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When I talked to you - IPAM users, I've heard many times that one of the typical tasks of IP address management is obtaining available IP address(es) for selected subnet. This is tricky if you use spreadsheets and share it with more people (you never know if the doc is in sync and if you won't create IP address conflict).

 

You also voted for similar feature - IP Request Form on Twhack. Where one of the scenarios is ask & approve assignment of first available address in subnet.

 

In this post, I'd like to unveil an IPAM API method that can give you one or more Available IP Address in a subnet.

 

What we need in order to accomplish this trick:

 

  1. IPAM 4.0 (could be an Eval)
  2. Latest version of Orion SDK installed on the IPAM server.
  3. Access to Windows PowerShell (could be applied on Python, Perl or VBScript as well)
  4. User and Password into IPAM
  5. Ten minutes of your time :-)

 

Install and configure your IPAM

Simple start, install and configure your IPAM. It must contain at least one subnet with IP addresses and their statuses inside:

 

Install your Orion SDK

Orion SDK will provide API access to IPAM database via secure methods. I don't expect any single problem during install process (link for download). My recommendation is to install as local Administrator.

If you run into any problem, please speak up in this forum on Thwack.

 

Open your PowerShell window

And now the real fun begins. Run your PowerShell Window and make sure that Orion SDK was successfully registered:

Type this command: Get-PSSnapin | where {$_.Name -eq "SwisSnapin"}) and hit enter key.

The result should looks like this:

 

If you didn't get this, simple type following command (will add PowerShell snappin from SDK)

Add-PSSnapin "SwisSnapin"


Now you have to setup connection to your database/IPAM.

Type in following commands and change your $hostname to domain name or IP address of your IPAM, $username to the username you want to use for connection and $password to your password (like $password = "solarwinds"). If you are using Eval of IPAM and running the script from the same machine, keep it as it is below.


$hostname = "localhost"

$username = "admin"

$password = New-Object System.Security.SecureString  

$cred = New-Object -typename System.Management.Automation.PSCredential -argumentlist $username, $password

$swis = Connect-Swis -host $hostname -cred $cred

 

OK, so we set up the connection, and now we can call an API method and get information about available IP Address. You also need to know the name of the subnet from where you want to get free IP Address. In our example I'll use "DEV" name (see screenshot above). Type in the command below and hit enter key:

 

Get-SwisData $swis 'SELECT TOP 1 I.Status, I.DisplayName FROM IPAM.IPNode I WHERE Status=2 AND I.Subnet.DisplayName = ''DEV'''

 

Et voila:

 

As you may see we got first free available IP Address as 10.140.126.4 with status "2" (Available") which corresponds to my sample IPAM data:

OK so that's good, but I don't assume that you'll want to run such background script every time you want to get your first available IP Address. You can certainly save the whole script into a file and then run it just by simple click (feel free to download my example).

 

The result of the "Get-SwisData" is stored in DataSet - .NET object which you may use for further processing. For example, you can store the results to the file or you can call it from the web service or helpdesk system.

 

If you want to iterate via IP addresses in the result, you may use this powershell query (useful when getting more than 1 free IP address or you want to run the query for more subnets):


$addresses = Get-SwisData $swis 'SELECT TOP 1 I.Status, I.DisplayName FROM IPAM.IPNode I WHERE Status=2 AND I.Subnet.DisplayName = ''DEV'''


foreach($address in $addresses)

{

     write-host "Free IP Address is" $address.DisplayName

}

blogpost foreach.png

We can slightly modify SWQL query and populate subnet address and CIDR next to the available IP Address (by the way, this is the beauty of SWQL language, you don't have to use JOINs in many cases, simply use dot notation in order to list properties of related entity - in this case "Subnet"):

 

$addressesWithSubnets = SELECT R.Address as SubnetAddress, R.CIDR, R.FriendlyName, R.PercentUsed,

(SELECT TOP 1 I2.IpAddress FROM IPAM.IPNode as I2 WHERE I2.Status=2 AND I2.SubnetId = R.GroupID ) AS FreeIpAddress

FROM IPAM.GroupReport as R WHERE R.GroupType='8'

 

Where GroupTyp=8 means type "subnets" (not supernets or DHCP scopes,etc.)


Then the result may look like this:

subnets-script.png

 

I can iterate through the $addressesWithSubnet variable and do whatever I need witch each record, for example send email, send data into help desk, update database (custom property) or store it into a file.

 

The interesting option is create a webservice that can call this IPAM powershell script with attribute "subnet name". Then you can ask for first available IP address from anywhere.

 

Example where simply writing each row to the console output:

list of subnets.png

Download the full script.

 

Example of .NET webservice that can call our PowerShell script:


[WebMethod]

//When calling the method put the path to our script file as parameter to the method GetFreeAvailableAddress.

//For example: c:\script\getFreeIP.ps

//Feel free to add exception handling you prefer.


public void GetFreeAvailableAddress(string script)
{
  
RunspaceConfiguration rC = RunspaceConfiguration.Create();

  
Runspace runspace = RunspaceFactory.CreateRunspace(rC);
   runspace
.Open();

  
RunspaceInvoke scriptInvoker = new RunspaceInvoke(runspace);

  
Pipeline pipelineCommand = runspace.CreatePipeline();
   pipelineCommand
.Commands.AddScript(script);

  
// execute the script
   pipelineCommand
.Invoke();
}

 

Integration with SAM (Server and Application Monitor)

One of the easiest way to get Powershell script monitored by Orion web interface is via SAM (try eval if you don't have it). SAM can monitor powershell scripts and show the results on the web very simply.

 

I had to just re-format the output of my PowerShell script and then define new PowerShell template in SAM so it can transfer the data from script on web.

There is a very nice article about how to add Script Monitor into SAM. So I'll skip this phase and just summarize that what you need to do on your Script side, is populate data you want to show via two specific messages:

Detail Type

Required

Meaning

Statistic

Yes

A numeric value used to determine how the monitor compares to its set thresholds. This must be an integer value, (negative numbers are supported).

Statistic.Name1: 123

Statistic.Name2: 456

Message

No

An error or information message to be displayed in the monitor status details. Note: Multi-line messages are supported. To use this functionality print each line using a separate command. For example:
Message.Name1: abc

Message.Name2: def

and it must end by "Exit(0)" statement.

 

I modified our script in order to produce messages that are parsed properly by SAM (how to add add new SAM template). The template show you percentage used of IP address per subnet and also first free IP Address for each subnet.


Section added


Write-Host "Message.$($freeIP.FriendlyName): Subnet: $($freeIP.SubnetAddress)/$($freeIP.CIDR) named: $($freeIP.FriendlyName) has this available IP  ADDRESS$($freeIP.FreeIPAddress)";   

Write-Host "Statistic.$($freeIP.FriendlyName): $($freeIP.PercentUsed)";

 

Feel free to download SAM template from here. Wondering how the result looks like on the web? Here it goes:

utilization.png

statistics comments.png

 

Let me know if you have any questions and don't be intimidated by our API, it's very easy to use.

