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Starting with VMAN 8.0, and continuing with 8.1  we've streamlined how you deploy and use VMAN.  Virtualization Manager 8.2 , the latest edition of these efforts, is now available on your Customer Portal.

 

One of the biggest pain points that surfaced over the last 2 releases was that the process for adding virtualization nodes to be monitored was not intuitive. This is solved with a new simplified workflow!

 

Whether choosing to add a Node or setting up a Discovery job, we've updated those entry points to direct you to the new, separate workflow.

 

Add a Node - Select VMware vCenter or Hyper-V devices
Network Discovery - Add VMware vCenter or Hyper-V devices
All Settings -  Add VMware vCenter or Hyper-V devices

 

Once you click on any of those entry points you'll be able to get started monitoring your environment with a few simple clicks.

 

Add a Virtual Object for Monitoring
See the thresholds that apply to your virtualization manager entities
Click Finish and you're successfully on your way to monitoring your virtualization environment

 

If you identified any thresholds that you'd like to tweak, simply navigate to All Settings -> Virtualization Settings to update your thresholds. Within a few clicks, you're ready to take advantage of capacity planning, recommendations and much more!

 

Get Started with Documentation

VMAN 8.2 Release Notes

VMAN 8.2 Getting Started Guide

VMAN 8.2 Administrator Guide

VMAN 8.2 Deployment Sizing Guide

Applications talk to each other, and you should know who they are talking to

 

Applications constantly rely on communication between different servers to deliver data to end-users. The more applications end-users require to do their job, the greater the complexity of application environments and those communication based relationships.

With the release of Server & Application Monitor 6.6, we introduced an Orion Agent based feature, called Application Dependencies, which enables system administrators to quickly gain an understanding of which applications servers are talking to one another, as well as see related metrics, to help with troubleshooting application performance issues.

 

How do you enable it?

The ability to discover and map Application Dependencies is enabled by default. This allows SAM to actively collect inbound and outbound communication at the application process level. This is paired with an ability to collect connection related metrics (latency and packet loss), which is disabled by default. You can find all of the configuration options in the Application Connection Settings section of the Main Settings & Administration screen.

 

What does it show you?

At its core, Application Dependencies help you understand if application performance issues are associated with server resource utilization or network communication. For example, Microsoft Exchange is heavily dependent on Active Directory for authentication and other services. Application Dependencies show you the relationship, and the communication, by adding a few new resources in SAM.

 

The two main areas where you can see the Application Dependency information. One area is in a new widget that is available on application and node details pages. This widget will show you the discovered application dependencies, specific to that monitored application or node. Notice in the screen below that you can see where multiple Exchange servers have a dependency on the Active Directory server, ENG-AUS-SAM-62, and more specifically the Active Directory service that is running on it.

 

The second area where you can see Application Dependency information is in the connection details page, which is linked from the above mentioned connections widget. This will allow you to see all of the application monitors, and associated processes, process resources metrics, and ports, responsible for the discovered communication, between two specific nodes. You will also see the latency and packet loss data, if you have enabled the Connection Quality Polling component. The screen below shows the relationship between ENG-AUS-SAM-62 (Active Directory) and ENG-AUS-SAM63 (Exchange), in greater detail.

What’s going on under the covers?

There are two, new Orion Agent plug-ins that help deliver this new functionality. One is the Application Dependency Mapping plug-in, and the other is the Connection Quality Polling plug-in.

The Application Dependency Mapping plug-in is responsible for collecting the active connection data from the server. That information is then sent back to the Orion Server, where it is correlated with component monitor and node data, already being collected by SAM (Note: You must have at least one component monitor, like the process monitor, applied to the server). As SAM matches the collected data from the different application servers, it creates the connection details pages and populates the connection widget.

 

The Connection Quality Polling plug-in is responsible for a synthetic probe, which measures latency and packet loss. This accomplished by sending TCP packets to the destination server, on the specific port identified by the active connection information collected by the Application Dependency Mapping plug-in. It is important to note that the Connection Quality Polling plug-in includes the NPCAP driver for use with this synthetic probe.

 

If you would like to read more about how this feature works, you can find more information in the SAM administrator guide.

 

Is that it?

Application Dependencies is not the only feature that was released in SAM 6.6. You can read more about the other features in the release notes. You can also check out Application Dependencies, live in action, in the online demo.

I am happy to announce General Availability of Storage Resource Monitor 6.6.   This release continues the momentum of supporting FLASH and HYBRID arrays that were highly requested by you on THWACK!  We've also updated to SRM to the latest version of the Orion® Platform and installer, so you'll enjoy the benefits of easier upgrades and participation in all the latest Orion® features.  Check out the SRM 6.6 Release Notes for more information about installing, upgrading and new features and fixes.

 

New Array Support

Support includes all the standard features you love: capacity utilization and forecast, performance, end to end mapping in AppStack, and integrated performance troubleshooting in PerfStack.  We also were able to squeeze in Hardware Health for all these arrays too!

  • EMC Unity
  • HPE Nimble
  • INFINIDAT InfiniBox
  • IBM V9000

Now for some screenshots for your viewing pleasure!

 

Monitoring EMC Unity

SummaryBlock StorageFile StorageHardware Health
EMC Unity Monitoring SummaryEMC Unity Block Storage Monitoring EMC Unity File Storage Monitoring EMC Unity Hardware Health Monitoring

 

Monitoring HPE Nimble Monitoring

SummaryBlock Storage File Storage Hardware Health
HPE Nimble Monitoring SummaryHPE Nimble Monitoring Block HPE Nimble Monitoring FileHPE Nimble Monitoring Hardware Health

 

Monitoring INFINIDAT InfiniBox

Summary
Block Storage
File Storage
Hardware Health
INFINIDAT InfiniBox Monitoring SummaryINFINIDAT InfiniBox Monitoring Block INFINIDAT InfiniBox Monitoring FileINFINIDAT InfiniBox Monitoring Hardware Health

 

Monitoring IBM V9000

You'll have to try this one yourself, looks the same as our monitoring for IBM SVC.

 

WHAT'S NEXT?

Don't see what you are looking for here? Check out the What we are working on for SRM after v6.6 -- Updated on Apr 2, 2018 post for what our dedicated team of storage nerds and code jockeys are already looking at.  If you don't see everything you've been wishing for there, add it to the Storage Manager (Storage Profiler) Feature Requests.

 

Note: The SolarWinds trademarks, service marks, and logos are the exclusive property of SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC or its affiliates.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

No, you haven't entered a multidimensional time warp. Nor are you having a 90's flashback. While the industry hype cycle is primarily focused on hot new trends like hybrid IT, SaaS, and containers, there lurks an unsung hero in the darkest dwellings of many of today's most established organizations. It oftentimes doesn't get the attention or appreciation it deserves, because to most, its existence is completely transparent. It sits there in the corner, just plugging away, day after day, hour after countless hour, without complaint or need for recognition. Yet these systems remain at the very core of the business, handling the most critical transactions. From maintaining patients medical records, keeping all your banking transactions in order, to running some of today's largest companies CRM and ERP applications, AIX is still very much around us every day, touching our lives in ways you probably haven't even considered.

 

For as important as these systems remain even today, the monitoring of their performance and application health is far too often overlooked or completely forgotten. Perhaps it's because these workhorses were built to last and seldom fail at their important duties, making them fall into the dangerous category of out-of-sight-out-of-mind. More likely, however, is that these systems have traditionally been extremely difficult to gain visibility into using modern day multi-vendor monitoring solutions. That may be because a long time ago, IBM seemingly stole a page out of Sony's playbook of market dominance, which had propelled their proprietary Betamax and MiniDisk formats into the iPhone like successes of their day. Oh, wait. That's not what happened! That's not what happened at all!!

 

Unfortunately, despite strict and very well defined industry standards which would govern how key operating system metrics should be exposed, and allowing third-party monitoring solutions to provide necessary insight into their health and performance, IBM decided that standards didn't necessarily apply to them. This decision has historically made monitoring AIX systems challenging for both their customers, as well as, 3rd parties seeking to provide a monitoring solution for those organizations most critical systems. Compounding this problem is the fact that the few monitoring solutions available to those customers have traditionally been wildly complex, difficult to deploy and configure, and even more challenging to maintain.  A new solution was needed. One which could bring with it unexpected simplicity, where none existed before. Its time has come, and that time is now.

 

 

AIX Agent Deployment

 

As one would expect from SolarWinds, deployment of the AIX agent is a simple turnkey affair, no different than deploying Agents to other operating systems, such as Windows or Linux. That's right, deploying an Agent to AIX is just as simple as it is for Windows and you don't need to be an expert in AIX. In fact, you don't even need any experience using AIX to be successful monitoring these systems with Server & Application Monitor (SAM) 6.6. If you can add a Node in Orion, then you, too, can monitor your AIX 7.1 and 7.2 systems.

