The Coho DataStream
Modernizing data management

The management of enterprise-level data storage is a highly technical, granular and multi-layered service. And yet Coho Data wanted their web app to be simple, smart, and intuitive. Challenge... noted.
Web app, tablet app

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Coho Data
UI art direction + design (research, visual concept, style guides, layout, typography, iconography, interaction + animation samples) 

Andrew Warfield (Coho CTO) // Michael Welsman-Dinelle, Alex Bradley (developers)

Coho say what?
The product

From 2011-2017, Coho Data provided “big data” enterprise storage solutions. Its mission: bring the efficiency and flexibility of the public cloud (think Dropbox) into the big leagues of on-premise data centres (IBM, EMC), where performance and control are crucial.

Coho sought to eliminate much of the technical / hardware know-how that customers had traditionally needed, and in turn provide:

  • the invisibility of cloud-based services, where provisioning, management and optimization are largely handled for the user, behind-the-scenes
  • simple plug-and-play deployment
  • easy modular scale-out — buy what you need when you need it — rather than risky forecasting and big upfront investments in hardware

Swimming upstream
My role

My challenge was to design the software UI for a highly technical service, yet have it reflect Coho’s user experience promises: simplicity, intuition, and a degree of “don’t worry; we’ve got this.”  

But not so fast. The web app also needed to provide access to a granular behind-the-scenes level, for those times when, say, a distant hiccup in a single virtual machine was wreaking havoc on disk performance.

In a nutshell, show ease of use with power under the hood.

As such, each design sprint required a new round of education on my part — can read requests go to both flash and disk drives? what type of switch has a QSFP+ port? — so I could design for the user’s needs, expectations and ignorances.

How you doin'?
The Dashboard

The Dashboard summarizes how the storage is performing at a high level, right now, and ideally communicates: “hands off, don’t worry about the small stuff, but do keep an eye on this.” On a good day, this is as deep as the user should need to go.

Video — various states of the Dashboard’s status area

Colour coding and large graphics communicate clearly. Any major problems are made obvious immediately, and users can focus in on the root cause (e.g. the virtual machines responsible) quickly.

Video — data reduction drill-down

As an example of a drill-down feature, a later iteration of the Dashboard allowed customers to break down the tiers of their data reduction performance.