We recently release Patch Manager 2.0 that added several new features such as the pre-installation wizard, the Orion integrated installer, Configuration and First time usage wizard and lastly the optional agent based architecture. In addition, we followed this up with a Service Release to address customer concerns raised with support team. We are now working on the following aspects to provide a more integrated and easier to use experience:

  • Addition of enhanced, pre-built reports requested by customers
  • Ability to leverage reporting and deploying patches via the Orion web interface
  • Cross product integration between DameWare and Patch Manager
  • Support for out of network devices via the agent based architecture

 

PLEASE NOTE:  We are working on these items based on this priority order, but this is NOT a commitment that all of these enhancements will make the next release.  We are working on a number of other features in parallel. If you have comments or questions on any of these items (e.g. how would it work?) or would like to be included in a preview demo, please let us know!

We have completed another bulk of the development effort and are now focused on testing the latest release of Network Configuration Manager (NCM); We have Beta2 for NCM v7.3 available. This is your chance to install the latest version and provide feedback on the new features and fixes. Providing feedback during the beta is the best way to ensure that your feedback will be incorporated in to the release. To participate, simply fill out this survey and you will be sent the download links for the Beta. Remember, Betas cannot be installed in production and you cannot upgrade the Beta to any other future versions.

 

The following enhancement have been added to NCM so far:

  • NCM and NPM databases merged
    • Optimized DB schema
    • Account limitations are applied to NCM jobs.
    • Core node management page is used to add/remove devices from NCM.
    • In the discovery wizard, users can choose whether to import newly discovered nodes into NCM.
    • Node Sync is gone!
    • Subviews are fully supported.
  • A completely new version of the Configuration Management page
  • EoL/EoS info on (NCM) node details page
  • Admins can now clear all transfers for all users from the Transfer Status page in the Web UI.
  • Limit policy reports for individual accounts
  • Jobs Summary table can be sorted according to any column.
  • NCM supports SWISv3 now.

 

Benefits of the Merged Databases

The merge of NCM and NPM databases enable NCM users to take advantage of certain features of the Orion Platform (Core) that were not possible to use before.

 

Improved Node Management

As there is no concept of "NCM Node" anymore, "Licensed by NCM" has become just a flag for Orion nodes. What does it mean? You can manage all NCM properties using the Core none management infrastructure:

 

Node-Management.png

 

Node-Properties.png

 

Improved Node Details

The merged DB made it possible to use sub-views -- you can easily review NCM node details next to information from other Orion modules.

 

Node-Details.png

 

New Configuration Management UI

This is a great improvement in usability of the NCM Web UI in this release. Unlike the old UI, the new one is much more node-centric to make the workflows much smoother: First you select the devices and then perform an action. The new UI enables you to accomplish a chain of tasks efficiently as you can work with the same set of nodes repeatedly.

  • You can group your devices by up to three parameters.
  • The node selection is persistant; even if you switch to another group of nodes or another page, your selection is preserved.

 

New-Config-UI.PNG

rob.hock

NPM 10.7 RC1 Now Available

Posted by rob.hock Jan 23, 2014

It is our pleasure to announce NPM 10.7 has reached Release Candidate status. Since just recently announcing the 10.6 release, the SolarWinds development team has been hard at work delivering great new features for 10.7.  Release Candidates are fully supported and can be installed on your production environment. Some highlights of 10.7 RC1:

 

Link Utilization on Maps

 

If enabled in Network Atlas, L2 link utilization will be displayed on the map:

Link_utilization.png

 

Independent Node Thresholds and Baselining


As first seen in SAM, NPM inherits the ability to have independent node and interface thresholds. These thresholds can be dynamically calculated on a weekly or daily basis to provide a moving window.

Thresholds.png


NOC View


For those of you that have your NPM console up on the big screen, 10.7 also introduces a special "NOC Mode" that removes the top tabs and cycles through subviews. Since NOC screens tend to have a lot of real estate, we've increased the max columns to 6.


NOC_View.png


Custom Poller Packages


Imagine if you could take your Universal Device Poller data and stick it in native CPU and Memory fields. In 10.7, now you can! Define your polled OIDs, transform, and apply to CPU / Memory fields- polled data will be treated just as native data is. No need to create custom reports and alerts. Import / Export and share on thwack. We've included some sample ones to get you started. (HP Procurve and Fortimanager chief among them.)


DeviceKit.png


Routing Resources now Support VRFs


VRF.png


Resource Drag and Drop


If you had a chance to try any of the 10.7 betas, you may have noticed the hashed "grab-bars" now at the top of each resource. That's right- drag-and-drop resources! We've also added dynamic column resizing to make view customization even easier.

 

DnD.png

 

Support for Ruckus and Motorola Wireless

 

Ruckus and Motorola wireless polling is now natively supported. No need to use UnDPs to retrieve AP info.

 

SNMP Status

 

Since time immemorial, ICMP reachability has been a requirement for a node to show "Up" in NPM. No longer! "List Resources" or use the new "Manage Pollers" page to change what determines status

SNMP_Status.png

 

In addition to these highlighted features, there are a host of incremental feature enhancements and bug fixes. Download the RC from your customer portal to check it out.

We have completed the bulk of the development effort and are now focused on testing the latest release of Kiwi CatTools. CatTools v3.10 has reached Beta status. This is your chance to install the latest version and provide feedback on the new features and fixes. Providing feedback during the beta is the best way to ensure that your feedback will be incorporated in to the release. To participate, simply fill out this survey and you will be sent the download links for the Beta. Remember, Betas cannot be installed in production and you cannot upgrade the Beta to any other future versions.

 

The following enhancement have been added to CatTools so far:

  • Support for scheduling activities on a monthly basis
  • Support Cisco® Small Business devices
  • Improved support for HP® switches
  • Enhanced possibilities for ignoring text in device configuration
  • Newest version of SolarWinds® licensing framework adopted
  • Fixed problem with Connect Via feature when both target and media devices use variations
  • Various updates of device templates
  • Bug fixes
bmrad

Virtualization Manager 6.1 Beta

Posted by bmrad Jan 22, 2014

Virtualization Manager 6.0 introduced integration with NPM and SAM, exposing VMan data in native Orion resources, allowing you to navigate from Application to VM to Host to Datastore/Cluster Shared Volume without leaving the Orion interface.  However, the integration did not allow you to leverage all of Orion goodness on the virtualization data - but the team has been hard at work to make that a reality. To try it out, please fill out this short survey, Enough of introductory chit-chat, lets get down to the fun stuff - features!!!

 

 

 

Baseline Thresholds for Virtual Machines

In the last release of Server & Application Monitor, we introduced baselines and we are happy to announce the feature has been expanded to Virtualization data as well.  When monitoring VMs (both Hyper-V and VMware), you'll be able to leverage your historical data to automatically build your warning and critical threshholds (note that host baselines will be available in future betas).  Simply click edit node and scroll down to the Alerting Thresholds and choose Override Orion General Thresholds and click Use Dynamic Baseline Data and it will automatically set your thresholds based on the analysis of historical data. .