 

Add Node Wizard - Push Deployment

 

To begin, navigate to [Settings -> All Settings -> Add Node], enter the IP address or fully qualified hostname of the AIX host you'd like managed in the "Polling Hostname or IP Address" field and select the "Windows & Unix/Linux Servers: Agent" radio button from the available "Polling Method" options. Next, enter the credentials that will be used to both connect to the AIX host and install the agent software on the 'Unix/Linux tab. The credentials provided here should have 'root' or equivalent level permissions. Note that the credentials provided here are used only for initial deployment of the agent. Future password changes of the account credentials provided here will have no impact on the agent once it is deployed. Alternatively, if you authenticate to your AIX host via SSH using a client certificate rather than a username and password, click the 'Certificate Credential' radio button and upload your certificate in PEM format through the Orion web interface. This certificate will then be used to authenticate to the AIX host for the purpose of installing the Agent.

 

You can also optionally add SNMP credentials to the Agent if SNMP has already been configured properly on the AIX system. Rest assured, though, that this isn't needed and is used only if you're wanting to utilize SAM's SNMP Component Monitors against the AIX system. Configuring this option will also populate the 'Location' and 'Contact' fields located on the 'Node Details' resource if those values have been properly populated in your SNMP configuration. Everything else will be polled natively through the AIX Agent with zero reliance upon SNMP.

 

 

Once you've entered your AIX credentials, click the 'Next' button at the bottom of the page. The Agent will then be deployed to the AIX host using a combination of SSH and SFTP requiring TCP port 22 be open from the Orion server (or additional polling engine) to the AIX endpoint you wish to manage for push deployment to function properly.

 

Install Agent PromptInstall Agent Progress IndicatorList Resources

 

Manual - Pull Deployment

 

In some scenarios, it may not be possible for the Orion server to push the agent to the AIX host over SSH. This is not uncommon when the host you wish to manage resides behind a NAT or access control lists restrict access to the AIX system via SSH from the network segment where the Orion server resides.  While firewall policy changes, port forwarding, or one-to-one address translations could be made to facilitate push deployment of the agent, in many cases, it may be far easier to perform a manual deployment of the agent to those hosts.

 

The Agent package can be downloaded from the Orion web interface to the AIX host by going to [Settings -> All Settings -> Agent Settings -> Download Agent Software] and selecting "Unix/Linux" from the options provided and clicking "Next".

 

Download Agent Software - Machine Type
Download Agent Software - Deployment Method

 

In the following step of the Wizard select "Manual Install" and click "Next". Finally, in the third and final step of the wizard is where you will select 'IBM AIX 7.x' from the 'Distribution' drop down. Here you can also configure any advanced options the agent will use when it is installed, such as which polling engine the Agent should be associated with in Agent Initiated (Active) mode, or the listening port the Agent will use when running in Server Initiated (Passive) mode. Additionally, you can also specify a proxy server the Agent should use to communicate to the Orion server or Additional Polling Engine in Agent Initiated (Active) mode. If you're deploying in an environment where proxy servers are used, fret not. The Agent's proxy configuration fully supports the use of authenticated proxies.

 

 

After selecting all the appropriate configuration options, click the "Generate Command" button at the bottom of the page. This will generate a dynamic installation command based upon the settings chosen above, which can then be copied and pasted into an SSH or X-Windows session on the AIX host. The AIX machine will then download and install the appropriate agent software from the Orion server using those pre-configured options.

 

Copy Generated Agent Installation CommandPaste Command into SSH TerminalAgent Installation Success

 

As soon as the Agent is registered with the Orion server, select your newly added agent node and click "Choose Resources" from the 'Manage Agents' view to select items on the node you would like to monitor.

 

 

Agent Advantages

 

So what's so great about Agents anyway? What's wrong with using the tried and true agentless methods for monitoring AIX hosts, like SNMP?

 

Encryption

 

Well, as anyone who has the misfortune of using SNMP to monitor their AIX hosts can tell you, it's not all sunshine and lollipops, starting with configuring SNMP. Most environments today have strict security standards which mandate the use of encryption for virtually all network communication. While configuring SNMP v1/v2 on AIX isn't especially difficult for an experienced AIX administrator, neither of those versions of SNMP utilizes encryption. That would necessitate that users utilize SNMPv3, which comparatively speaking, practically requires users obtain a Ph.D. from Big Blue University in AIX to properly enable and configure.  By comparison, the Orion AIX Agent natively utilizes highly secure 2048 bit TLS encryption for all network communication.

 

Visibility

 

IBM's proprietary SNMP daemon leaves much to be desired when compared to other standard based SNMP daemons running on alternative operating systems. Chief among the complaints I hear regularly is that IBM's SNMP daemon doesn't support important standard MIBs, such as the HOST-RESOURCES-MIB which exposes key pieces of information regarding running processes on the server and their respective resource consumption. This remains the primary reason why so many customers have chosen to replace IBM's proprietary SNMP daemon with NET-SNMP.  SImilar to NET-SNMP, though, are issues of reflecting critical metrics accurately, such as memory utilization. It seems odd that something so basic would present so many challenges and be pervasive across both Linux and AIX when monitored via SNMP.

 

Reliability

 

Like all Agents in Orion, the AIX Agent runs independently of the Orion server. This means the Agent continues to monitor the host where it's installed, even if the Orion server is down, or otherwise inaccessible due to a network outage. Once connectivity is restored or the Orion server is brought back online, the data collected by the AIX agent is then uploaded to the Orion server, filling gaps in the historical time series charts that would have otherwise existed if that node was being monitored via SNMP. This ensures that availability reporting is accurate, even if the server running Orion experiences a catastrophic failure.

 

Reachability

 

In today's highly secure and heavily firewalled environments which are riddled with network obstacles such as network address translation, port address translation, access control lists, and proxies, it's sometimes amazing that anything works at all. More and more the things that need to be monitored are oftentimes the most difficult to monitor. With the AIX agent, overcoming these obstacles is a snap, allowing users to monitor their AIX systems regardless of where they might be located in the environment. Have your Orion system deployed in the Cloud and running in Amazon's AWS or Microsoft's Azure? Not a problem. Deploy the Agent in Agent Initiated (Active) Mode and forget about VPN tunnels or 1:1 NAT mappings. Does all traffic leaving the network go through a proxy server? No problem. The Agent natively supports the use of authenticated proxies to access the Orion server, while conversely, Agent communication within Orion can be configured to utilize a proxy server to reach an Agent that might not be accessed directly. These are possibilities you previously could only dream about when using SNMP.

 

 

AIX Agent Exclusive Features

 

There have been several Orion features released throughout the years which had previously only been available for nodes running other operating systems, such as Linux or Windows. AIX had largely been left out in the cold. That is, until today.

 

Network Interface Monitoring

 

In Server & Application Monitor 6.6, network interfaces on your AIX server can now be monitored without needing Network Performance Monitor installed. This functionality is available exclusively through the AIX Agent and does not count against your SAM component monitor usage or NPM element license count, in the event you also have NPM installed. That means this functionality is provided essentially free and potentially even allows you to free up some of those valuable NPM element licenses for other nodes in your environment.

 

Volume Performance Monitoring

 

Today, storage is the leading cause of server and application performance issues. Having visibility into storage volume performance, such as disk reads/writes per second, and queued disk I/O from within the Orion web console alongside other key performance indicators, allows you to isolate where performance bottlenecks are occurring on your server and which applications are affected. With the AIX Agent, you now have visibility into the storage volume performance, similar to those that you've grown accustomed to on your Windows and Linux volumes.

Total Disk IOPSDisk Queue Length

 

 

Real-Time Process Explorer

 

When applications aren't running right, inevitably there's a culprit. It may be the processes that make up the application you're already monitoring, or it might be with those you aren't. The Real-Time process explorer provides you visibility into all processes and daemons running on your AIX server, along with their respective resource utilization. It's like your web-based command center where you can quickly determine which processes are running amuck. No more firing up your SSH client, logging in and running 'topas' to troubleshoot application issues. Now you can do it all from the comfort of your web browser. Spot a runaway process or one that's leaking memory like a sieve? You can also terminate those processes directly within that same web interface. Simply select the process(s) you want to 'kill' and click 'End Process'. Voila! It's just that easy.

 

You can also now select processes you wish to monitor on your AIX server directly through the Real-TIme Process Explorer. To do so, simply select the process you're interested in monitoring and click 'Start Monitoring'. You'll then be walked through SAM's application template wizard where you can choose to add this process to one of your existing Application Templates or create a new one.

 

 

 

Reboot Management Action

 

If you find yourself in a situation where terminating processes alone does not resolve your application issue, there's always the tried and true reboot. While usually the option of absolute last resort, it's comforting to have it easily at hand when and if you've exhausted all other options. Simply click the 'Reboot' button in the 'Management' resource on the 'Node Details' view and you'll be prompted to confirm that you really mean business.

 

 

Application Component Monitors

 

Last, and unquestionably most important, are the wide array of various SAM Application Component Monitors supported by the AIX Agent. From these components, you can create templates to monitor virtually any application, commercial, open source, or homegrown.

