Hierarchizing your infrastructure (classic)

To manage the complexity of a big company or organization, you usually divide it into a set of hierarchical levels. You can build hierarchies according to different criteria. For instance, if a company is spread throughout several countries, it is possible to group parts of the organization according to their geographical location. You can then arrange the locations in a hierarchy of cities, regions, countries, and even continents. Another possibility is to divide the company into functional departments such as Research and Development, Human Resources, and others, and then divide each department into units, units into subunits, and so forth until you are satisfied with the grouping. Several hierarchies may be built for the same company and coexist within it at the same time.

Nexthink hierarchies let you arrange the devices connected to your IT infrastructure in a way that reflects the structure of your company with the advantage of getting results from Nexthink that directly map into the existing structure. For instance, you can quickly detect if a problem impacted every device in your company or just the computers in the department of Human Resources. Nexthink Experience offers to break down results from investigations, dashboard widgets and IT services according to the defined hierarchies. In addition, use hierarchies to delimit the scope of visibility for users (view domains) and administration rights over parts of the company (administration domains).

Example of a hierarchy built with mixed functional and location criteria.

Specifying entities

To organize your set of devices into a hierarchy, the system groups them by entities. They are logical groups of devices creating the first level of all hierarchies. Each device belongs to only one entity, whose name is displayed in the special device field Entity. This classification is automatically created based on the rule-based Collector assignment.

Creating a hierarchy

Once you have specified the entities that form the base of the hierarchies, you can start building your own hierarchies by adding new levels on top of the entities.

To create a new hierarchy:

  1. Select Administration from the main menu.

  2. Click on Hierarchies in the navigation panel.

  3. Click the plus sign icon displayed in the upper-right of the panel. The dialog box to add a new hierarchy will appear.

  4. Type in a name for the new hierarchy in the Name field.

  5. Add levels to your hierarchy. See the next section for details.

  6. In the choice group Base hierarchy on, choose between all Engines to create a global hierarchy or selected Engines to create a hierarchy that applies to a set of Engines. Note that if you create a hierarchy that applies to a set of selected Engines, you can later promote it to a global hierarchy. On the other hand, if you create a global hierarchy, it is impossible to downgrade it to a hierarchy based on a group of selected Engines.

    • If you decided to create the hierarchy for a group of selected Engines, select your Engines as follows:

      1. Click the Add button below the table of Engines. A small dialog box with a list of Engines will appear.

      2. Pick an Engine from the list and click Ok. Repeat the previous steps until you have selected all the Engines that you wish. The selected Engines will now be displayed in the table.

  7. Click Ok to finish the creation of the hierarchy.

Adding hierarchy levels

The levels of the hierarchy indicate the depth of the tree that graphically represents the hierarchy. In the example figure of the hierarchy above, there are three levels defined:

  1. Entity level: The lowest level in the hierarchy. It is composed of the names of entities. Each name represents the set of devices assigned to the entity according to the rules in the CSV file.

  2. Region level: Groups entities into different regions named after the four cardinal directions (north, south, east and west).

  3. Department level: Divides the company into several departments that are located in one or several regions.

The Entity level is mandatory for all hierarchies. When you create a new hierarchy, you add levels on top of the Entity level. The root node of the hierarchy is always at the central administration level, which is never defined explicitly.

To add levels to a hierarchy from the dialog box to create a new hierarchy:

  1. Click the Add button below the table of levels. A small dialog box to edit the will appear.

  2. Enter the name of the level.

  3. Click Ok to add the level to the table.

  4. Repeat the previous steps to create as many levels as you need.

  5. Optional: Move the created levels up or down in the table by clicking the arrows that appear in the next column, to the right of the name of the level. Note that the Entity level is always the lowest level and that you cannot move it inside the table.

There is a special level that you can use directly above the Entity level called the Engine level. This level makes the first grouping of entities per Engine. To create the Engine level, click on the Nexthink Logo and plus sign icon to the right of the Entity level in the table of levels within the dialog box used to create hierarchies. The Engine level is automatically filled in by the system, which detects the entities (keywords) that are present in each Engine. For that reason, keywords must not be repeated in different Engines. At the end of the process, a new node is created at the Engine level for each Engine found in your system. Similarly to the Entity level, this level cannot be moved upwards or downwards inside the hierarchy.

To manually create the nodes for the other non-special levels, read the following section.

Building the hierarchy tree by editing the entities

Once you have finished creating a hierarchy and its levels, you need to specify nodes for every level. Nodes in one level are used to group the elements of the level below to form the hierarchy. You add nodes to a level by editing the entities of the hierarchy.

To add nodes to the levels of a hierarchy:

  1. In the Hierarchies panel, select the entities that you want to group from the Entity table. Click the row that represents an entity in the table while holding the Ctrl or Shift keys down to select multiple entities.

  2. Click the button Edit selected entities below the Entity table. A dialog box will appear with a set of text fields where each field holds the name of the node to which the set of selected entities belong. Since this is the first time that you will be editing the entities, the text fields are displayed empty.

  3. Type in node names for every level displayed in the dialog box.

  4. Click Ok to group the selected entities below the specified nodes in the hierarchy.

  5. Click the floppy disk icon in the upper-right of the Hierarchies panel to save your work on hierarchies.

Editing a hierarchy

To edit a hierarchy, click on the pencil icon in the upper-right of the Hierarchies panel. The dialog box and options for editing the hierarchy are identical to those used when you created the hierarchy.

When you edit the entities of an existing hierarchy, they may already belong to some of the nodes in the hierarchy. You can see the names of the nodes in the columns of the different levels in the Entity table. After selecting a group of entities and clicking the button Edit selected entities, you will find the names of the nodes in the dialog box that displays the levels of the hierarchy for the selected entities:

  • If the selected entities belong to only one node at a particular level, the text field for that level displays the name of the node.

