This post is the next in my series on using IT Analytics to analyze the performance of our Private Cloud at Bay Dynamics. So far in this series we've explored IT Analytics cubes in many ways, and drag and dropped our way to insightful Pivot Tables and Charts that helped me understand how my VMware infrastructure is performing. We also created Key Performance Indicators and SQL Server Reporting Services reports to help communicate key metrics. Now we're going to tie everything together and create a SharePoint Dashboard to allow others to take advantage of our IT Analytics cubes directly from within our corporate SharePoint portal.
The prerequisite for this scenario is an installation of SharePoint 2010 Enterprise. This gives us the ability to create a new SharePoint Site using the Business Intelligence Center template, and from that site we can take advantage of the recent inclusion of PerformancePoint Services and the Dashboard Designer. The screen below shows the home of a Business Intelligence Center.
Clicking the link labeled "Start using PerformancePoint Service", we arrive at the following page, from which we can launch the PerformancePoint Dashboard Designer.
After launching the Dashboard Designer, we're ready to start creating dashboard content. Our first action is to create a Data Connection to one of our IT Analytics Cubes so we can use it as the source of information for the dashboard. For a high level overview of creating a dashboard with IT Analytics, check out this post which will guide you to a recent Webinar that provides step by step guidance for creating a PerformancePoint Dashboard with IT Analytics cubes.
Once our Data Connection is configured, we're ready to choose from the following types of dashboard content.
Our first dashboard item will be an Analytic Chart. Using the same drag and drop design technique we've highlighted throughout this series, I configured the following chart to show alerts by severity, filtered to only show VMware alerts reported from the nworks MP. Notice the range of chart types and other options we have available to us. For this chart, we want to do a Stacked Bar Chart.
Next we'll create an Analytic Grid using a similar approach. In this grid I want to see the number of VMware alerts by name, and I want to sort that list descending so the most common alert type shows at the top.
Now that we have a couple of items to use in our dashboard, lets go ahead and create one. After clicking the new dashboard button, I chose a 2 column template as shown below.
Now I can arrange my two dashboard bits by dragging them into the zones on the dashboard template.
Before I finish though, I'd like to add another page to this dashboard that hosts the custom SSRS report I created in the previous post in this series. I choose Reporting Services from the content creation ribbon, enter my server name, and choose my custom report from the list.
With that added to my PerformancePoint Content listing, I add a new page to my VMware Alert Dashboard with one zone and drag the custom report into place.
That's everything I want on my dashboard for now. After deployment, I can now navigate to the dashboard on my SharePoint Site and see it live!
But that's not the end of it. Unlike many other dashboards, PerformancePoint dashboards are highly interactive when you use IT Analytics Cubes as a source for the charts and reports. On first glance that VM Balloon Memory Usage alert pops out at me again, and I want to drill in that further. I can right click on that Alert Count cell and choose Decomposition Tree to do further analysis.
After opening the Decomposition Tree I can explore my IT Analytics SCOM Alerts Cube directly from within my SharePoint site and drill down, level by level, "decomposing" the data by adding criteria one at a time. The Decomposition Tree is a great example of the powerful capabilities built into SharePoint specifically to leverage OLAP cubes.
Analytic Grids aren't the only place we can further slice the data. The following screen shows how we can right click on a value in an Analytic Chart and drill down to an attribute such as the Host Name to get further insight without leaving the browser.
Finally, lets see how that custom SSRS report that uses our SCOM Alerts cube looks in our dashboard. Choosing the link at the top of the page to navigate to our report, we can now see the report we designed by dragging and dropping attributes from our SCOM Alerts cube directly within SharePoint!
The combination of IT Analytics, System Center, and SharePoint have proven to be a very flexible and powerful platform to create a Business Intelligence portal to help me manage my Private Cloud. I can create visually informative charts and graphs that I can drill into for additional insight, and share them with others in my organization using the familiar SharePoint portal they're already using. All of this without having to bother my DBAs once!