VManTheshold1.png

If you want to see or adjust how your baseline is calculated, simply click the Latest Baseline Details to see more information about the calculation.

VManTheshold2.png

 

 

VManWizard9.pngSynchronization Wizard

To maximize the usefulness of the integration of Virtualization Manager with SAM and NPM, users need to keep the configuration of both products in sync or confusing data and linkage gaps occur  Keeping the configuration in sync is painful and tedious and many of you encountered this problem as your environment grew or changed.  Also, the product didn't notify you that there was a synchronization problem, so you would find you were missing the data right when you needed it.

The synchronization wizard takes the Virtualization Manager "datasources" (vCenter, standalone ESX, and Hyper-V Hosts) and credentials and maps them to SAM/NPM, displaying discrepancies and then allowing you to pick and choose which pieces of the virtual environment you want to synchronize.  Best of all, when the products are out of sync, you get a notification with a link to the synchronization wizard so you can quickly fix it.

You can get to the integration wizard two ways:

  • The integration wizard will automatically start when you first configure integration.
  • The Run Synchronization Wizard link (Settings > Virtualization Settings in Virtualization Manager Integration section)
  • When SAM or NPM detect a configuration difference between the two products, it will prompt you to run the notification wizard in the notification banner.

 

 

First step is turn on integration, go to Settings > Virtualization Settings > Setup Virtual Manager Integration.  You'll enter the IP address and port of the Virtualization Manager and admin credentials.  When you click submit, the linkage will be tested and any errors reported.  If the connection is good, the synchronization wizard starts.

 

If you already have the integration turned on, you can go to step through the wizard again.

VManWizard1.png
Next, you can choose if you want to skip to the end and synchronize everything (Recommended) or pick and choose which datasources (VC, standalone ESX, and Hyper-V Hosts) and credentials to synchronize (Advanced).  Let's choose Advanced so we can see the intermediate steps.VManWizard2.png

Here we can select which datasources we want to synchronize.  If the datasource is already configured in both products, it is hidden by default.  Pick which ones you want to synchronize, press the green arrow button and then press Next.

 

Lets skip the next two screens (Synchronization Exceptions and Assign Pollers) for now.

VManWizard3.png

The review screen allows you to review the proposed changes before they are implemented, including the additional node licenses needed.  You can uncheck any changes you don't want to make before pressing Next.

 

One of the great things about 6.1 is it will provide Orion with all the virtualization data directly, so your virtual environment is only polled once to supply Virtualization Manager and SAM/NPM with all their virtualization data.

 

Don't worry, this change is transparent to you - your data, alerts, customizations, GUI, etc. continue to work as they do today.

VManWizard6.png
As the synchronization occurs, the wizard will report success or failure of each step. Once completed, any new nodes will be configured and licensed in SAM/NPM and data will start populating shortly.VManWizard7.png
And here is the notification you get when the product configurations are out of sync.VManWizard10.png

 

 

VManVNodeTree.pngSee All Your Virtual Machines (vNodes)

Virtualization Manager collects information about every VM in the environments you are monitoring.  In the current integration with SAM/NPM, you have to manage each VM (node) in order to see the data.  We've changed that so that you will see the data for every monitored VM regardless if they are Managed in SAM/NPM.  These will look like regular nodes but with just two subviews (Virtualization and Storage).  We've made it easy to add them as a node if you want to... but you are no longer required to.

VManVNode2.png

 

 

More to come...

To try out the beta, please fill out this short survey, Stay tuned for more information on Orion based alerting, RBAC (Role Base Access Control), and more metrics!

I'm happy to announce that IP Address Manager 4.1 RC1 is available for download and installation on your production servers.

Except bug fixes, there are two new big features we added into this release of IPAM:

 

  1. ISC DHCP management and monitoring
    • Create, edit or remove ISC DHCP subnets directly in IPAM using the same UI as for Microsoft or Cisco DHCP
    • Manage ISC DHCP subnet options, ranges and pools (RFC standard options, including options 66 & 67 for VoIP settings)
    • Default alerts for high DHCP subnet utilization
    • Monitoring of ISC DHCP shared subnets and their utilization
    • Monitoring of availability of ISC DHCP servers and their subnets (up, down, unreachable)
    • Monitoring of ISC DHCP IP address static assignments within groupsall DHCP vendors.png
  2. Support for management of standard DHCP scope options on Microsoft or Cisco DHCP servers
    • Setup VoIP options (66 & 67) on your DHCP scopes
    • Manage all RFC standard DHCP options using web UI that describe usage of each option.
    • Automatic both-way DHCP scope option sync between IPAM and DHCP servers

 

The installation is available on your customer portal or via this RC agreement (IPAM 4.1 RC Participation Survey).

 

You should contact SolarWinds support in case of any problems or bugs you found.

 

We are looking to your feedback on this latest version.

To receive updates on the Kiwi Syslog roadmap, JOIN thwack and BOOKMARK this page.

 

The Kiwi engineering team has been working on a CatTools release. Here is the content that we are currently looking at, for the next version of Syslog (current is v9.4). We will update this post with details once we get through the planning phase.

  • Improved support of 2-byte/non-English environment
  • Support Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Update of SolarWinds Licensing Framework

 

Disclaimer: Comments given in this forum should not be interpreted as a commitment that SolarWinds will deliver any specific feature in any particular time frame. All discussions of future plans or product roadmaps are based on the product teams intentions, but those plans can change at any time.

To receive updates on the Kiwi CatTools roadmap, JOIN thwack and BOOKMARK this page.

 

Here is the content that the Kiwi engineering team is currently working on, for the next version of CatTools (current is v3.9).

  • Support for Cisco Small Business devices
  • Improved support for several other devices
  • Adding support for scheduling activity on a monthly basis
  • Support Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Update of SolarWinds Licensing Framework
  • Bug Fixes

 

Disclaimer:  Comments given in this forum should not be interpreted as a commitment that SolarWinds will deliver any specific feature in any particular time frame. All discussions of future plans or product roadmaps are based on the product teams intentions, but those plans can change at any time.

Hello!

 

First of all, a quick introduction to DameWare for our Product Blog readers that are new to it. DameWare family has two products the DameWare Remote Support (DRS) and the DameWare Mini Remote Control (MRC). MRC provides an easy and proven tool to remote desktop into a machine over the network and includes tons of features such as authentication, encrypted communication, chat, screenshots, etc. DRS is a superset that contains all the features of MRC and many more features to remotely manage and monitor machines on the network including taking control and making changes to your Active Directory (AD) Infrastructure.

 

Thanks to everyone that provided feedback on Beta1. We have made changes based on your feedback and also completed implementation of other features such as the global and personal host list and simplified technician experience for setting up the Internet Session. We are now happy to announce availability of Beta2 for DameWare v11.

