What’s new in Squared Up v3?
If you’re already familiar with Squared Up v2, here is an outline of the exciting new features you’ll find in v3.
The big picture: Enterprise Application Monitoring (EAM)
Squared Up v3 goes far beyond the HTML5 dashboards and operations console for SCOM that you’re familiar with in v2. With v3 we have set out to address the challenges of Enterprise Application Monitoring (EAM) with a new data visualisation platform for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager and OMS. Key to this vision are two important new features: Visual Application Discovery and Analysis (VADA), and Total Dashboard Architecture (TDA).
Before we look at those in detail, let’s look at the changes to the architecture, deployment and licensing.
Squared Up v3 has been built from the ground up to deliver the new Enterprise Application Monitoring experience.
Here are the main features of the new architecture:
Squared Up continues to use IIS (ASP.NET). There are no new platform requirements, and still no databases to deploy.
Authentication options remain the same: Forms authentication, Windows authentication and Open Access.
Multiple versions of Squared Up can now be deployed side-by-side and separately licensed (see below).
High availability deployment has been simplified, without the need for inter-server communication (see below).
Dashboards and other configuration is now defined using JSON rather than XML. JSON is a modern, lightweight data format used by many applications, including Microsoft Azure.
Dashboards (and Perspectives) are now stored in bundles called Dashboard Packs (see below).
Plugins in v2 have been replaced with Tiles, a new architecture allowing many more data visualisation possibilities. These are currently limited to the set of Tiles installed with the product, but in the future you will see more become available.
Install and deployment
The installation and deployment experience will be very familiar to those who have deployed v2. However, underpinning the similar user experience is a new, more flexible installer architecture.
Here are the main features of the new install and deployment experience:
The installation phase is now split into two distinct phases: install and deploy.
The Install phase copies the required files into the Program Files area on your server.
The Deploy phase creates a new IIS web application and deploys the files to c:\inetpub\wwwroot
These two phases are seamless when installing Squared Up for the first time, however the deploy step can be run independently to re-deploy Squared Up to additional IIS web applications.
Using the install-deploy steps, side-by-side installation is now possible and will be default option for major and minor upgrades.
To configure high availability, Squared Up no longer requires secondary servers to connect to a primary server. Configuration (including dashboards and user settings) is centralised through the use of a simple network file share.
Licensing is now managed through the Squared Up user interface, including:
Activating and re-activating licenses
Viewing installed licenses, named user limits and expiry dates
Viewing and managing named users, including the ability to pre-allocate and block named users.
Visual Application Discovery and Analysis (VADA)
Visual Application Discovery and Analysis (VADA) is a powerful new visualisation that enables you to:
Discover and map applications in your environment by querying the network connections between servers.
Save your discovered applications as new dashboards or SCOM Distributed Applications.
Analyse application availability and performance by visualising key health and performance metrics within the application topology.
To find out more about VADA see An in-depth look at Visual Application Discovery & Analysis (VADA).
Total Dashboard Architecture (TDA)
Total Dashboard Architecture (TDA) is a revolutionary new concept that enables dashboards to be created for everything. With TDA, dashboards are no longer just top-level views; but instead are used at every level of the product.
Here are the key features:
Top-level dashboards can be created just like Squared Up v2, however there are some new capabilities when creating dashboards (see below).
When you drilldown to a monitored object (for example, a server), you no longer see the generic object view like you did in Squared Up v2. Instead, you see a specialised dashboard for that object. Typically you will see multiple different dashboards: these are called perspectives. For example, a server may have a Windows Server perspective, an IIS perspective, a HyperV VM perspective and so on.
Alerts can also be customised with specialised views in the form of perspectives. For example, a perspective can be created for a high CPU alert that shows detailed information about CPU and the running processes on the server of interest.
Dashboards and perspectives are bundled into Dashboard Packs:
On disk, Dashboard Packs are a collection of *JSON files, one for each dashboard and perspective, with an additional manifest file describing the pack.
Dashboard Packs can be exported and imported as *.zip files.
Like SCOM Management Packs, you’re not expected to author all of the Dashboard Packs yourself. You can import additional Dashboard Packs from community.squaredup.com, and of course share packs back with the community.
New Dashboard Designer capabilities
The Dashboard Designer in Squared Up v3 will be very familiar to users of v2. However, we have introduced some new concepts and features:
Tiles replace the v2 plugins. Although limited in the initial release, many new tiles will become available. It will also be possible in a future release to author your own tiles.
A new dedicated column layout replaces the split sections in v2. This enables easier creation of multi-column dashboards.
All time-series data on a dashboard (for example, performance data and SLAs) can be controlled using a new page-level timeframe selector. This is available to all users, allowing them to easily query different timeframes.
A new Heatmap tile is available, allowing you to display performance metrics and object properties as a heatmap.
Dynamic Table Tile
A powerful new Dynamic Table tile replaces the Server KPI plugin from v2. The Dynamic Table tile automatically detects the type of objects and displays relevant properties and metrics.
Squared Up v3 now supports Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS) Log Analytics. A new OMS dashboard tile enables you to pull data from OMS directly into your Squared Up dashboards and perspectives.
Data on Demand
In a sense, Data on Demand is a brand new data source for your dashboards. Through the use of SCOM Agent Tasks you are now able to pull data, on demand, from any SCOM-managed node in your environment and display it in a dashboard.
For example, if a user needs to see the current list of processes and their CPU and memory usage, Squared Up can dynamically execute a SCOM Agent Task that runs the PowerShell Get-Process cmdlet, and display the results on the dashboard.
To help you get the most out of this new feature, Squared Up have released new Data on Demand Community Management Packs that contain a number of handy Agent Tasks that can be used to display data on your dashboards.
The available actions for objects and alerts - such as “enable maintenance mode” - are now configurable, allowing you to add custom actions to your Dashboards and Perspectives. For example, on a server drilldown you can add a link to another web-based management tool for that server.
Other user experience improvements
There are many more new features to discover in Squared Up v3, including:
- Faster page load
- Improved global search
- Monitor state history (similar to the Health Explorer in the SCOM console)
Migrating content from v2
If you want to use your v2 content (dashboards and profiles) in v3 then please refer to Migrating content From v2 to v3
The Squared Up Getting Started Guide