If you've been watching the technology related news lately you've probably learned three things. First, IANA officially issued the last two /8 IPv4 address blocks and exhausted the IPv4 allocations a couple of months ago. Second, Nortel today announced that as part of its bankruptcy filings it is selling it's public IPv4 address space to Microsoft for $7.5M or roughly $11.25 per IP address. Third, SolarWinds recently announced a new IP Address Management application to help with IPv4 to IPv6 migration issues as well as to help make sure that you're making the most out of your existing address space.

On IANA issuing the last of their public addresses, this obviously caused quite a splash around the industry. I'm optimistic that the energy generated by this event will help drive some much needed momentum in the community around IPv6. No, it's not time to panic and no, you don't need to start converting all of your users to IPv6 today but you do need to learn IPv6 and start thinking about how and when it'll affect your organization and how you're going to make that transition as smooth as possible.

On the Microsoft and Nortel news, there are obviously a lot of open questions around transactions like this and how they'll be viewed by ARIN but I think the important thing to notice here is that someone was willing to pay $7.5 million dollars for something that is effectively free. Not only that, but this was by a technology company - one that I'm hoping will be help lead the charge toward IPv6.

On the SolarWinds IP Address Manager, this is something that I've wanted to bring to market here for very long time. Most of the solutions in this space are hard to use and really expensive and this has forced many organizations to either use spreadsheets or to create their own systems for tracking IPs. The SolarWinds solution is easy to install, setup, and use and will easily pay for itself with the time it can save your team. And hey, if IP addresses are worth $11.25 each isn't it worth fifty cents or so per IP to manage them?

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SNMP. The Simple Network Management Protocol. Effectively, the most common protocol or method used today to monitor health, performance, and availability of devices within your IT infrastructure. And yet, when you install a Windows operating system, SNMP is disabled by default. This means that once you decide to monitor all of your Windows Servers you'll have to install, configure, and enable SNMP on each one of them.

There are several different methods for enabling SNMP on your servers. The most common method is to RDP to each of your servers, go into the Control Panel, and install, configure, and then enable the protocol. If you only have one server to do this on it's not all that bad and you might learn a thing or two from the experience if you've never configured SNMP before. If you're in the middle of rolling out a monitoring project and you have several servers to configure - or even hundreds - you're going to want an easier method.

So, since we provide system and application management solutions here at SolarWinds and our customers are often faced with this challenge we decided to give a little something back to the community and create a free tool to solve this problem. The SNMP Enabler for Windows is a new free tool that helps you install, configure, and enable SNMP on your Windows systems.

As always, you can download this new free tool from SolarWinds.com...

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If you've been a network administrator or IT manager for very long, then you've ran your share of cables and had to trace your way though plenty of "patchy" wiring jobs. There's a reason that they say that the first three rules of network troubleshooting are "check the cable, check the cable, check cable" and you know what? Having a scary wiring closet can make those jobs, well, interesting to say the least.

So, here at SolarWinds we've sponsored a contest to select the best "Clean, Creative, and Catastrophic" wiring closets out there. The contest was so popular, that numerous photos were posted to our Facebook page and Cisco even honored us by copying our contest (hey, they say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, right?). I was given the honor of judging the contest and being the geeky, analytical person that I am, I devised a 10 point grading scale for each category and then used a separate five point scale to choose between the leaders in each category (I'm nothing if not thorough). In some cases, we had to enlarge the photos several times over and be pretty picky (the marketing folks that helped with this all think I'm crazy) but this was a close, close contest and wiring is serious business.

In each category, things were so close that I decided to pick my very own "honorable mentions". These folks came in as close seconds and deserve to be recognized.

In the category of Cleanest Cabling Closet, the "King of Cleanest  Cabling" is David Young from Kantar IT Partnership. This is some of the cleanest cabling that I've ever seen. Symmetrical, tight, easy to trace - I love it. Points were deducted for the mess at the bottom-left of the photo and for the odd green cable hanging down from the top-left but points were added for matching tie-wraps, cable management tray use, and the light at the top-center. No idea what it does, but it sure looks cool. I can just imagine it flashing and a horn sounding when collisions reach a certain level or etc...

An honorable mention for this category  goes to Jeppie Sumpter and the team at Western Kentucky University. Very impressive folks. Love the way that you used the overhead racks to run the cables, the use of multi-colored wiring, and etc.

In the category of Most Creative Wiring Closet, the "Most Most Creative Cabler" and winner for this category is Nathan Smith from St. Mary's Medical Center. To really appreciate this cabling job you have to watch Nathan's video. All I can say is "cool dude!".

An honorable mention for this category goes to Mitch Dickey from Frederick County Public Schools in Virginia. The more I looked at it, the more I liked this photo. So many different types of cabling all living together in harmony. It's a thing of beauty...

In the category of Most Catastrophic Wiring Closet and the "Complete Cabling Catastrophe" prize goes to Luis Guevera from Chicago. I'm not sure, but if you look really hard towards the back of the rack in the dark, I think I see the skeleton of the last person that tried to trace a cable in that wiring closet!!! I'm not even certain a "Texas sized" redneck like me would even fit behind that rack to trace a cable. It's giving me nightmares just thinking about it, especially with the fact that my back would be right up against the electrical supply boxes!!!

