As described in this blog post, SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager v7.2 has reached Beta status. In the meantime, we have been working on further enhancements and improvements. One of the features we focused on is the possibility to attach end-of-life information to nodes managed by NCM. This blog post decribes the new version of this feature, available in NCM v7.2 Beta 2. To participate in the Beta program, simply fill out this survey and you will be sent the download links for the Beta. (If you already subscribed, you don't have to do it again.) Remember, Betas cannot be installed in production and you cannot upgrade the Beta to any other future versions.

 

NCM EOL Summary Page

 

Why Do I Need to Know the EoL Status of My Devices?

As described in SolarWinds EOL Lookup: Which of My Devices Will Become End-of-Life?, this is important for planning purposes; both budgetary and operational. Your organization may also be a subject of policies that require running up-to-date equipment. Please take a look at the referred post for more details.

 

As you can see in the picture above, the End-of-Life management screen is accessible directly from the NCM menu bar. The main grid provides an overview of various device attributes that help the user assign the End-of-Sales and End-of-Support dates (together called End-of-Life dates). By default, the nodes are grouped by matching type.

 

Assigning EoL Items to Devices

Matching the EoL information to devices is not an easy task. To address it, we have developed this End-of-Life feature that works in the following way: When user wants to assign EoL information to a device, NCM will search its EoL database and suggest a few possibilities to choose from (ordered by a rank). The user will then choose the best match himself. To make the choice easier, NCM will supply additional information such as node details, custom properties, link to vendor's EoL website (if available) etc. If there is no suitable EoL item, the user can enter his/her own dates. Another option is to mark the device as ignored by the End-of-Life feature. (Applicable e.g. to some special devices.)

 

Each night, NCM will process its EoL database and try to find the suggestions for devices with no EoL information assigned. (This can also be triggered on demand.) The EoL information for a particular device can be in one of the following states (called matching type):

  • Suggested Dates Found -- NCM found suggestions for EoL information and expects the user to choose one of them.
  • Suggested Dates Assigned -- User already assigned one of the suggested EoL items to this node.
  • Custom Dates Assigned -- User entered his own EoL dates.
  • No Suggestions -- NCM has not found any EoL candidates for that device.
  • Ignored -- For some reason, user does not want to manage EoL info for this device.

 

Show me the Workflow!

Typical workflow will look as follows:

  1. Go to the End-of-Life management screen (see the picture above) to check if there are any devices with suggested dates found.
  2. Select one or more nodes and click "Assign Dates".

    NCM EOL Summary

  3. On the Assign page, you can select one of the suggestions or enter your own EoL dates.

    NCM-EOL-Assign.png

  4. You can also easily select more nodes that will be assigned the same EoL dates. By default, devices of the same type (same SysOID) will be pre-selected.

    NCM EOL Add More Nodes

  5. You may enter a comment explaining your choice or any other information you want to attach.
  6. Click Assign.
  7. The devices you just processed can be found in the "Suggested Dates Assigned" category.

    NCM EOL Summary

You can take the same steps for devices with no suggestions, too. There will just be no options to choose from.

 

NCM stores the assigned EoL dates in the database, so that they are not overwritten when NCM generates suggestion next time. However, the user has the option to delete the EoL dates manually.

 

How Do I Create a Report?

You have the possibility to create the report by adjusting the information shown in the main grid and exporting the result in Excel or CSV format. Let's explore the flexibility that you have:

  • You can change the grouping. (Default is matching type.)

    NCM EOL Group By

  • You can add or remove columns.

    NCM-EOL-Add-Columns.png
  • You can filter the information. The EoL dates have a few predefined filters to make the reporting easier.

    NCM-EOL-Filter.png

Last but not least, we have a new resource that can be placed e.g. on the summary page:

 

NCM EOL Resource