UpGuard Update: Data Visualization, Group Differencing, and Search

By Greg Pollock on July 1, 2015

Filed under: upguard

UpGuard Data Visualization Update

We've just released a sweeping update to UpGuard. It's really, really big– we've changed the core visualization of our product and added large features that seemed impossibly ambitious when we started. For all the changes, the unifying purpose of every feature in UpGuard remains the same: to empower developers and administrators to know what they have so they can maintain quality in complex, changing environments.

Some of the changes are minor; some are massive. This post will touch on all of them briefly. In coming weeks we'll do deep dives on how to make the most of the powerful new tools we've added.

Group Change Visualization

The node list view now has a visual summary of the most recent changes to each node. If the last scan had an error or a node has gone offline, there will be a red or black bar on the far left. Hovering the node name will show the scan status. To the right of the node name you get a summary of the last diff. Hovering each segment of the visualization will tell you how many of each item changed.

If the most recent scan found some differences, the visualization will be in full color. If the most recent scan found no changes you will see a slightly transparent version of the last set of changes. To the far right is a count of open user tasks against each node so you can be sure that you have resolved every issue, even in very dynamic environments.

If you want to answer the question "when did every node change last and what changed," this page will give you the answers as fast as you can read.

UpGuard Data Vis

Node Scan Data Visualization

One of the most noticeable differences is a reworking of the way we visualize scans and comparisons between nodes. UpGuard used to visualize node scans as nested segments of a circle. That visualization method did not scale well for nodes with very large numbers of configuration items because the circle remained constant in size. Now you will see a more tabular representation of the same information. Differences are still called out by colored blocks.

Navigating A Scan

Clicking the name of a category will expand its contents into a list of configuration items. You can also click directly on a square to open the detail pane of that CI. Queries typed into the search bar will filter the scan visualization to matching elements, and clearing the search bar and hitting enter will return to the full view. Scan Options are now accessed by clicking the circle with a gear in it at the top of the scan visualization. If you find a configuration item that you want to search for across all nodes, click on the attribute and it will populate in the search box with a global query (more about search below).


Group Differencing

A popular request has been to be able to compare a group of nodes to each other. Previously we could compare many nodes to one node, but truly comparing all the members of a group to each other required manually performing a number of one to many diffs that grew as a function of the size of the group. In other words it sucked. Now, it no longer sucks.

You can assemble the members of a group diff several ways. You can navigate to a group and click "diff this group." You can search for some identifier (like packages:mysql), select all the elements in the list (and unselect any that don't fit), and click "diff X nodes." You can go to the "All Groups" list and grab multiple entire groups to diff at once.

Once you hit "diff this group" the magic happens. For each configuration item we count the number of nodes that agree on each attribute of that CI (for example, a package version). We then compare how many nodes "voted" in the majority to the total number of nodes. Items where there is a strong consensus– where nine nodes out of ten agree that the version should be 1.1 and only one node says it should be 1.0– are colored more darkly. Items where there is strong disagreement– where five nodes have 1.1 and five have 1.0– are colored more lightly. Neither case is necessarily good or bad but you get a sense of where the strong outliers are and where there is persistent disagreement.



You will notice a large search bar front and center on the Nodes page. This is because our search kicks ass now and is hands down the best way to find any configuration item anywhere in your system. There is a featherweight query language that uses the syntax "type:item" to make searches faster. For example, "packages:openssl" will give you a list of all versions of openssl in your system and which nodes they are on. If you're not sure what you're looking for, you can use "any:" to look everywhere, or type : at the beginning to get a list of known types. Search also accepts an optional WITH argument to include attributes of an item– for example, "packages:openssl WITH version:1.0.2a."

Once you've found the version you want to investigate, clicking the list icon will take you to a list of those nodes. If you find one server with an out of date patch level, search allows you to easily find other nodes that are similarly lagging and get them all in one place for remediation. Conversely, you can search for versions you should not find as a check that patches have been universally applied.


The Name

Last but not least, we've made a small change but one that will hopefully reduce confusion: our product is now called UpGuard, the same as our company. There is no functional change here but you will see a different logo in the top of the screen.

Try It Today

We're excited about this release and think it adds foundational features that will make managing environments of any size even easier. You can try for free on up to ten nodes today or get a demo with a real live person who can answer any questions about how UpGuard would fit into your environment.

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