 

As I mentioned in my kickoff post, we are really excited about this next major release of DameWare and here is why:

  • DameWare v11 will support a centralized architecture to ease management of licenses, users, and host lists
  • DameWare v11 will support remote control over the internet (must have a DRS license for this feature)

 

Note that with v11 release, Internet Session feature will only be available to users tied to a DRS license key. All other new features (such as centralized login and licensing) will work with both DRS and MRC licenses.

 

Everyone that participated in Beta1 is eligible for Beta2 and will receive the new installation files. If you did not get a chance to fill in the survey for Beta1, please do so below,it should only take 3- 5 minutes.

 

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR DAMEWARE v11 BETA

 

 

Here’s a peek into what you can expect to see with Beta2.


New DameWare Server and its Roles

 

Administration Console
While this is not a DameWare Server role, it is an essential part of the DameWare Centralized Solution. It is the tool through which you manage the DameWare Server roles. The Administration Console can connect to the Central Server or Mobile Gateway directly to access their status and settings. The Internet Proxy has to be paired with the Central Server to work, so its settings are accessible by connecting to an appropriate Central Server instance.

 

Below is a screenshot of the Administration Console showing Central Server summary tab:

 

Admin_console_Central_Overview.png

 

 

Central Server
The Central Server role is the hub of the new DameWare Centralized Solution. It stores the licenses for all the DRS and DMRC Consoles installed in Centralized Mode, the user records, and Host Lists (both Global and Personal).

 

Below is a screenshot of the Administration Console showing Central Server Users tab. In this particular deployment, the admin role can configure the server components, modify global hosts list, add users, activate licenses, etc. The user role will be provided to a technician who will have access to both MRC and DRS functionality.

 

Admin_console_Central_Users.png

 

Internet Proxy
The DameWare Server in Internet Proxy role is a fixed point in the Internet Session communication. Both the Console from the internal network and the agent from the Internet connect to it, and Internet Proxy pairs their requests based on the same Session ID.

Below is a screenshot of the Administration Console showing the Internet Proxy settings. The internet session settings are configurable by the administrator including aspects such as port and number of connections allowed.

 

Admin_console_OTI_Settings.png

 

Mobile Gateway
DameWare Mobile Gateway was released as a standalone product in version 10. Now it is a role of the DameWare Server with the same function. It receives and routes requests from mobile devices using DameWare Mobile to DameWare agents on your local network.

Notable New Features

Configuration Wizard
To help you deploy the solution that best fit your needs and network infrastructure, we created Configuration Wizard to help you enable and setup all parts of the DameWare Server. It starts automatically after the Installer deploys the files. It can be started again from Start Menu if changes in configuration are needed.

 

Internet Session
This new feature enables DMRC consoles in Centralized Mode to establish connections with agents outside of your local network, without public IPs, behind Firewalls with the most commonly used settings. The connection is initiated from the DMRC Console and the generated link must be passed to the user on the agent side.

Note that with v11 release, Internet Session feature will only be available to users tied to a DRS license key. Centralized mode will work with either DRS or MRC license.

To establish Internet session, the technician clicks on Internet Session in the DameWare MRC console and starts a session as shown below. Technician then sends session detail to end user.

Internet_session_setup_c.png

 

If end user does not have agent installed, the user is redirected to the Agent Download page hosted on the Internet Proxy. See below for a screenshot of this page.

 

Agent_download_for_OTI.png

 

Once end user has agent installed, choosing “Join Internet session” on agent right-click will allow end user to join the session and technician to remote control the end user machine. Example of session details can be seen in screenshot below.

 

Session_details.png

 

Global and Personal Host Lists
Create and manage a Global Host list, which can be downloaded by all users when they connect to the Central Server by logging into the DRS or DMRC Console (only with Centralized Mode).

Personal Host lists are similar to the Favorite Machines folder, but in Centralized Mode, they are stored in the Central Server Database and are downloaded to any console where the particular user is logged in. Any changes made are synchronized back to Server.


Below is a screenshot of the Administration Console showing Global Host List:


Admin_console_Central_Global_Hosts.png


Thanks for listening, now its our turn. We still have time to make changes to features for this release. Please try out Beta 2 and let us know what works, what's missing and what needs fixing!


After filling out the survey below and validating that you are a current customer with maintenance valid through our beta period. I will send you the download links. Please sign up for the DameWare v11 Beta by completing the survey below:


CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR DAMEWARE v11 BETA


 



dexml

Routing Basics

Posted by dexml Jan 10, 2014

This blog is meant to provide a simple overview of routing in general, for those new to networking, and as an addendum to my other two routing related blogs:

  1. Routing Tools Overview for Network Performance Monitor 10.5
  2. TROUBLESHOOTING WITH ROUTING TOOLS FOR NETWORK PERFORMANCE MONITOR 10.5

 

While network and internet routing can be quite complex, the fundamentals are easy to comprehend.

 

  • If I am at “Location A” and want to get to “Location Z” 
    • I might be able to take a direct route and get there without stopping. 
    • In other cases I might have to use an alternate route, going through “Location B” or “Location X” first along the way.

               01_locations.jpg

Let’s take a look at a simple network topology map and see what a route might look like connecting networks together from across the world.

 

  • Sender 1 - on the left side of the map - is connected to Router 1 (R1) in California.
  • Receiver 2 - on the right side of the map - is connected to Router 4 (R4) in Paris
  • Router 2 (R2)- in the middle of the map - is connected to both Router 1 and Router 4.

     01_routes.jpg

As you can see, if you want to send packets from Sender 1 to Receiver 2 there is only one route to take. Any device connected to Router 1 must go through Router 2 in order to get data to any other device connected to Router 4. In this scenario:

 

  • The “Origin” is Sender 1
  • The “Next Hop” is Router 2
  • And the “Destination” is Receiver 2

 

I am sure you can imagine other possible scenarios where additional Routers could serve as the “Next Hop” similar to Router 2 connecting Router 1 to Router 4. For example there might be a “Next Hop” Router in Miami in addition to New York, in which case you would have multiple pathways (routes) that could make connections between the Origin and Destination.

 

To summarize, there can be multiple routes that packets can take through networks to get to any given destination. With the new Routing tools now provided by SolarWinds NPM, you know have a view of end to end routing for easier troubleshooting of network issues.

 

Protocol Overview


A routing protocol defines how routers communicate with one another. Routers need to communicate with one another to share information that will enable them to select routes between any two network nodes. Routers can only communicate directly with their neighbors but information is passed along, one to another, so that eventually a router can gain and store an entire network topology. There are several different routing protocols in use today for both internal networks and external networks such as the internet. By “Internal” network we really mean an “Autonomous System” or “Autonomous Network” which is defined as a network that is under the domain and control of a single Administrative entity such as a corporate network.  Protocols for internal use are referred to as “interior” protocols while protocols used on the internet are referred to as… you guessed it, “exterior” protocols.

