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Virtual Customer Workshop 2023

Last week, we were very excited to host our first ever SquaredUp Virtual Customer Workshop! We’d received so much positive feedback on the intimate in-person workshop we ran in the UK last month that we wanted to extend the invitation worldwide – by recreating the experience virtually.  

Using the digital conferencing app Gather Town, we were pleased to welcome SquaredUp customers from 12 different countries to our virtual “SquaredUp Town”. Attendees got to meet the team, learn about upcoming products and features, and share their thoughts on the SquaredUp products. As predicted, some took the chance to put forward their feature requests, directly to the Product Managers! 

Read on to learn what we got up to:

Keynote: The journey towards unified observability

Starting the event was a keynote from our CEO Richard Benwell. He laid out the SquaredUp mission statement – that connecting people with data makes things better – and introduced our unified observability portal, the new, cloud-based version of SquaredUp. 

The intention behind SquaredUp Cloud is to provide what Richard calls the "unicorn of the single pane of glass" – a solution for the problems of data silos and missing context.

Read a summary of Richard’s keynote at the end of this blog. 

Simply awesome dashboarding

Next up was Product Manager Dave Clarke, who showed how quick and easy it is to create awesome dashboards using SquaredUp Cloud.  

In his demo, Dave set out to create the “ideal dev team dashboard.” To begin, he accessed our suite of 60+ plugins, which includes a range of cloud and on-premise data sources. He also demonstrated the ability to use the WebAPI plugin to connect to any third-party dependency users may require.  

Dave was able to show that within a couple of minutes, SquaredUp users can connect to their favorite tools and have their data presented in a meaningful, bespoke manner. (Watch him build an AWS dashboard in one minute here.)  To finish off, Dave showcased the ability to share dashboards with just the click of a button. 

Unified observability at enterprise-scale

Senior Product Manager Vincent Babin then took to the virtual stage to demonstrate how SquaredUp’s offering delivers significant value for larger organizations.  You can get unified observability at scale! 

There is often a range of stakeholders within an organization, all with different KPIs they need to monitor. Different teams and different levels of management are interested in different metrics and dashboards. But in an ideal world, you want them all to tie together. 

Using Dave’s newly created dev team dashboard as an example, Vincent showcased SquaredUp’s abilities around building out a unified view – a map of relationships and dependencies across tools and teams, all rolling up into a master big picture dashboard.

He walked us through how Workspaces roll up into the app’s high-level views – the Home Page and the Map – and how to tie everything together. He then also showed how to use filters and drill downs to dive deeper into the specifics, as well as how to manage access control. 

To finish, Vincent showed off SquaredUp’s ability to combine data sources with his “Data from anywhere” dashboard. 

What's new in Dashboard Server?

Our third speaker, Dashboard Server Project Manager Bruce Cullen, was next up to share some juicy updates on the DS product, in his own unique “sideways” manner (see screenshot).  

With DS version 6.0 having just been released in September, Bruce had several exciting improvements to share. This was also our first major DS release in two years – highly anticipated and chock-full of customer-requested features! 

Alongside a fresh new color scheme to help align with our cloud product, DS 6.0 features a new visualization, Column Graphs, which allows users to visualize multiple performance-based data points in the same visualization, as well as two new integrations: Prometheus and SolarWinds. Both of these integrations are native to Dashboard Server and utilize each tool’s respective language.

Excitingly, 6.0 also contains a feature that has been highly requested for several years: Auditing! Users now get the ability to monitor who is doing what, with which dashboards, and when.  

Through a quick pseudo role-play situation, attendees were walked through a situation in which a System Admin was able to use the auditing feature to discover who in his organization had been deleting and unpublishing dashboards on the sly. This demonstrated the speed and ease at which the auditing feature provides previously unobtainable information, as well as created a new catchphrase at the event – “naughty naughty Bruce!”

To learn more about DS 6.0, watch the release webinar on demand , or check out these blogs: 

Customer insights

Richard next welcomed two SquaredUp customers to the stage to share their individual journeys towards unified observability.   

Maxime Michel, a Site Reliability Engineer from Magnolia CMS and Patrick Murphy, an Infrastructure System Engineer from CDW, each spoke about how they discovered SquaredUp, how they use it, and what they love about it.  

