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I'm excited to announce general availability of SolarWinds Identity Monitor, an easy-to-use cloud-based service that specializes in preventing account takeover.  Identity Monitor is enabled through a partnership with SpyCloud, experts in recovering data breach information. Since this is the introductory post about Identity Monitor, I wanted to talk about the main problem it solves and then give you a quick overview of the product.

 

What is account takeover?

Account takeover is exactly what it sounds like - when a bad guy obtains your credentials associated with one site, and then tries to use them to take over your accounts on other sites.

As someone in IT, you probably use unique, strong passwords with multi-factor authentication for every site or service you use (right?), and at work, you probably enforce secure policies for the servers and applications you control, but... are your users as careful as you?  Do they ever reuse passwords, mixing them across work with non-work services?   They do, and this is why account takeover works - because once the bad guys get one set of credentials, they quickly try them on hundreds of other sites using credential stuffing tools to find out what else they can access... and then the bad stuff starts to happen.

 

How do you prevent account takeover?

You can take all the preventative steps in the world, but there will continue to be data breaches where your credentials and information are taken, and once your credentials are comprised, the only way you protect yourself is to change your credentials.  Seems simple - but first you have to know that you have been compromised in order take action.

 

Identity Monitor has billions of records from previous data breaches and can tell you if you or your company are comprised right now.  Identity Monitor will present this data in a timeline and summarize it into asset types, allowing you drill down on specific breaches in the past and see what credentials were exposed.  Data can include usernames, email addresses, passwords (both encrypted and unencrypted), addresses, birthdays, phone numbers, etc - almost anything you've ever entered into a website.

 

Also, Identity Monitor continuously scours the internet for new data breaches, and as this new information is ingested, it will analyze the data and alert you that you have new compromises.  Speed is really the key here, you need to know about new compromises of your users as fast as possible.

 

If the hair on the back of your neck is standing up and you're ready to see how deep the rabbit hole goes, go sign up for a free Identity Monitor account.   Otherwise, lets take a closer look at how Identity Monitor works, evaluate how compromised your company is right now, and what kind of information you might see.

 

Am I compromised right now?

As IT professionals, part of our job is to protect our companies physical and digital assets.  Lets login and take a look at timeline and drill into some detail.  Here I've got 1 domain registered (example.org) and I can see the timeline of breaches on top, the most recent breaches on the right, and the types of information that are compromised.

Lets take a closer look at the breached asset types.

You can see how email addresses are comprised, how many passwords are known, and the amount of Personal Identifiable information is available. Let drill down on the Emails and see what's exposed. I'll pick the first one since it was just a few days ago and is marked critical... and I'll click to expose the password (which turns out to be "secret").

I am also interested to see what personal information is available, so I click View Raw Data.

Here you can see the extensive amount of personally identifiable information... just plain scary.

 

Once you get a feel for the scope and type of exposure your company and employees have, you can act to address the current situation, and then decide how to improve your processes going forward.  Note that each breach has advice on remediation too.

 

Ongoing Protection

Lets says we've addressed all the problems that Identity Monitor found, but sadly we know that another security breach is just around the corner (just look at the history on the timeline).  How does Identity monitor protect us going forward?  By continuously scouring the internet for new breaches and digesting that data as quickly as possible and alerting you.  In the Email Assets example above, you can see there were only a few days between the breach date and the date it published in Identity Monitor, and we also get this handy email alert telling us there was a breach and link us to the details:

And you aren't limited to just your domain, you can extend you protection to any email address as long as that email owner gives permission.  This is great for watching personal emails of critical employees (like your executive team), DL used for signing up for external services, or any other email used for company business.

 

Sign up now for free!   Pricing is by number of employees and starts at $1795 USD for 100 employees.

 

These are the primary use cases that Identity Monitor covers, but there is more - be watching for more blog posts.

We are delighted to introduce our latest Dameware Remote Everywhere update: Viewer 6.00.07 for Mac.

In January 2019, we introduced our entirely re-styled Windows Viewer – in which we had consolidated all menu and action items into a single, easy to navigate top bar – giving an organized and scalable presentation to the DRE Viewer.

On initial launch, you’ll notice the Viewer changes immediately:

Viewer_Whole

But despite the menu changes, and consolidation of all menu items on the top bar, there’s been no compromise to functionality – all the features and functions have been homogenized and streamlined.

Menu_xplore_1

All your session stats and session telemetry remain wholly accessible:

session_telem

The menus are slick, navigable, and highly responsive, making this a real pleasure to use.

Summary of release:

– SolarWinds Take Control Viewer update: 6.00.07
– No agent update


The Problem…

As the "monitoring person," we often find ourselves dealing with keeping the records in the database correct and current. The problem is, no matter how hard we try, our end users don't always keep us up to date when a device is turned off. Normally, we find out a device was turned off when we see a NODE DOWN alert hit the board. The team responsible will sometimes ignore the notification because to them, the node's no longer in use, so they delete the email and never circle back to ensure the device is removed from all the different databases, including the monitoring database.

 

Well, one day a few weeks ago, coming off a great SolarWinds User Group (SWUG) in New York, my brain was spinning with ideas on how to automate simple tasks when the idea of "Dead Nodes" hit me. I thought about the common problem of having nodes on a report showing as "Down" when they were no longer in use. And knowing the power of Server & Application Monitor (SAM) and some of the things I've already done within that tool; I knew it was possible to address this use case easily within SAM.

 

The Birth of an Idea

So, I turned to THWACK to see if anyone else had the same idea. I found a great post with a great script, and I wanted to take it one step further. The original post I found would deal with the dead nodes, but it wasn't integrated into an alert. Since I wanted notifications sent to the system owners, this wouldn't work for me.  So, I reached out to Kevin M. Sparenberg, told him my idea, and he came back with "Let me try it out!" A few hours later, while at an amusement park, I found myself working with Kevin to perfect the alert. The alert was key for me because, as the monitoring guy, I think it's important to at least share with my end users what I'm doing with their devices. And that was lacking from the original post I found on THWACK. Kevin and I worked together to develop the SWQL query to define the conditions, write the script to run in PowerShell to do the heavy lifting, and craft the email notification.

 

I'm going to walk you through the way I built this alert with some help from the community. I'll cover three basic areas: Frequency of the Alert, Trigger Condition, and Alert Actions.

 

At the very end of this post are some things you may encounter using the examples in your environment. I ran into a few of them, I knew about a few others, and Kevin reminded me about one or two. I highly recommend you review the Some System Requirements section before importing the alert and scripts.

 

I've done my due diligence and provided you the necessary warnings. Now it's off to the races!

 

What's the Frequency?