 

The SolarWinds routing resources and tools contained in Network Performance Monitor version 10.5 and above provides support for the following popular network protocols:

 

  • OSPF
  • RIP
  • BGP

 

These are important networking protocols that allow network traffic to traverse vast internal networks and span a wide array of self-contained but interconnected networks such as the internet. The first two, OSPF and RIP, are interior routing protocols otherwise known as “Interior Gateway Protocols” or IGP. IGPs share information within only one routing domain and cannot span across separate autonomous networks, the biggest impact of this limitation is that these protocols cannot be used on the internet. The third in the list is BGP or Border Gateway Protocol which is currently the most commonly used exterior gateway protocol and which allows all manner of autonomous networks to communicate across the internet.

 

To sum it up internal networks can use OSPF, RIP (or other IGP protocols) and if any of these internal networks need to communicate with other networks they can and most likely will use BGP to send packets across the internet.

Note: There are a few other protocols in use today such as EIGRP and we are working on integrating these into NPM for a future release. 

 

Now if only I could find a way to insert myself into a network packet, I could have lunch in Paris and be back to work in Austin for my 1pm meeting!



dsbalcau

Storage Manager 5.7 Beta 1

Posted by dsbalcau Jan 2, 2014

Storage Manager 5.7 Beta 1

 

The Storage Manager Team is hard at work on STM 5.7. We’ve just arrived at that crucial stage of development, Beta 1, and would love your participation. Fill out this short survey to participate in the STM 5.7 Beta! Without further ado, let’s jump into what is available in Beta 1.

 

Sign-Up Button.png

 

Improved Performance Charts

 

Users of Storage Manager have been pushing for a while to get more out the performance data in the product. Before I get into the solutions, let me outline some concerns voiced by you, the end user, about the current way performance data is displayed. Concerns with the current graphs have focused around several areas:

ConcernOld Chart
  1. The graphs provided were simple PNG image files and are not interactive. This prevents simple actions like hover-over context to get insight into exact data point values and labels.
  2. The general Look & Feel of the old charts was dated.
  3. The charts didn't have a way to easily zoom in or out on the Time x-axis. To get more data in the chart, you had to refresh the whole page by selecting a new time range.
  4. When looking at several data series simultaneously, there was no way to remove a single or multiple data series from the chart. One example where this is important is when trying to look at Top 5 LUN Performance, but one LUN is massively busier than the other 4. Removing this one LUN allows the chart to re-scale to view the relative performance of the other LUNs.
Old STM Charts.png

 

Unrelated to the charting package itself, but still valid concerns were:

  1. There were restrictions that in the product around displaying “Raw” or “Roll-Up Summary” data. Basically, in an effort to keep the product snappy and stable, STM automatically defaulted to Hourly, Daily, or Weekly Roll-up data depending time range selected. This was problematic when looking for peaks in performance data, as those peaks ended up being averaged out when looking at longer time ranges.
  2. The time selector only allowed you to see data from now with a defined “look-back” period of Last Hour, 6 Hours, 24 Hours, etc. If you wanted to look at a specific 6 hour period yesterday, you had to go to the Reporter tool, or you could look at the data from the last week, but were forced into problem #1 above and could only view roll-up data.

 

So with all that said, let’s take a look at the new and improved Storage Manager performance charts.

 

We’ve adopted the same charting package used by the SolarWinds Orion products. While some of the back-end software magic is different this enables several major improvements including:

 

New BenefitNew Chart
  1. Hover-over to inspect individual data points.
  2. Significantly improved Look & Feel
  3. Embedded horizontal zoom – This functionality is tied to our new “Between” time range selector. So as you drag the horizontal zoom bar, it keeps the Between calendar range in perfect sync, so you know exactly what timeframe you are examining.
  4. Data selectors – You can now remove charted data series with ease! With the new charts, the y-axis will automatically adjust zoom to show remaining data series.
New Charts.png

 

To address the other concerns, we also added:

New BenefitNew Chart
  1. A force “Raw” checkbox. By selecting this, you will force the product to load Raw, not summary roll-up, data for your chart. WARNING – This can load extremely large datasets depending upon the timerange being viewed. It is an Advanced feature and misuse may cause slow loading or product instability. We are working on providing warning dialogues in the product to provide guidance to this effect, but it is not yet in the Beta.
  2. As mentioned with the horizontal zoom feature in the new charts, we have also included a “Between” time range selector to view custom time ranges.
New Charts 2.png
For those of you playing along at home, you may have noticed one other UX improvement – contextual text highlighting! No more are you forced to guess what report you landed on!Contextual highlighting.png

 

We made some other minor changes to the product that aren’t really super-exciting to test from an end-user perspective, but they are changes in product behavior so we’d definitely appreciate any feedback.

 

Change to Default Collection Frequencies

 

For STM 5.7, the default data collection frequencies have changed for SMI-S devices and VMware. Note that this will NOT affect upgrades, only fresh installs. If you’ve fine-tuned your collection frequencies for your environment, STM will respect that and maintain your settings upon upgrade. So why make the change? The main reason is stability of collection and matching that stability to how customers scale their systems over time. These changes were made to ensure a seamless first time user experience and allow new customers to fine tune these settings later as they better understand their monitoring needs and the product architecture. If you'd like to get a good primer on STM Deployment, this topic is discussed at length in this ThwackCamp session.

 

As always, if you need to modify collection frequencies post-install, you can do so through configuring STM Policies in Settings->Device Management->Policies. Remember that you have to “Push” your policies to your STM Proxy Agents for those new collection frequencies to take effect. For reference, these are new default collection frequencies for STM:

 

SMI-S policy

Frequency type

Original value (prior to 5.7)

Updated value (5.7+)

Asset

12 hours

24 hours

Performance

15 minutes

No Change

Storage

1 hour

6 hours

 

 

VMware policy

Frequency type

Original value (prior to 5.7)

Updated value (5.7+)

Configuration

15 minutes

3 hours

Performance

5 minutes

30 minutes

Storage

1 hour

6 hours

 

Deprecating Generic “Storage Array” Reports


The “Storage Array” report category is a little bit of mystery to outside observers and deserves some historical discussion. While at first glance, the name might imply that this set of reports are what you use to report on your Storage Arrays from a single consolidated place, sadly that implication would be entirely off-target. Storage Manager’s location for all consolidated reports, across heterogeneous arrays, is the “Enterprise” reports. Any report in the “Enterprise” reports are tested by our Product Team to ensure that the data we are presenting is valid across every array we support, even when you report across heterogeneous array types in the same report. Such is not the case with the “Storage Array” reports.

 

So then, you might ask, “What are the purposes of the Storage Array reports?” And it is a fine question, no doubt. These reports are meant for reporting on a “Generic SMI-S Device.” “Well,” you might say, “my arrays support data collection via SMI-S, so those must be for my arrays.” Unfortunately, again, this would be off-target. The “Generic SMI-S Device” was a pie-in-the-sky dream, hatched in the early days of Storage Manager development, when there was thoughts that storage vendors might actually adopt the Storage Networking Industry Association’s (SNIA’s) Storage Management Initiative-Specification (SMI-S) standard as an actual standard. Instead, the vendors went off and implemented all of their array support via SMI-S completely differently (they are not completely at fault, of course, the standard lacked some key points mainly around how to present performance data). Thus, the “Generic SMI-S Device” in Storage Manager never really worked as anticipated and is “unsupported” as an official array type. Unfortunately, we never did as good a job as we should have to outline these restrictions thus leading to our current situation.

