApp Cloud Insights Preview, Part 3: Applications and Dashboards



Welcome to Part 3 of my blog series on NetApp Cloud Insights. In previous posts (see Part 1 and Part 2 here) I've covered getting the Acquisition Unit installed and Data Collectors set up. From there, we saw how you can begin to operationalize the collected data via queries, annotations and performance policies.

In this post, I'll be covering Applications and Dashboards - what they are, why you might want to use them, and also an example of creating simple versions of each.

Applications

Applications within Cloud Insight are a method by which you can group different objects together as they relate to business applications within your organization. For example, if you have a group of VMs that are part of your Exchange environment, you can group them together so that their data can be viewed cohesively. Even cooler though, is that you can group different object types together as well, not just VMs - Applications can be associated with VMs, hypervisor hosts, storage volumes, and more.

For our example, I'll select a group of Exchange VMs and associate them with an Application within Cloud Insights.

1. Start by clicking on Manage on the left-hand navigation bar and then selecting Applications from the pop-out menu.


2. From there, click on the  + Application button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. The Add Application window is displayed.

3. Put Prod Exchange into the Name dialog box and set the Priority to High. (Note: You can use Application Priorities for Queries and Dashboards to report on Applications of varying importance to your environment). Click Save and your Application will be created.

4. From here, you can search (via the magnifying glass in the far upper right for your Exchange objects. On the summary page, there is a drop-down to select an Application association.



On the upper right, you'll see an Application(s) drop-down menu. If you drop that menu down, you are able to select the Prod Exchange application that we created earlier. Remember, you can add different resources, so if you have storage volumes for Exchange, you can add them to the Application and reference them in Queries and Dashboards.

Dashboards

I'm guessing most people are at least somewhat familiar with dashboards as they pertain to infrastructure monitoring. If not, they are an extremely flexible way to visually display the data collected by Cloud Insights to suit a variety of use cases and/or organizational levels.

The wonderful folks I've been working with during my private preview have been kind enough to furnish me with some default dashboards that help illustrate how useful Dashboards can be at communicating important information. Here is an example of one that shows NetApp FlexVol latency information:



There are several Dashboards that are aimed at storage people and also a few that are more geared towards VMware admins. There's even a default one that will show you all of the objects that are violating your configured Performance Policies, which I thought was super useful.

However, the real power comes from the ability to add Dashboard Widgets to show information that is relevant to the specific resources you have running in your environment. For example, maybe you want to have a dashboard that shows you how effective your node's Flash Cache is - there's a Dashboard Widget for that!

1. Start by clicking on Dashboards on the left-hand navigation bar and then selecting + New Dashboard from the pop-out menu. You'll be presented with an empty dashboard, don't forget to give it a name. I'll call mine Storage Cache Overview. Click on Add Widget and select Bar Chart for our example. There are many different graphs/charts available though, so pick the one that makes the most sense for the type of data you are attempting to display.

2. Give your widget a name - I'm going to call mine Flash Cache Hit %. 

3. Start building the query for the widget by dropping the object type down to Storage Node. Then click the drop-down immediately below that to change the filter to Cache Hit Ratio - Total. 

4. From here, change the Roll Up field from All to HA Partner (side note: I'm not sure why this field is called HA Partner rather than something more descriptive like Node or something like that). 

5. Click Save in the upper right, and your new widget will be displayed on the newly created Dashboard. You can resize it if you wish.


As with this and all of my former posts, these examples are barely scratching the surface of what Cloud Insights can do and are here merely to help you understand how the solution might help you solve infrastructure monitoring challenges in your environment.

Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for the fourth (and final?) part of my blog series where I cover how Cloud Insights can help with a real-world troubleshooting scenario.





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