Since our dead nodes alert isn't exactly mission-critical—it's more like good housekeeping—there's no need to check it every minute (which is the default). After a little discussion, I decided once an hour was enough for our needs. You could scale this back to once a day or even once a week (168 hours) if you like.

 

The Power of SQL/SWQL in an Alert Trigger

Thanks to Kevin's knowledge and understanding of SQL and SWQL, he was able to develop the original SWQL query based on the key points I wanted, which were straightforward. I wanted to find all the nodes in my system reporting as "DOWN" for the past 30 days. He came back with the following based off the original thread:

SELECT Nodes.Uri, Nodes.DisplayName FROM Orion.Nodes AS Nodes
 JOIN Orion.ResponseTime AS RT
 ON Nodes.NodeID = RT.NodeID  
 WHERE RT.DateTime > ADDDAY(-30, GETUTCDATE())
 AND Nodes.UnManaged = False
 GROUP BY Nodes.NodeID, Nodes.Caption, Nodes.Uri, Nodes.UnManaged
 HAVING MAX(RT.Availability) = 0

 

I opened SWQL Studio and ran this query to see if it passed the "sniff" test. The results looked pretty good, so I looped in my manager.

 

After speaking with my manager, I realized we'd cast our net a little too wide. Within my environment, I have some nodes down for over 30 days, but shouldn't be considered "Dead." These nodes are normally found within some of our locations and might be offline because of a natural disaster or the stores simply being remodeled. So, I took what Kevin gave me and changed it up to make sure it wasn't pulling in any devices down for a known reason. The result was this:

SELECT Nodes.Uri, Nodes.DisplayName FROM Orion.Nodes AS Nodes
 JOIN Orion.ResponseTime AS RT
 ON Nodes.NodeID = RT.NodeID  
 WHERE RT.DateTime > ADDDAY(-30, GETUTCDATE())
 AND Nodes.UnManaged = False
  AND Nodes.CustomProperties.Store_Known_Down = False
 GROUP BY Nodes.NodeID, Nodes.Caption, Nodes.Uri, Nodes.UnManaged
 HAVING MAX(RT.Availability) = 0  

It should be noted that Store_Known_Down is a Yes/No custom property I've tied to nodes so I can mark them as being down for a known reason. Your alert logic will probably differ, but it's important to think about these edge cases.

Defining the Alert Actions

With the list of devices from the alert trigger in hand, we next had to address the actions when the trigger occurs. For me, it was key to have both an email message to the system owners and the alert add a "Decommissioned Date" to the existing custom property with the same name. We use this custom property within my environment to track when a node is no longer in use, so having this date was critical for both reporting and alerting logic.

 

Kevin again came to the rescue and helped me develop the PowerShell script. We then tested the alert in his test lab and BINGO! The system was unmanaged and the custom property value was updated with the current date/time. But more details on the script later.

 

The Proof Is in the Results

So, after perfecting the query and the script, it was time to test it out. Kevin spun things up in his lab. We started by crafting a new alert and testing the query logic in the alert editor:

The query passed validation, so we've got no syntax errors and are good to move on to the next step.

 

Manually Testing the PowerShell Script

Before we could define the alert actions, we wanted to test all the parts, including the PowerShell script.

 

The complete script is here, and commented thoroughly. There are a few important parts to this script. The only place you will absolutely need to edit is the authentication block at lines 21-23, where you'll need to put in your Orion server and credentials.

<#
Script: Alert_Unmanage-Node.ps1
Arguments: The node ID in question
Authors:    Ben Keen (the_ben_keen) and Kevin M. Sparenberg (KMSigma)
 
Version: 1.0 - initial release
 
 
#>
if ( -not $args[0] )
{
    Write-Error -Message "You must provide the Node ID as a parameter to the script"
}
else
{
 
    # I hate using the "args" nomenclature, so I'm just going to do assign it to a better name
    $NodeID = $args[0]
    
    # Authentication
    $SwisHostname = "MyOrionServer.Domain.Local"
    $SwisUsername = "MyAdminAccount"
    $SwisPassword = "MyAdminPassword"
 
    # Build a SWIS Connection
    $SwisConnection = Connect-Swis -Hostname $SwisHostname -UserName $SwisUsername -Password $SwisPassword
 
    # When does the unmanage start?  Right now!
    $CurrentDate = ( Get-Date ).ToUniversalTime()
    
    # Flip the status to Unmanaged with no end date
    # The parameters are:
    # - The Node ID (in N:##) format
    # - The start date of the unmanage time
    # - The end date of the unmanage time (now + 10 years)
    # - false - no clue why this is required, but it is
    $Results = Invoke-SwisVerb -SwisConnection $SwisConnection -EntityName "Orion.Nodes" -Verb "Unmanage" -Arguments @( "N:$( $NodeID )", $CurrentDate, $CurrentDate.AddYears(10), $false )
 
    # We need the full URI to set properties
    $Uri = Get-SwisData -SwisConnection $SwisConnection -Query "SELECT Uri FROM Orion.Nodes WHERE NodeID = $NodeID"
    # Then we need to append it with the CustomProperties identifier
    # The [$Uri += "/CustomProperties"] is the equivalent of [$Uri = $Uri + "/CustomProperties"]
    $Uri += "/CustomProperties"
 
    # Set the Custom Property
    # Parameters are:
    # - The URI of the node in question's custom properties
    # - A hashtable of the properties and the values
    #      Denoted by @{ PropertyName1 = PropertyValue1; PropertyName2 = PropertyValue2; ... }
    $CustomProperty = @{ "Decommissioned_Date" = $CurrentDate }
    Set-SwisObject -SwisConnection $SwisConnection -Uri $Uri -Properties $CustomProperty
}

 

You'll notice on line 18, we make reference to the $args variable. These are the parameters you pass to this script. For this script, it's the Node ID of the device we want to decommission.  This script is only expecting a single node ID to be passed, so we are only looking at $args[0] (the first argument in the variable).

 

On line 37, we set the device to the Unmanage status and later on line 50-51, we set the decommission date custom property. In reality, there are only about six lines of this script that do any work.  The rest are comments so we can understand what we did even years down the road.

 

To test it, we opened a PowerShell prompt and then typed:

 

D:\Scripts\Alert_Unmanage-Node.ps1 62

 

This is the full path to the script, including the extension, a space, and then the node ID for marking "dead."

 

When executed against a testing node, we got no errors in the PowerShell prompt and the Orion pages showed the results we expected. Nice!

As you can see, the node was switched to Unmanaged and a Decommissioned Date was added.

 

Now that I know the script works, I can add it to an alert action.

 

Add an action for Execute an External Program and then fill in the details.