 

If the above is TL;DR, here is the nut: A good chunk of data presented in those reports is wrong because of how the vendors differed in their implementation of the SMI spec. If you want “Storage Array” report functionality, you need to use the array specific reports where the STM team has aligned the data provided to the vendor’s implementation of the spec. For example, if you own an EMC VNX, you should use the reports under Storage Array EMC VNX/CLARiiON. The data are correct in these reports.

 

If you are currently using these reports, we recommend you switch to the Storage Array reports for your specific devices. We have salvaged some of the reports and moved them to the “Enterprise” section, as some of the reports only needed minor modifications to report data consistently. These salvaged reports include:

  • Storage – SMI-S Storage Array-LUN Masking
  • Storage – SMI-S Storage Array-LUN Masking Summary (new report)
  • Performance – SMI-S Storage Array-Array Performance
  • Performance – SMI-S Storage Array-Controller Performance
  • Performance – SMI-S Storage Array-Disk Performance
  • Performance – SMI-S Storage Array-LUN Performance

 

Note that we did not remove the reports or their templates, but merely marked them as “Deprecated” in the product. This should give you time to move to the proper reports for your reporting purposes.

 

Deprecated Reports.png

 

That's Not All Folks!

 

Note that this is only Beta 1 for STM 5.7. We have several more features we are cooking up in the lab, so watch here for future Beta announcements!

 

Sign-up for the STM 5.7 Beta today!

Web Help Desk (WHD) is an easy to use, but also flexible tool for your IT team and even-though we are working on many great new features or improving existing like recently added Orion Integration, there are still less-known areas, which I call the hidden gems.


As a technician you want to use formatted text in your tickets, asset notes or emails. Sometimes you might want to highlight certain information in an email, send a clickable link, format a FAQ that it's easy to follow, or maybe highlight crucial information in an asset note, thus your fellow colleague won't forget to notify you when updating your machine. Some forms like ticket notes offer formatting options in a little menu on the top, but these may not be available everywhere or you might want to do more than standard options.

whd_editor.png

Being a web-based tool, HTML could be sometimes tricky to use, so that's why we have simple formatting which resembles HTML, but uses different syntax. Meet BBCode.

 

BBCode

BBCode (Bulletin Board Code) is a lightweight markup for text formatting. It was introduced in message-boards, but widely used in many other types of software nowadays. Tags are usually indicated by square brackets [ and ], enclosing a keyword. There is no formal standard and you can find different implementations and variations in supported tags. WHD also has its own implementation and there is a good reason for it - you can customize it.

 

Here is a simple example of BBCode, which you can use in WHD.

 

[size=20]Title[/size]

[img]http://www.solarwinds.com/favicon.ico[/img]

<p>

Lorem ipsum [b]dolor sit[/b] amet, [url=http://www.webhelpdesk.com]consectetuer adipiscing[/url] elit. *** sociis natoque [i]penatibus et magnis[/i] dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.

</p>

And now some list:

[list]

[*]Fusce tellus. Proin in tellus sit amet nibh dignissim sagittis.

[*]Sed convallis magna eu sem. Maecenas sollicitudin.

[/list]

[list=A]

[*][color=blue]FAQ link:[/color] [faq id=1]

[*][u]FAQ link:[/u] <faq id=2>

[/list]

 

This text renders to following.

whd_faq_render.png

 

Note that markup is actually mix of BBCode and HTML.

 

Formatting

 

Basic markup follows pretty simple structure:

 

  • Simple tags: [tab]something[/tag]
  • Simple parameterized tags: [tag=value]something[/tag]
  • Complex parameterized tags: [tag value1="xxx" value2="yyy"]something[/tag]

 

WHD supports wide range of tags:

 

  • [code]your code here[/code]
  • [quote]Text[/quote]
  • [quote=Author]Text[/quote]
  • [b]bold[/b]
  • [i]italics[/i]
  • [u]underscored[/u]
  • [list] [*]First item [*] Second Item
  • [img]URL[/img]
  • [email]address[/email]
  • [email=address]Text[/email]
  • [url]address[/url]
  • [url=address]Text[/url]
  • [color=name]Text[/color] (supports HTML color names)
  • [size=number of pixels]Text[/size]
  • [google]key words[/google]
  • [google=key words]Text[/google]
  • [faq id=number]

 

Additionally you can also use selected supported HTML tags, which you can mix with BBCode tags:

b, i, u, a, img, li, ul, ol, font, br, p, pre, center, faq, code, hr, strong.

 

You can use the BBCode in many places in WHD like ticket subject, request details, notes, email templates, FAQ, Messages, Login message, custom field description and so on. However not all fields do support BBCode, so if it's something like secondary email field in your account details, you better check in advance.

 

Special Behavior

Apart from tags, BBCode mechanism also detects bare URLs like http or ftp links, emails or UNC paths and make them clickable. If you put link to Youtube or Vimeo video, WHD will actually embed that video and display it instead of the link. (If you want you can disable this behavior, see below.)

 

whd_embeded_video.png

(Btw. if you have not seen the video you definitely should ).

 

There is also a special tag faq. This tag will provide a link to existing FAQ and has the form of [faq id=NUMBER] or <faq id=NUMBER>.

 

Customization

WHD stores transformation rules for all tags in WebHelpDesk/bin/webapps/helpdesk/WEB-INF/Helpdesk.woa/Contents/Resources/bb_config.xml. Great thing about having own implementation is that you can easily create your own tags. Let say you want to use strikethrough text. Simply add this custom tag definition to bb_config.xml and restart WHD.

 

     <!-- S -->

     <match name="s">

          <regex>(?s)(?i)\[s\](.*?)\[/s\]</regex>

          <replace>

          <![CDATA[

          <strike>$1</strike>

          ]] >

          </replace>

     </match>


Now you can use [s] and [/s] tags.

 

In bb_config.xml you can also disable embedding video instead of displaying a link. Find all rules with name starting with auto-youtube (or auto-vimeo) and comment them out with <!-- and -->. Don't forget to restart WHD and you will see the link instead of the video. (Which means url BBCode rule was applied.)

 

whd_video_not_embedded.png

 

How about trying something more fancy? Sometimes when working on an incident or writing a FAQ, you refer to other tickets by saying "ticket 544" or maybe you use terms like request, case or problem. Wouldn't it be nice if this could be a link, so you colleague could click on it and open that ticket right away? Let's write a simple rule to do it. (Don't forget to replace the URL with the link to your system.)