 

AIX Agent Supported SAM Component Monitor Types

Directory Size Monitor

File Count Monitor

HTTPS Monitor

ODBC User Experience Monitor

DNS User Experience Monitor

File Existence Monitor

JMX Component Monitor

Process Monitor

File Age Monitor

File Size Monitor

Linux/Unix Script Monitor

SOAP Monitor

File Change MonitorHTTP MonitorNagios Script Monitor

SNMP Component Monitor

TCP Port Monitor

Tomcat Server Monitor

animelov

SWQL Walkthrough

Posted by animelov Employee Mar 13, 2018

Hi, all!  And welcome back to our discussion on the SDK and all things SWQL. So, at this point, we’ve briefly introduced SWQL, but today we’re going to get down to building queries with SWQL and talk about what you can make with them.

 

But first, let’s discuss why this is important. The Orion® Platform does an excellent job of giving you a single-pane-of-glass view for all of your products, while giving you the freedom to pick and choose which modules you wish to purchase. Because of this, the back-end database is fairly segregated, save for a handful of canned widgets and reports. For database experts, this would be done by waving a magic wand and using the correct incantations of “Inner join!” or “Outer Join!”  For the rest of this, SWQL can do the trick!

 

Now, what this is NOT going to be is a general guide on structured query language (SQL). This does require some level of knowledge of how to construct a basic query, but don’t be scared off just yet.  SWQL, let alone SQL, is not something I knew before I started, but I picked up quite easily.

 

Also, before we begin, if you haven’t picked up the latest SWQL studio, I highly recommend you do so and check out our most recent post here. This can be installed anywhere that has an Orion server connection, including your laptop.

 

Now that that is out of the way, let’s get to the meat of the subject. SWQL, in and of itself, is very similar to SQL, but with a few restrictions. For example, SWQL and its studio is read-only. There are SWIS calls you can make with it for API/PowerShell®, but we’ll get into that in a later post. For a quick rundown, check out this post.

 

If I wanted to see a list of applications that I’m monitoring on my SAM instance, I could write a query that looks like this:

select Displayname from Orion.APM.Application

 

And I go to Query à Execute (or F5),

 

that will get me an output that looks like this:

 

Pretty simple, right?  Let’s look and see what this does, though:

 

 

“select” and “from” should be self-explanatory if you know a little SQL. “select” means we want to retrieve/read information, and “from” is stating which table we’re getting that information from.  Orion.APM.Application is the table name (so, we’re getting information “from” “Orion.APM.Application”), and “DisplayName” is the title of the column we’re getting that information from.  Now, where did we get that column name from?  If you look at SWQL studio and find the table name and expand on it, you’ll get this:

 

 

Those icons with the blue icons next to them? Those are the columns we can pick from. For the other icons, check out our previous post here.

 

Let’s add some more to that query. If we want to see the status of the applications (up/down/warning/etc.), we can just add the status to the query, like so:

select Displayname, Status from Orion.APM.Application

 

This will give us:

 

More info on the status values can be found here, but, 1 is up, 2 is down, etc.

 

Now, what if we wanted to select ALL of the columns in this table to see what we get. Unfortunately, this is one of the first things that differs from SQL to SWQL that you cannot wildcard with *.  In other words:

 

select * from <tablename> does NOT work!!!

 

If you want all columns, you’ll have to select each one of them, separated by a comma. Luckily, SWQL will do this for you. If you right-click on the table name, you have the option of creating a general select statement:

That will generate a query for you with EVERY column possible for that table.

 

Pretty neat, right? Now, let’s get to the fun part of SWQL. One of the attributes of SWQL over SQL is its ability to automatically link related tables. If you are familiar with SQL, this is where things would normally get hairy with inner/outer join statements. Here we make it easier.

 

Let’s use our application example again. Having the list of applications is great, but to me, it’s nothing unless I know which node it is tied to. There is a node id in that application table, but it returns a number, which means nothing to me.  Remember those chain link icons from earlier?  Those are linked tables, and if you look, there is a link to the Orion.Nodes table:

 

 

To get the linkage to work, we first need to give the application table an alias. To do so, I just need to give it a name after the table declaration.  So, let’s call it “OAA,” which is short for Orion APM Application. Note: you can name it anything EXCEPT for a reserved word, like “select” or “from.”

select Displayname, Status from Orion.APM.Application OAA

 

Now, we need to make sure our columns are referenced to OAA by adding that to the beginning of the column names:

select OAA.Displayname, OAA.Status from Orion.APM.Application OAA

 

Finally we add the node name.  We can do this with the linked table from earlier by using dot notation.  In other words, if I write in “OAA.Node.”, I’m now allowed to pick any column from the node table, including the name of the node (or “caption”).  Now my query looks like this:

select OAA.Displayname, OAA.Status, OAA.Node.Caption from Orion.APM.Application OAA

 

And now, this is my output:

 

This is where things get interesting. Remember how I said that we can tie multiple products together?  The AppStack dashboard with Virtualization Manager and Storage Resource Monitor is extremely powerful, especially in terms of reporting. SWQL can help us with that.

 

If we keep going with our Application example above, we can continue tying information together from other tables.  So far, we’ve linked the nodes table, but let’s see what ESX host these belong to. From the Applications table, there isn’t a link to any of the VIM tables:

 

But it is related to the “Nodes” table, and if we look at the Nodes table:

Then we go to the Virtual Machines table and from Virtual Machines table…

… there’s the Hosts table!  So, let’s link that to our query using dot notation:

select OAA.Displayname, OAA.Status, OAA.Node.Caption, OAA.Node.VirtualMachine.Host.HostName from Orion.APM.Application OAA

 

Note, the host names that are NULL refer to machines that are not monitored via Virtualization Manager; they do not have a host.

 

That’s it for now. Later, we’re going to learn some more tricks for formatting with SWQL, and then how to apply this to Orion®. Stayed tuned for the next one!

We are happy to announce the release of SolarWinds® Traceroute NG, a standalone free tool that finds network paths and measures their performance.

The original traceroute is one of the world’s most popular network troubleshooting tools but it works poorly in today’s networks. You can read about its shortfalls in this whitepaper.

SolarWinds® fixed these shortfalls with NetPath, a feature of NPM.  People love NetPath but there are two problems.  First, NetPath takes a couple minutes to find all possible paths in complex networks, much longer than a quick tool like traditional traceroute. Second, most people don’t own SolarWinds® NPM and so don’t have access to NetPath.

Traceroute is too important of a tool to allow it to languish.  That’s why we’ve taken what we’ve learned with NetPath and fixed traceroute.  We call it Traceroute NG.

Traceroute NG is a super fast way to get accurate performance results for a network path in a text format that’s easy to share.

Compared to traceroute, TracerouteNG is:

  • Super-fast
  • Rarely blocked by firewalls
  • More accurate, thanks to path control
  • Updates latency/loss continuously
  • Detects path changes
  • TCP or ICMP

 

You can download Traceroute NG here and launch the tool by double-clicking the traceng.exe.

You’ll be presented with a help screen and the application will wait for your input. Type the domain name to start a trace.

 

You can also launch the free tool from Windows command prompt:

traceng www.google.com

Let’s look at some results.

 

Scenario 1: Endpoint is blocking TCP port

We all know that HTTP uses TCP 80 by default. What would traceroute show you if someone blocks that port on a firewall or webserver?

All good, it’s not the network. You know it’s not your issue. But what is the issue?  That’s where Traceroute NG will help:

Traceroute NG can mimic TCP application traffic, so packets are treated as the application traffic is. In this case it detected that port TCP 80 on the destination webserver is closed. You know, it’s not the network. But you can be more precise and tell your sysadmin to enable this port on his webserver.

 

Scenario #2: Network path change

To illustrate this scenario, I have created a simple network using GNS3.

 

I also have a loopback adapter configured, to point all IPv6 traffic to this lab:

 

I’d like to trace from my machine in Cloud1 to the PC (fc90::3). If the OSPF routing works, I should go through routers R1, R7 and R3. Traceroute confirms:

 

Traceroute NG as well:

 

What if I do maintenance on router R7? Will traceroute tell me, when router R7 becomes unavailable and detect the new path? No. It runs once and then you need to run it again. Manually.

With Traceroute NG, detecting a change is simple. You can tell Traceroute NG to warn you if the path changes and optionally log the output. An example command would be: -a warn -l -p 23 fc90::3

And this is the result:

 

So you know that your router is down and once you hit enter, Traceroute NG will show you the new path. In the GNS3 lab we expect the new path will go through R1, R5, R2 and R3. Traceroute NG confirms:

 

And the log file as well, showing you original path and the new path:

In this use case, we have leveraged several features of Traceroute NG. First, it runs continuously. Second, it detects, when a path is no longer available. Third, it can log results in a text format, that’s easy to share.

Now, enough boring reading, it’s time to try it out! You can download Traceroute NG here: https://www.solarwinds.com/free-tools/traceroute-ng/

 

We’re super excited to share this tool with the world and hope you find it useful.  Let us know your thoughts!

INTRODUCING SOLARWINDS BACKUP

February 6, 2018 is a historic day. 

