I recently blogged about how NetApp® OnCommand® Unified Manager 7.2 can be deployed in a variety of high-availability scenarios that support diverse management best practices. Today I’d like to share some changes we’ve recently introduced, changes that will streamline workflows and save you and your team valuable time in your daily activities.
NetApp’s specialized group of usability engineers and UI designers constantly analyze how our customers apply best practices. Our specialists collect information through in-person interviews, observation sessions, and detailed analysis of user-interface telemetry data, gathered through NetApp AutoSupport®. For every product release, this group of experts selects certain features to improve, such as revising a specific workflow. For example, with OnCommand System Manager we were able to reduce a 20-step workflow down to 3 easy steps. We also continuously evaluate the product layout from the user’s perspective. For example, we moved the Unified Manager menus from a horizontal top row to a more convenient left-column location. This improved utilization of the screen real estate and better aligns with modern app design.
At NetApp we focus relentlessly on simplicity. Customer simplicity covers both the core product architecture and the all-important management interfaces: Are they intuitive? Can you get on this bicycle and simply start to pedal?
How do we make a product intuitive? It requires a lot of customer research and interaction, through which we build an understanding of what tools and concepts our customers have already mastered. By focusing on what customers already know and patterning our tools to mimic workflows and approaches that our customers are already comfortable using, we gain simplicity. This translates to less time spent learning how to use our products, less documentation to consume, and more time getting results.
What are the big changes in Unified Manager 7.2? There are two that stand out – improved navigation between pages, and reporting. Let’s dig deeper into each item.
Web technologies are evolving at a dizzying pace. When building on-premises installed products, NetApp invests in a lot of QA to ensure backward and forward browser compatibility. Bugs that are easy and quick to fix in SaaS products are simply not acceptable for products installed at customers’ sites. NetApp can’t refactor all the pages in Unified Manager once a year when new technology ships. What we do instead is invest in a stable user experience while building any new pages with the most recent technology. This is analogous to repaving a major highway. You can’t close it for weeks to repave all lanes at once. Crews close one or two lanes at a time, repaving while highway travel continues to flow.
Unified Manager 7.2 has an embedded report generation engine, chosen to support our customers’ need to produce daily, weekly, or monthly reports about IT assets. Customers have found this report generator, sourced from a third party, to be complicated to learn, use, and maintain – to the point where they have often relied on NetApp experts to help them get the job done.
So next time your resident Lumbergh asks you for those reports, you’ll be one step ahead of them!
Some customers have asked us to move from the traditional report generator to becoming a data source, which would mean providing APIs and directly exportable table and chart views from Unified Manager. These tools could be used to source data into the customer’s report authoring tool of choice. Unified Manager 7.2 implements simple export capability, and we are considering doing more. What is your preference? Join the conversation by commenting on this blog and on our community site thread.
In my next post, I’ll look at how Unified Manager can help you maximize the performance of your storage while maintaining adequate margins of safety and reducing the likelihood of performance issues. You can also read the first blog in this series, NetApp OnCommand Unified Manager 7.2: Data Management Simplified.