 

     <match name="TicketLink" alwaysProcess="true">

          <regex>(?s)(?i)((?:ticket|incident|case|problem|request)\s*)([0-9]+)</regex>

          <replace>

          <![CDATA[

          <a href="http://webhelpdesk.com:8081/helpdesk/WebObjects/Helpdesk.woa/wa/TicketActions/view?ticket=$2">$1$2</a>

          ]]>

          </replace>

     </match>

 

Now you can just type "case 22" and voilà - there is link!

whd_bbcode_new_rule.png

 

As you could see WHD is tremendously flexible, you can use BBCode in various places and also add your new tags. I'm sure there are more areas you would like to learn more about, so please let me know in comments!

 

References:

Last week I provided an overview of the routing tools for Network Performance Monitor 10.5 and this week I will walk you through a troubleshooting scenario using the Interactive Online Demo to help illustrate how you can use these tools to troubleshoot real world issues in your own environment.

 

Obviously, routing is one of the keys to a properly functioning network. IP packets on your network must be routed, not only to their given destinations, but should also arrive in the fastest way possible. The new Routing tools for NPM have combined the Logical and Physical layers to help you get things done.

 

Troubleshooting Walk-Through


Troubleshooting StepsImage
  1. Let’s first take a look at the High Errors and Discards Today resource located about halfway down the page on the NPM Summary Tab in Orion.
    1. Notice the node labeled “Router5.lab.local” has a significant amount of discards.
    2. Click on “Router5.lab.local” (hereafter referred to as “Router 5”) to drill down and see the Node Details Page for that Router.
walkthrough_01.jpg

2. Once on the Node Details page, click on the Network Tab.

 

The Network Sub View is where all of the Routing Resources are located.

walkthrough_02.jpg

3. As it so happens, “Router 5” has some issues transmitting packets.


The "STATUS" column of the Current Percent Utilization of Each Interface resource (middle of the page) shows two “Down” interfaces.

walkthrough_03.jpg

4. Checking the Routing Table, we can see that the Down interfaces ( FastEthernet0/0 - Fa0/0 and FastEthernet0/1 - Fa0/1 ) do not actually appear in the Routing Table.


(hint all of the interfaces in the routing table shown are "1/0" and the two down interfaces are 0/0 and 0/1 respectively).


This is good news in this case, since the Down status of those particular interfaces is not actually affecting routing.

 

The fact that the Routing Table shows all GREEN and the subnets are properly routed to the other interfaces on this device is a quick way to make that determination.

walkthrough_04.jpg

So not only does NPM provide the fundamental set of information needed to define routing – showing protocol, destination, subnet size, next hop and interface information -  it also combines node information allowing visibility into the real availability of nodes and interfaces. Hovering over elements, such as interfaces, activate Pop Ups (image on the right) providing more details and a performance overview.

 

With these resources available at our fingertips, NPM is now doing all the heavy lifting. No longer do we have to manually connect to routers via command line to pull in this data and we do not have to share a router’s credentials with the guy in IT three floors down!

 

Everything is real time and polled frequently, by default every 2 minutes but configurable to meet your particular needs.

walkthrough_05.jpg

5. We have determined our Routing Table is clean, so now let’s take a look at the Routing Neighbors resource which shows you the status of the routers that are directly “next” to the one you are viewing. In this instance we have:

 

  • Router 2 as one of our neighbors using the OSPF protocol.
  • And the second neighbor 74.115.12.1 which is using the BGP Protocol.

 

The fact that the second neighbor, running BGP shows up as IP Address 74.115.12.1 actually tells us that Orion is not monitoring this device as a node. If it were being monitored in NPM we would could drill down and view its Node Details Page as we can with Router2.lab.local.

 

The point here is that if you notice something like this in your own environment you would want to have NPM monitor it so all of that extra information is available to you.

walkthrough_06.jpg

Note: To fully monitor the router 74.115.12.1 - or any other device - you can go to the Admin section of NPM and either:

 

  1. Run a manual discovery via "Add a Node"
  2. Run an automated discovery via Sonar Network Discovery
walkthrough_06b.jpg

6. Now let’s check out the Top 10 Flapping Routes resource.

 

Flapping details are usually something that cannot be obtained directly from the router, and some other kind of analysis tool is needed to get this info. But now with NPM all of this is available in one place.

 

By providing the number of “Flaps” (how many times the path was announced for this particular router) insight can be gained into serious issues that need attention right now or emerging issues which might become more serious down the road.

 

In the image to the right, notice that for Destination Network 10.0.0.0 we can see 8 Flaps to Router2.lab.local.

 

From here, we could drill down into Router 2 for details about the interfaces, the statistics and historical data to find out what is going on to prevent further Flapping from occurring.

walkthrough_07.jpg

7. Finally, we might check the Default Route Change resource to learn if the default route has been added/removed/changed and if so when.

walkthrough_08.jpg


“Wonder Twin Powers… Activate!”

One final thought. Once you find out the source of a given Routing issue the next step you need to make, more often than not, is connecting to one or many routers and make configuration changes to finally resolve the issue.

 

If you have ever had to do this, you know that connecting to routers one by one via command line can be a major pain. So, it is worth pointing out that if you own SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager (NCM) you can fix problems such as duplicate subnet routing or add missing subnets more easily by pushing out new configurations through NCM directly to your routers without having to go through the slow and tedious process of manually connecting to each of your devices as you would have to do without using NCM.

 

These two tools used together, NPM and NCM, can save you a lot of time and frustration while helping you keep your network running smoothly. Oh, and if you were wondering about the “Wonder Twin Powers” reference, it is an old Saturday morning cartoon and

this video explains it quite well.

In my previous blog post I introduced you to several cool new features we've been working on for the next release of SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM). From sustained status conditions that are sure to help squelch nuance alerts, Windows Scheduled Task monitoring, and JSON, SAM 6.1 was already shaping up to be a pretty awesome release.

 

It's now time to take the wraps off SAM 6.1 Beta 2, and just in time for Christmas. If you've been wondering what to get yourself for the holidays, or fear that after all the presents have been unwrapped you'll have amassed a years supply of tube socks, silk ties, and ugly sweaters, you needn't worry. We have just the thing that's sure to put a smile on your face this holiday season.

Sign-up to Download SAM 6.1 Beta 2.png

 

AppInsight for Exchange

 

The overwhelmingly positive feedback we received from the community regarding AppInsight for SQL since its debut in SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor 6.0 has been so phenomenal that we just couldn't stop there. The next obvious choice to get the full AppInsight treatment had to be Microsoft's Exchange. Both SQL and Exchange are complex business applications that are at the very center of most organizations' IT universe. In almost all cases, end users directly (or indirectly) interact with these applications on a continual basis. Be it for basic internal and external communications, data entry, billing, ordering, etc. SQL and Exchange tend to touch so many individuals both inside and outside the organization, that it's imperative that their health, performance, and availability is continuously monitored.

 

If you're not at all familiar with AppInsight for SQL, or the AppInsight concept, below is an excerpt from one of my previous blog posts in which I attempt to explain it.

 

AppInsight provides a whole new level of application monitoring detail that was previously very difficult, if not impossible to achieve using Application Templates. AppInsight is not a direct replacement for Applications Templates but rather an entirely new monitoring concept within SAM. Application Templates remain the primary method for quickly monitoring virtually any commercial, open source, or home grown application imaginable. In contrast, AppInsight is more akin to an entirely new product deeply embedded within SAM; designed from the top down to solve common, yet complex problems for a specific application, rather than merely a new feature.

