Creating Dashboards in Operations Manager 2007 R2 Using Visio 2010

Written by Neil Harrison, Microsoft Premier Field Engineer.

Have you ever wondered how to create your own dashboard views based off of System Center Operations Manager (OpsMgr) 2007 R2 data but weren't quite sure how? It turns out that there is a Visio Add-In tool available that makes this quite easy to do if you have a little bit of Visio knowledge to work with (or even if you don't).

In this article, I’m going to highlight some of the cool features that the Visio 2010 Add-In tool provides for OpsMgr admins. Most of these features are also available in the Visio 2007 Add-In tool as well (minus the SharePoint integration piece).

Here is an overview of the functionality this tool offers us:

  1. With the Add-In tool installed we can configure our Root Management Server as a data source for a Visio document. This allows our Visio documents to show the current health state of any managed object within OpsMgr without needing to open the OpsMgr console.
  2. The ability to export any of the Distributed Applications we have created in OpsMgr to a Visio document. Not only will the exact same view we see in the console get exported to Visio but we can also manipulate that view using Visio to show our data in whatever representation makes the most sense to us. See below for a screenshot of a simple dashboard for an HR application.


HR Dashboard 

The ability to create brand new Visio documents and link any shapes to any of the managed objects within the OpsMgr environment to show the current health state of that object. In other words, we don’t necessarily have to create a Distributed Application within the OpsMgr console to show all of the components of an application in a dashboard-type view. We can just start adding any combination of objects to a Visio document manually and as a result show each of their respective health states. However, there are still benefits to using Distributed Applications as they provide us with the health roll-up for the application as a whole.

  • The health state in the Visio document can be manually refreshed or set to refresh on a timed interval. By utilizing an automated refresh interval we can use the full-screen capability of Visio to display the document as a dashboard view on monitors in our Operations Center.
  • The ability to right-click any managed object in the Visio document and link directly to the Health Explorer or Alerts view. This links to the associated Web Console views.
  • The ability to publish Visio documents and automatically refresh health states in SharePoint 2010 document libraries (requires the Visio Services Data Provider).

Hopefully, this gives you some good ideas on how you can begin to leverage this Add-In tool to create your own dashboards for your own environment. Whether it be just for IT viewing only or even published to SharePoint as a way of letting Senior Management know how the health of your systems are doing.

I encourage anybody who is interested in creating OpsMgr dashboards to check out the 12 minute Visio Integration video from TechNet Edge for OpsMgr 2007 R2. That’s where the screenshot above originated and it really gives the viewer a feel for the potential of this tool.

Of course there is also the TechNet documentation as well if you just want to get started by installing it and seeing how far you can go!

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