The full path doesn't show up in a screenshot, so I'll put it all here for you:

 

"C:\WINDOWS\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe" -File "D:\Scripts\Alert_Unmanage-Node.ps1" ${N=SwisEntity;M=NodeID}

 

It's a very long line, but simple in execution. Let me break it down:

                                                          

"C:\WINDOWS\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe"

Full path to the PowerShell executable

-File

Parameter telling PowerShell to run the script in the next position

"D:\Scripts\Alert_Unmanage-Node.ps1"

The full path to the script. If you save this elsewhere on your computer, be sure to update the path.

${N=SwisEntity;M=NodeID}

SolarWinds variable containing the NodeID for the alerted node

 

Customizing the Alert Email

The user experience is key in everything, but especially in monitoring. If you're going to use the information in this post, make sure you spend some time crafting the message sent. I wrote it based on how my end users digest their alerts.  Your end users may view their alerts differently. I don't need much more than the basics for this type of alert message. I kept most of the default message and then just added some language about it being a dead node. Below is my example of the alert message.  [Yes, I know I have a typo in the first line]

 

So, I have the Frequency of the Alert, Trigger Condition, and Alert Actions (execute a script and send an email)—everything we need for this alert. When completed, the trigger actions list looked like this:

And that's pretty much it for the alert. There are no reset actions, so we're done. I just clicked through the wizard to save it. In my environment, I didn't enable the alert yet. I needed to make everyone aware of what was happening first.

 

The Results Are In

After clearing it with the necessary teams, I enabled the alert. Within a few minutes, the first system was found, flipped, and timestamped.

The results speak for themselves. My Orion server will no longer waste compute power trying to poll devices that have been offline for 30 days, the associated teams got a message saying I've stopped watching their devices, and I can make a simple custom query resource to show me all unmanaged devices with a decommission date.

 

Edit a dashboard, add new widget, search for a Custom Query widget, drag it into your dashboard, and then save the layout.

 

Edit the widget. Provide a clear name and enter:

SELECT  N.Caption AS [Node Name]
      , CONCAT('/NetPerfMon/images/Vendors/', N.VendorIcon) AS [_IconFor_Node Name]
      , N.DetailsURL AS [_LinkFor_Node Name]
      , N.CustomProperties.Decommissioned_Date AS [Decommission Date]
FROM Orion.Nodes AS N
WHERE N.Unmanaged = 'TRUE'
   AND N.CustomProperties.Decommissioned_Date IS NOT NULL

For the custom SWQL Query.

 

If you want to enable the search, enter:

SELECT  N.Caption AS [Node Name]
      , CONCAT('/NetPerfMon/images/Vendors/', N.VendorIcon) AS [_IconFor_Node Name]
      , N.DetailsURL AS [_LinkFor_Node Name]
      , N.CustomProperties.Decommissioned_Date AS [Decommission Date]
FROM Orion.Nodes AS N
WHERE N.Unmanaged = 'TRUE'
   AND N.CustomProperties.Decommissioned_Date IS NOT NULL
   AND N.Caption LIKE '%${SEARCH_STRING}%'

For the Search query.

 

When done, it'll look like this:

Save that resource and now you have a quick and easy way to search for unmanaged nodes, with hover-over information to boot.

 

In Summary

After all this was completed, I was very pleased with the results, but began to look around for some other changes. I've already thought of some ways to tweak this logic, improve the alert language, and leverage the SolarWinds Orion API to do more of my work for me.


Some System Requirements

Since this was my first foray into using a script action, I needed to do some additional work. You may not need to do all of these, depending on the way your infrastructure is architected.

 

PowerShell Execution Requirements

Depending on how your Orion server is configured, you may not be able to natively execute PowerShell scripts. This is part of the Execution Policy and it's controlled by several things, including Group Policy. To check the execution policy, open PowerShell as an Administrator and execute:

 

Get-ExecutionPolicy

 

If the results are either RemoteSigned or Unrestricted you can already run PowerShell scripts on this machine. If it's anything else, you'll need to change the policy. This falls outside the scope of this document, but you can find more information about Execution Policies in the Microsoft documentation.

 

SolarWinds Orion PowerShell Module

To connect to the SolarWinds Information Service, you'll need to install the SolarWinds Orion PowerShell Module (SwisPowerShell). This module is freely available and published on the PowerShell Gallery. To install it on your server, open PowerShell as an Administrator and execute:

 

Install-Module -Name SwisPowerShell -Scope AllUsers -Force

 

If this is the first PowerShell module you're installing, you may get prompted to approve the NuGet package provider. This is expected, and you can answer "Yes."  The above line says to install the PowerShell module and make it available for all users on that machine.

 

To validate the module was installed correctly, execute:

 

Get-Module -List -Name SwisPowerShell

 

If you get a result showing a version, then it's installed correctly.

 

Custom Properties

For the script to execute correctly, you need to have a custom property called "Decommissioned_Date" with the date/time data type and assigned to nodes. To create this custom property, within your admin pages, navigate to the Manage Custom Properties page and click "Add Custom Property."

 

This custom property will be based on nodes.

 

Provide the name, give it a description, and select the format as Date/Time. Be sure to keep the "required property" checkbox deselected.

 

Lastly, don't manually assign nodes with this custom property. We'll let the script do the work.

 

Note: if you choose to use a different name for your custom property, be sure to update it within the PowerShell script (line 50).

We are very pleased to announce our latest Dameware Remote Everywhere release. This release, which includes an updated Windows Agent, Windows Console & Viewer revision in addition to a variety of customer-driven improvements, also includes our latest feature: In-session video calling!

All the details…

In version 7.00.07 for Windows, after you launch a DRE session, you will now have a new option on the drop-down menu to “Start Video Call”.

New_menu_item1

Selecting this option immediately instantiates a video call request to your connected partner. That person can accept or reject your request.

Rejecting simply drops the inbound call, and in no way impacts the session itself. Accepting the call will immediately launch our video conferencing allowing a two-way exchange of voice and video stream. As with VoIP calls, your primary audio device will be enabled by default – now we’re adding in your primary camera device as well to enable video calling. This is particularly handy if the end user wants to show the technician something that will help troubleshooting on their end – a cabling configuration, port setup, etc.

Also in this release, we’re making a major enhancement to our Admin Area in the form of our new Take Control Widget:

Widget_On

This new Widget allows users to quickly see the support request queue, how licenses are being consumed at that moment, and offers simple ways for techs to  both  create and transfer sessions – and it’s all in one overlaid dialog box!

