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60 Posts authored by: bshopp

VMWare monitoring for all

Posted by bshopp May 25, 2010

Since GA a couple weeks ago on NPM 10.0, there have been a few threads on thwack asking various questions about VMWare support, so I wanted to review the features and talk about those questions.

Question: So what exactly is different from our support from 9.5 vs. 10.0?   
Answer: We are not pulling any new data that we did not pull in 9.5.  What has changed is the methods in which we gather this data.  Instead of just relying only on SNMP, we are now also leveraging the VMWare API to gather some data.  See the below matrix for what we gather and how we gather it across the different versions and editions of VMWare.

In 9.5 we only supported ESX 3.5 formally.  Now that we are going through the API for some data we also now support vSphere 4 and can gather some information from ESXi.





Discover as ESX





Poll Volumes





Poll Interfaces




Partial SNMP (missing traffic)

Poll CPU





Poll Memory





Total Memory/CPU and Network Traffic Utilization





Guest VM List





Question: How do I setup SNMP across the various editions?   
Answer: Take a look at the doc we created configuration_of_SNMP_on_vmware_esx_3.5_and_4.0.pdf.  This walks you through with screenshots on how to set this up.

Question: How do I setup API Access on the various editions and what level of permissions does this user need?   
Answer: Take a look at the doc we created how_to_create_credentials_for_vmware_api_on_vmware_esx_3.5_and_4.0.pdf.  This walks you through with screenshots on how to set this up.  As for the user permission required for the API account, you only need RO access.

Question: Are you going through my vSphere server to gather this data through the API?   
Answer: No, we are not currently going directly through vSphere.  We are going to each ESX server individually.

Question: How do I troubleshoot if I can connect via the API?   
Answer: See if you can open a browser and connect to the IP Address of the ESX box and login with the account you are using in Orion.

Question: So I don’t want to setup SNMP on my ESX servers, do I need to have both SNMP and API for this to work?   
Answer: No, you don’t need to use both, just be aware based on the above chart you will only get certain info if you choose to only monitor via SNMP or API and not both.

Question: So I don’t have SNMP currently setup on my ESX servers, can you figure out which ones are ESX boxes?   
Answer: Yes, if you setup a discovery profile in Network Sonar you can choose to Poll for ESX.  We will the analyze the discovery results to determine which IP’s we discovered which support the VMWare API (see the first screenshot below).  Even if you don’t have the credentials we will notify you that we found some ESX servers (see the second screenshot below).



Question: So what happens if I vMotion a guest from one ESX to another, do I need to go into Orion and update it manually?   
Answer: No, during the next polling cycle we will automatically detect this and make the appropriate changes within Orion to continue to monitor it as long as the two ESX servers are managed in Orion.  If only one is, you will just see it disappear and no longer being monitored.

That pretty much covers what I wanted to talk about today.  I would recommend also checking out these posts Denny and Chris did previously about other things you can do with VMWare and Orion Look Mom, I’m Virtual! and A Series of Unfortunate Events: Using Orion’s Syslog Server to Monitor VMware Events

I always like to end with some sweet screenshots, so check out below which I took from our online demo here



Sometimes it’s just the little things that get me excited about a new release.  Orion NPM 10.0 is loaded full of great new features, but one little gem which you may not notice right away makes us happy.  I have already had a few users find this and either post on Great ATLAS Icons - finally.... or email about how awesome this was.


Many of you who have been with SolarWinds for some time know the old icons in Map Maker and Network Atlas and let’s just say there was room for improvement. :)


With 10.0, we overhauled the icons and you can now find tons of great networking icons to use in your network maps, see below




So in the past you had to create custom icons and import then.  You can still do this with 10, we have just hopefully made that something you need to do less frequently now.  You can now go into the image library and select from over 100 different network-related icons to use.




A special thank you to Cisco for creating and posting these icons for use.


This is post #2 of our Orion NPM 10.0 Sneak Peak series, consider the following scenario - every Saturday at 2am we have a policy to reboot xyz devices.


Today, a user would have to go in weekly and setup a unmanage task within web node management in the web console.  With 10.0, this will become much easier as you will be able to define recurring unmanage schedules or recurring maintenance windows. For folks unfamiliar with the concept of “unmanage” (a very Orion specific term), this in essence allow you to define a time period when a node, interface or application will be down and you do not want to receive alerts on or have it show as down in the UI.