An honorable mention for this category goes to Daniel Parmelee from the Chicago Tribune. Daniel, buddy, I know that they eat a lot of spaghetti in Chicago but really? Do you use this wiring closet as a part of the initiation for newbie network admins that you hire? I can just imagine, "Hey, it's your first day and welcome aboard. Now, our CEO is having some LAN performance issues. Can you trace down his patch cable and replace it? Be sure not to jostle the other cables as they're kinda finicky..."

Each of the winners will receive a SolarWinds "Geek Kit" with the honorable mentions receiving SolarWinds shirts. Congratulations folks!!! Small pictures below - full size images available in all their glory for your unadulterated viewing pleasure on our Facebook page...


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King of Cleanest Cabling - David Young

Cleanest Cabling Honorable Mention - Jeppie Sumpter

Most Creative Cabler - Nathan Smith


Creative Cabler Honorable Mention - Mitch Dickey

Complete Cabling Catastrophe - Luis Guevera

Complete Cabling Catastrophe Honorable Mention - Daniel Parmelee

Well, it's that time of year again - awards season! The Grammy Awards were a huge success and both Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift rocked the house. This year's Academy Awards show reminded us that not everyone is cutout to host The Oscars. American Idol is down to the top 12 and I, for one, am pleased that we traded in Simon Cowell for the unbelievably awesome Steven Tyler. Last but not least - SolarWinds is up for awards by both Network Computing and by Storage Magazine!!!

This year the SolarWinds Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) has been nominated to the Network Computing Awards as the "Network Management Product of the Year". Cast your votes here to help push Orion to the top of the list!

Additionally, you can help nominate SolarWinds and SolarWinds Storage Profiler for Storage Magazine's awards. Categories of note include Product of the Year, Best Value for the Money, and for The One to Watch Award.

Voting ends soon so be sure to go here to vote for the Networking Computing Awards and click here to help nominate SolarWinds for the Storage Magazine Awards. Make your voice heard. Vote now and vote often :)

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A week or so ago I took a short vacation down to Belize. I'd had the trip planned for months and had everything all lined up - flights, hotels, car service to and from the airport - you name it I planned it. I'm sort of a psycho that way. Everything went fantastically - for all of about 90 minutes after we left my house...

You see, to get from Austin Texas to Belize City, Belize you fly from Austin to Houston (about 40 minutes) and then from Houston to Belize (about 2 hours). When we got to Houston we were informed that the airline had oversold the flight and that they weren't able to assign us seats yet. At first they said to just have a seat and not to worry and we'd get a seat assignment in a few minutes. However, as it turns out, we never did get those seat assignments and a series of events unfolded that put us in Atlanta for 2 days with a completely different airline without even a change of clothes and starting our Belize vacation about 2 1/2 days after we'd planned to.

During those 2 1/2 days and this entire set of events what really struck home with me was the impact that each individual customer service person we worked with along the had on our overall experience. The situation in of itself was pretty bad, but a few customer service people with a bad attitudes made things significantly worse. Likewise, there were 4 people along the way whose positive attitudes, empathy, and genuine desires to help made the situation not seem to bad after all and enabled me to retain some of my otherwise rapidly dwindling sanity.

In today's business environment none of us can afford to forget the value of a loyal customer. I tend to be a pretty positive person and I didn't blog, tweet, or add any Facebook posts on the negative attitudes I encountered but I did tweet and post on Facebook about several of the people along the way who did everything that they could to turn the situation around and hope that their bosses took notice and rewarded those folks.

As IT professionals it's all too easy to get wrapped up in the bits and bytes of what we do and forget that at the end of they day it's a very specialized kind of customer service that we provide. Whether you're a network engineer on the infrastructure team, a virtualization specialist building out a private cloud in the data center, or a system administrator migrating your users to Exchange 2010 - your users are your customers and as much as we all like to joke about our end users, we wouldn't have jobs without them.

So, as one IT person to another, as a guy who helped start a company where providing exemplary customer service is a big part of what separates us from the wannabes and posers out there trying to duplicate what we've created - take care of your customers. Because if you don't, somebody else will...

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If you’ve been managing networks for very long at all you’ve come to the realization that effective management of your IP address space is a key part of managing your network. Dealing with IP address conflict issues, DHCP scopes that have run out of space – and heaven forbid readdressing projects – can eat up a significant amount of your already limited time.

One of the first large-scale IP address management projects I worked on was for a large service provider here in the US. They’d recently purchased and deployed an IP address management solution from one of the framework players and they were having problems keep it running and especially in training their teams to use it. My project was to learn the product inside and out, rewrite all of their operational procedures around IP address management to leverage best practices with the tool, create a user manual for the application specific to their environment, processes, and people, and then to train their teams. It was a long project but in the end they were able to adopt the tool and their teams became quite good at leveraging it.

With regards to IP address management, most organizations underinvest when it comes to allocating time for IP address planning and in acquiring tools for IP address management. Had this company spent more time planning, their IP address schemas wouldn’t have been so complicated. They did deploy an IP address management tool but it came too late to be an aid in planning and at that time the tools available for this were all very expensive and complicated.

Next week we’re going to host a free webcast on IP address management best practices. Toward the end of the event we’ll also be demonstrating the latest version of the SolarWinds IP Address Manager which is an easy to use and affordable IP address management solution.

We’re offering the event three times next week so just choose the one at the date and time that works best for you and I hope to speak with you then.

March 10th, 1100 SGT (Singapore) - http://bit.ly/ff3omj   
March 10th, 1100 CST (Austin TX) - http://bit.ly/hbAVjQ   
March 11th, 1400 GMT (Cork Ireland) - http://bit.ly/f0bfhp


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