Greg Hintermeister dives into a core feature of FSM: the FSM Explorer.
In a previous article, I gave an overview of Flex System Manager (FSM) 1.2 and how it simplifies management of Flex systems. In this article, I want to dive into a core feature of FSM: the FSM Explorer. When users interact with a data center management UI, they spend most of their time looking at, finding, and diagnosing resources (e.g., physical systems, virtual machines, storage systems, network switches). As a result, the relationships between these resources are frequently as important as the resources themselves. Many previous UIs first showed users actions they could run, then resources to run those actions on. User feedback suggested that users instead want to see resources, then resource status, and then actions. Because users want a resource-based, rather than task-based, user experience, IBM designed the FSM Explorer.
Because of this user feedback, IBM designed the FSM Explorer (Figure 1), which makes all resources available for viewing with one click.
Figure 1: Default chassis view in FSM Explorer
Notice the vertical icon-based dash bar, which gives users the option to see different kinds of resources and, within each one, the relationships between them. Take a look at my article "Get to Know IBM Flex System Manager" highlighting FSM 1.2 enhancements for details on each dash bar item.
To optimize viewing/finding resources and analyze statuses and problems, FSM Explorer includes other views, such as Event Log, Active Status, and Details. Figure 2 shows how Active Status displays all problems, initially sorted by time, in a single, scrolling table. A single gesture scrolls to the bottom or enables filtering by name.
Figure 2: Active Status view
From Active Status, you can click the system name or component name that's reporting the problem to view its details. Figure 3 shows the screen that appeared when I clicked a POWER compute node.
Figure 3: Details of a POWER compute node
In this scenario, I got to the details view by clicking the System column from Active Status, but I could also get here by double-clicking any table view or chassis map view. In the Details view, I can see the properties, active status, historical event log, and inter-resource relationships. For example, in Figure 4, I can view firmware installed on the compute node by choosing Installed Software.
Figure 4: Firmware on the compute node displays in Installed Software
Figure 5 shows partitions and virtual machines running on this POWER compute node.
Figure 5: Select Server to view all virtual servers running in this compute node
Open Actions in the Old FSM UI
Although you’ll spend much of your time in FSM Explorer view, you still need access to the actions IBM wasn’t able to bring over from the older FSM UI. The decision to leave some actions behind was based on how frequently actions or views required access. For example, if you want to add a user into FSM, you can find the action in the new FSM UI, but the UI itself remains in the old UI. Figure 6 shows what you'll see once you mouse over the Security tab: links to security views, including Users and Groups, in the main menu area. Clicking Users and Groups opens the old UI, which shows a table of users and groups.
Figure 6: Security menu
At the bottom of all menu items is a short list of key, runnable actions. For both of these actions, a small icon to the right says that the action will open in the old FSM UI window. In Figure 7, clicking Create User immediately brings up the Create User wizard in the old UI.
Figure 7: Create User wizard in old FSM UI
Once you create the user, you can either remain in the old UI or close the browser window and return to FSM Explorer. This behavior also occurs in the context menu. Right-click a resource (or choose “Actions”) to see every action you can perform. Some actions work in FSM Explorer, whereas others open in the old UI.
Over time, you might see your frequently-used actions appear as tabs in the old UI (see Figure 7, in which you can see tabs for Users and Groups and Home).
Choose Your UI
By default, the old UI appears when you first start using FSM, because most of the initial setup tasks are still in the old UI. However, once that initial setup is complete, many users like to get right to the FSM Explorer view. If you want to start managing your Flex Systems using FSM Explorer immediately after you log on, use the new login URL: https://systemname.domain.com:8422/ui. Once you press enter, you’ll see a new login screen (Figure 8) directing you to the new UI.
Figure 8: New FSM login page
In fact, you might want to start bookmarking other interesting views that show up in FSM Explorer. You can save any view you see in FSM Explorer as a bookmark, which can help you communicate better with your colleagues when problems arise. For example, if I’m looking at a problem in System 3 and need my colleague to help, I can simply copy the current URL and instant message him. When he clicks the URL, he’ll see the new login and then my view.
You can also create your own bookmark folder filled with your favorite views. Figure 9 shows the result of saving multiple bookmarks into a bookmarks folder. With one click, I can open all my favorite views into a new browser window with one tab for each favorite view.
Figure 9: FSM bookmark folder opened into a new browser window
One last tip: Because this new UI is so browser-friendly, you can use the back button to see previous views. You can also click and hold the back button to see all the previous resources you viewed if you need to revisit a chassis you looked at several minutes ago.
Find Resources, Groups, and Tasks in FSM
The FSM Explorer view with the dash bar is great for browsing your resources and running actions, but what if you don’t know the location or category of the resource? What if you want to work with groups or find a task, but can’t remember the exact location? This is where the FSM Finder comes in. Finding resources is straightforward enough: Type a text fragment into the finder, and FSM will instantly show you results based on the name, description, and resource type of the text you entered (Figure 10).
Figure 10: The Finder showing results from a text fragment 'stg'
The Finder will even show you additional information, such as IP Address and Machine Type, if you hover over a match. If you click the entry, you’ll be sent to the Details page (much like what's shown in Figure 3). If there are more than 30 matches, the Finder will display a “…Show all” link that opens up into an FSM Explorer table listing all matches.
You can also employ the FSM Finder to both use and manage groups in the new UI. Most IBM-defined groups are already shown in the FSM Explorer view, but some, including Server System Pools, aren’t. To find those IBM-defined groups, simply type the text, and the matching groups will instantly appear in the Groups tab of the finder. This is useful when you're working with your existing personal groups, but how do you create your own groups in the new UI?
To create your own groups, you have two choices. The first is to visit the main menu and choose Systems > All Groups to bring up an old UI view of all FSM groups and a Create Group button. The second choice is to use the Finder:
1. Enter Create Group into the finder and view the results in the Task tab (Figure 11).
Figure 11: Finding the Create Group task
2. Click Create Group, and the wizard will appear in the old UI browser page (Figure 12).
Figure 12: Create Group wizard
3. Once the group is created (in this example, the group is "GregTest"), close the old browser page and go back to FSM Explorer. Manually refresh the new UI. Because the new UI is a Dojo UI (Dojo is a browser technology that runs in the browser and improves response time, but at times, it becomes stale), you must refresh the page to have the new group collected from the server.
4. Type in the name of the group “GregTest” and it will appear. Click it to view the group in the Explorer view and either bookmark the URL for instant access later or add your new group as a favorite so you can access it from the Favorites area of the FSM Explorer view. To add the new group as a favorite, go to the System menu, select All Groups, right-click the chosen group, and select Add To Favorites. It will then show up in the FSM Explorer view.
This might take a bit of work to set up, but the result lets you view your favorites. When you want to perform actions on, or view contents of, the members of the group, double-click the group for a single details view displaying all actions and members (Figure 13). This is also a great shortcut to view active status or events for a subset of systems, because a single click shows the event log for all members of this group.
Figure 13: Details of my custom group showing members and actions to run
Give FSM Explorer a Try
The FSM Explorer provides one-click viewing for all your Flex resources. Further, the Finder provides a way to see resources, groups, and tasks when all you know is a text fragment. Give it a try in the new FSM.