Note:  Introduced with this new Widget is the ability to administratively disable your local license consumption.  It’s as easy as switching the toggle to “Off”; you will terminate your use of license BUT you will be able to continue to perform other administrative functions, such as running reports, designing surveys, and so on:

 

Widget_Off

Summary of release:

Windows Agent, Viewer & Console 7.00.07
FEATURE: Added Video calling Agent based (Unattended) sessions
FEATURE: Added Session Widget to Administration Area
FEATURE: Added ability to disable license consumption on the Admin Area
FEATURE: Ensure TCP 3377 is configurable as a backup connectivity port
FEATURE: Update the PowerShell interaction to advise on <V5 interactions
UPDATE: Revision on the “Blank Screen” option
UPDATE: Added greater detail to Admin area audit notifications
UDPATE: Updated Calendar interactions on Admin area
BUGFIX: resolve the application estimation size of 0KB

Mac Agent, Applet and Console 6.00.05
FEATURE: Allows users to see administrative functions
BUGFIX: Resolve issue where session could lose connection following a restart command

Not to be overshadowed by the excitement around the introduction of SolarWinds® Service Desk earlier this summer, we’re excited to introduce you to SolarWinds® Discovery. This technology provides your organization the ability to discover, map, and manage your software and hardware assets directly in your service desk.

 

SolarWinds Discovery utilizes cloud-based technology to make it easier to implement, manage, and scale throughout your organization, helping you discover your IP connected devices with just a small footprint.

 




Now you may be thinking, “Discovery? Don’t I already have this functionality with other SolarWinds products I use?” Depending on the products, the answer is most likely yes. Many SolarWinds solutions have discovery components included, like Network Performance Monitor or Service & Application Manager on the SolarWinds Orion® Platform. However, they are helping your organization solve a different set of problems.

 

The discovery mechanisms used by Orion help you monitor asset performance, generate system alerts, or pinpointing vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure.

 

On the other hand, SolarWinds Discovery helps you leverage your asset data to support your IT service management (ITSM) and IT asset management (ITAM) processes.

 

 

Let’s take a deeper look into the benefits SolarWinds Discovery can bring to the ITSM and ITAM capabilities provided by your SolarWinds Service Desk.

 

Improving Service Management Processes

SolarWinds Discovery populates asset information directly into your service desk, giving your technicians visibility into data that can help them diagnose issues quicker. Let’s say you have an employee (end user) who is having an issue accessing a particular software.

 

Because SolarWinds Discovery collects all the software titles installed on your computing device, you can then quickly looking up the employee’s devices and see what version of the software they are currently running. Within a matter of seconds you have the information you need to effectively troubleshoot and quickly resolve the issue.

 

 

The data that SolarWinds Discovery finds can also be used to help your service desk mitigate risks. SolarWinds Service Desk allows you to designate software titles as Greynet, meaning they are either illegal, not approved by your organization, or even a potential virus.

 

When SolarWinds Discovery finds a software title labeled Greynet, a notification is generated to give your agents visibility into the potential issue. Check out how FirstHealth of the Carolinas was able to utilize SolarWinds Discovery to pinpoint devices that were infected with a ransom virus, which ultimately helped them remove it without paying the demanded dollar amount.

 

 

Aligning your Assets with your Configuration Management Database (CMDB)

When SolarWinds Discovery finds assets throughout your infrastructure, they are automatically converted to Configuration Items (CIs) and populated into the CMDB that is included with your SolarWinds Service Desk. This allows you to create relationships between CIs, giving you a better picture of how the components of your infrastructure interact with each other and support IT services you deliver.

 

In turn, this can help your agents evaluate the root cause of a larger issue impacting your organizations, so they can work on resolving it quickly. Also, by understanding the relationships between your CIs, you can better evaluate impacts associated with changes you are making to your infrastructure, which helps your team understand and mitigate potential change related risks.



 

Your CMDB can provide a lot of value to your organization, but it is imperative that it remains complete and up-to-date in order to take advantage of its full capabilities. By combining your CMDB with SolarWinds Discovery, additions and changes to your IT infrastructure will continually be reflected in your service desk.

 

Leveraging Discovery for IT Asset Management Use Cases

SolarWinds Service Desk comes with an IT asset management module, helping you manage the capital expenditures (CAPEX) and lifecycle of the devices in your infrastructure. SolarWinds Discovery is a critical aspect to these capabilities as it helps you locate all your assets and collects additional information necessary for lifecycle analysis, such as installed software titles and warranty information.

 

SolarWinds Discovery also helps you lower your CAPEX by giving you greater visibility into the assets you own. For example, many organizations spend money on assets they do not need, specifically on assets like computers and printers. This is often a result of a lack of visibility into what assets they already have, so they end up purchasing instead of utilizing what is already in their inventory.




Also, SolarWinds Service Desk comes with software compliance capabilities, which help organizations avoid costly true-up expenses incurred when over-using software titles based on licensing contracts.

 

SolarWinds Discovery finds your installed software titles, giving you a clear picture of what is being utilized. These installs can then be vetted against your software licensing contracts, allowing you to build compliance reports to show both overutilization and underutilization.

How does SolarWinds Discovery work?

SolarWInds Discovery provides a suite of technologies to give you a flexible approach to discover your IT assets no matter how your IT infrastructure is configured. Let’s take a look into the three discovery options available:

  • Agent-based
  • Agentless
  • Integrations



Agent-based Discovery


The SolarWinds Discovery Agent is a lightweight software that can be installed on your Windows® and Apple® computing devices as well as Android® and iOS® mobile devices. Light and mighty, the agent can collect over 200 data points and the installed software titles from each device.
The agent takes a snapshot of the device every 24 hours of run-time (roughly every three days for standard users or every day and a half for IT pros). Built for easy deployment, organizations can use Group Policy or Domain Logon method to quickly install the agent throughout all their computing devices.
The agent enables software compliance and Greynet notification capabilities discussed above. It also highlights computers that have not reported back in the last seven days, helping you visualize devices that are potentially being misused or underused. This is an ideal discovery option for computing devices issued to remote workers who may not be frequently on company networks where other discovery technologies may be in use.

Agentless Discovery


The SolarWinds Discovery Scanner provides you an agentless way to find the IP-connected devices throughout your infrastructure. The Linux-based technology is installed on an individual subnet, and it can be extended to other subnets using multiple methods, for example, giving the scanner visibility to an ARP table located on a router. The system allows you to set the scanning frequency so it is active at optimal times. It also allows you to import SNMP and SSH credential to collect additional information on each device.
Compared to the agent, the scanner does not collect the same breadth of data points on computing devices However, the scanner will find all of the non-computing devices that an agent cannot be installed on. For many organizations, non-computing assets make up a majority of your total asset inventory. The scanner helps you get a fuller picture of your infrastructure. This is a critical component in keeping the SolarWinds Service Desk CMDB populated so you can map your devices’ relationships and dependencies.

Discovery Integrations

SolarWinds Discovery offers several out-of-the-box integrations with some of the industry leading configuration management tools, helping you bring device information from those systems directly into your service desk.
Available integrations:

  • Microsoft® System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM)
  • VMware vCenter®
  • Google Chrome® OS

 

Implementing Multiple Discovery Methods

By leveraging multiple discovery methods, you can be better equipped to collect the asset data to meet your organization's needs.

