US 8674992 Spotlight graphs


A graph layout spotlight for pinpointing status in a network of computer systems.

In a computer-displayed graph, indications of multiple attributes or states of an object represented by a node of the graph are displayed using a spotlight, in which attributes of the spotlight correspond to attributes of the object represented by the node. The attributes of the spotlight each correspond to an attribute of the object and may include the color, brightness, and size of the spotlight. The spotlight may be positioned with the node, including overlaying the spotlight on the node and positioning the spotlight relative to the node.


This disclosure relates generally to the field of management of information technology (IT) services. More particularly, but not by way of limitation, it relates to a technique for improving the usability of IT service models.

Business Service Management (BSM) is a methodology of viewing technology infrastructure administration and problem diagnosis from the perspective of its impact on critical business services rather than technology silos. One aspect of BSM involves the development of service models that model the IT services of the enterprise, with component elements of the service model representing business users, services, and IT infrastructure components that provide the services, such as software and hardware components.

On a high level, a service model is a collection of components that represent a business service. A business service can have one or more business processes. Each business process can contain several functional applications, each of which can have multiple IT components. A service model will contain the processes, show how the components are interconnected, and show how component failures propagate and impact the upstream services.

Service models in today’s IT environment are typically complex, containing potentially thousands of underlying dependent services and IT components. The representation of these services and IT components is typically done using directed acyclic graphs (DAGs), where each component of the service model, whether a business user, a service component or an IT infrastructure component, is represented as a node in the graph. For big service models, however, the visualization aspect may become challenging for the user. On one hand, complex user interface (UI) components can be used to provide as much data as possible about the service model elements so that all information is available to the user without requiring too much screen switching. On the other hand, the complexity of the service models makes it difficult to present the most important data given the limited screen display area that is available.

Furthermore, graphs of complex service models can be very large and difficult to navigate and view. Graph views are used to show the relationships between objects in a service model. Frequently they are also used to monitor the status of the objects in the service model. If a graph view is used for monitoring objects in a service model, such as configuration item (CI) objects in a Configuration Management Database graph, monitoring data is typically shown by placing multiple smaller icons next to the larger CI object icon. For example, these icons may show status, importance rating, events information, and whether an SLA is being violated, among others.

One common function performed by an information technology (IT) organization of an enterprise is to monitor the performance of the IT infrastructure. A typical enterprise-wide infrastructure includes database servers, web servers, application servers etc. and network devices like routers, switches etc. Performance monitoring of such an infrastructure may involve monitoring a very large number of metrics, with the need to monitor over a million metrics in many enterprises. As the amount of data shown by the graph (number of CIs and number of metrics monitored) increases, the graph objects can get very complex with the addition of the all the surrounding indicator icons. Users must scan many different icons in the graph and memorize what all the different metrics icons mean. Users frequently need to try to determine the relative importance of each “in trouble” object, so that they can prioritize their work. This is difficult because they must mentally assimilate all of the various icons on each object, to reach a single mental importance rating. They must then do the same for all the other objects in trouble. The user must then mentally compare in their minds the importance of all of the different objects. This can be a difficult, memory intensive task. In addition, when viewing from a long distance, such as at a large screen operations center display, the smaller data icons are difficult to see.


In one embodiment, a method is disclosed. The method comprises displaying a graph on a display screen, the graph comprised of a plurality of nodes, each of the plurality of nodes representing an object of a plurality of objects; and displaying a spotlight with a node of the plurality of nodes, the spotlight having a plurality of characteristics, corresponding to a plurality of attributes of an object of the plurality of objects represented by the node.

In another embodiment, a networked computer system is disclosed. The networked computer system comprises a first computer system, configured to generate a graph comprising a plurality of nodes, each node of the plurality of nodes modeling an object of a plurality of objects; a second computer system, communicatively coupled to the first computer system, configured to display the graph generated by the first computer system; and a first software, configured to represent a plurality of states corresponding to a node of the graph with a graphical image positioned with the node, the graphical image having a plurality of attributes, each representing a state of the plurality of states.

In yet another embodiment, a computer-readable medium is disclosed. The computer-readable medium stores instructions for a programmable control device that cause a programmable control device to perform the method described above.


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