In the tech world, it feels like a new buzzword comes out every day.
Some of them are just jargon, but others have a deeper meaning and significance. When fully understood, they have the power to transform an IT organization.
“Single pane of glass” is one of those terms.
To explain what a single pane of glass (SPOG) means, let’s depart from IT for a second. Picture, for a moment, a pilot’s flight instruments panel. The dashboard has everything a pilot needs to monitor the complex factors that go into a flight — the plane’s health, altitude, speed, direction, and more. Tracking these components in one view allows them to immediately change course or land the plane if something goes awry.
Like long-haul flights, today’s IT environments have a lot going on — particularly in the world of remote work.
Organizations have a growing list of point solutions, security tools, shadow IT, and a web of integrations to manage. And sometimes, those tools and functions are managed by separate teams, unintentionally creating damaging siloes.
So without a unified view of what’s happening or a single pane of glass, full coverage is virtually impossible, even for large enterprise teams. And the more your tech stack starts to sprawl, the more operational inefficiencies and security vulnerabilities appear, tanking your team’s productivity and putting your company’s reputation and revenue at risk.
Benefits of a Single Pane of Glass
Based on our flight analogy, you can probably guess some of the benefits of having a single pane of glass to manage your IT function. But let’s spell out some of those advantages:
- Improved visibility and control: Consolidating systems ensures rules and regulations are followed, and connecting disparate sources of information gives you confidence in your reporting. Unification also helps you identify tools that you and your end users really don’t need, ultimately lowering total cost of ownership.
- Streamlined operations and efficiency: A SPOG also reveals repetitive tasks that are ideal candidates for automation. Streamlining your team’s operations improves overall IT productivity, giving them more time to spend on strategic initiatives.
- Simplified troubleshooting and problem resolution: When everything is laid out in front of you, it becomes much easier to detect problems as they happen, reducing investigation time and enabling your team to jump in and deploy a fix right away.
Implementing a Single Pane of Glass
Clearly, a single pane of glass infrastructure has myriad advantages. But what does establishing it really involve?
Here are just a few things you’ll need to do to achieve that elusive SPOG:
- Assess your IT environment and needs. Review all IT, security, and DevOps systems, separate them into must-haves and nice-to-haves, and note any gaps. The must-haves are the ones that will make up the core solutions shown in your single pane of glass dashboard. Things like: Active Directory, devices, identity and access management, single sign-on, remote assistance, and patch management tools.
- Choose the right tools and platforms. Don’t be afraid to shop around for new core platforms. Rip-and-replace projects can be a burden, but IT unification won’t matter if you’re using unintuitive, prohibitively expensive, or unstable platforms. For example, on the surface, Entra ID (formally Azure Active Directory or AAD) may seem like a good replacement for on-prem or cloud-based directories. However, complicated SKUs and licensing may result in a higher total cost of ownership.
- Integrate and consolidate systems and data. Strong integrations fuel a single pane of glass infrastructure. Look for native integrations to simplify the process of connecting your core platforms together. At this point, you may be able to make even more cuts to what you thought was your core list of tools, decreasing complexity and increasing visibility.
Examples of Single Pane of Glass Solutions
It’s one thing to understand SPOG in theory. Here’s what it can look like in practice:
- Network management: Failed networks cause downtime that employees can never get back and may even cause them to lose work. Comprehensive networking tools alert IT and DevOps teams of emergencies and help them keep everything running and up to date.
- Security operations: Trying to manage antivirus software, firewalls, pen testing tools, and cybersecurity learning systems is a challenge. And one failed upgrade or missed notification instantly puts your company at risk. Choosing an all-in-one security platform limits the possibility of that happening.
- Service desk and ticketing: Joint service desk and ticketing platforms accelerate speed to resolution and give IT managers a holistic view of common problems happening across the organization. These issues may indicate a broader problem or necessitate additional resources as a company scales.
- Identity and access management: Identity control, security and compliance, and authentication services often go hand in hand, but may not be housed under the same roof. A tool incorporating the integral elements of identity and access management provides a single pane of glass for managing all employee passwords, single sign-on, and conditional access throughout their lifecycle while maintaining regulatory requirements like CMMC.
Best Practices for Using a Single Pane of Glass
Having a single pane of glass to look at is great, but there’s still a tremendous amount of activity being tracked, and it’s easy for slight changes — which could turn into big problems — to get overlooked. Three ways you can avoid this are:
- Setting up customized dashboards and alerts: What’s important to track for one company may not be the same for another. Configure your dashboards to show the KPIs your CTO will want to see and set up alerts for the kinds of activities or malfunctions that hamper employee performance or indicate internal or external threats.
- Training and empowering IT teams: IT team members won’t use a tool they don’t understand, defeating the purpose of establishing a SPOG. Provide extensive training to demonstrate how the single pane of glass works, what it shows, and how it should be used to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Continuously evaluate and optimize the solution: Your IT landscape is always changing, and that means what you see in your single pane of glass has to change with it. Make a regular point to assess your solution and make updates every month or every quarter.
Unify Your Environment With JumpCloud
SPOG architectures give IT admins, security teams, and DevOps engineers a fuller picture of the backend operations they need to keep your workforce working and your company and customer data safe. Finding the right platform to unify your tech stack is the key to unlocking this kind of productivity and security.
Specifically designed to help IT and MSP teams eliminate manual processes and reduce overall costs, JumpCloud is the answer. Combining JumpCloud’s open directory, identity management, access management, and device management into a single tool gives you a single pane of glass dashboard to oversee all IT operations, laying the foundation for greater efficiency through automation and security through auto-enforced policies and real-time alerts.
Get started with a free trial today to see how much a unified environment could benefit your organization.