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Building a Business View

Build a Highly Customized, Automatically Updated View of Key IT Resources with Novell Business Service Manager

Written by Tobin Isenberg

It’s no mystery that throughout history view properties have always commanded premium prices. A sweeping view—like the one from that top-floor corner office you’ve been dreaming about—does more than just relieve cubicle claustrophobia. It lets you see what’s happening in the environment around you in time to react appropriately. Our primate ancestors were probably happiest scanning the savanna from the topmost branches of an acacia tree. Medieval princes built hilltop towers to watch for invading armies. Seafaring merchants kept lookouts aloft to see dangerous shoals ahead or pirates lurking below the horizon. For exactly the same reasons, today’s manufacturing supervisor enjoys a picture window overlooking the factory floor. We’re all most relaxed—and productive—when we can easily keep an eye on the things that are important to us.

That, in a nutshell, is the appeal of Novell Business Service Manager (BSM). It gives everyone in the organization a corner-office view of the business services and IT infrastructure that are important to them. Novell Business Service Manager consolidates information from existing IT management tools into a single, centralized real-time business view that’s easy to publish, reuse and repurpose. It turns every stakeholder into a deputy system monitor, with his or her finger on the health and performance of the services on which they rely.

We’ve visited BSM several times in recent issues of Novell Connection. In October we talked about using the BSM Dashboard to find and fix problems in a virtualized infrastructure. In November we took a screen-by-screen tour of the BSM Dashboard in action. And in January we went behind the instrument panel to explore the Novell Business Service Management solution architecture. Today we’re going to use the Novell Business Service Manager Java client to organize some newly discovered resources into a customized, self-updating business view.

Today’s Lesson: Creating Your First View

In this scenario, Novell Business Service Manager has been installed on a server along with an adapter that provides integration to an existing asset management solution and its repository of resource information. This information might reside in a third-party CMDB or even in Novell CMDB360™. Whatever the source, when we launch the Novell Business Service Manager client we’re presented with a default view of the discovered resources—in this case a mixed group of physical and virtual servers.

We'll demonstrate how to arrange those resources in a business view, segregating them in separate containers according to specified attributes. We’ll make some design decisions about the presentation of the view, then save it for future use. The view we create might become part of our network operating center (NOC) display, or we could publish it to the myMO™ Dashboards of concerned users. But wherever it appears, Novell Business Service Manager will update this view in real time as changes occur in the resources it depicts.

As we start, be sure to save your work periodically, because the Undo feature is not implemented within the recipe subsystem.

Step One: Create a Container for Your Physical Servers

  1. Start by highlighting the view, then switch to Layout View. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Right-click in the background and choose New Drawing from the pop-up menu.
  3. Type "Physical Servers" to the side of the container.
  4. Right-click in the background, then select: Customize, Container, Add, Children Container.
  5. Left-click to select the container with the children, then right-click: Customize, Child Container, Filtering, Adjust Filtering.
  6. Update the script filter as follows: (element.Device_Type.equals("Physical")). For this example, the element we used has a property called "Device_Type" and it has one or two possible values (Physical or Virtual). You can use any attribute, even the condition of the elements. Other filtering options are available such as Expression-based matching. If you are testing this on your system, you will need to use a different script filter criteria.
  7. Select the container that has children elements, then right-click: Customize, Container, Wrapping, Hide Wrapping Rectangle.
  8. Select all, then right-click on one of the selected items and choose: Customize, Container, Wrap in Container.
  9. Select the drawing, then choose: Customize, Container, Layout, Set Layout and choose Flow.

Track any resource under management—It’s important to note that while the resources we’re working with in this example are physical and virtual servers, they could be anything at all—applications, databases, services, network switches. Any resource under management by any tool can be brought into a business view in Novell Business Service Manager.

Step Two: Customize the Container Appearance

  1. Select the container, then right-click: Change Group
  2. Select the outer box, then right-click: Customize, Add Binding, Condition Gradient, Fill
  3. Set Start to upper left. Set Stop to bottom right.
  4. Now right-click on the box again and select: Save Group

Step Three: Create a Virtual Server Container

  1. Select the container, then right-click Copy. Then paste the copied container.
  2. Move one container aside for the moment. Don’t worry about aligning them at this point.
  3. On one of the container boxes, right-click Change Group.
  4. Left-click to select the container with the children, then right-click: Customize, Child Container, Filtering, Adjust Filtering.
  5. Update the script filter as follows: (element.Device_Type.equals("Virtual")).
  6. Select the text "Physical Servers" in the Controller. Edit the text to read "Virtual Servers."
  7. Save the group.

Filter by any attribute—While in this example we’re using one set of attributes to filter the contents of these two containers (physical/virtual), we could just as easily use any attribute that’s captured by the front-line management system and exposed to Novell Business Service Manager. We could easily sort them by operating system instead, creating one container for Windows systems and another for Linux.

Object attributes can also be incorporated directly into the view display. A unique identifier such as a serial number or system name can be inserted into the drawing to identify a specific resource. Or a dynamic attribute could be inserted into the view frame to deliver a significant piece of information in a quickly scannable manner. For example, a view featuring a container of transaction processing servers might include the real-time workload on each machine. Anyone with an interest in the transaction processing service could then see, at a glance, the relationship between alarm events and workload distribution, without a single drill-down click.

The key takeaway here is that Novell Business Service Manager allows views of the IT infrastructure and the services it provides to be easily customized, using any of the object attribute information collected and maintained by front-line management tools.

Step Four: Combine the Two Containers in a Single View

  1. Select both containers, then right-click: Customize, Container, Wrap in Container.
  2. Right-click: Customize, Container, Layout, Adjust Grid Layout. Choose Columns and set to “2.”
  3. Done! It’s just that simple. (See Figure 2.)

A Simple View, A Powerful Tool

The business view we’ve just created is far more than a static network schematic. Because it’s dynamically linked to the resources it displays, through the very tools used to monitor and manage them, the business view we just created is a real-time window into the services and IT infrastructure that run the business. If new server blades are deployed to increase capacity, they will automatically appear in this view. If new virtual machines are automatically launched to maintain specified workload levels, they too will appear in our view. What’s more, exactly the same changes will be visible to every user with access to this view—a system administrator working in a BSM client, a network administrator sitting in the NOC or a business user checking her myMO Dashboard. State changes in business-critical services and the IT infrastructure are exposed to all concerned stakeholders in the same way, at the same time. So if one simple picture is worth a thousand words, we now might say that with Novell Business Service Manager, one view empowers a thousand decision-makers.

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