When you install or upgrade to 10.0, you will need to go to the additional components of the SolarWinds Customer Support portal where you can download this utility or if you are on the NPM 10.0 Release Candidate and want to check this out, send me a private message via thwack.  Once downloaded, unzip it into your SolarWinds/Orion folder on the Orion server as shown in the screenshot below.




Once extracted, open the Unmanage Editor.exe and you will be presented with a welcome and instruction screen as seen below.




Click on create a new task and select the nodes, interfaces and applications you wish to add.




Click add and select the duration or time period you want these item to be unmanaged for and select ok.




Now once you save the task you will receive a popup dialog indicating it has been saved and copied to the clipboard for use in an upcoming step.
















So what does this produce on the backend when I saved it?  Since we are leveraging Windows Task Scheduler to handle the scheduling, this creates a .cmd file which has the appropriate switches and parameters Windows Task Scheduler needs to execute this.




You can either manually navigate to the Windows Task Scheduler or click on the Open Windows Task Scheduler within the Unmanage Utility and click on Add Scheduled Task.  As you walk through the wizard, when you get to the step to select the program to run, navigate to the /Orion/UnmanageUtility/Tasks folder and select the .cmd file you created for this job.




These next dialogs walk you through setting up the start time, date and frequency and which account to run this under.  This is a Windows account, not a SolarWinds account.






And that’s it.  If you want to edit an existing job, you can go into the new unmanage interface and select edit and choose the job you wish to edit and then save it.  If you want to change the frequency or disable the job you can do this with the Windows Task Scheduler interface.


Google maps anyone?

Posted by bshopp Mar 25, 2010

So once again, the community is at it again.  Dal wrote a pretty sweet little integration which allows you to display your nodes on a Google Map.


You will need to download the zip file from the thwack community exchange Google Maps for Orion NPM.  I recommend to either do this directly on your Orion server or you will have to copy it over manually if you cannot do that.


Once you have done this, next extract it to the inetpub/SolarWinds directory




There are 3 files here that are used:

  • makexml.aspx -> used to get data from the Solarwinds Database and makes a xml file.
  • data.xml -> the xml file made by makexml.aspx
  • displayxml.aspx -> the javascript that actually displays the data from data.xml.

Next, using the Orion Custom Property Editor, you will need to create 7 new node custom properties (Start –> All Programs –> SolarWinds Orion –> Grouping and Access Control –> Custom Property Editor)

  • ConnectionType: To tell what equipment has been used to make the connection between the points (Icons), Modem, fiber, etc.
  • Enhetstype: What kind of equipment is this: L3-switch, Router, Radio, etc (not used for Google Maps yet)
  • Latitude: No explanation needed
  • Longitude: No explanation needed        
  • Mapname: The cryptic link name Orion makes for maps made in Network Atlas. Needs to be pulled manually from the MapStudioFiles.
  • Polyline: The encoded polyline, between two or more points. Made with http://code.google.com/intl/nb/apis/maps/documentation/polylineutility.html
  • Stedsnavn: (Sitename in English?) The name of the place you want to put on the map. Used to group together nodes at the same location (Site).

If you want to test his implementation, you can use the files he put in the zip and go to - http://your-server-ip/GMaps/displayxml.aspx


However, if you want to do this for your implementation, here is what you need to do:

  1. Populate the above custom properties against the nodes you want to map
  3. Obtain your own Google key, it can be done easily from here: http://code.google.com/intl/nb/apis/maps/signup.html
  5. Edit makexml.aspx database connection section with your SolarWinds Orion database information     
  7. Delete the existing data.xml from the directory
  9. Open your browser of choice and copy in the following URL - http://<yourServerIP>/GMaps/makexml.aspx.  If you have done everything right to this point, you will get something like this in return on the web page and this will create your own copy of a data.xml file     
    *Note – the first time I tried this I kept getting a permissions error and had to go in and modify the permission on the directory and turn off read-only on the files
  11. Now the Google Maps API key, you got in step 2 above, you will need to copy that into the displayxml.aspx file here     
  13. Also, within this same file, you will want to change the default map location and zoom level, which can be accomplished by changing this line     

    gmap.setCenter(new GLatLng(62.484415, 6.342545), 11);         
    The number 11 is the zoom level.


