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DevOps Glossary

Real-Time Dashboard

What is a Real-Time Dashboard?

A dashboard is a type of graphical user interface that provides simplified, easy-to-review visualizations of key metrics or performance indicators with respect to a specific business objective, function or process. In the business world, dashboards are an information management tool that makes it easy for executives to review key data in an easily digested format. As a result, executives are better able to identify and correct negative trends in company performance, understand which areas of the business are performing efficiently and identify the best opportunities for improvement.

Real-time dashboards have become increasingly popular since the rise of big data. As organizations expand their capability to collect and aggregate increasing volumes of data, real-time dashboards are being used to display that data in real-time, providing IT operators and other staff members with the most up-to-date information on a variety of operational, security and business performance metrics.

The most important feature of real-time dashboards is that their contents are time-sensitive. IT organizations implement specialized software tools to an aggregate computer and user-generated data from throughout their hybrid cloud environments, a process that data into useful information and present that information in real-time dashboards to the appropriate person who can use it to gain insight and improve their decision-making. Real-time data enables IT organizations and executives to respond more quickly to business, security, and operational challenges.

Real-Time Dashboards and Data Velocity

If you're an IT professional working with real-time dashboards, you should understand something about the connection between real-time dashboards and data velocity.

In 2001, when big data was just starting to change the way that IT organizations conducted operations, Gartner analyst Doug Laney described big data in terms of the 3 V's - Volume, Velocity, and Variety. Data volume referred to the increasing amount of data that would be generated by computer networks and applications as well as the actions and behavior of users. Data variety referenced the idea that our conception of data would extend beyond the spreadsheet to include things like audio and video metadata, social media engagement data, user behavior, and activity data and more.

The idea of increasing data velocity is that the flow of data would increase between the point of generation and the point of use, thus enabling features such as real-time dashboards. In the past, dashboards would have been manually constructed based on data batches that captured the performance of the organization at a specific time. As big data developed, organizations developed the capability to deliver dashboards periodically, so a CEO could receive a dashboard every week with the previous week's performance described.

It quickly became apparent that having access to real-time data offered a significant competitive advantage, as this enabled organizations to quickly spot inefficiencies or other anomalies and correct them before they could negatively impact customers. As a result, an increasing number of organizations have invested in solutions that increase their processing speed for large amounts of data and optimize their ability to create informative real-time dashboards.

What are the Applications of Real-Time Dashboards?

Real-time dashboards can be used to display a variety of metrics and key performance indicators in real-time. Even better, dashboards can be customized by users to fit certain roles. An IT operations employee might want to use a customized dashboard that displays operational data, while a security analyst would benefit from a real-time dashboard that contains visualizations of security-related metrics. A CFO or CEO might use real-time dashboards to review key business metrics. Each of these applications can provide unique benefits for the organization.

Operational Analytics

Using dashboards to visualize operational data can make it easy for IT Ops professionals to more quickly identify customer-impacting issues and implement resolutions before they have a major impact on revenue. IT Operators might use real-time dashboards to create a visualization of real-time log-ins per minute for a cloud-deployed web application. A positive spike in log-in attempts could signify that a malicious actor is trying to overwhelm the server with requests, while a sudden drop-off in log-ins could indicate that the service is experiencing unplanned downtime.

In either case, the ability to monitor the situation in real-time makes it easier for IT operators to quickly identify and address the problem.

Security Analytics

An IT security analyst can use a real-time dashboard to monitor potential security threats across the organization's IT environment. Real-time dashboards can be customized to display the most important security data in real-time, including a history of malware scans on the network, lists of banned users or IP addresses, a list of users on the network with administrative powers, listings of trusted devices, events tracked and suspicious activities detected.

Industry-leading security analytics tools offer Complex Event Processing (CEP) as a core feature, often with implementations of artificial intelligence or machine learning. These features help to recognize or identify suspicious activities and anomalies that should be presented to analysts immediately via real-time dashboards.

Business Analytics

Real-time business intelligence is the most common application for real-time dashboards. C-level executives such as Chief Financial Officers or Chief Executive Officers can benefit significantly from real-time information about sales, revenue, and other profit and performance-related metrics. The best part is that users can customize dashboards based on the available data to visualize only the most contextually important data with the greatest perceived value for informing business decision-making.

What are the Benefits of Real-Time Dashboards?

The capability to create a real-time dashboard can have a major impact on how quickly and efficiently an IT organization or business can detect and respond to security threats, customer-impacting operational issues, and new business opportunities. With real-time dashboards, organizations can:

  • Save time by making data-driven decisions about where to focus their energy
  • Enhance IT efficiency by enabling IT DevSecOps teams to access the most current operational and security data
  • Connect to and combine a variety of data sources into a single visualization
  • Share live dashboards within an organization or between organizations to more easily convey information
  • Decrease costs by optimizing resource allocation

Sumo Logic Supports a Feature-Rich Real-Time Dashboard

Sumo Logic's real-time dashboard functionality makes it easy for IT organizations to:

  • Retroactively search through data to discover when an issue or incident first occurred, streamlining the forensic investigation of security-related issues
  • Understand the historical context and long-term trends, leveraging historical data alongside real-time data for the most accurate representation of a given operational or security problem
  • Toggle between live mode, where dashboards are updated with live data in real-time, and interactive mode, where users can modify time ranges and filter settings to change the parameters of an investigation

With Sumo Logic, IT organizations can achieve superior oversight of IT analytics and network security while gathering and leveraging the business intelligence needed to inform decision-making at the highest level.