 

A good principle  to follow when implementing multiple discovery methods is to use the scanner to get a broad picture of your IP connected devices, then add the agent and/or integrations to get deeper information into the applicable devices. 

 

For example, you may support Windows, Apple, and Chrome computing devices that you would like to increase your visibility on. You may also have a heavy VMware footprint and hundreds of IP connected devices you would like to track.

 

In this scenario, you can install the agent on your Windows and Apple devices, activate the ChromeOS and vCenter integrations to collect data these assets, and install the scanner to collect data on everything else.

 

By combining the different discovery technology you will get a broad and balanced view of your IT infrastructure.  

 

Get more details on the SolarWinds Discovery technical specifications.

 

What’s Next for SolarWinds Discovery

 

We are currently working on deepening the SolarWinds Discovery Scanner capabilities to better support organizations that are predominantly Windows shops. This will include a Windows Installer, allowing customers to install the scanner on either Linux or Windows-based servers. Additionally, this will include the ability to add WMI credentials when scanning devices, greatly increasing the amount of data points you can discover on Windows devices.


SolarWinds Discovery can help you maximize the value of SolarWinds Service Desk for both your IT pros and your organization. If you have any questions, feedback, or ideas around SolarWinds Discovery, please comment below or visit the SolarWinds Product Blog Forum.

serena

Revisiting AppStack™

Posted by serena Employee Aug 23, 2019

After a long tenure working on the Orion® Platform, I’ve recently shifted my responsibilities to fully focus on Server & Application Monitor (SAM). Features designed on the platform and in SAM have eye-opening similarities due to deep integration between SAM, Virtualization Manager (VMAN), Web Performance Monitor (WPM), and other heavy hitters in our systems portfolio. The same tenets of componentization and shareability demanded by the Orion Platform exist in AppStack the way they do for PerfStack or the newest generation of Orion maps.

 

In honor of this revelation and how far our integration story has come since the first introduction of AppStack in 2014, I’d like to revisit this milestone feature and show those new to the SolarWinds systems portfolio the power of what we provide. For those who enjoy nostalgia, revisit the first AppStack post here https://thwack.solarwinds.com/community/solarwinds-community/product-blog/blog/2014/11/03/appstack. Personally, I was taken aback by the amount of change that’s occurred in the UI itself.

 

Welcome to 2014, amirite? (I stole this screenshot from Jeremy's original 2014 post.)

Fast forward to 2019, the look and feel is quite different. Navigate to AppStack through the menu bar, or enjoy the contextual AppStack widget on the details page for an entity.

For those who land on the full AppStack view today, you'll notice we have new entities appearing in the stack with the inclusion of container monitoring.

When we as Product Managers introduce the capability to monitor new entities such as containers, we must first ask if it deserves a place in the AppStack. For containers, this is certainly true, due to their ephemeral nature and clear distinction as a generic entity type. The same can be said for the improvements to Cisco UCS monitoring, where SAM added chassis, blade, and rack server statistics into the AppStack view. However, in the case of VMware vSAN entities, you'll notice their inclusion into AppStack in a subtle approach aligned with customer expectations for hyperconverged infrastructure.

 

In 2019.2 versions of the platform and later, the spotlight workflow is still an effective tool to quickly analyze where the problem might lie along your infrastructure stack.

The subtle difference lies in the changes to node status in the Orion Platform 2019.2 release. With simplified status calculations, and clear contributors detailed in the popovers, it's easier than ever to navigate to where you need to drill in for detailed troubleshooting. 

With additional changes from VMAN 8.4 to add virtual entities as status contributors and the ability to control the status contributors via the Node status contributors page, the AppStack solution becomes even more powerful. Through continued improvement and integration throughout the Orion Platform and the system portfolio, AppStack in 2019 has aged well and can help you navigate the intricacies and quirks of your environment.

Supplementing AppStack capabilities, through the addition of new Orion Maps and PerfStack, you now have a full toolset available to visualize your environment, narrow down the problem, and then troubleshoot the problem in-depth in real time.

 

Now that we've walked through how AppStack has grown over the years, I'd love to hear from you, both new and familiar to AppStack. What was your introduction to AppStack? Was it back in 2014 or the newer versions available today? What would you like to see improved in the future and what would you like to see preserved to keep the heart of AppStack beating strong for the next generation of Systems Management product releases? Put your feature request into Server & Application Monitor Feature Requests  for tracking and community input.

SolarWinds has a long history of being easy to try and easy to buy. Those of you who own two or more Orion Platform product modules may have realized, usually when planning your next upgrade, it's not necessarily easy to know which product module versions are compatible with others. While figuring this out may not be too terribly difficult when you own only two Orion product modules, the complexity rises significantly with each additional product module you purchase thereafter. Imagine you need to figure out which versions of your other 13 Orion Platform product and integration modules are compatible with Server & Application Monitor 6.7? Suddenly, what was previously a rather trivial task has become a daunting, and sometimes overwhelming, challenge.

 

For that reason and many more, we have some significant changes coming your way to end the madness. First though, here’s a brief history of where we've been, how we got here, and where the future will take us.

 

 

 

The Matrix

 

For many years, we attempted to make the process of deciphering compatibility between Orion Platform product modules easier through a compatibility matrix maintained within our documentation. The matrix itself was a fairly complex Excel spreadsheet that oftentimes felt like you needed a secret decoder ring to help interpret the results. For what you might imagine should be a relatively simple task, the compatibility matrix was anything but.

 

 

Upgrade Advisor

 

As the number of available Orion Platform product modules increased, we eventually realized the Compatibility Matrix had become too complex for customers to interpret, and too unwieldy for us to maintain. Thus came our next valiant attempt at improving the situation for determining multi-product compatibility, the Upgrade Advisor. The Upgrade Advisor represented a monumental leap forward compared to the Compatibility Matrix. In fact, many still rely upon it today.

 

 

 

The process is relatively straightforward. Enter in the Orion Platform product modules you currently have installed and their respective version numbers. Next, enter the version number of the product module to which you'd like to upgrade. The Upgrade Advisor will then map out the rest of the product module version numbers compatible with the newer version.

 

While fraught with good intentions, the Upgrade Advisor still suffered from the same fundamental flaw which led to the demise of the Compatibility Matrix. It still required users to be both aware of its existence and proactive about their upgrade planning. When the recommendations outlined in the Compatibility Matrix or Upgrade Advisor weren't followed, bizarre and unexplainable issues would occur due to incompatible module behavior.

