According to Whatis.Com, a single pane of glass is a concept that describes “a management console that presents data from multiple sources in a unified way,” where the glass belongs to a computer’s monitor or a mobile device’s screen. Network and systems management companies have been talking about this single pane of glass for as long as there has been networks and systems. It’s always been both interesting and problematical to bring together management and monitoring data from multiple systems and sources under a single purview. In fact, the single pane of glass has long served as something of a Holy Grail for systems and network management vendors and their customers. But while it has mythic qualities, it is also as real as current tools and technology can make it.

These days, the term “dashboard” – which brings together multiple metrics, indicators, status and state information from a variety of systems, networks and services – is more widely used than the proverbial “pane of glass,” but the two terms have become more or less interchangeable. What, then, are the characteristics that make a good dashboard or single pane of glass from an operational, end-user perspective? They include the following:

  • A simple straightforward graphical user interface that is easy to understand, navigate, use, and extend
  • A way of presenting information through the GUI that makes it easy for its users to understand what’s being shown, and to find what they need to see quickly and simply
  • Automatic filtering and quick access to the underlying sources of information, to get right to the heart of the issue
  • The ability to seamlessly include multiple sources of data in a single view, such as SNMP, WMI, SQL, synthetic application tests, user experience monitoring, and traffic accounting, without installing multiple tools
  • Underlying support for accommodation and automation, so that as new elements enter the networking and computing environments, they can be added to the display automatically.

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Netreo’s efforts in providing monitoring and management tools and technologies has been driven and guided by the demanding goal of providing a usable and extensible single pane of glass to its users and customers. Our OmniCenter product includes an “At-a-Glance” interface that offers multiple overview options carefully crafted to put all necessary information into individual views, without causing user overload. Our navigation is designed so that clicking any problem or issue in an at-a-glance view takes you to the information needed to fix things in a single click. In addition to a wide assortment of pre-configured views, OmniCenter permits users to construct custom dashboards, using customizable “widgets” so that they see only the information they want on display. OmniCenter includes far-ranging APIs designed to integrate OmniCenter data into Intranet or portal applications, trouble ticketing, and security management consoles and environments. Likewise, those same APIs may be used to integrate “silo” management products into OmniCenter’s alerting and incident-management engine.

We don’t think the single pane of glass is a myth, and we’d be glad to show you some dashboards – or help you build your own – to prove it to you. Check out our free trial, and see for yourself.