What are Network Dashboards
Network dashboards are graphical representations of the operation of a network. Network dashboards can take many forms and can range in scope from full topographical representations of the network, designed to allow IT staff to monitor and control the network, to performance oriented network dashboards that are designed more for performance monitoring. Depending on the type of network dashboards being discussed they may be embedded within the network monitoring software package used by IT or they may be build ad-hoc using business intelligence or reporting tools.
Control Network Dashboards
A network dashboard can be used for a number of different purposes. In the broadest sense, network dashboards are nothing more than graphical representation of some network data. One type of network dashboards focus on providing information to the IT staff on the state and performance of the network of an organization. These types of network dashboards are usually replete with icons representing various elements on the network like routers an PCs and allow the administrators of the network to understand and control their network.
Performance Network Dashboards
Performance network dashboards on the other hand might provide information on the performance of a network, without providing information about the state or condition of any one particular piece of equipment. These network dashboards are typically designed using traditional reporting methodologies and visualizations like pie charts, radial dials, heat maps etc. Performance network dashboards are most often useful to IT staff in order to best understand the level of utilization of the network and in an effort to better manage inner company bandwidth and network state.
Creating Network Dashboards
Network dashboards can be created in a number of ways. The most simple form of network dashboards may simply be based on excel spreadsheets and would provide a static representation of the performance of a network. Business intelligence platforms can also be used to create and deploy network dashboards in an effort to provide a more robust environment that can monitor network performance in nearly real-time. These types of network dashboards are most frequently associated with enterprise organizations.
Network Dashboards for Mid-Market
Mid market companies have in the past shied away from using network dashboards, at least the types used for performance monitoring. The reason is simply a cost/benefit analysis. Given the costs associated with traditional BI platforms, creating network dashboards for performance monitoring simply does not provide enough of a return on investment to justify the expense. New platforms, however, from companies like EMANIO have begun to be available that at a far more affordable price point are bringing network dashboards for performance management within the realm of mid-sized companies. As these organizations deploy network dashboards for performance management the skill set needed will become significantly smaller through the use of affordable, easy to use platforms.