In early January we traveled back in time to see how SolarWinds works with Cisco gear, in preparation for Cisco Live EMEA.
Now we’re talking about Microsoft and VMware, but we won’t travel back in time, and there’s no event happening. Why? New releases, of course.

 

But let’s take a few steps back to reiterate where we are, and what’s happening.

Looking at the Microsoft universe, what are you guys monitoring?

The most essential thing is probably the operating system. SolarWinds® supports Windows Server 2003-2016 out of the box with Server & Application Monitor (SAM) templates, and there’s a Server 2019 template already in the community, and I’d guess that it might turn into an “official” template at some point.

 

 

The templates can be assigned to nodes after a search, and they provide well-rounded monitoring with a few mouse clicks. Each template can be customized based on your needs, but essentially, they are ready to use, and the key performance indicators monitored make sure the machine is not acting up.

 

Next, there are applications.

A quick search for “Microsoft” here shows 71 templates built in to the product, and 263 templates have been contributed by the community. Thanks, guys!

 

 

Some of the templates are quite old, while others have been updated recently. You might find yourself in a situation with a template available for “Solution X 2016,” but you just updated to “2019” or whatever—I suggest giving the 2016 template a try first, as new products usually don’t change too much about monitoring.

It’s all nice and shiny, but there’s more.

 

The next step up is a feature called AppInsight, and this brightens up the day.
There are a couple of Microsoft solutions that are oh-so-popular, almost every organization is using them, and managing these applications can be unnecessarily complicated.
At SolarWinds, we don’t like complicated things, so in 2013, AppInsight for SQL came onboard, followed by Exchange and IIS in later versions. AppInsight isn’t exactly magic, but not too far from it.

During the process of adding a Windows node, SAM will automatically check if AppInsight is going to be a match and will suggest adding it in one of the steps. Just a single mouse click and loads of KPIs are monitored without further intervention required. And the best thing is, each KPI comes with supporting information to explain what exactly is going on if it suddenly turns red. This is invaluable for someone like me, who thinks SQL has been invented by the devil to bug humankind.
But we didn’t stop with the three AppInsights. There was a race here on THWACK for quite a while between different feature requests, but this one won by far, so SAM 6.8 comes with AppInsight for AD—great!

 

Let’s move on.
At some point, I think it was 2017, we saw the first templates for Office365. They have been updated recently, and you’ll find a quick overview here. As Microsoft does not provide access to logs—have a look here—the templates instead require the AzureAD module and use PowerShell for monitoring.

 

 

Together with NetPath, you get an excellent overview of Office365 as shown here in the online demo.

Likewise, in 2017, we added support for monitoring Azure.

 

 

A few articles explain the what and the how, and I suggest starting with this one. On a basic level, you attach the instance, throw an agent on the box, and monitor whatever is running on it. Again, NetPath is your friend even for this scenario.

 

One more thing regarding Microsoft: Hyper-V.
You can monitor the basics with SAM or Network Performance Monitor (NPM), and both provide information about used resources, what machines are running on a host, and how they relate to each other with Orion® Maps.
That’s nice, but we can do better, and here’s how:

 

Let me introduce you to Virtualization Manager (VMAN), which will deal with both Hyper-V and VMware.

VMAN goes much deeper in virtual environments and containers and trust me—virtualization isn’t dead at all.

Besides checking everything between a VM and the datastore—even vSAN—VMAN comes with pretty cool features like capacity planning, which just now received multi-clustering as a feature, and my all-time favorite: VM sprawl.
It contains this guy:

 

I so enjoy clicking “power off VM” to see if someone complains.

 

The latest version finally added another longtime feature request, VMware events.
Some of you guys used workarounds to get these events into the Orion Platform in the past.
We use the API to retrieve events in near real-time from vCenter or standalone hosts, and it works automatically—you add the gear, and we’ll do the rest for you.

 

As I said earlier, we don’t like complicated things here at SolarWinds.