 

Discover


As with AppInsight for SQL, monitoring your Exchange Mailbox Servers with SAM is a fairly simple, straightforward affair. For existing nodes currently managed via WMI simply click List Resources from the Node Details view and select Microsoft Exchange Server directly beneath AppInsight Applications. The same is also true for any new Exchange servers added individually to SAM and managed via WMI using the Add Node Wizard.

 

Exchange Servers can be added both individually using the methods above, or en masse using the Network Sonar Discovery Wizard. Both one-time and scheduled re-occurring discovery of Exchange servers in the environment using Network Sonar are fully supported. Either method will allow you to begin monitoring your entire Exchange environment in record time.

 

Please note that AppInsight for Exchange has been designed exclusively for Microsoft® Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 Mailbox Role servers. This option will not appear for nodes running previous versions of Exchange or servers running other Exchange roles, such as the Client Access role.

AppInsight for Exchange List Resources.png
Network Sonar AppInsight for Exchange.png
Network Sonar Scheduled Discovery Results - AppInisght for Exchange.png

Configure

 

AppInsight for Exchange uses PowerShell to collect virtually all information from the Exchange server. As such, PowerShell 2.0 must be installed on the local Orion server or Additional Poller that the node is assigned to. PowerShell 2.0 must also be installed on the Exchange Server being monitored. Windows 2008 R2 includes PowerShell 2.0 by default. If you're already running Orion on Windows 2008 R2 or greater and plan to monitor Exchange running on a Windows 2008 R2 server, you needn't worry about the PowerShell 2.0 requirement. Microsoft has taken care of that for you.

 

Beyond simply having PowerShell installed, Windows Remote Management (WinRM) must also be configured. Both locally on the Orion server, and on the remotely monitored Exchange Server. Fear not though; we've made this process incredibly simple and completely painless.

 

After discovering the Exchange mailbox servers running in your environment and choosing to monitor them, you may find them listed in the All Applications tree resource on the SAM Summary view in an "Unknown" state. This is likely due to WinRM having not been configured on either the local Orion server or the remotely monitored Exchange mailbox server. Clicking on the AppInsight for Exchange application that is in an "Unknown" state from the All Applications resource launches the AppInsight for Exchange configuration wizard.

Zero Config Basic.png

The AppInsight for Exchange configuration wizard will prompt you for credentials to configure and monitor the remote host. By default, credentials used to manage the node via WMI are selected. However, under some circumstances, such as using the local administrator account to manage the node, these permissions may not be adequate for monitoring Exchange. If that is the case, you can select from the list of credentials available from your Credential Library, or enter new credentials for AppInsight for Exchange to use. The account used for AppInsight for Exchange should have Exchange Admin Role permissions.

 

Once you've selected existing, or defined new credentials for AppInsight for Exchange to use, simply click "Configure Server". The configuration wizard will do the rest. It should only take a minute or two and you'll be up and monitoring your Exchange mailbox server. Easy peasy, and no agent required.

 

So what exactly is this magic "Configure Server" button doing anyway? Well nothing that couldn't be done manually with a bit of effort. Quite simply the "Configure Server" button pushes a self signed certificate to the Exchange Server and configures WinRM to function in a secure encrypted fashion between the two hosts. Steps for manually configuring your Exchange Server, as well as creating a least privilege user account for monitoring your Exchange mailbox servers using AppInsight for Exchange will be available in the SAM Administrators Guide once SAM 6.1 is officially released.

 

Monitor

 

An Exchange environment is typically comprised of multiple Mailbox Databases. Much like SQL databases, each mailbox database has its own independent status that tells the administrator how that database is currently being used (or not used in the case of databases that are "Dismounted"), as well as the health of that database. In the Mailbox Database Status resource, located on the Application Details view we see all of the databases running on this Exchange server. All but one is in a "mounted" state, but the SAMDB03 database does not appear to be running on its "preferred" server, as designated by its Activation Preference. For smaller environments where two or more Exchange Servers running in a DAG (Database Availability Group) are sitting next to each other, this might not be an issue. For larger distributed environments, losing track of where your mailbox databases are running can lead to end users complaining about email performance problems or worse. For example, If your office was headquartered in Boston, but have a DR facility in your satellite office in Shanghai, the last thing you want is all the traffic from the users in the Boston office traversing the WAN to access their mailboxes from the Shanghai server.

Mailbox Database Status.png
As obvious as that sounds, this can and does occur for simple, sometimes seemingly stupid reasons. For example, applying Windows Updates to the Exchange server in Boston, but failing to move those mailbox databases back over from Shanghai after the reboot. It's important to know which server in the DAG your mailbox databases are mounted, and be notified when they're not mounted on the appropriate server.
Replication Status Checks.png

The Replication Status Checks resource, also on the Application Details view, checks all aspects of replication and replay status to provide a complete overview of the mailbox server in the Database Availability Group (DAG). This allows you to proactively monitor continuous replication, the availability of the Active Manager, and the health and status of the underlying cluster service, quorum and network components, to name a few.

 

In the event of a replication status check failure you will be notified both visually through the UI, as well as through your normal alerting mechanisms. Clicking on the "More" link for any failed Replication Status Check displays the full details of that failure.

Each mailbox database on your Exchange server is a time bomb ticking down until ultimately it runs out of space. Be it from mailbox database limits imposed by the Standard Edition of Exchange, NTFS file size limitations, or simply running out of free space on the volume where the mailbox database is stored, it's only a matter of time before the mailbox database hits the wall. When that time comes, it's certain to negatively impact any and all users whose mailboxes reside on that mailbox server.

 

To stay ahead of the game it's imperative that you have a good understanding of how your mailbox database size relates to these limitations. This will allow you to be proactive in your approach to managing your mailbox databases, and the individual mailboxes that reside within.

Mailbox Database Size and Space Use.png

Alerting

 

This is precisely the kind of information that the Mailbox  Database Size and Space Use resource provides. Not only does this resource list all mailbox databases managed by the mailbox server, their current size on disk, and the amount of white space remaining within the database, but the linear gauge also shows the percentage of the mailbox databases usage as it relates to such things as remaining free space on the volume, and file size limits imposed by Exchange edition/version or the NTFS file system. This information is then available for reporting, trending, and of course, out of the box alerts so you can be notified proactively and avoid such crisis altogether.

 

This was just a tiny glimpse into a few of the powerful new capabilities included with AppInsight for Exchange. If you'd like to try it out for yourself, don't hesitate! Sign-up here to download SAM 6.1 Beta 2 today. You need only own an existing license of SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, and be under active maintenance to participate.

 

Your feedback (both positive or negative) is what we thrive upon. It serves either as confirmation that we're on the right track, or that adjustments and improvements need to be made. Either way, it's what helps us to build great software.

AppInsight for Exchange Out of the Box Alerts.png

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