Patrick Murphy, Infrastructure System Engineer, CDW

Patrick, a long-time SquaredUp customer, initially found the product by searching for “better SCOM dashboarding.” As an experienced SCOM user, he found that the built-in dashboarding was not up to scratch, and the reporting not particularly easy to use for non-technical users. Having tried the SquaredUp EAM-X package and liked what he saw, Patrick made the push to his management to roll out SquaredUp Cloud across the broader organization. 

He was especially excited about three things:  

1. The extensive plugin capabilities. 

2. The ability to hand over the responsibility of building and maintaining dashboards to individual teams (as a result of point one). 

3. The ease of rolling up data to higher management.  

When we have a major incident, the first thing my team’s engineer and my senior manager will do is run in to SquaredUp to find out what’s going on and what the cause is. We’ve really been able to bring light to our incidents.

Patrick Murphy, Infrastructure System Engineer, CDW

Maxime Michel, Site Reliability Engineer, Magnolia CMS

Maxime is one of SquaredUp’s newer customers, having only discovered the product in the last few months. Despite this, he spoke passionately about his love for the product. He was especially excited about the ability to plug in different data sources, and the flexibility and many potential uses the product offers.  

Like many tech companies, Magnolia employs a wide range of tools to serve different business needs – and Maxime, an SRE, struggled with the age-old issue of getting big picture visibility. When he tried SquaredUp, he found the ease with which he could bring together all the tools and visualize their data very impressive. Commending us for always being “one step ahead of us for new features we want”, Maxime said:

We thought we could just pull in Jenkins and then realized, oh wait we can do other data sources and WebAPI too. That was a ‘WOW moment’. And then we realized we can use SquaredUp for monitoring, and slack notifications as well!

Maxime Michel, Site Reliability Engineer, Magnolia CMS

A massive thank you to Patrick and Maxime for sharing their stories with us and the rest of the attendees! 

Exploring our product expo

Workshop attendees then made their way to the virtual Expo Hall, where our engineers and product managers ran a number of booths to further showcase what is possible with our product, as well as answer any questions our guests had about working with SquaredUp.  

Among these was the Data Sources & Plugins booth ran by Principal Software Engineer Nathan Foreman, who relished the opportunity to speak to users of the product. 

It was great to hear the desired plugin/data source use cases first hand, to get a vision of how our product is implemented for customers.

Nathan Foreman, Principal Software Engineer, SquaredUp

Amongst all the different demos (as well as some top-notch dancing at the Azure DevOps booth!), attendees also had the opportunity to personally speak to our CEO Richard Benwell, learn about the UX principles of SquaredUp via some interactive games, and have any of their questions about SquaredUp answered at the Product Support booth. 

The expo was a massive success, with everyone who attended voting it their favorite part of the day, citing getting to meet the team and learning about product updates as the particular highlights. 

The engagement was very educational and captivating. The expo allowed for tailored conversations and quick learning examples, which I thought was very personable.

Joshua Johnson, Windows System Engineer, Memorial Health

Thank you!

The afternoon ended with a quick wrap-up, before we all took to the hidden go-kart track for a few laps!  

Thank you again to everyone who attended and made our first virtual workshop a great success! Here’s to more in the future! 

Keynote summary: The journey towards unified observability

Richard Benwell
Founder & CEO, SquaredUp

We passionately believe that connecting people with data makes things better (using data visualization, of course.) That’s why we do what we do. The world doesn’t need yet another tool for data collection, what it needs is better data presentation. This is a problem that spans the entire IT and engineering landscape, and is what led us to creating our new, cloud-based application – that we are describing as the unified observability portal. 

To us, observability is having a data-centric approach to gaining a deeper understanding of complex systems, and not just having the data, but being able to use the data. When we talk about unified observability, we believe that a view is needed beyond the technology space – a holistic view that can be shared across tools and teams.  

 In attempting to achieve this, we face several familiar problems. Siloed data and the lack of data context both contribute to the inability to compile and make sense of our data. At SquaredUp we are trying to solve these problems, and one way in which we are doing this is with our “data mesh” approach.  

Rather than utilizing a data warehouse approach (costly and near impossible to maintain), or a data lake approach (data is centralized but uncorrelated, putting more pressure on analytics teams), the data mesh approach is a flexible way of connecting data rather than collecting it. 

By applying this unique approach of decentralized data with centralized visibility, and with features such as real-time data access, service mapping, and native integrations for over 60 tools including Azure DevOps, AWS, SolarWinds and more, we feel we have created the conclusive single pane of glass for all engineering tools and teams – SquaredUp Cloud, the ultimate tool for enterprise observability. We are excited for you to try it! 

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