SquaredUp v3.2 introduces new features and enhancements in several key areas: performance and scalability, alert and health state management, external data integrations and dashboard management. Many of these features bring immediate benefits to your users - SquaredUp is now faster, easier and more informative - so an upgrade to SquaredUp v3.2 is strongly recommended.
The following is a summary of the changes in SquaredUp v3.2, with more detail in the sections below.
Performance and scalability
- Data Warehouse
- Open Access
Alert and health state management
Health state summaries or - why is it red?
- Status tile - health state summaries
- VADA - health state summaries
Rule vs monitor alerts
- Different icons for monitor and rule alerts
- Closed is no longer the default resolution state for monitor alerts
- Reset monitor button for alerts
- Confirmation required to close monitor alerts
External data integrations
WebAPI support (e.g. Splunk)
- Ignore invalid SSL
- JSON, XML and text-encoded POST data
- Parameterised POST data
- Editor for providers
- Column selection, ordering and naming
- Custom columns
- Custom display templates
- Row hyperlinking
- Improved dashboard pack settings
- Modify and delete dashboards from community packs
- View and delete custom dashboards
Other must-have features
- Startup screen and error reporting
- Global search improvements
- Breadcrumbs for drilldowns
SCOM is not known for its speed, but underpinning the clunky administration console is a well-engineered platform. Here at SquaredUp we've always looked for ways to make interacting with SCOM as fast as possible, and with every release we enjoy pushing SCOM closer to its limit. SquaredUp v3.2 is no exception, as we have revamped two major areas of the product: SCOM Data Warehouse integration and Open Access dashboards. You'll also see performance improvements to general page load times and pages containing large data sets.
The Data Warehouse integration has been redesigned to enable very large scale queries while still honouring role-based access control and seamlessly integrating with your regular SCOM data. These improvements are most evident in the Top N queries, where querying your entire management group for low disk space, for example, is now possible and incredibly fast. In the test environments we've exercised this in before public release, we've seen Top 10 disk space across nearly 5000 servers respond in just 5 seconds. We'd like to say something like that's 10x faster, but the improvement is simply off the scale.
We have given Open Access an entirely new rendering engine that is many times faster, more stable and produces more accurate renders (it's using the latest version of the Chrome browser under the hood). We included the new Open Access rendering engine in the v3.1.11 maintenance release, and have brought that forward into SquaredUp v3.2 with some additional improvements for the best Open Access experience yet.
Despite 'alert and health state management changes' sounding quite dull and unimportant, these improvements represent perhaps the most significant change to the way you manage alerts and health state since SquaredUp v1.0 (you remember that, right?).
Here is what's new:
At the heart of SCOM monitoring is its object model and the health state monitoring of those objects; if a disk is low on space, the disk is marked as critical and this rolls up to the server, which is also marked as critical. We're used to seeing objects and their health states represented on our dashboards using the Status Tile, but to find out why an object is red you have had to drilldown into each object. Until now.
- Status tile - health state summaries - Everywhere where the status tile is used SquaredUp will now try to determine why an object is yellow or red and show you a summary in-line with the status icon itself. This means that, at a glance, you can see the cause of the critical health state and spot common issues across multiple objects. This feature applies to other tiles that use the status icon display, for example the Dynamic Table tile.
- VADA - health state summaries - A very valuable use of health state summaries is in VADA which, in view and analyse mode, will now tell you why any one of the servers is red, without you having to drill down.
Health State Summaries are not available for container objects such as groups and distributed applications, however they work excellently for servers, devices and other common objects. It works by performing a lookup for monitor alerts (alerts that are affecting the health state) for each object. In some cases, you might find that a critical server does not have a health state summary. Why? Because someone may have closed the monitor alert (tut, tut), which brings us on to the next new enhancement in SquaredUp v3.2.
A perennial problem with SCOM alerts that causes SCOM admins no end of headaches is users closing monitor alerts. You've probably told them a thousand times, and yet they still close monitor alerts. But we can't really blame the users - it's a tricky area for even an experienced SCOM admin and why should they need to remember this detail when they just want to get on with solving the issue?
In SquaredUp v3.2 we have taken a number of steps to help users understand the distinction and prevent monitor alerts from being closed (if all your users are using SquaredUp, of course).