So now we are at a pivot point.  If you wanted to create an external link within Orion that shows up on your main toolbar, you can stop now and just copy the URL /GMaps/displayxml.aspx">/GMaps/displayxml.aspx">http://<yourServerIP>/GMaps/displayxml.aspx


If you want to have this show up and work on your Network Summary Home page as a Custom HTML resource, you have a couple more steps to complete


Within the displayxml.aspx file you have a couple more locations to update and put a ../GMaps in front of them.  Easiest way is to do a find in notepad

  • search for data.xml and add ../GMaps in front of it - mine looks like request.open('GET', '../GMaps/data.xml', true);
  • search for  mm_20_green.png iconGreen.image = '../GMaps/Icons/mm_20_green.png';     
    12 locations

Now, go to the Network Summary Home page and click customize in the upper right hand corner and click the plus sign to add, under Miscellaneous, add a custom HTML resource, click submit.  This will return you back to the Network Summary Home page and for that resource click edit and enter the entire context of the displayxml.aspx file into here and click submit a voila, Google Maps on your Network Summary Home page.


One extra item of note, you will need to run the makexml file manually on a periodic basis to pick up changes to Orion database or figure out a way to schedule this.



  Here is what mine looks like now as an example: 





Here is what the author, Dal’s, map looks like:



So for you other community members out there, this work has earned Dal a SolarWinds t-shirt, which I will be sending to him.  If you have done something cool with Orion or written some customizations, let us know and we may send you a shirt too.


I ran across another cool post that a member of the thwack community put together that I wanted to share with everyone.  lasher put together some new resources for Orion NPM v9.5.1 which allow you to create double and triple gauges within a resource for Universal Device Pollers.  If you wanted to accomplish this today, you would need to use a custom html resource, so this makes life much quicker and easier.





So I can hear you saying, ok you had me at double and triple gauges, how do I get this?


First, you can download this resource Double Triple Poller Guage for v9.5.1


To install:

  • Copy CustomOIDEditGaugeDoubleTriple.aspx and CustomOIDEditGaugeDoubleTriple.aspx.cs to InetPub\SolarWinds\Orion\NetPerfMon\Resources folder.
  • Copy CustomPollerRadialGaugeDoubleTriple.ascx and CustomPollerRadialGaugeDoubleTriple.ascx.cs to InetPub\SolarWinds\Orion\NetPerfMon\Resources\NodeGauges folder.
  • Copy CustomOIDEditLinearGaugeDoubleTriple.aspx and CustomOIDEditLinearGaugeDoubleTriple.aspx.cs to InetPub\SolarWinds\Orion\NetPerfMon\Resources folder.
  • Copy CustomPollerLinearGaugeDoubleTriple.ascx and CustomPollerLinearGaugeDoubleTriple.ascx.cs to InetPub\SolarWinds\Orion\NetPerfMon\Resources\NodeGauges folder.





As lasher states, there are 4 known issues with it. 

  • Auto-Scale not working and has been disabled.
  • Auto-Hide Resource not working correctly and has been disabled.
  • Must set Warning & Error Threshold or Gauges will display red.
  • Gauge labels do not set correctly when first added to page.  (Workaround is to edit the gauge and click submit.  Labels will show up correctly after that.)

As much as I wish I could take credit for this, I can’t.  ljenkins figured this out and posted it to Twitter (Tweeting Alerts) a few months back, which the inner geek in me thought was pretty dang cool, so I wanted to blog about it.


Orion can send you an email or page when a network event occurs, but what about using twitter as a medium to distribute your network alerts and events?  Obviously you would not want to expose this to the entire twitterverse (which according to urban dictionary is a real word), so you can set your privacy setting to only share tweets with those who you expressly give access to.  In twitter go to Settings and in here there is a checkbox to protect my tweets, see below.




Here are the step by step instructions to get this to work with Orion.