  • If the selected entities belong to different nodes at a particular level, the text field for that level displays the value [multiple].

When editing entities,, you can add or remove branches from your hierarchy tree or modify it in any other way you choose. Below are two examples:

Example of creating a branch

Be careful when editing a hierarchy that has already been used for aggregating results or for defining user domains. After editing an existing hierarchy, a dialog box called Impact of changes displays all the elements in the Nexthink web interface that had their associated domains invalidated because of the changes in the hierarchy. Click Continue to carry on with the changes anyway. Alternatively, click Cancel to revert the changes or to re-edit the hierarchy to reduce the impact.

If you edit a hierarchy, do not forget to save your changes by clicking the floppy disk icon in the upper-right of the Hierarchies panel.

Cleaning up the hierarchy

Eventually, a hierarchy may be based on entities that are no longer used. This can occur when:

  • The CSV file that defines the entities had some rules removed.

  • All the devices assigned to a particular entity were removed from an Engine.

  • An Engine became temporarily or definitively unreachable.

The entities that are no longer in use are not automatically removed from the system. Instead, they are represented in the Entity table with an exclamation mark ! at the beginning of the row. This indicates that the entity was not present in any Engine. You can redefine the entities and add the corresponding keywords to enable these entities again, or you can remove them if you no longer need them. To erase the unused entities:

  1. Click the broom icon in the upper-right of the Hierarchies panel. A checklist of the unused entities will appear.

  2. Check the box of every entity that you want to delete.

  3. Click the button Delete selected entities.

Note that if an entity is removed and then is detected in an Engine, it will appear again in the Entity table, though without any values for the nodes up in the hierarchy.

Viewing hierarchies

If you have created multiple hierarchies, the Hierarchies panel lets you select the hierarchy that you want to view. Choose the desired hierarchy from the list, labeled Hierarchy, which can be found in the top heading of the widget.

To see a graphical representation of your hierarchy, click the View current hierarchy button. The Nexthink web interface opens a new window that displays the nodes of the hierarchy as rounded boxes with their names inside organized in a tree-like structure that shows the defined levels. Depending on your browser and your security settings, you may need to enable the pop-ups for the Nexthink web interface to open the new window.

Otherwise, once you select a hierarchy, you see the levels of the hierarchy with the list of nodes for each level in the upper part of the panel. In the lower part, you see the Entity table, with the names of the entities and the nodes that they belong to. The entities shown in the entity table are filtered by the nodes that you select in the list of nodes of the hierarchy levels. To view all the entities, select the special keyword All from the list of nodes of every level. The keyword All means that you want to see the entities of all the nodes at that level.

Additionally, you can select the Overview mode. In this mode, you just see a big Entity table where the columns include the levels of all the hierarchies at the same time. This mode lets you quickly view all the nodes to which an entity belongs in any of the defined hierarchies.

Renaming levels and nodes

When viewing a particular hierarchy in the Hierarchies panel, note that there is clickable text to the right of every level labeled (rename). This text also appears to the right of the Entity level in the Entity table. Renaming a level as described below has no impact on the computed metrics, it only changes the displayed names when navigating the hierarchy levels in the dashboards.

To rename a level in your hierarchy:

  1. Click the (rename) word to the right of the level. A small dialog box to edit the name of the level will appear.

  2. Type the new name for the level. The new name must not conflict with the name of any other level in the hierarchy.

  3. Click Ok to actually rename the level.

Below the list of nodes of every level, you will also find a piece of clickable text labeled rename node (except for the nodes of an Engine level, because these have the names of the Engines and you are not allowed to change them). Be aware that renaming a node is equivalent to replacing the existing node by a new one, so all the results of the metrics grouped by the renamed node and its descendants are cleared.

To change the name of a node:

  1. Select the name of the node inside the list of the level.

  2. Click rename node. A small dialog box to edit the name of the node will appear

  3. Type the new name for the node. The new name must not conflict with the name of any other node in the same level.

  4. Click Ok to actually rename the node. Only the nodes that are part of the filter to view the hierarchy are renamed (see the previous section).

Remember that:

  • Renaming nodes clear the results of metrics grouped by hierarchies.

  • Renaming levels does not modify any result.

Exporting and importing hierarchies

To back up and restore a hierarchy, you can export it to a CSV file or import it from a CSV file from the Hierarchies panel.

To export a hierarchy to a CSV file:

  1. Select the hierarchy that you want to export in the list of hierarchies of the widget (the list at the top labeled Hierarchy).

  2. Click the icon with the arrow down and the initials CSV in the upper-right of the widget to download the hierarchy as a CSV file.

  3. Follow the instructions of your web browser to save the CSV file in the local filesystem.

To import a hierarchy from a CSV file:

  1. Click the icon with the plus sign and the initials CSV in the upper-right of the widget. The dialog box to import the hierarchy will appear.

  2. Click on the Browse button to select the CSV file to import from your local filesystem. A preview of the CSV to import is displayed according to your import options.

  3. For the other options in the dialog box, select the semicolon as the separator character, UTF-8 as text encoding and the double quotes as text identifier if your file was generated by the Nexthink web interface. Otherwise, use your own custom settings.

  4. Click Ok to import the hierarchy.

Deleting a hierarchy

Deleting a hierarchy has a direct impact on all objects that depend on that hierarchy. Be sure to know what you are doing before deleting an established hierarchy. The following may happen when you remove a hierarchy from the system. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Administrators whose administration domain is based on the hierarchy are not able to log in to the Nexthink web interface.

  • Objects in a view domain based on the hierarchy are visible to central administrators only.

  • User accounts with a view domain based on the hierarchy see nothing because they no longer have access rights.

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