- New icons for monitor and rule alerts - We've taken the decision to use different icons to distinguish between monitor and rule alerts everywhere in the product. Now, when you see a solid-looking alert icon (that's a bit like the health state icon, but round) the alert is affecting the health state of the object because it has been raised by a monitor. When you see a hollow-looking icon (that's different from the health state icon) the alert is not affecting the health state of the object because it has been raised by a rule. Simple, huh? We've had positive feedback about the new alert icons from our technical preview customers; we hope you like them too.
- Closed is no longer the default resolution state for monitor alerts - OK, we screwed up here in 3.0. We know that monitor alerts should never be closed, yet the default resolution state in the change resolution state panel for monitor alerts was closed. This is no longer the case.
- Reset monitor button for alerts - We've added the ability to reset the monitor from the alert page with a new 'reset monitor' button in the toolbar.
- Confirmation required to close monitor alerts - While we haven't completely prevented the closing of monitor alerts, we have introduced a stronger warning and an 'I understand' confirmation when a user attempts to close a monitor alert. No more excuses!
Over the coming releases you'll see stronger integration with external data sources such as CMDB tools and other monitoring tools, but with SquaredUp v3.2 we have introduced several important new enhancements to external integrations.
The WebAPI connector gets four key improvements that enable integration with additional data sources, most notable of which is Splunk.
- Ignore invalid SSL - required to integrate with generic, self-signed certificates. These aren't common, but are the default for Splunk.
- JSON, XML and text-encoded POST data - we now support APIs that require JSON, XML and plain text data in the POST request.
- Parameterised POST data - the values sent in the POST data can be generated using mustache templates, enabling queries to be fully dynamic and external Web API data to be used with drilldown perspectives.
- Editor for providers - Updating your Web API provider settings is now fully supported in the settings pages.
The 'Table Display' component has been replaced by a flexible new 'Grid Display' component. This is available for WebAPI, OMS, SQL and Data on Demand tiles.
- Column selection, ordering and naming - you can now easily select, order and name the columns in your display, without needing to change your queries. The column modifications are performed client-side, so it's still most efficient to filter the columns using your SQL or OMS query, but if you're using an API that doesn't allow you to filter columns then this feature gets you the results you need.
- Custom columns - dynamically construct new columns based on the returned data set, which is invaluable when dealing with more complex APIs or where the API does not return data in a simple tabular form.
- Custom display templates - by now you're probably familiar with the 'mustache' template syntax SquaredUp uses to enable dynamic content. This can now be used on your external data sources to format the raw data in a way that makes most sense to your users. Want to convert a number to readable status description? No problem!
- Row hyperlinking - SquaredUp makes it easy to integrate data from other data sources, but it's also really important to integrate your user's workflows - allowing them to view data in SquaredUp and then link to an external tool in the context of that data. Row linking does just that: hyperlink the results in your grid to an external web application, where each result links to a different URL by using a dynamic URL template (mustache syntax, of course).
For more information see How to use the Grid designer when configuring tiles.
As the number of custom dashboards and community dashboard packs grows, we've made it easier to centrally manage your dashboards.
- Improved dashboard pack settings - The Settings > Dashboard Packs page has been updated to provide greater visibility and control of your dashboards.
- Modify and delete dashboards from community packs - you can now modify, delete and restore dashboards downloaded from the community. It is also now simple to delete the whole dashboard pack.
- View and delete custom dashboards - similar to above, you can now view all of your custom dashboards in one place and delete the ones you no longer need.
For more information see Dashboard Packs
This release includes dozens of other improvements and fixes. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Startup screen and error reporting - a subtle change that means that when SquaredUp is starting for the first time you get a helpful progress spinner and, if anything goes wrong (changed the app pool account but forgot to update folder permissions?), we'll tell you what the problem is.
- Global search - searching for dashboards is now more accurate, and you can now navigate immediately to the first search result by hitting enter after your search, making it really fast to get to the page you need.
- Breadcrumbs for drilldowns - this neat little change makes it far easier to navigate around your servers and objects without getting lost. Whenever a drilldown takes you to a hosted object, a breadcrumb will show you the parent objects and allow you to browse back up the hosting stack.
For more information take a look at the webinar 'SquaredUp - New Release - v3.2':
We hope you enjoy the latest release.