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The Value of a Dashboard

Posted December 16, 2010    Morey Haber

I have been intrigued by the number of different paradigms used to make up an enterprise solution management console dashboard. Some are more tabular in nature like a SIM and others graphical with little text and fully animated with icons and avatars. When I first started working with enterprise solutions in the mid 1990’s, I worked for Computer Associates on an enterprise framework call Unicenter TNG. The solution used a graphical dashboard based on Business Process Views which where color coded icons used to represent the health and status of business related IT assets. As the framework grew, network maps became a part of the dashboards and color coding and statistics of critical links where present everywhere. Soon, the dashboard became too cluttered to provide valuable information and redesigning it became a regular occurrence for many customers. Some clients even dabbled in a 3D version of the TNG interface that looked like a first person shooter game drilling all the way down to the memory, disk, and CPU of a host.

Today, I am still not certain why anyone would even do that outside of some really cool looking eye candy. Below are a few traits that have stood out to me from the best enterprise dashboards I have seen in my career:

  • Data should be in a summary format and allow drill down to details.
  • Too much data up front just clutters the interface and makes it look and feel more like a report than a dashboard.
  • Eye candy is good for any dashboard as long as it is relevant; too many graphics generally serve no functional purpose.
  • Filtering the data by users, scopes, times and dates is critical to reveal trends and exceptions.
  • Management dashboards by exception always work well, but having the ability to see everything is just as important.

Using these concepts (and many more), eEye has designed Retina CS to expose relevant information at a glance and make reports, errors, and critical findings only a single mouse click away. The value of the dashboard is to ultimately reveal critical status information at a quick glance.  With that in mind, I have posted a few of eEye’s Management Console Dashboards throughout the last six years for a small walk down memory lane. With the recent release of Retina CS 2.0.1, seeing how eEye is meeting current business challenges and providing unique value in our dashboards, will help our customers meet their business requirements with ease.

eEye Retina CS 2.0 Circa 2010:

eEye REM Security Management Console 3.x Circa 2005:

eEye Digital Security. REM Security Management Console 2.x Circa 2004:

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