As I was perusing an exclusive preview of Windows 8 Server last weeek on ITworld, the built-in monitoring tools dashboard caught my eye.
In fact, writer Sandro Villinger says one of the biggest changes to the next version of the Windows Server OS is the new server dashboard, which replaces the old welcome screen and provides you with an overview of the health of your Microsoft server system allowing you to see at a glance if there are any problems you need to address.
Villinger wrote, “The goal: give admins at-a-glance alerts on their server roles and manage local, virtual and connected servers via one single interface. It shows all current roles of the server in one window and allows admins to instantly check for problems and alerts.”Sounds like a worthwhile goal, and it’s a little puzzling, that such an overview screen didn’t exist prior to this given the performance monitoring tools in Windows Server 7.
In order to make the system as user-friendly as possible, the interface will be somewhat like the Windows Phone 7 OS with tiles for accessing different monitoring services, so it should be an interesting look and feel. Presumably you click a tile with a system or server type you want to monitor, to access more information about those servers. If you encounter problems, it displays additional information about the nature of the problem. You can filter events if they become too cluttered, and as you drill down you get more and more information.
Of course, if this anything like other Microsoft products, it is probably just for monitoring servers connected to the system using Windows Server 8 or other Microsoft products. You’ll need to use other products and services to monitor the non-Microsoft portions of your system, and since there aren’t many IT shops totally committed to one vendor, that’s a likely scenario.
That’s why, It doesn’t sound like it’s a huge threat to commercial monitoring tools designed specifically for monitoring a heterogeneous system of software, services and hardware, but it’s useful to have a monitor like this at the OS level that gives administrators insight into the servers they are responsible for watching as it relates to that server OS.
As the Villinger pointed out, Windows 8 Server is still very much a work in progress, but Microsoft says it is nearing the end of its development phase and it should make adjustments moving forward. That means the dashboard in some form should be part of a Windows Server 8 release whenever that happens.
It should be interesting to see what the final product looks like, and if the changes to the interface have any influence on how other monitoring tool makers approach design moving forward.
Photo used courtesy of Microsoft Sweden under Creative Commons License.