July 17, 2017
What's new in Squared Up v3.2?
Squared Up is now faster and more powerful than ever, meaning lots of new goodness for existing customers and even more reasons for those who are new to the product to take a free trial and see it in action for yourselves.
This blog provides an introduction to the new features and enhancements in v3.2, specifically focusing on the following key areas; performance and scalability, alert and health state management, external data integrations and dashboard management.
Performance and Scalability
SCOM isn't known for its speed, but underneath its clunky console is a fantastically engineered platform. Here at Squared Up we’ve always looked for ways to make interacting with SCOM as fast as possible, and with every release we aim to push SCOM closer to its limits.
Squared Up v3.2 is no exception, featuring revamps of 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 exercised this in before public release, we saw 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, using the latest version of the Chrome browser under the hood, which is much faster, more stable and produces more accurate renders. We included the new Open Access rendering engine in the v3.1.11 maintenance release, and have brought that forward into Squared Up v3.2, together with some additional improvements, for the best Open Access experience yet.
Alert and Health State Management
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 Squared Up v1.0 (you remember that, right?).
Here's what’s new:
Health state summaries - or - 'why is it red?'
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 had to drilldown into each object. Until now...
- Status tile - health state summaries: Everywhere the status tile is used Squared Up will now try to determine why an object is yellow or red and show you an in-line summary together 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 Visual Application Discovery & Analysis (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.
The feature 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 Squared Up v3.2.
Rule vs monitor alerts
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 even for an experienced SCOM admin and why should your users need to remember this detail when they just want to get on with solving the issue?
In Squared Up 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 Squared Up, of course).
External Data Integrations
Over the coming releases you’ll see stronger integration with external data sources such as CMDB tools and other monitoring tools, but with Squared Up v3.2 we have introduced several important new enhancements to external integrations.
WebAPI support (e.g. Splunk)
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.
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: Our ‘mustache’ template syntax enable users to create dynamic content - this can now be used on 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: Squared Up 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 Squared Up and then link to an external tool in the context of that data. Row linking does just that.
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. Deleting an entire the dashboard pack is also now straightforward.
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.
Check out this Knowledge Base article for further information relating to v3.2 feature improvements. Here you'll find additional information on all of the above, plus short summaries for smaller must-have features included within this release; features such as startup screen and error reporting, global search and breadcrumbs for drilldowns.
Existing customers can download the latest version here.
If you have any questions, please feel free to drop us a line via [email protected] and we hope you enjoy the latest release!