After months of planning, collaboration, and late night efforts, the journey of SolarWinds Backup is ready for primetime!  We are pleased to announce that SolarWinds Backup is officially launching and Generally Available today to our core market of IT professionals.  This launch is one more way we’re driving even more innovation in our Orion portfolio of products, and backup is a natural fit with our existing systems management capabilities.  You rely on SolarWinds for comprehensive monitoring of your servers and applications, for remote control and administration of these assets, and now, we can help you solve your backup and recovery challenges as well.

 

While most in-house IT departments have some type of backup solution, there is a lot of dissatisfaction with the options they currently use.  In November, we conducted a survey on THWACK, and heard from our customer base that:

  • Backups are too expensive, and managing them is too complex
  • Reliability of backups is an issue, requiring time-consuming manual checking
  • Managing and forecasting local storage requirements for backups is painful

 

You can read more on the full survey results here: Is Unnecessary Complexity Making Backups a Headache For You?

 

SolarWinds Backup changes the game by bringing a simple, powerful, and affordable alternative to the market.  It’s a modern, fully managed, cloud-first backup service, already chosen by thousands of managed service providers, now packaged for the enterprise and direct use by IT professionals.

 

It's tough to consume an entire product in a single blog post, so this inaugural posting will provide the highlights of our new hotness!  In future posts, we'll follow up with more "How-To" guidance on specific topics and get you rapidly backing up your IT environment in minutes.  If you are chomping at the bit, feel free to browse our new SolarWinds Backup forum on THWACK with the latest in release notes, documentation and step-by-step training videos.

 

THE ARCHITECTURE

There are two primary interfaces you'll find when you start your journey with SolarWinds Backup, and generally you should be able to use them without training or instruction.  As you move into more advanced topics, we will provide you with the resources you need.   On day 1, two parts are all you need to know to get started.

Part 1: The Console: http://backup.management

Deploy, monitor, report, manage users, create profiles, and remotely control all your backups from this unified, self-service console.

the best console in backup

Part 2: Backup Manager (the agent)

The Backup Manager agent does all the heavy lifting on protected end-points (i.e., devices, servers, instances).  The key functions of the agent are to scan data, find block level changes, deduplicate, compress, encrypt, optimize data file size for speed, and much more all behind the scenes.

 

 

UNDER THE HOOD

TrueDelta technology

SolarWinds Backup includes a unique TrueDelta technology that tracks block-level changes between backups, so you only back up (or restore) what has changed – not the entire file. This keeps backup windows short, only transmits the minimal amount of changed data to be backed up over the network, and improves performance overall.

 

Direct-to-cloud backup

The SolarWinds Backup services were designed from the ground up for fast, efficient, remote backups. You can skip the hassles of configuring local and remote backups, storage provisioning, and storage capacity planning. Instead, your backups go safely to our global purpose-built private cloud, with backup windows measured typically in minutes, not hours.  Manage your storage pool and capacity intuitively from the Console.

 

End-to-end security

Encryption is built into our backup process. Backup data is encrypted at the source, stays encrypted while in transit, and while at rest.

 

Single, unified management console

Protect physical, virtual, and cloud servers, including all major operating systems and hypervisors, with a single product. One unified web-based dashboard shows you backup status at a glance, and frees you to check systems, and even do restores, from any location – even from your mobile device.  Do you have the need for backing up workstations, laptops or just certain documents?  Not a problem, as our solution covers these capabilities also!

 

Recovery options

Whether you need to recover an entire server or VM, an application, or just a portion of a file, SolarWinds Backup handles it.

  • Recover at WAN speed or LAN speed, using the optional Local SpeedVault™ 
  • Physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-virtual recovery automates a full system restore to VMware vSphere® or Microsoft® Hyper-V®

  • Bare-metal recovery simplifies and reduces recovery time for Windows® servers, and can be used for migration to new hardware
  • Cloud recovery targets provide even more flexibility by allowing recovery to Microsoft® Azure®, or to any other virtual environment of your choice

 

Secure remote storage for your backup data, worldwide

SolarWinds Backup provides world-class storage for your backup data with around-the-clock security in our data centers located on four continents. For the Backup Services, our data centers’ certifications meet requirements for HIPAA compliance and similar legal and regulatory standards. The Backup Services are scalable and can grow with your business.

 

LICENSING AND ROI

Pricing for SolarWinds Backup is straightforward and based on an annual subscription with tiers based on the number of operating system instances (servers) being protected. Each tier includes a block of cloud storage, so there are no extra charges or hidden costs.

SolarWinds Backup is the simple, powerful, affordable option.  The product’s simplicity and ease of management translate to even greater savings, as personnel do not need extensive training or certification. There is no need to buy expensive local storage to support backups, or even to pay for a separate contract for cloud provided storage.  It’s all included.

 

WHAT'S INCLUDED

BACKUP

 

File System / System State (Microsoft)

Windows Server® 2008/ 2008 R2/ 2012/ 2012 R2 & Windows SBS 2011, Windows Server 2016.  Windows Vista/ 7/ 8.x/ 10

File System (GNU/Linux)

CentOS® 5/ 6/ 7, Debian® 5/6/ 7, OpenSUSE® 11/ 12

File System (Apple)

Mac® OS X® 10.9 Mavericks/ 10.10 Yosemite®/ 10.11 EL Capitan

Network Shares

Remotely protect network shares and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices

Application Protection

Microsoft Exchange 2007/ 2010/ 2013/ 2016, MS SharePoint® 2007/ 2010/ 2013

Database Protection

Microsoft SQL Server® 2005/ 2008/ 2012/ 2014/ 2016, MySQL 5.0/ 5.1/ 5.5/ 5.6, Oracle® Database Standard Edition 11g for Windows

Open File Protection

Leverage Microsoft Volume Shadow copy Services (VSS) for open file and application aware backups

Pre/ Post Backup Scripts

Back up third-party application and databases through custom scripting

Backup Filters & Exclusions

Exclude specific extensions, files, paths, or volumes from File System and Network Share backups

Backup Scheduling

Automate protection with multiple recurring backup schedules

 

 

RECOVERY

 

Search and Restore

Individual files across all recovery points from Backup Manager (excluding VSS plugin)

Self Service Restores

Use Virtual Drive technology to present historic backup sessions as a browseable file system

Application Restores

Full application- and database-level restores

Continuous Restore

Use the Recovery Console to automatically create / update standby images or remote recovery copies of selected data

Physical to Virtual (Source)

Windows Vista®/ 7/ 8.x/ 10, Windows Server 2008/ 2008 R2/ 2012/ 2012 R2/ 2016 & Windows SBS 2011

Physical to Virtual (Virtual Disk Target)

Create (.VHD/X or .VMDK) files for use in the virtual environment of your choice

Physical to Virtual (Hypervisor Target)

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2/ 2012/ 2012 R2 (Hyper-V 2.0 and 3.0) VMware vSphere (ESXi) versions: 4.1, 5.0, 5.1, 5.5 and 6.0.

Physical to Virtual (Cloud Target)

Microsoft Azure is supported

Recovery Testing

Automated recovery with email confirmation and screenshots (VMware and Hyper-V)

 

Bare Metal Recovery (BMR)

Create bootable CD or USB media to recover systems without a reliable OS. Supports dissimilar hardware, dissimilar drives, single pass application recovery (VSS) and granular file / volume selections

 

 

MANAGEMENT

 

Web-based Management Console

Single view to monitor and manage all resources from anywhere

User Defined Roles

Multiple roles with defined permissions

Reports / Alerts

Custom views, Daily dashboards, consolidated backup reports, real-time alerts, and disaster recovery

testing

Audit Logs

User-accessible log of changes made on protected device

Remote Management & Control

Remotely launch the Backup Manager directly from the management console

Automated Deployment

Silent install, command-line options, and/or use your favorite software deployment tool.  A single command is good for the unlimited number of installations.

Remote Commands

Allows for remote operating commands for a device or a group of devices

API / Command Line

Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)

Automatic Updates

Monthly scheduled updates with version control

File Versioning & Retention

Three (3) versions minimum; 90-day retention.

Data Archiving

Extend beyond the standard retention model and help ensure compliance with multiple data archiving policies

Password Protection

Password protection for backup data to restrict changes or limit functions to restore only

Industry Compliance

Helps you meet compliance requirements, such as HIPAA, SOX, PCI-DSS and others, in regard to encryption  through our SSL for backup data - in-motion and at-rest

Encryption Key Length

AES 256-bit encryption 

Data Center Security

Backup data stored in one of (7) SSAE16 SOC-1 Type II and ISO-27001 certified private data centers worldwide

Data Center Locations

USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, France, Spain, Australia, and South Africa.

 

 

WHAT ELSE?

Don't see what you are looking for here?

 

Visit the SolarWinds Backup Forum

Check out the What We're Working On for SolarWinds Backup post for what our dedicated team of backup developers and code jockeys are already looking at. 

If you don't see everything you've been wishing for there, add it to the SolarWinds Backup Feature Requests.