1. Log on to your Orion NPM server using an account with software installation privileges.     
2. Download and extract the version of the cURL utility that is appropriate for your Orion NPM server from the cURL website.      
Note: For the purposes of this procedure, the cURL package curl-7.19.5 is extracted to C:\cURL\.      
3. Click Start > All Programs > SolarWinds Orion > Alerting, Reporting, and Mapping > Advanced Alert Manager.      
4. Click Configure Alerts.      
5. If you want to use Twitter notification with a new alert, click New, and then create your new alert. For more information, see Creating and Managing Alerts in the SolarWinds Orion Network Performance Monitor Administrator Guide.      
6. If you want to add Twitter notification to an existing alert, click the alert with which you want to use Twitter, and then click Edit.      
7. Click the Trigger Actions tab.      
8. Click Add New Action.      
9. Click Execute an external program, and then click OK.      
10. On the Execute Program tab, click Browse (...) next to the Program to execute field.      
11. Locate and then select C:\cURL\curl.exe.      
12. Add the following parameters to the selected program path:      
-u username:password -d status="message"http://twitter.com/statuses/update.xml.      
Note: The following is an example of a complete path with parameters and alert text specified:      
C:\cURL\curl.exe -u UserName:Password -d status="ALERT! ${Caption} is ${Status}." http://twitter.com/statuses/update.xml.      
13. Click OK on the Edit Execute Program Action... window, and then click OK on the Edit Alert window.      
14. Click Done on the Manage Alerts window.


So I am sitting here in our European office trying to decide what to write on.  I was catching up on my thwack posts since I was in Barcelona last week for Cisco Live (aka Networkers) and have seen some discussions on thwack recently from some of you and I keep hearing about the Weather Map like we have on the online demo.   Hmmm seems like a great idea for a post!!


I am going to describe this setup using 9.5 and above. 


1. Using Network Atlas, create a new map and click on Linked Background in the top ribbon bar and you will receive a dialog to specify the URL to the weather map image you wish to use. 


2. Enter the url and click validate to ensure we can retrieve the image ok from the Orion server and once the validation is successful, click ok.  In this case below I specified Europe since this is where I am currently at, as you can see, it is freaking cold here.




3. Drag onto the map your nodes or other maps you want to have on this image and save the map.


4. You can edit your map resource on the Summary Home page to show this map.




Now your map on you Network Summary home page will always show the current weather based on when the page refreshed.


Last week, the Head Geek and I did a webinar on Orion NPM product training.  Once of the common things that kept coming up was questions regarding database maintenance.  What is it?  How do I know if it is working right?  How do I customize it?  So I figured what better place to expand on this topic than the Orion product blog.


First off, what is it?


The formal definition:    
Database maintenance performs a series of data summarizations that help you optimize the size of your Orion database. Data summarization consists of gathering all the collected network data for a defined period of time, calculating statistics from the data, and then discarding the data itself while retaining the statistics. In addition to data summarizations, it also cleans up data related to deleted items in the database, saving additional space.  Orion automatically runs database maintenance every night keep your database compact and performing well.


What does this mean?    
Within Orion there are tons of dials and knobs you can turn to tweak your installation of Orion including how long we keep data for before purging and how we summarize data.


For example, in the Admin section of the web console if you are on NPM 9.5 you can go to Polling Settings and under Database Setting you can find some of these items including when the scheduled nightly database maintenance job will run (default is 2:15am).


DB Maint


This brings up a question around what exactly does data summarization mean and how does it affect Orion? There are three retention options to discuss.

  • Detailed Statistics Retention    
    All statistics in the Orion database collected at any frequency shorter than 1/hour are summarized into hourly statistics after the period of time designated as the Detailed Statistics Retention period. By default, this period is 7 days.
  • Hourly Statistics Retention    
    All statistics in the Orion database that are recorded at any frequency shorter than 1/day but longer than 1/hour are summarized into daily statistics after the period of time designated as the Hourly Statistics Retention period. By default, this period is 30 days.
  • Daily Statistics Retention    
    All statistics in the Orion database older than the Daily Statistics Retention period are deleted. By default, this period is 365 days.

With the default settings, reports covering the last week will have detailed data. Reports covering the last month will have hourly data. You can run reports with daily data covering up to the last year. Beyond a year there is no data.


