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Suggestions For Cheap Metrics Eye Candy Software? 201

Posted by timothy
from the compiz-plus-millions-of-stats-widgets dept.
Banquo writes "I have a friend who has a small datacenter (SQL/Mail/IIS/File Repository ... 5 or 10 servers) and he was saying that his boss wants to see some kind of 'visual display of changing metrics' — Net/server/sql stats with moving lines and graphs and pretty colors. Basically they want something to display on a big LCD panel that will give a tiny bit of 'Wow' factor to customer visits. Back in my datacenter days I saw a million packages to do this stuff, but I was always blessed with an IT budget for metrics/monitoring. Can anyone suggest a free/cheap package that will make pretty moving pictures, moving lines, graphs, etc. from server/net stats? There's no worry about actually using this for real data tracking or metrics purposes. He has a pretty robust log/alert/metrics setup, but command line is a little too dry for marketing purposes. I jokingly suggested he just use a looped flash animation but he actually does want stats that are coming from and reflect his environment. Anyone know of any cheap or free data center stats/metrics 'Eye Candy' software out there?" Better yet, can you think of any particularly interesting ways to display that sort of information?
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Suggestions For Cheap Metrics Eye Candy Software?

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  • by Bizzeh (851225) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @08:12PM (#25904949) Homepage

    could something not be written customised to the data being held there? that way it could be alot easier to make things move and flash, and change colours. (my boss is the same, if it doesnt flash, move and change colours, it doesnt work)

  • Lies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bigattichouse (527527) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @08:23PM (#25905021) Homepage
    Yep.. lies, just like those big ol' blinkenlights computers in Jurassic park, they just built a routine that looked good. Marketing is lies, get over it... just tweak how false you want to be. You are selling a dream of what you could be - deal with it.
    --
    Lost your job? Keep one eye open on craigslist, even just for gigs http://www.bigattichouse.com/oneeyeopen.html [bigattichouse.com]
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:26PM (#25905379) Journal

    It's rather difficult to coordinate several hundred stats at minute resolution and make things move like a speedometer. RRDTool is fantastic, present it the right data and all is good. When there are many pretty widgets to look at, 5 minute resolution is often better than good enough. RRDTool can be used to display aggregated RRD data as well, so you can have simple go/no_go indicators as well as pretty widgets. A bit of PERL and you can do wonderful things with data fed to RRDTool.

  • Re:you don't say.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Korin43 (881732) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:31PM (#25905407) Homepage
    It seems like intentionally lying to your customers like that isn't a good idea. Eventually someone who knows what the fake graphs are showing is going to ask a question and you'll have to admit that it's all a lie to impress people.
  • The Matrix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AvitarX (172628) <me@@@brandywinehundred...org> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:58PM (#25905535) Journal
    When I want to look impressive at work I go into "The Matrix",

    Top, and watch tail logfile really impress people.

    This will make it look like you/your techs are amazing, and doing things that noone can conceive of. Pie charts and graphs make the job look easy, and noone wants to pay for easy.

    My 2 cents.
  • wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:08PM (#25905571)

    you're a dick. given that this guy is low salary he probably doesn't have a lot of experience. you could have shown him the error of his ways, instead you publicly embarrass him in front of the whole company. glad I don't work with you.

  • Re:Lies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beav007 (746004) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:09PM (#25905585) Journal
    That's "flair". Geek card please!
  • Re:wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dubl-u (51156) * <[2523987012] [at] [pota.to]> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:38PM (#25905753)

    you're a dick. given that this guy is low salary he probably doesn't have a lot of experience. you could have shown him the error of his ways, instead you publicly embarrass him in front of the whole company. glad I don't work with you.

    On the one hand, you're right. Embarrassing the idiot was clearly a dick move.

    On the other hand, this is a very useful bit of dickishness. The idiot didn't just make a mistake; he made a mistake with major consequences to a lot of people, and he made a mess that his betters had to clean up.

    In my experience, about 98% of the time, there are only two ways we learn. One is through pain. The network breaker, among many flaws, had insufficient caution, but I'm sure the pain of humiliation here taught him some. (That's one of the skills he'll need if he ever wants to be a highly paid admin.) The other way is through observing the pain of others. By making a semi-public example of the yutz, a room-full of network engineers (and I'm sure, a lot of their friends) got a great example of how not to behave. You can bet that at least some minor fuckups were avoided thanks to this.

    Sysadmins are often dicks to fools for a reason: it helps a lot in their work. I didn't like hating everybody all the time, so now I'm a recovering sysadmin [faqs.org]. Bitch all you want, but however unforgiving sysadmins are, the machines they run are far less so.

  • Re:Lies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daengbo (523424) <daengboNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:50AM (#25906547) Homepage Journal
    Asking the three-digit Slashdotter for his geek card just doesn't seem right!
  • Re:wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by beaviz (314065) * on Thursday November 27, 2008 @02:31AM (#25906665) Homepage Journal

    This touched a nerve. I've been sysadmin'ing for a long time now (well, not THAT long. 10 years or so), and I've seen my share of abusive system administrators, it annoyes me every single time.

    In my experience, about 98% of the time, there are only two ways we learn. One is through pain. The network breaker, among many flaws, had insufficient caution, but I'm sure the pain of humiliation here taught him some. (That's one of the skills he'll need if he ever wants to be a highly paid admin.) The other way is through observing the pain of others. By making a semi-public example of the yutz, a room-full of network engineers (and I'm sure, a lot of their friends) got a great example of how not to behave. You can bet that at least some minor fuckups were avoided thanks to this.

    People don't learn anything useful from pain, they only learn behaviorism - and then they learn that their senior system administrators is some elitist assholes. Okay, the latter is somewhat useful to know.

    Sysadmins are often dicks to fools for a reason: it helps a lot in their work. I didn't like hating everybody all the time, so now I'm a recovering sysadmin [faqs.org]. Bitch all you want, but however unforgiving sysadmins are, the machines they run are far less so.

    Many system administrators are exactly as unforgiving as the machinery they run - and it don't have to be that way. System administrators must provide (as everybody in IT) vertical support for the entire organization, not the other way around. Many system administrators don't realize this. Instead they only accept one truth. Their own.

  • Re:wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by beaviz (314065) * on Thursday November 27, 2008 @02:56AM (#25906763) Homepage Journal

    I've seen my share of abusive system administrators, it annoyes me every single time.

    Would you say this guy was abusive? If so, how?

    Yes. He was abusive when he deliberately humiliated a coworker for no apparent reason other than having a laugh with the other smugs.

    People don't learn anything useful from pain,

    I disagree.

    Long ago, when I was a wee student, I accidentally formatted a drive. A boot drive for a workstation. A drive with a lot of people's files on it. What with one thing and another, it took me 28 hours to put things right again from backups. 28 hours in a row.

    I definitely learned both from that pain, and from the entirely deserved ribbing I took from all concerned. I certainly learned caution. That was the very last time I lost other people's data through carelessness.

    Would you have learned MORE if some senior dickhead made you restore from backup. Naked. In the rain. While he laughed with his friends?
    The situation you describe sounds to me like you learned from your mistakes, I believe that is different from learning from pain, but maybe I'm just nitpicking :)

    System administrators must provide (as everybody in IT) vertical support for the entire organization, not the other way around. Many system administrators don't realize this. Instead they only accept one truth. Their own.

    I agree, and I agree that some sysadmins are dicks when it's not necessary or deserved. I'm not in favor of that either.

    Thanks for clarifying! For a minute I actually thought you we're encouraging this behavior.

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb

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