Greetings! And welcome to the second in our series of primers on customising the Orion® Platform. Today’s post will focus on first installing and then navigating through SWQL Studio. This free utility is simple to use, but can drastically lower the barrier to creating and editing SWQL queries.

Help Resources

Before we go any further, it’s worth highlighting two key resources for using the SDK.

  • The GitHub®
  • And the THWACK®

 

The GitHub site is the main resource, where you can download the installer, browse code samples, and review the schema and wiki for the SDK itself. It’s also where issues are tracked, so if you do find a bug you can flag it as an issue there.

The other main resource is the Orion SDK forum here on THWACK. SolarWinds does not provide pre- or post-sales support on any customisations, including code using the Orion SDK. However, that does not mean you are alone. You can often find code samples that may address your use case by simply searching the forum. And the site is also frequented by not just SolarWinds staff and THWACK MVPs, but other users who can also provide feedback and guidance on code that you may be working on.

Installing SWQL Studio

SWQL Studio is a Windows®-based utility, and is included with the Orion SDK. The installation is simple. Just navigate to the “releases” area of the GitHub site (https://github.com/solarwinds/OrionSDK/releases) and download and install “OrionSDK.msi” on your Windows workstation.

Once installed, connect it to your Orion server (of course, you will be working on your special dev server).

 

   SWQL Studio

 

Navigating through SWQL Studio

The connection itself is made to SWIS on the server (the same Information Service covered in the previous post). By accessing via SWIS, instead of SWQL itself:

  • Separate logins to the actual SQL database itself are not needed
  • Account limitations are still applied
  • Any changes to the database schema are abstracted from the user

Once connected, you will see the server you connected to, as well the credentials you used, and if you expand on this connection icon, you will see the various data sources represented. Note, the list of objects will vary depending on the modules installed and the versions of those modules.

 

 

To the right of the object list you will see an editor screen. From here, you can type in SWQL, and execute the query to see the results. Running the query is very simple:

  • You can click Query-> Execute in the menu
  • Or simply hit F5 or Ctrl-E

In the below example, I typed out a simple query. We will talk more in the next post about how to write queries. I just want to draw your attention to the fact that in this latest version of SWQL Studio (2.3.0.123), autocompletion is also possible.

 

A lot of the power of SWQL Studio however, lies in the fact that the necessary data can be viewed graphically.

Let’s expand on the Orion item in the list:

 

 

Then scroll down to Orion.Nodes, where we will see the resource referenced in the hand-written SWQL statement I used previously. If I expand this resources I will then see all of the properties of this Orion.Nodes object, two of which I had referenced in the aforementioned SWQL statement (caption, and IP_Address).

 

 

A key difference between SQL and SWQL is that there is no equivalent to select* in SWQL. However, just by right-clicking on the entity within SWQL studio, you can “Generate Select Statement,” which will populate the editor window, with all the fields populated.

 

 

Another useful aspect is the ability to identify the property type by its icon. To explain a bit further, let’s refer to Orion.Syslog as an example.

 

 

 

First up, we have the keys, which are indicated by the golden key icon. These are essentially the unique IDs used to reference each individual record in the data source.

 

 

The most common properties are the standard fields, indicated as blue rectangular prisms:

 

 

 

Whereas properties that are inherited are display as green cubes:

 

 

 

A very interesting aspect here is that related entities (depicted with the chain icon below) are also shown here. That means you can see which of these can be used to implicitly join data, without having to write an explicit join.

 

 

And as a final point, verbs (represented as pink prisms) that can be used in scripts are listed here, as well the parameters needed for each verb. We will cover this very cool feature in a future post.

 

 

 

Wrap Up

  Now that we have taken a solid look at SWQL studio, you should be in an excellent position to dive in and look at the data available within Orion, for use in reports and scripts. Not only does it allow you to easily create SWQL that you can use for various purposes, it also allows you to parse the entities within the database, including related objects.  With the next post, we will actually work with SWQL queries, and some of the constructs that differentiate SWQL from SQL. And in follow-up posts, we will see how the verbs can be used to provide management capabilities from

If you haven't enabled NBAR2 in your routers, you're not getting all that Netflow offers.  You're missing the Application data that's passing through your L3 interfaces.

 

And you're probably getting Alerts from NTA, telling you that it's receiving Netflow data that's missing NBAR2 information from an NBAR2-compatible device.

 

There are at least four places you'll see that Alert.  One is at the top of your Main NPM page, with the white alarm bell and a red instance counter.  Click on it and you can see the alerts:

 

 

A second place you'll see these errors is in the Events page:

 

 

A third place you'll find it is on the NetFlow Traffic Analyzer Summary page, if you have added in the "Last XX Traffic Analyzer Events" Resource

 

A fourth place it appears is in the main NPM page for an L3 device's Node Details / Summary:

 

Obviously, Solarwinds thinks not getting your full NBAR2 information is pretty important.  Nobody needs unnecessary alerts, and it's easy to change a router to use NBAR2.  Just do it.

 

 

While I was cleaning up configurations on routers or L3 switches that originally had "plain" NetFlow, and that needed NBAR2 settings added.  I thought "Maybe someone on Thwack could benefit from this information."  I built this "before & after" comparison of their configs so you can see the extra commands needed:

Items in yellow are not part of the original Netflow "non-NBAR2" config on the left.  Don't be thrown off by different Flow Names--they're just names, and can be whatever you want, as long as you follow the right syntax.  Solarwinds puts some GREAT technical support links into their product that bring you right to the information you need to build Netflow properly.  Use them and you'll be happy.

 

If you have a router or L3 switch that's missing NBAR2 info, you won't be able to edit the existing Netflow settings until you remove the "ip flow monitor" statements (left column, bottom section) from every interface on which they are installed.  But once you take them out, it's easy to just remove all the old flow settings completely using the "no" command, and then you're starting with a clean slate.

 

After the old Netflow commands are removed, I can  edit the right column's "destination x.x.x.x" to point at the APE I want receiving the Netflow NBAR 2 data, and then paste the entire column into the router--EXCEPT for the bottom two lines:  "ip flow monitor NTAmon input" and "ip flow monitor NTAmon output".  Those lines must be inserted into the L3 interface(s) on the router or L3 switch.

 

You might want to only monitor Netflow NBAR2 data on the North-South interfaces going upstream to a Distribution or Core switch.  Or you might want to catch North-South AND East-West Netflow NBAR2 data by putting flow monitor statements on all sub-interfaces or VLAN interfaces (SVI's).

 

Once you've completed your work, instead of seeing nothing in the "Top 5 Applications" area on any L3 device's NPM Device Summary page, you'll start seeing data being added every ten minutes.  Data that tells you what applications are using that interface's bandwidth.  And that can be the secret ingredient to finding a bandwidth hog and correcting it!

 

Greetings All!

 

On the SolarWinds Sales Engineering team, my colleagues and I often get requests from customers regarding how to do something custom, whether it is simply viewing certain data about a node on its node details page, or perhaps it is something more complex, such as automating putting devices into maintenance mode, as part of a workflow, or used to create runbooks.

 

Over the coming weeks we will have a series of “primers”, to equip you with the skills needed to create and adapt scripts & queries, within the Orion® Platform.  If you need to address any of these use cases, or similar, then this is the series for you!

  1. When you need to include information that’s not covered in an out of the box Orion report
  2. If you need to automate the addition of node to Orion for monitoring, as part of an onboarding process for new VMs
  3. If you require usage metrics for particular devices, so you can chargeback to other departments or customers

 

To begin with, we will introduce some of the terms and concepts involved, starting with some architecture basics, and building through to more hands on examples, looking at custom reports & scripts.

Topics will include:

  1. Intro to API, SDK, & SWQL
  2. SWQL studio
  3. SWQL Walkthrough
  4. Examples of SWQL in reports/alerts/web/ etc
  5. Automating Orion using PowerShell®
  6. Automating Orion from Linux® & some bonus tips ‘n tricks

 

The overall goal here is enable you to work through, and find solutions for your particular use cases. What this series will not be is:

  • An introduction to SQL
  • An introduction to scripting/programming
  • Pre-built solutions for every custom use case

 

We want to help you help yourself.

 

Read First!

Before we look at a single piece of code or query, let’s just take a moment to cover some important housekeeping. As with any customisation, especially when scripting there is always a possibility that things may go wrong. While automating manual processes is a most excellent endeavour, accidently deleting all your nodes is not! So before you begin working on any customisation, let’s just take a moment to cover a few simple best practices.

  • Set up a dev instance of the Orion Platform for experimentation
  • Don’t try untested scripts on production systems
  • Make a backup of your Orion database

 

So, with that, let’s get on with the show.

 

Terms and Concepts

First up we will introduce a few terms. If you are an advanced user you can probably skip ahead at this stage, but if new to writing queries and scripts, having a strong understanding of these at the very beginning can save a lot of hardship further on down the line.