How do if I know if the job is running correctly each night?


On the Orion server if you navigate to the installed directory, mine is C:\Program Files\SolarWinds\Orion, you will find a set of files in there named swdebugMaintenance.log and 5 more with a .number extension on the end.  Open this up and you will see what the job did, how long it took to run and if there were any errors.  If you don’t see at the end that the  maintenance has completed, if there are any errors or if it is taking a very long time to complete, you may want to further investigate to see if something is wrong.


Since we released NPM 9.5 I have seen a couple posts on thwack and had multiple users ask me, “Those new hover over pop ups over nodes and interfaces are awesome, but….can I customize them?” The answer is yes you can, however, this is at a global level and there are only certain variables which can be added to the tooltips and they currently only apply to the hover over on maps. Here is what variables are available and how to apply them.


1. Log into the Orion Web Console


2. On the Home page select “Edit” on the Network Map Resource


3. At the bottom of the page click on “Customize Map Tooltips”


4. Enter the appropriate variables from the link above




5. Click submit and hover over your favorite node, interface or volume on a map and you should see that variable now available


Unpluggable Port Mode

Posted by bshopp Dec 16, 2009

One cool new feature we added in 9.5 that you may not know about yet was directly influenced by you, the community. Customers requested that they wanted to monitor specific ports, such as user ports, but when those users shut down at the end of the day and went home, they did not want to receive alerts that the node is now offline and down.


With NPM 9.5 you can now set a property on an interface in which if that port goes down, within Orion we will show it as unplugged and you will not receive alerts or a down icon in the UI.


1. In the Orion web console go to Admin -> Manage Nodes and select one of more interfaces and select “Edit Properties”




2. Check the first dialog “Display interface as unplugged rather than down” and submit


3. When an interface is down, it will now show as Unplugged within the UI and not trigger alerts and alarms




So when everyone goes home in the evening, do those VoIP phones need to be powered on?  Is anyone really using Wireless?  That is money just being tossed out the window and who isn’t fighting with budgets for more money these days.  So Cisco released earlier this year a new technology initiative focused around this problem of reducing power consumption and lowering your carbon footprint, you can read more about it here - http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps10195/index.html


We worked with Cisco with the launch of this new initiative and in our Orion NPM 9.5 and NCM 5.5 releases, introduced some functionality specifically around this.  I will focus here on NPM and not steal Chris, the NCM Product Managers, thunder of what he did in NCM for EnergyWise.  For NPM, we have introduced an EnergyWise-specific view into the product, which his not enabled by default.  To add this, go to the Admin page in the web console and select Customize Menu Bars, select the appropriate menu bar you want to edit and click edit.   You will need to drag over the EnergyWise view to your Select Items as seen in the second screenshot below and click submit.






OK, so I have added it now what do I do with it?  So we have a report which we ship with called an EnergyWise readiness report which looks at your nodes in NPM and tells you which hardware supports EnergyWise and if the OS version supports it or not.  This is a good starting point to help you plan for moving to EnergyWise.


So you have devices that support EnergyWise and you have upgraded them to the appropriate OS, now what?  So now we will begin polling EnergyWise statistics and showing them to you at a global, node and interface level view of Energy use.






If you drill down to the node details view, you can view power usage at the node level and look at each port and what its current power level is and the node level EnergyWise settings.  See above.


If you drill down to a specific port, you can see a weekly EnergyWise Recurrence Policy calendar amongst other things which shows you when the device connected to that port will change power levels based on the defined policies.






So I was on the phone with a customer of ours recently who has a mandate that all their devices must be managed via SNMPv3 by a specific date.  For most devices, this is not a problem.  However, for Windows, they currently do not support SNMPv3 for monitoring natively out of the box.  So what to do?


Well there is an open source application called net-snmp which you can install on your Windows boxes to allow you to monitor them via SNMPv3.


1. Download and install the latest version of net-snmp from here to your Windows boxes, currently happens to be v5.5


2. During the install, select “With Windows Extension dll Support”   


For those of you that have upgraded to Orion NPM 9.5, I am sure you have noticed one or two changes with what is now called Network Atlas (previously called Map Maker).  For those of you that use Microsoft Office 2007, I am sure the UI looks very familiar.  Overall, we have received terrific feedback, however, some users would like to get some additional UI real-estate back by removing the “ribbon” or top tool bar. I was on thwack the other day and saw this post from one of the Network Atlas Developers michalB here at SolarWinds and learned something new about Network Atlas myself.




