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Single pane of glass is a term used to describe a management display console that integrates all parts of a computer infrastructure. The concept has been called a myth by some because of the difficulty of actually creating a single tool that can do everything. Network management systems have included attempts to employ the model, and a similar effort is under way for virtualization and cloud environments.
Single pane of glass is also known as single-pane view.
Computer infrastructures can be huge. Managing those networks can be a daunting challenge. Telecommunications carriers, for instance, have to account for many thousands of network devices across vast networks. Central supervision of these managed objects is done in network operations centers, which may be adorned with large graphical displays. But despite the best efforts of operations support systems personnel, technicians may still find themselves opening many windows or applications on their workstations to access parts of the network or to find necessary information.
The theoretical single pane of glass makes it possible for IT professionals to access everything in one place. One tool rules them all, and the user can do all necessary work using one graphical user interface. The unified display on a single monitor or device screen provides all the metrics and status information required to effectively manage the network infrastructure. Just as a financial television network might fill a screen with lots of business information, the single pane of glass might include key performance information from multiple sources. It also could allow the engineer to drill down into infrastructure components for further investigation.
The model is being applied to the developing world of virtualization and cloud computing. The convergence of servers or network appliances into virtual machines within a small number of hardware devices is changing the way infrastructures are designed. Entire IT departments are moving to the cloud. A single pane of glass would provide a comprehensive view of the entirety of this new technological environment.