 

 

Next Generation Installer

 

The latest attempt at unraveling this quagmire has been to place the information available in the Upgrade Advisor into the installer itself. Anytime before or at the time of upgrade, simply running the installer provides a list of all Orion Platform product modules currently installed and their respective versions. Next to it is the list of versions for other product modules compatible with the module version downloaded.

 

Image result for solarwinds installer upgrade

 

This method is vastly superior to both the Compatibility Matrix and Upgrade Advisor, as it requires no prior knowledge of the existence of either, nor does it require any manual steps to determine module compatibility. The installer simply handles it all for you. No muss, no fuss.

 

While the next-generation installer took all the complexity out of the equation, it introduced a fair amount of confusion. For the planners among you, it seemed counterintuitive to run an installer, days, weeks, or even months ahead of a scheduled upgrade to determine the upgrade path. For others, executing the installer on a production environment prior to the scheduled change window sounded like a dangerous proposition, assuming the mere fact of running the installer might start the upgrade process or shut down Orion services without consent or confirmation. As a result, some still found greater comfort utilizing the Upgrade Advisor this new installer was intent on replacing.

 

Does this really need to be so complicated?

 

A lot of time, effort, and different technologies have been used throughout the years in what seems to have been a vain attempt to reduce confusion and make it easier for users to identify compatibility between different product module versions. The problem, however, was never how we attempted to address the issue (though admittedly, some methods worked better than others). The ultimate solution is to change how we think about the problem in the first place: the version number itself.

 

 

Ushering in a new tomorrow

 

It's rather arbitrary that 6.9 is the Server & Application Monitor (SAM) version compatible with Network Performance Monitor (NPM) 12.5. Rather than require users have a Ph.D. in SolarWinds Orion Platform product module versioning, wouldn't it be easier if those product modules compatible with each other all shared the same version number? Then it would be downright simple to identify IP Address Manager vX.XX wasn't compatible with User Device Tracker vY.YY or Network Configuration Manager vZ.ZZ.

 

Simplifying and consolidating our product module versioning is precisely what we aim to do in our next Orion Platform module releases. As you can imagine, this might come as a big surprise to many, which is why we've decided to notify the community in advance.

 

New releases for every Orion Platform product module going forward will now use the same versioning as the Orion Platform itself. This means the next release of Network Performance Monitor will not be v12.6 or v13.0, nor will any of the other Orion Platform product modules bear a resemblance to their current versioning. Instead, Orion Platform product module versions will be the four-digit year in which they were released, followed by the quarter of release. If there is a Service Release for a given module, it will appear in the third position following the quarter.

 

 

[YYYY.Q.SR]

 

If this all seems a bit confusing, fret not. You're probably already familiar with this versioning, as it's been the basis of the Orion Platform version for nearly a decade. This is also the same versioning used for Network Automation Manager.

 

 

What does this mean for my product modules?

 

To be completely honest, really nothing at all, aside from a departure from those products’ previous versioning schemes. It also means versioning is much more transparent and easier to relate to. For example, if you needed to know what version of Storage Resource Monitor (SRM) was released in October 2025, it’s now very easy: Storage Resource Monitor v2025.4. If you also needed to know what version of Server Configuration Manager (SCM) was compatible with SRM v2025.4, that too is now easy: SCM v2025.4, of course!

 

 

How will this affect previous releases?

 

In short, it doesn't. Currently released product module versioning will remain unchanged, though you can expect a fairly significant jump in version numbers the next time you upgrade.

 

 

I still have unanswered questions

 

You undoubtedly have a million questions related to this change racing through your brain right now. If not, perhaps later, after pondering this post for a while, a fantastic question pops to mind. In either scenario, post your questions related to this change in the comments section below.

As of Orion Core version 2019.4, SolarWinds Service Desk has native integration with the Orion Platform.

When we launched SolarWinds® Service Desk (SWSD), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I was very excited to see a new solution to handle incident management, asset management, an internal knowledge base, problem management, and an employee self-service portal. There’s so much to this new product to unpack, I needed to figure out where to start. Thankfully, there was already an excellent document introducing everyone to the solution I could read.

 

For the past three years, I’ve been getting deeper and deeper into leveraging various APIs to do my bidding. This lets me go nuts on my keyboard and automate out as many repeatable functions as possible. No, I’m not breaking up with my mouse. We had a healthy discussion, my mouse and I, and he’s fine with the situation. Really. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, APIs!

 

One of the things I absolutely love about working with APIs (and scripting languages as well) is there’s no one way to do something. If you can think it, you can probably do it. Most RESTful APIs allow you to work with whatever language you prefer. You can use the curl executable, Perl (tagging Leon here), PowerShell, or nearly anything else. PowerShell is my personal preference, so I’m doing my scripting with it. But more on those details later.

 

You’ve seen me write and talk about using the SolarWinds® Orion® API to help automate your monitoring infrastructure. I’ve even gotten some of my friends in on the trend. But, the launch of SWSD opened a brand-new API for me to explore. I started where I always do with something new: by reading the manual. SolarWinds Service Desk has extensive documentation about using the API. There’s so much there for me to explore, but I had to limit myself. In trying to pick a place to start, I thought about my past.

 

SolarWinds has always been in the business of helping IT professionals do their jobs better. Many of us technology professionals, like me, started our careers working on a help desk. Based on everything SWSD offers, I limited myself to the Incidents Management area. Then I just had to think about how I would leverage this type of solution in some of my previous roles.

 

As a help desk supervisor who went on to be a monitoring engineer, I thought about how great it would be to get tickets automatically created based on an alert. I could talk all day about what qualifies for an alert (I have) and what’s best to include in an alert message (that, too), but the biggest thing to strive towards is some level of tracking. The most common tracking method for alerts has been email notifications. This is the default for most people, and 90% of the time it’s fine. But what about the times when email is the problem? You need another way to get your incidents reported and tracked.

 

Like scripting languages, the Orion alerting engine allows for multiple ways to handle alert logic—not just for the trigger conditions, but also for the actions when the trigger occurs. One of those mechanisms is to execute a program. On the surface, this may sound boring, but not to me and other keyboard junkies. This is a great way to leverage some scripting and the SWSD API to do the work for us.

 

First things first, we need to decide how to handle the calls to the API. The examples provided in the API documentation use the curl program to do the work, but I’m not in love with the insanely long command lines required to get it to work. But since this is a RESTful API, I should be able to use my preferred scripting language, PowerShell. (I told you I’d get back to it, didn’t I?)

 

Let’s assemble what you need to get started. First you need your authentication. If you’re an administrator in SWSD, you can go to Setup, Users & Access, and then select yourself (or a service account you want to use). Inside the profile, you’ll find the JSON web token.

