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Mon, Mar 15th 11:40am 2010: IVT

One of the things we focus on at Internet Vision Technologies is giving our customers insight into how well their business processes are operating. Seeing what is happening within a business in real-time, or close to it, can be tremendously powerful in terms of closing the feedback loop and giving people a sense of control over where things are going. Not just a "sense" of control, either: real control based on facts, not hunches. Sometimes it's like the difference between driving a car with a blindfold on versus being able to see!

We do this through online systems of course (we're a web app company, after all) but last week I saw a blog post about Panic Software's status board and thought it would be good to do something similar internally. There are all sorts of reports available through our intranet (KPI reporting, ops statistics, project management reports, financial reports, etc) but the problem is that you have to actively go looking for them. Putting some basic facts and figures up on the wall gives it far more immediacy and keeps drawing people's attention to it.

Since a friend of mine is clearing out a bunch of hardware prior to travelling overseas I bought three 22" LCDs from him, and last night I stuck them up on the wall in the central area of the IVT office. A few simple web pages running off the intranet displayed using Google Chrome in full-screen mode, and this is the result:

Very cool!

The left screen is showing the current task queue in our bug / feature request tracking system, broken down by category. The objective of the game is to push all these down toward 0.

The center screen shows Twitter updates that mention IVT or our products, followed by a few odds and ends of data including the number of physical hosts currently running; the number of Xen VMs running; the number of EC2 VMs running; current temperature in Melbourne; number of Brillianz customers (yes, it's a low number - that's because it's not publicly released yet); revenue generated by Brillianz; number of live SB4 sites; and revenue generated by SB4.

The right screen shows a live view of the Arduino-based energy monitoring system running in the office. There are lines for power consumption in each of the workstation pods; building lighting; aircon; server rack power consumption; and general power consumption.

I briefly had a Nagios tactical overview screen on the right monitor but the power monitoring system looks cooler and is of more general interest to non-sysadmins. If I had room for a 4th screen it would be up there though!

The cabling still needs a little cleanup but on the whole it's turned out pretty well.

Update: I've started a series of posts explaining how I set up the screens, including details of the hardware and software. Part 1 is up now at Building a Status Screen, part 1: Hardware.

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