 

SolarWinds Query Language (SWQL). SWQL (pronounced “swick-le”) is essentially a read-only subset of SQL with some SolarWinds conveniences added, and will be core to many of the topics that will be covered in the following posts. The third post in our series in particular will dive into SWQL in more detail, but at this stage we will look at some high-level points.

Application Programming Interface (API). In software development terms, an API is can be thought of as the access point for one piece of software to access another. In an N-tier application it allows different parts of an application to be developed independently. Orion, for example is N-tier, and web, polling, reporting, and coordination components communicate via service layers.

In the context of Orion, the API is what allows to read data using SWQL, as well as adding, deleting and updating data “invoking” commands (which we will examine in more detail in our 5th and 6th posts.)

SolarWinds Information Service (SWIS). The actual implementation of the API within the Orion Platform is embodied as SWIS, which manifests a Windows® service, the SolarWinds® Information Service.  It is via SWIS that other Orion Platform products (such as Network Atlas, Enterprise Operations Console (EOC) and Additional Web Servers) communicate. It is also via SWIS that various scripting and programming technologies can be used to access Orion.  From a technical perspective, it can be accessed over two ports:

  • 17777 – net.tcp: high performance but Microsoft® only-
  • 17778 – JSON or SOAP  over HTTPS - interoperability with other programming languages

 

Software Development Kit (SDK). An SDK is a set of tools and libraries, provided by a vendor, to allow others to more easily consume their API. In relation to Orion, the Orion SDK can be installed on Windows, and provides not only the files needed to use PowerShell scripts, but also includes SWQL Studio, which can be used to build custom SWQL queries and visually browse the available data. It is worth noting that since it’s possible to access the API using REST, you don’t need to have the Orion SDK deployed. Our next post will cover installing the SDK, and some tips for its use.

 

Intro to SWQL

SWQL can be hand-written, or more commonly, the SWQL studio can be used to generate queries. For simplicity, at this early stage, it’s worth noting that constructs from standard SQL such as

  • Select x from y
  • Where
  • Group by
  • Order by
  • Join
  • Union

 

All exist in SWQL, along with functions such as

  • SUM
  • Max
  • Min
  • Avg
  • Count
  • Isnull
  • Abs

 

A key point to note here however, is that update, insert and delete are not supported via SWQL itself. Those use cases are supported outside of SWQL and will be covered at a later point.

A major differentiator however is that SWQL automatically links many related objects without joins. This makes writing queries much simpler and more efficient.

 

For example, if we want to select the caption of the nodes in an Orion instance, and also list the interface names for each interface on those devices, using traditional SQL we would end up with something similar to

 

SELECT TOP (5)

    N.[caption]     

      ,[InterfaceName]

       FROM [Interfaces] I

       left join [Nodes] N on N.NodeID = I.NodeID

 

Running this would output

Caption                InterfaceName

ORION11            vmxnet3 Ethernet Adapter

mysql01              eno16777984

mysql01              lo

mysql01              eno16777984

bas-2851.local   VoIP-Null0

 

With SWQL, this simply becomes

SELECT TOP 5 Caption ,N.Interfaces.Name

       FROM Orion.Nodes N I

 

Gives the same results! Moreover, because it’s read-only, you cannot really break anything.

 

Wrap Up

With today’s post we’ve laid the foundations of the customizing the Orion Platform. We’ve identified some use cases where the API can be used to both read information from, or make changes to your Orion Platform  And to make the series “real”, we’ve seen a short SWQL example, that gives a good introduction to the power of using SWQL over SQL within the Orion Platform.  In the next post we will begin to get hands-on, by installing and navigating through, the Orion SDK. But in the meantime, you can discover more about the topics covered in the SolarWinds Lab episode SWIS API PROGRAMMING CLASS.

Companies are moving their email to cloud in droves.

Let's face it, administering Microsoft Exchange is one of those jobs that when everything goes right, no one knows you exist.  And when things go wrong, everyone knows you exist. The good news is that many companies are offloading their Exchange to Microsoft through the use of Microsoft Office 365.  If you doubt that Office 365 is big, consider that in July of this year Office 365 online workplace tools brought in more revenue than the traditional version of Office that’s installed on people’s computers. When you think about it, e-mail server replacement is the perfect SaaS application.  It's well defined without huge deviation from one organization to the next, scales well across multiple servers, needs to be accessible from anywhere and often needs permanent retention of records.  All things that the cloud is good at.

 

Moving to the cloud means I'll never have to worry about email again, right?

It's important to remember that while moving to the cloud alleviates your responsibility for the servers that run e-mail, you still are responsible for monitoring the e-mail itself and your company's connectivity to the cloud.  Monitoring cloud-based applications is different than monitoring on-premises applications.  Where you may have been concerned with memory and disk capacity on your servers, or server-to-server communication in the past.  Those are not concerns with SaaS.  But some potential issues still exist.    Here are just a few of the metrics you may need to be concerned with in an Office 365 environment:

 

  • Portal Access - Rather than server availability, it's important to know portal availability. This includes the user portal, the administration portal and the billing portal.  These may each be used by different users in your company but are all important.
  • Forwarded Exchange Users -  Are these mailboxes really necessary?  Are they violating company or government policies? What if a healthcare worker is forwarding messages containing patient information to a personal account, for example? 
  • Inactive Exchange Users - While sometimes you may keep a user's mailbox for a period of time after they are gone, sometimes you just forget to delete them and are paying for unneeded accounts.
  • Groups Accepting External Email - Do you really want external entities to be able to bulk mail these groups?
  • Top Senders - This is a handy metric for telling if your accounts have been hacked and are being used by spammers.
  • Administrative Roles - Did the number of administrators change unexpectedly? 
  • License Usage - Get a handle on how quickly your license usage grows.  How many licenses are being used?  What percentage of my total?  You still need capacity planning for SaaS, just a different type of capacity.
  • Last Password Change - Number of users with a password that is 90 days old or more.  How many users have a password that never expires?
  • User Mailbox Security - How many users have access to a large number of mailboxes?  Should they? 

 

Earlier this year, in collaboration with Loop1 Systems, we developed a set of templates for Microsoft Office 365 to monitor these and much more.  The templates have been very popular with customers, but there are a few things you can do to improve their implementation and function. Since these templates monitor Software as a Service, they aren't exactly like other templates that we typically provide.

 

Microsoft Office 365 is Software as a Service and it doesn't run on any of your servers.  What node should you apply the template to?

Since these templates are PowerShell scripts that run against a Microsoft URL, the best solution is to create an external node and apply the templates to it.  You can use "outlook.office365.com" as the node.   This is the URL for the mail API requests.  Technically for the Portal, Subscription, Security Statistics and License Statistics templates the scripts use "api.admin.microsoftonline.com", but splitting the Office 365 templates between two nodes can be confusing and forces the SAM user to understand which components of the service reside on each node.

 

You can also use an ICMP node rather than an external node

External nodes don't report status.  By using an ICMP node, you will get a rudimentary status indication on the node icon based on a ping of the URL.  External nodes give no status and always display a purple "arrow" icon without status.  However the URL "api.admin.microsoftonline.com" doesn't seem to respond to ping requests so it will always appear to be down if you point an ICMP node there.  Here is the external icon vs. the ICMP node icon.

Get a real picture of Office 365 availability with NetPath

Another way to determine the responsiveness of the Office 365 application is to set up a NetPath service for "outlook.office365.com".  If you have NetPath, you can use it to get a detailed view of the bottlenecks between your site and the application portal.

 

Improving responsiveness to queries by polling less frequently

Depending on the number of mailboxes in your environment and the number of templates implemented, you can experience throttling of your API requests from the Office 365 API.  If you are throttled, the choices are to either run less component monitors or reduce your polling frequency on some templates.  Most users can actually reduce the polling frequency substantially on most or all Office 365 templates since the majority of the metrics don't change frequently.  One thing to keep in mind is that if you want to ensure enough data points to avoid gaps in history, you might want to use less than an hour for your polling frequency, so try setting the frequency to 1200 (20 minutes) rather than the default of 300 (5 minutes). If you want to know more about Microsoft API throttling, see Avoid getting throttled or blocked in SharePoint Online | Microsoft Docs for a description.  The article is about Sharepoint but the concept is the same for Office 365.

 

I don't like the output of the detailed data from the templates.  Can I make it more readable?

The data comes back from the API in a comma-delimited format which is great for programming but not so readable.  To make the data more readable, you can modify your own copies of the scripts as follows:

Replace:

[string]::Join( ", ", $users) 

With

[string]::Join( "< br/>", $users)

NOTE: You should be aware that this modification is injecting HTML directly into the output from the PowerShell script.  When viewed on the SAM console it will display correctly.  However, this change could create unexpected results in other areas of SAM that are not displayed on a web server, such as reports.

 

Comparing Exchange 2013/2016 templates with the Office 365 template.  They are both Exchange, why are they so different?

Since Office 365 is SaaS, many of the metrics in our previous Exchange templates is either not available or not meaningful.  Metrics like disk I/O and disk latency aren't available for a cloud service where the hardware is abstracted away from the user.  Similarly attempting to monitor processes and services on the hosts is not possible.  Primarily with Office 365 we monitor application data, which is available through the Office 365 API.

