Cinnober’s Servers Map is an overview on the company’s IT infrastructure in a physical form. It supports the technicians team by displaying the servers status and merging features with the digital world.

It was developed in Cinnober’s Makeathon Challenge, hosted in January 2016 at Umeå Sliperiet.

The project took 2 weeks, from briefing to prototyping. The group (me, Nicole Waniowska, Keyur Jain and Alfred Ödling) was awarded with the first position in the challenge.

DETAILS

A physical map with blocks for each server, spread in areas that resemble the physical world where they are located (different cities or different centers) to better understand which parts need attention. The server’s block pops out when there is maintenance needed or when it goes down, while lights indicate the data flow between machines.

CHALLENGE

Develop an overview of a complex system – the server infrastructure – displaying system health and indicate what to do with the information.

GROUP ACTIVITIES

  • Research
  • Ideation
  • Prototyping

Nearly all activities were performed by all members of the group.

OVERVIEW

Cinnober is a swedish company that provides clearing technology for different trade and clearing venues worldwide. Even though our group had to first understand how clearing technology works, here we will focus on what is needed to understand and tackle the problem described in the brief:

How to provide a simple overview of a complex system like Cinnober’s IT infrastructure?

IT Infrastructure

The company has servers in different cities. For this case, we considered the ones located in Stockholm, Sweden, that are distributed along the city. Getting to know specifically which server has issue is important for quick actions in a critical business like trading.

Although the machines are well-equipped, data load also has an impact on the system’s performance. It may not break down a machine, but can slow down the traffic and cause problems later.

Ideation and Prototyping

For idea generation, an adaptation of the 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique was performed, where we brought ideas from market research and built concepts on other members ideas. The final discussion touched the MIT Tangitable and geographic maps.

Insights from stakeholders

To better understand the complexity and validate our concept, we tested the idea with stakeholders and collected feedback on how to it to the real world. Both Umeå’s office CTO and a developer were heard and provided insights.

Quick and dirty prototyping: laser cut cardboard and MDF

The next iterations involved prototypes made quickly with the help of a laser cutter. We had decided that each server would be a block and that they would be connected, but not exactly how.

From here, we started using neopixels (WS2812) to connect the path between servers and use lights to indicate the system flow.

Communicating in both physical and digital worlds

The overview is useful for knowing when and where to act to keep the system’s health. The next step is to act and communicate that you, as technician, is on charge of an issue.

Thinking about this aspect, we used the workers’ badges to connect with the blocks through magnetics tags. Once a worker sticks a tag that represents a server to his badge, he is updating the system letting the team know he’s in charge of that problem.

Final result

Interesting?

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