We’ve been hard at work here in HMC-land on a number of new features to the HMC’s Enhanced+ user interface (UI). Since our latest release, V8R8.5.0 will be available May 27, 2016, let’s take it for a spin and tour some of the new enhancements.
We first released our Enhanced+ UI with HMC V8R8.2.0 and while we were happy with the updated, modern look-and-feel, we knew we had some work to do in the performance department.
Since then, we’ve been bench-marking, optimizing, fine-tuning, and tweaking to give you a user experience that matches the modern feel of the new UI.
We put the focus on 6 key areas that we’ll cover below.
1 - Welcome Page
This is the first page the HMC displays after a user logs into the Enhanced+ UI. On the very first login, the page shown is “Getting Started”, and on subsequent logins the “All Systems” page is shown.
We used to take a long time to welcome the user to the HMC Enhanced+ UI, but given how excited we are about our new UI, we’ve improved the loading time after login so you can get in and start working sooner!
Previously the page could take up to 40-50 seconds to load on a large system (yikes!). You’ll now be able to login to that same system and get to work in 6-10 seconds – big improvement, right?
2 – All Systems, Partitions and Virtual IO Servers Pages
These pages give a nice look at all of a particular kind of entity that the HMC is currently managing.
We’ve made some improvements to the navigation and loading of these pages to make the navigation smoother and the overall experience a little better.
3 – “Actions” menus for Systems, Partitions and Virtual IO Servers
The Actions menus are extremely useful – giving access to all of the available actions that can be taken on a particular entity.
But, what wasn’t useful was having to wait around 10-11 seconds sometimes for the menu to appear. This was a big pain point for our internal usage, so we’re sure it was painful for our users.
So good news – these menus now open up in a second or less!!
4 – Templates
Our teams have put in some good work on the HMC’s Template engine to improve the performance in the following areas:
- Launching the “Capture Partition Template” window
- Time needed to capture a partition template after clicking Finish
- Launching the “Partition Activation” screen
Try these out in our upcoming V8R8.5.0 release and let us know what you think.
5 – Performance & Capacity Monitoring (PCM)
The PCM functions in the Enhanced+ UI let you keep an eye on your networking and storage read/writes along with processor and memory utilization.
Previously, these screen were not always very responsive and quick. This was due to large amounts of data being exchanged between the HMC and the Enhanced+ UI, and then data processing operations occurring in the UI itself.
We’ve now revised our PCM data APIs to be more lightweight with the processing now occurring prior to transfer.
The end result of this – better responsiveness from our PCM screens, faster load times and the UI is now free to display the data instead of processing it. All of this makes the experience better for our users.
6 – Virtual NIC
We’ve made some good improvements in our overall VNIC experience in V8R8.5.0 and are planning to continue these efforts in our future releases of HMC also.
- Optimizations to the Virtual NIC launch page on a system
- Launching the “Create Virtual NIC” page has vastly improved loading times
- Further optimizations are in progress on firmware and HMC to improve create and delete operations
We’re pretty excited about the Virtual NIC functions, and the performance improvements for them will make them even better
7 – Miscellaneous
In addition to the six previous “large” areas that we’ve improved, we have also put some work on:
- Virtual Storage Management on a Managed System
- Shared Storage Pool Clusters
Whew! Quite a bit of speed increase to help out the user experience, but let’s talk about the hard data. Here’s our numbers and some notes on our bench-mark environment.
Initial Experience Improvements
Functional Operations Improvements :
Note on Test Results:
- The above numbers are as measured against HMC (Model: 7042-CR6 with 16GB Memory) managing 1300 LPARs (out of which 350 were from real managed systems and remaining from emulated environment), configured across 42 managed systems - One E870 (with 330 logical partitions), three p260s and two p460+ servers, and remaining emulator instances.
- The numbers are an average of multiple measurements with minimum 3x executions (In some cases more attempts were made).
- Measured results were captured with controlled environment. i.e., While keeping HMC usage restricted to single user and no other operations performed on the managed systems and LPARs while measuring. (To avoid asynchronous events invalidating the cache)
- The results might vary based on the configuration and operations being performed on HMC while performing above operations, but the relative improvements should still remain.
- During very first login after HMC restart/update/install there will be a delay in launching the Welcome Page, this is due to the fact that the HMC doesn’t have the inventory cached after restart.
That’s all on performance for now. Let’s take a look at some of the other enhancements we’ve been working on.
Unifying System Properties
Good news, we’ve heard the feedback and responded!
Previously, in the Enhanced+ UI (V8R8.3.0 and earlier) we had the general properties view with this great new look-and-feel, and some other properties as a link that opened up a Classic properties window.
Well, no longer! The system properties are all there now with the same look-and-feel as the rest of the Enhanced+ UI. We now have General Properties and Processor, Memory, IO as the two properties links.
Quick Note: Notice the Description field in the screen capture, above? This field can be used to put any kind of descriptive text to help indicate what a system is used for, what it’s managing, etc. There is also a similar field for logical partitions. When you’ve got hundreds of systems and thousands of partitions, this field becomes pretty useful!
So go ahead and click on the new links and check it out, we think you’ll like this better!
System Licensed Capabilities
Tying into our work on unifying the system properties, we brought the system Licensed Capabilities from the Classic properties panel into an area that that provides more concise information. All of the capabilities are now located here under Licensed Capabilities providing a nice view for the entire system.
Built-in Help Improvements
Searching the HMC’s built-in help topics can be done with the search bar at the top with the selected result opening in a new window. This is great – it lets you have the help open at the same time as you’re on a screen in the UI.
The help window has some new features to make it more useful too. It keeps a history of the topics you’ve viewed letting you jump back to something you’ve found helpful in the past.
For some of our larger help topics, such as Managing Virtual Networks, we now include Related Topics at the bottom of the content window.
Ultimately, the goal here was to help to the user find the help they need easily and quickly.
SR-IOV and Virtual NIC Topology Diagram
Our newest addition to the suite of topology diagrams provides visualization of the SR-IOV and Virtual NIC (VNIC) configuration for a particular managed system. This diagram shows all of the virtual components that are backed by a SR-IOV physical adapter and its ports.
Depending on the configuration of the system, these diagrams can look a bit like a map of the London Underground, but have no fear -- if you’re looking for more specific information, simply double-click one of components, and voila! The relationship chain for that particular component are now highlighted!
The info button at the top shows a legend indicating what the different symbols represent. Next to that are a set of buttons to control the zoom level of the diagram. It’s also easy to zoom in and out with the scroll wheel on the mouse (or the scroll gesture on a touchpad). Clicking and dragging with the mouse moves the diagram around so you can focus on a specific section.
Enhanced+ UI Responsiveness
The world is going mobile, and it’s difficult to walk around with a desktop monitor. The Enhanced+ UI is now supported on tablet devices!
We’ve done a lot of work to improve the responsiveness of the UI on different sized screens and resolutions. The screens now render well on large monitors and small monitors alike and scale appropriately when the browser window gets resized.
Official Support Statement
- Android Tablets: Chrome
- iPad: Safari, Chrome
- Supported tablet orientation: landscape
Minimum resolution: 1024x768
With our continued emphasis on bringing the best possible user experience to the Enhanced+ UI, we’re planning to phase out the Classic login option beginning in 2017. We’ll continue providing updates as this effort nears completion.
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