 

There was a MAPI round trip template available for Exchange.  Can I run this template against Office 365?

The MAPI round trip template was intended to check connectivity between multiple Exchange servers.  Since Office 365 is SaaS, you don't control the physical servers that are used for your accounts.  With cloud-based applications, you should check connectivity between your network and the Office 365 website.  You can get a sense of this connectivity by using the portal templates and the ICMP option discussed above.  Also as mentioned above, you can use NetPath to show the actual path your connections take to Microsoft.  Another option is to use Web Performance Monitor to record a typical mail transaction and get perspective on each part of the session.

 

A comprehensive approach to monitoring Microsoft Office 365

Hopefully, this post has given you some ideas about why and how to monitor Office 365. SolarWinds offers many tools to help you from SAM templates to network tools to user simulation.

I am excited to announce the latest release of Virtualization Manager (VMAN) 8.1 which is now available on the Customer Portal. Continuing the great work done in VMAN 8.0 to migrate VMAN functionality to a unified Orion platform, VMAN 8.1 further extends these capabilities by providing Capacity Planning natively on the Orion platform. With VMAN 8.1, the new and improved capacity planning feature provides a modeling wizard, which is more intuitive and helps the user create various configurations along with test variable growth scenarios.  Administrators are now empowered to generate reports on the fly and provide accurate growth predictions of their virtual infrastructure to the business. In addition to Capacity Planning, Azure Cloud Monitoring has been added to VMAN's capabilities to monitor hybrid infrastructure.

 

 


What's New in Virtualization Manager 8.1

 

 

Capacity Planning

 

The new and improved Capacity Planning is an Orion-based scenario wizard that helps you create and test variable configurations on the fly. You can also take a more intensive approach, accounting for your environment's historical performance, new system needs, and peak usage times.  When planning your virtual environment infrastructure, resources, and allocation, you may need help determining the best amounts and structure. How will adding a substantial amount of VMs affect your resource usage and performance? Should you add one or more new hosts to keep up with expansion? Do you need to worry about capacity right now, or will your environment be okay for the next 6 months? Capacity Planning uses historical data and trending calculations to better determine the outcome of your infrastructure needs. Run multiple types of expansion scenarios: Simulate adding VMs, adding hosts, or both. Each scenario generates a report with detailed usage statistics covering predicted CPU, memory, and disk usage.

Click here for online demo.

 

Capacity Planning Home

From the Capacity Planning home page, you may select prior capacity planning reports to review or select new to open up the capacity planning wizard to create a new report.

Three different modeling scenarios to choose from


  • Run Checkup Wizard -  A resource depletion report will be run on a cluster designated by you based on existing resource utilization.

 

  • Simulate adding extra VMs - Model a scenario of adding additional VM load infrastructure and determine the impact to your existing hosts. Model VM usage based on an existing VM or create your own configuration.

 

  • Simulate adding extra host computers - Determine the impact of adding additional hosts to an existing cluster.

 

  • Simulate adding extra VMs and host computers -  Determine if your infrastructure growth strategy will keep up with expected VM growth by simulating adding both VMs and Hosts to an existing cluster.

 

Profiles

Profiles are used to determine the impact of adding the specified number of VMs or hosts to your infrastructure.

 

  • Predefined Profiles - You can select a predefined VM profile of Small, Medium, or Large.

These profiles are static and not based on your an actual VM in your environment.

  • Custom
    • Use an existing VM/Host -  Selecting an existing VM will model a scenario of adding a number of VMs based on the resource utilization of the profile.
    • The use of custom profiles greatly improves capacity planning modeling when you can forecast an upcoming project that will increase the use of resources based on a currently used profile.
    • Build your Own - You can manually specify hardware configurations.  Useful if you do not have an existing VM or host to model configurations after.

 

The use of custom profiles greatly improves capacity planning modeling when you can forecast an upcoming project that will increase the use of resources based on a currently used profile.

Reports

 

The Capacity Planning reporting wizard culminates in an easy to review report that breaks out the current and expected state of your virtual infrastructure.

 

The report can be broken up into 3 sections.

 

Projected Growth

    • Workload - Provides an aggregated view of VM workload utilization in the selected cluster.
    • Resources - Provides an aggregated view of Host resources in the selected cluster
    • Simulated growth - The amount and configuration of VMs or Hosts added

 

 

Charting Thresholds

Provides a graphical representation of the actual vs simulated utilization of CPU, memory, & Disk. Estimations of when thresholds are reached for Warning, Critical, and Capacity are provided

 

 

Summary

  • Available Virtual Capacity - How many VMs can fit in the environment based on selected profile and all 3 default profiles (small, medium, & large) and what the initial constraint will be for growth (CPU, memory, or Storage).
  • Additional Hosts Recommended - How many more hosts are predicted to be needed in the selected cluster based on the default or custom profile used in the selected time period.
  • Advanced Statistics - These are essentially a roll-up of the resource modeling chosen, usage history that the prediction is made on and the thresholds and resources included in the report.

 

Cloud Infrastructure Monitoring for Microsoft Azure

Cloud Monitoring for Azure is now available to both VMAN & SAM customers. Similar to Cloud Infrastructure Monitoring for AWS the cloud vendor API will be used to monitor cloud instances. This basic cloud visibility doesn’t use Orion licenses for the cloud servers. For full details on performance and availability, you can optionally manage cloud servers as Orion nodes, which will consume licenses.  Additionally, if you add SAM application component monitors to your cloud instance this would obviously require SAM licenses.

 

 

What is included

  • Edit AWS/Azure Account using new UI (without editing API polling options)
  • Choose Instances/VMs for AWS/Azure Accounts
  • Azure VM’s polling, including performance metrics
  • Cloud Summary page accommodating instances for both cloud providers
  • Azure Cloud VM Details page with majority of resources
  • Monitor Azure VM as Orion Node (requires Orion node license)

 



 

 

 

 

Documentation

VMAN 8.1 Release Notes - Virtualization Manager 8.1 Release Notes - SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. Help and Support

Getting Started - Virtualization Manager (VMAN) Getting Started Guide - SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. Help and Support

Admin Guide - VMAN 8.1 Administrator Guide - SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. Help and Support

We’re happy to announce the release of SolarWinds® Storage Performance Monitor, a standalone free tool that provides a consolidated view of all your storage array’s performance.

Designed for storage and systems administrators in organizations of any size, Storage Performance Monitor gives your team insight into total IOPS and throughput on storage pools, LUNs, and NAS Volumes.

Arrays supported by Storage Performance Monitor Free Tool:

  • Dell EMC Isilon
  • Dell EMC Unity
  • Dell EMC VNX / CLARiiON
  • Dell EqualLogic PS Series
  • IBM DS-8000
  • IBM FlashSystem A9000
  • IBM FlashSystem V7000/v3700
  • NetApp AFF series
  • NetApp ONTAP
  • PureStorage

 

The Storage Performance Monitor free tool allows you to add as many storage arrays as you wish. Simply click the “ADD STORAGE ARRAY” button, select the appropriate array type, and provide your connection details. Once you’ve added your array to Storage Performance Monitor free tool, it will load polling interval, discovery interval, and thresholds from global settings. You can edit these thresholds locally – per entity, by clicking the vertical ellipsis button.

You can then fine-tune your thresholds for this entity. If you do not wish to monitor it, simply keep the threshold empty. You won’t then get any notifications about this entity.

What else does Storage Performance Monitor do?

  • Allows you to add as many arrays as you wish
  • Creates a notification when any of the following conditions are met:
    • a metric exceeds a threshold,
    • the tool cannot connect to the array,
    • the array topology changes.
  • Can write all notifications into Microsoft Event Log.

 

For more detailed information about the Storage Performance Monitor, please see the SolarWinds Storage Performance Monitor Quick Reference guide here on THWACK®: https://thwack.solarwinds.com/docs/DOC-192403

 

Download SolarWinds Storage Performance Monitor: https://www.solarwinds.com/free-tools/storage-performance-monitor

 

For more advanced storage monitoring, try the evaluation version of Storage Resource Monitor, which gives you these features in addition:

  • Store historical data
  • Monitor hardware health
  • Monitor additional performance metric – storage latency
  • Monitor storage capacity
  • Map storage to hosts/VMs/applications
  • Alerting
  • Reporting
  • runs as a Windows service
  • Web front end

If you're one of the many customers that tried the beta or release candidate, you've already seen many of the exciting new features in SAM 6.5. For the rest of you, here are more details about what's new:

 

Azure Cloud Infrastructure Monitoring

Just as SAM 6.4 directly accessed the world's largest cloud, SAM 6.5 expands your ability to leverage multi-cloud further by adding support for Microsoft Azure accounts in addition to Amazon AWS.  While Amazon Web Services remains the largest cloud infrastructure provider, Microsoft is growing in this market at an incredible rate.  And many customers have a footprint in both.  Now you can see Azure or AWS accounts, or a mixture of both in the same view.