I would like to point to a feature in NA that is a bit hidden and may help to those who do not like the Ribbon. The feature is called Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) and as the name states, it provides quick access to selected tools. You may add buttons and Ribbon groups to this toolbar.


The result may look like this:




or even more like a separate toolbar:




· To add a button to the QAT, right click on the button, and select "Add to Quick Access Toolbar".


· To add a Ribbon group to the QAT (like in the first picture), right-click on the group's caption and select "Add to Quick Access Toolbar". Buttons and groups can be removed the similar way.


· To hide the ribbon, right-click on the empty space reserved for the Ribbon tabs (right of the "Help" ribbon tab) and select "Minimize the Ribbon". You can also choose whether to show the QAT below or above the Ribbon.


Please note that the customized layout may not persist after you upgrade.

So Cisco today announced availability of the Cisco ISR next generation, you can read more about it here or here.


Coming up to this release, we have been working with Cisco to ensure interoperability with the Orion family of products and that it works out of the box, which it does with the latest shipping versions of Orion products.


However, my main reason for this post is one of the cool new features with the new ISR.  With the ISR G2, you only need to install a single image file and then you get licenses from Cisco to evaluate or enable after purchase on the box.  For those of us that have been around for awhile, this is pretty cool since you don’t have to download a new IOS image and schedule an upgrade, you just need to install the new license.


Based on this change, we worked to put together an add on package to help you see what you have licensed and installed on the ISR G2 in your Orion node details page.  This add on package for Orion NPM can be found Cisco ISR G2 Licensing on the thwack content exchange.  Included in there are three things:


1. Node Details resources to give you visibility into the various licenses on the ISR box and their current status, see screenshot below.


2. Report template to allow you to schedule and deliver this data to others


3. Alert to let you know when your license will be expiring soon so you can plan for it


Additionally, for installing and configuration of licensing, Cisco License Manager (CLM) can be used.


For more information about Cisco License Manager, please visit: http://www.cisco.com/go/clm.






Why is the web console slow?

Posted by bshopp Oct 6, 2009

I see on thwack here and there users posting regarding their web console and it sometimes being slow and what could be causing that.  Usually I tell them to open a support ticket since it is hard to diagnose via a forum, however, I wanted to try and compile what our Support Techs typically ask when you do open a case with Support.  I have compiled this list of potential items to look at below.


· Do you have Microsoft SQL Server running on the same box as Orion?  If so, you may want to look to moving it off box if you are monitoring quite a few things.  SQL is typically a memory hog.


· Check the average write disk queue length on the disks that the Orion database is writing to.


· Make sure no other corporate back-up programs might be running during the time the slowness is happening.


· Do you have a shared Microsoft SQL Server with multiple database instances that the Orion database is on?  What are those other database doing?  Are they starving the Orion database?


· How much memory is the Microsoft SQL Server allowed to use?  The more the better, especially as you add additional modules on top on Orion NPM, but on average 3 GB is a good starting point.


· How many users are using the website when the slowness is happening?  Do you potentially need to look at adding an additional web server?


· How many resources do you have on the page that is experiencing the slowness?  If a lot, if you reduce it, does the page perform better.


· Do you have real-time anti-virus running on the Orion server?  If so, you may want to look to exclude the inetpub directory and also if possible the SolarWinds directory.


· On the Orion server do you currently have NPM and other Orion Modules?  If so, make sure the specs on your box are up to snuff to handle them.


· Make sure you are on the latest version and if you cannot upgrade, at least the latest service pack for Orion


· Are you sending a lot of Syslog Messages and SNMP Traps to the Orion Server, on the order of tens of thousands?


· How many elements are you monitoring with Orion?  If you are running upwards of 8,000 elements with out of the box default polling setting, it might be time to get another poller


If you do try these and it is no better, by all means, please open a support ticket, but when you do, be sure to submit Orion diagnostics with the ticket as that will be one of the first things they ask from you.

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