 

 

This is how you authenticate with the SWSD API. The web token is a single line of text. In the web display, it’s been wrapped for visual convenience. Copy that line of text and stash it somewhere safe. This is basically the API version of “you.” Protect it as you would any other credentials. In a production system, I’d have it set up to use the service account for my Orion installation.

 

API Test

For the API call, we need to send over some header information. Specifically, we need to send over the authorization, the version of the API we’ll be using, and the content type we’ll be sending. I found these details in the API documentation for Incidents. To start things off, I did a quick test to see if I could enumerate all the existing incidents.

 

I’m trying to get more comfortable with JSON, so I’m using it instead of XML. In PowerShell, the HTTP header construction looks like this:

$JsonWebToken = "Your token goes here. You don't get to see mine."

 

$Headers = @{ "X-Samanage-Authorization" = "Bearer $JsonWebToken";

              "Accept"                   = "application/vnd.samanage.v2.1+json"

              "Content-Type"             = "application/json" }

 

Basically, we’re saying (in order): this is me (auth), I’d like to use this version of the API with JSON (accept), and I’m sending over JSON as the request itself (content-type).

 

This block of headers is your pass to speak with the API. I’m testing this from the United States, so I’ll use the base URI via https://api.samanage.com/. There’s a separate one specifically for EU people (https://apieu.samanage.com). If you are in the EU, that’s the one you should be using.

To list out the incidents, we make an HTTP GET call to the “incidents” URI as specified in the documentation. I saved this as a variable so I wouldn’t have copy/paste failures later.

 

$URI = "https://api.samanage.com/incidents.json"

 

Then to get the list of all incidents, I can just invoke the REST method.

Invoke-RestMethod -Method Get -Headers $Headers -Uri $URI

 

 

Excellent! I can talk to the API and get some information back. This means I’m authenticating correctly and getting the list of incidents back. Time to move on.

Creating a Test Incident

To create an incident, I only technically need three fields: name (of the incident), the requester, and the title. I’ve seen this called the payload, the body, or the contents. To stay on the same page with the PowerShell parameters, I’ll refer to it as the body. Using it, I built a very small JSON document to see if this would work using the script I’ve started developing. The beauty of it is I can repeatedly use the header I already built. I’ve put the JSON in a string format surrounded by @” and “@. In PowerShell this is called a here-string and there are many things you can do with it.

$TestBody = @"

{

"incident": {

   "name":        "Testing Incident - Safe to Close with no notes",

   "priority":    "Critical",

   "requester":   { "email" : "kevin.sparenberg@kmsigma.com" }

}

}

"@

 

Invoke-RestMethod -Method Post -Headers $Headers -Uri $URI -Body $TestBody

 

When I run it, I get back all kinds of information about the incident I just created.

But to be really, doubly sure, we should check the web console.

There it is. I can create an incident with my script.

 

So, let’s build this into an actual alert script to trigger.

 

Side note: When I “resolved” this ticket, I got an email asking if I was happy with my support. Just one more great feature of an incident management solution.

Building the new SolarWinds Service Desk Script

For my alert, I’m going with a scenario where email is probably not the best alert avenue: your email server is having a problem. This is a classic downstream failure. We could create an email alert, but since the email server is the source, the technician would never get the message.

 

 

The above logic looks for only nodes with names containing “EXMBX” (Exchange Mailbox servers) and when the status is not Up (like Down, Critical, or Warning).

 

Now that we have the alert trigger, we need to create the action of running a script.

 

For a script to be executed by the Orion alerting engine, it should “live” on the Orion server. Personally, I put them all in a “Scripts” folder in the root of the C: drive. Therefore, the full path to my script is “C:\Scripts\New-SwsdIncident.ps1”

 

I also need to tweak the script slightly to allow for command line parameters (how I send the node and alert details). If I don’t do this, then the exact same payload will be sent every time this alert triggers. For this example, I’m just sticking with four parameters I want to pass. If you want more, feel free to tweak them as you see fit.

 

Within a PowerShell file, you access command line parameters via the $args variable, with the first argument being $args[0], the next being $args[1], and so on. Using those parameters, I know I want the name of the alert, the details on the alert, the IP of the node, and the name of the node. Here’s what my script looks like:

You can see I added a few more fields to my JSON body so a case like this could be routed easier. What did I forget? Whoops, this should have said this was a test incident. Not quite ready for production, but let’s move on.

When we build the alert, we set one of the trigger actions as execution of an external program and give it an easily recognizable name.

 

 

The full command line I put here is:

 

C:\WINDOWS\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -File "C:\Scripts\New-SwsdIncident.ps1" "${N=SwisEntity;M=StatusDescription}" "${N=SwisEntity;M=Caption}" "${N=SwisEntity;M=IP_Address}" "${N=Alerting;M=AlertName}"

 

This is the path and executable for PowerShell, the script file we want to execute, and the parameters (order is important) we want to pass to the script. I’ve also surrounded the parameters with double quotes because they *may* contain spaces. In this case, better safe than sorry.

 

Then I just need to sit back and wait for an alert matching my description trigger. There’s one now!

 

 

Just like every alert I write, I’ve already found ways to improve it. Yes, I know this is a very rudimentary example, but it’s a great introduction to the integrations possible. I’ll need to tweak this alert a little bit before I’d consider it ready for prime time, but it’s been a great learning experience. I hope you learned a little bit along with me.

 

So, I ask you all: where should I go next?

Status is arguably one of the most important aspects of any monitoring solution. It's a key component for visually notifying you that something is amiss in your environment, as well as being an important aid in the troubleshooting process. When used properly, status is also the engine that powers alerting, making it an absolutely essential ingredient for both proactive and reactive notifications aimed at ensuring your entire IT environment runs smoothly.

 

Orion® Node Status, in particular, has for an extended period of time been somewhat unique when compared to other entities in the Orion Platform[MJ1] . Most other entities have a fairly simple, straightforward, and easy-to-understand hierarchy of status based upon severity. These include things like Up, Warning, Critical, and Down, but can also include other statuses which denote an absence of a state, such as Unknown, Unmanaged, etc. By comparison, a node managed in the Orion Platform today can have any of twenty-two unique statuses. Some of these statuses can, to the uninitiated, appear at best contradictory, and at worst, just downright confusing.

 

This is the result of separating information about the node itself from its associated child objects (like interfaces and applications) into multiple colored balls. The larger colored ball representing the reachability of the node, usually via ICMP, while the much smaller colored ball in the bottom right represents the worst state of any of the node's child objects.

 

 

Primary Node Status

Nodes With Child Status

 

It would be fair to say that this is neither obvious, nor intuitive, so in this release, we've sought to radically improve how Node status is calculated and represented within the Orion Platform.