Cloud-related enhancements include:

  • Add or edit your AWS/Azure Account using new UI

  • Choose Instances/VMs for AWS/Azure Accounts
  • Poll Azure VMs for performance metrics
  • A single Cloud Summary page displays data for instances/VMs for multi-cloud environments

  • Monitor Azure VMs as Orion nodes to leverage the extended features of the Orion Platform and SAM for application and OS monitoring, including expanded metrics

PerfStack 2.0 — New Features and Improvements

  • Navigate directly from Application Detail pages to predefined sets of application monitor metrics

  • Use pre-defined links from these pages or create your own custom PerfStack charts from a broad range of metrics such as these from the Azure cloud:

  • Zoom into PerfStack charts to view more details for a selected time period
  • Alert visualization improvements
    • Each individual alert start/end time is now visualized separately in PerfStack
    • Existing aggregate alert visualization against an object is retained
  • Export PerfStack data to Excel
  • Share PerfStack functionality to make it more discoverable with new Share button
  • For more on PerfStack improvments, see Orion Platform 2017.3 - PerfStack New Features & Improvements

New Orion Installer

  • Install and upgrade one or more Orion Platform products simultaneously
  • Modern interface with a simplified design and intuitive workflow
  • Download and install only what is needed
  • Reduces download size and accelerates installation
  • For more on the Installer improvements, see New Installer Upgrade Experience

Other Improvements

  • New SAM templates for Microsoft Office 365 are included out of the box.  Microsoft is the leader in Software as a Service, and Microsoft Office 365 is gaining adoption with companies of all sizes.
  • Linux Agent for ARM-based devices such as Raspberry Pi to help you manage your Internet of Things (IOT)
  • Updated SAM templates for many Microsoft products
  • Search function integrated into global navigation
  • Improved dashboard view customization and Manage Nodes page
  • Support for High Availability (HA) 2.0 including multi-subnet deployments (WAN/DR)

 

What Else?

Don't see what you are looking for here? Check out the What We're Working On Beyond SAM 6.5 post for what our dedicated team of database nerds and code jockeys are already looking at.  If you don't see everything you've been wishing for there, add it to the Server & Application Monitor Feature Requests

If you are using Orion, I am sure you have already heard of PerfStack (aka Performance Analysis), SolarWinds' Drag & Drop Answers to Your Toughest IT Questions.  DPA did not make the first cut of PerfStack, but I am happy to announce that with the release of DPA Integration Module 11.1, you can now see DPA goodness in PerfStack too!!! Imagine expanding Using PerfStack with WPM and SAM to Troubleshoot Web Performance Issues to include database and query wait time!  Answer the question "Is it the database or the application?" in just a few clicks, pulling in whatever data you need from both DPA and Orion!

 

 

PerfStack Support for Databases monitored by DPA

DPAIM 11.1 exposes DPA data already available in other Orion views, but also adds some new ones as well! Data includes:

  • Total Wait Time
  • Wait time by dimension (SQL, Wait Types, Programs, Users, etc.) with drill downs to SQL text and Wait Type descriptions
  • Database metrics
  • VM metrics
  • Custom metrics (yes, even the custom metrics!)

 

Data History and Granularity

PerfStack is able to show all the data available in DPA. So if you have 5 years of history in DPA, you'll see it in PerfStack. As you drill down in PerfStack, you'll get to more granular data (down to 1 second wait time). PerfStack will choose the best granularity for the time range of your current view, and then adjust accordingly as you zoom in or out.

 

Stacking Data

PerfStack allows you to stack different wait time dimensions in the same view to help you solve problems quickly. For example, do you want to know who is writing those bad queries? Just stack SQL and user dimensions into one view and look for the correlation.  You can also stack dimensions from different databases - even if they are on different DPA servers.

 

Data Explorer

Even more DPA data is available in PerfStack's Data Explorer function. The Data Explorer lets you drill down and view the details of the wait time dimension you've highlighted in PerfStack. All Wait Time dimensions will show you a list of metrics ranked by total wait time. but a couple dimensions show extra information:

  • Total Instance Wait Time (SQL) will show you the SQL text, letting you find the query causing the issue.
  • Wait Time by Wait Type will show you descriptions of the Wait Type, helping you understand why your queries are waiting.

 

Data Explorer - Query Search

When you drill into the Data Explorer for Total Instance Wait Time (SQL), you'll see the SQL text for the queries with the most Wait Time.  However, you can search the text listed in the Data Explorer - say a specific table, group by or other parameter - to further filter the result set.

 

Predefined PerfStack Views for Databases

Every database displayed in Orion via DPAIM has a predefined link to a default PerfStack view, which will include both wait time and key metrics for the specific database.

 

Adding Database Data to PerfStack

To add database data to PerfStack, click Add Entity then scroll and select Databases Instance.

PerfStack will list all databases from all integrated DPA servers.

Once you've selected an instance, you can choose multiple wait time metrics to add to PerfStack.

Once you've added wait time metrics, selecting an area will allow you to drill to additional information on some metrics: SQL text (for Total Instance Wait Time) and the wait type description (for Wait Type).

To see a fully operation PerfStack example, check out this PerfStack Application to Database Mapping in the Orion Demo Site.

 

New Resource - Blocking & Deadlocks

A new resource available for every instance monitored by DPA will show you blocking (all databases) and deadlocks (SQL Server only), to let you quickly see if the source of a database problem is blocking or deadlocks.

The resource has three tabs to show which queries are waiting the most (Top Waiters), which queries are blocking the most (Top Root Blockers) and if there are deadlocks.

Clicking on the SQL hash will get you a query detail popup, with a link to the DPA historical view for that SQL.

 

Improved Resource - All Databases Instances

When we first created the resources for the DPA Integration Module, we tried to communicate as much information as possible, combining DPA wait time and performance data as well as data in Orion.  However, with so much information, it made it too difficult for users to quickly answer the question "is the database having a performance issue".  Yes, memory may be high, but if users aren't waiting on queries any longer than normal, then there isn't really a "performance" issue.  Based on this feedback, we've made a few changes:

  • In the last release (DPA 11.0), we changed the status shown in Orion to reflect DPA's wait time status only
  • In DPA 11.1. we've simplified resources to only show wait time status and not the status of advisors or metrics (CPU, Memory, etc.)
  • Wait time status now has three states (green, yellow, red) instead of two (green, red)

Basically, we want to make it really clear if there is a problem with the database performance issue (i.e. high wait time) before you drill down to additional data.

 

Database Summary View - All Database Instances Resource

For databases monitored by DPA, the status is determined by the wait time status from DPA, regardless of other indicators in DPA or Orion. For databases monitored by Orion but not DPA, the Orion status is shown.

The new resource has simple filters at the top, allowing you to select one or more statuses.  In this case I've filtered the resource to only see database instances with a red or yellow status.

Other resources have been improved as well, see the DPAIM 11.1 Release Notes for more information.

 

Support for SQL 2017, Oracle 12.2, MariaDB and more...

As usual, all the databases that DPA supports you'll see in Orion too.  Here are the newest databases supported by DPA:

  • SQL Server 2017 on Windows
  • SQL Server 2017 on Linux
  • Oracle 12.2
  • MariaDB 10.0, 10.1 and 10.2
  • IBM DB2 11.1

See a full list of Database versions you can monitor with DPA.

 

DPAIM for ALL DPA Customers!

In the past, since DPAIM was an "integration" module, it was not available as a standalone module, meaning you needed to own another Orion product to use it.  However, with the addition of PerfStack support, we wanted to make sure all DPA customers could enjoy the benefits of DPAIM and Orion too.  So now, DPAIM is a standalone module, and doesn't require to be installed with another Orion product.   All DPA customers can now install the DPAIM module and take advantage of the great features of the Orion platform.

 

How do I get the DPA Integration Module?

If you own DPA, you can get DPAIM 11.1 multiple ways.

  • If you have a SAM installation, when you upgrade to v6.5, DPAIM 11.1 module will be installed and ready to use.
  • If you have other Orion-based products installed (NPM, VMan, SRM, etc.) but not SAM, you can download DPAIM from the Customer Portal and install it on your Orion server.
  • If you own only DPA but no other SolarWinds Orion product, you can take advantage of DPAIM too. Simply download it from the Customer Portal and install the DPA Integration Module (DPAIM) on another server.  If you are using a SQL Server for your DPA repo, you can use the same one for DPAIM.  If not, you can opt for SQL Express bundled with the DPAIM installer.

Once you have DPAIM installed, follow these instructions to integrate it with DPA.

 

But wait, there's more!

See everything else that made it into the release in the DPAIM 11.1 Release Notes, including:

  • Improved Instance View - Database Response Time Resource
  • New Query Popup, with formatted SQL
  • Compatibility Checker

 

What's Next?

Don't see what you are looking for here? Check out the What We Are Working On for DPA (Updated Nov 6, 2017) post for what our dedicated team of database nerds and code jockeys are already looking at.  If you don't see everything you've been wishing for there, add it to the Database Performance Analyzer Feature Requests.

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