 

 

Node Thresholds

 

The first thing people usually notice after adding a few nodes to the Orion Platform, is that node thresholds for things like CPU & Memory utilization appear to have no effect on the overall status of the node, and they'd be right. Those thresholds can be used to define your alerts, but node status itself has historically only represented the reachability of the node. That, unfortunately, complicates troubleshooting by obfuscating legitimate issues as well as adds unnecessary confusion. For example, in the image below, I'm often asked why the state of the node is “green” when the CPU Load and Memory utilization are obviously critical? A very fair and legitimate question.

 

 

 

With the release of Orion Platform 2019.2 comes the introduction of Enhanced Node Status. With this new Enhanced Node Status, thresholds defined either globally or on an individual node itself can now impact the overall status of the node. For example, if the memory utilization on a node is at 99% and your “Critical” threshold for that node is “Greater than 90%,” the node status will now reflect the appropriate “Critical” status. This should allow you to spot issues quickly without having to hunt for them in mouse hovers or drilling into Node Details views.

 

CPU Load

Memory Utilization

Response Time

Packet Loss

 

Sustained Thresholds

 

Borrowing heavily from Server & Application Monitor, Orion Platform 2019.2 now includes support for sustained node threshold conditions. Being notified of every little thing that goes bump in the night can desensitize you to your alerts, potentially causing you to miss important service impacting events. For alerts to be valuable, they should be actionable. For example, just because a CPU spikes to 100% for a single poll probably doesn't mean you need to jump out of bed in the middle of the night and VPN into the office to fix something. After all, it's not that unusual for a CPU to spike temporarily, or latency to vary from time to time over a transatlantic site-to-site VPN tunnel. 

 

What you probably want to be notified of instead is if that CPU utilization remains higher than 80% for more than five consecutive polls, or if the latency across that site-to-site VPN tunnel remains greater than 300ms for 8 out of 10 polls. Those are likely more indicative of a legitimate issue occurring in the environment that requires some form of intervention to correct.

 

 

Sustained Thresholds can be applied to any node's existing CPU Load, Memory Usage, Response Time, or Percent Packet Loss thresholds. You can also mix and match “single poll,” “X consecutive polls,” and “X out of Y polls” between warning and critical thresholds for the same metric for even greater flexibility. Sustained Thresholds can even be used in combination with Dynamic Baselines to eliminate nuisance alerts and further reduce alert fatigue, allowing you to focus only on those alerts which truly matter.

 

Null Thresholds

 

A point of contention for some users has been the requirement that all Node thresholds must contain some value. Those could be nodes that you still want to monitor, report, and trend upon those performance metrics but not necessarily be alerted on, such as staging environment, machines running in a lab, decommissioned servers, etc.

 

Historically, there has been no way to say, “I don't care about thresholds on this node”' or “I don't care about this particular metric.” At best, you could set the warning and critical thresholds as high as possible in the hopes of getting close to eliminating alerts for metrics on those nodes you don't necessarily care about. Alternatively, some customers update and maintain their alert definitions to exclude metrics on those nodes they don't want to be alerted on. A fairly messy, but effective, solution—but also one that is no longer necessary.

 

With the introduction of Enhanced Status in Orion Platform 2019.2, any Node threshold can now be disabled simply by editing the node and unchecking the box next to the warning or critical thresholds of the metric you're not interested in. Don't want a node to ever go into a “Critical” state as a result of high response time to keep the boss off your back, but still want to receive a warning when things are really bad? No worries, just disable the “Critical” threshold, leave the “Warning” threshold enabled and adjust the value to what constitutes “really bad” for your environment.

 

 

If so inclined, you can even disable these individual warning and critical thresholds globally from [Settings > All Settings > Orion Thresholds] for each individual node metric.

 

 

Child Objects

 

In this new world of Enhanced Status, no longer are there confusing multi-status icons, like “up-down” or “up warning.” Child objects can now influence the overall node status itself by rolling up status in a manner similar to Groups or how Server & Application Monitor rolls-up status of the individual component monitors that make up an Application. This provides a simple, consolidated status for the node and its related child entities. Those child objects can be things such as Interfaces, Hardware Health, and Applications monitored on the node, to name only a few.

 

Similar to Groups, we wanted to provide users with the ability to control how node status rollup was calculated on an individual, per-node basis for ultimate flexibility. When editing the properties of a single node or multiple nodes, you’ll now find a new option for “Status roll-up mode” where you can select from Best, Mixed, or Worst.

 

 

 

By altering how node status is calculated, you control how child objects influence the overall status of the node.

 

BestMixedWorst

 

Best status, as one might guess, always reflects the best status across all entities contributing to the calculation. Setting the Node to “Best” status is essentially the equivalent of how status was calculated in previous releases, sans the tiny child status indicator in the bottom right corner of the status icon.

 

Worst status, you guessed it, represents the status of the object in the worst state. This can be especially useful for servers, where application status may be the single most important thing to represent for that node For example, I'm monitoring my Domain Controller with Server & Application Monitor's new AppInsight for Active Directory. If Active Directory is “Critical,” then I want the node status for that Domain Controller to reflect a “Critical” state.

 

Mixed-status is essentially a blend of best and worst and is the default node status calculation. The following table provides several examples of how Mixed status is calculated.

 

Polled Status

Child 1 Status

Child 2 Status

Final Node Status

DOWNANYANYDOWN
UPUPUPUP
UP or WARNINGUPWARNINGWARNING
UP or WARNINGUPCRITICALCRITICAL
UP or WARNINGUPDOWNWARNING
UP or WARNINGUPUNREACHABLEWARNING
UPUPUNKNOWNUP
WARNINGUPUNKNOWNWARNING
UPUPSHUTDOWNUP
UP or WARNINGDOWNWARNINGWARNING
UP or WARNINGDOWNCRITICALCRITICAL
UP or WARNINGDOWNUNKNOWNWARNING
UP or WARNINGDOWNDOWNWARNING
UPUNKNOWNUNKNOWNUP
WARNINGUNKNOWNUNKNOWNWARNING
UNMANAGEDANYANYUNMANAGED
UNREACHABLEANYANYUNREACHABLE
EXTERNALANYANYGroup Status

 

In case you overlooked it in the table above, yes, External Nodes can now reflect an appropriate status based upon applications monitored on those nodes.

 

Child Object Contributors

 

Located under [Settings > All Settings > Node Child Status Participation] you will find you now have even more fine-grained, granular control of up to 27 individual child entity types that can contribute to the overall status of your nodes. Don't want Interfaces contributing to the status of your nodes? No problem! Simply click the slider to the “off” position and Interfaces will no longer influence your nodes status. It's just that easy.

 

Show me the Money!

 

You might be asking yourself, all these knobs, dials, and switches are great, but how exactly are these going to make my life better or simpler? A fair question, and one that no doubt has countless correct answers, but I'll try and point out a few of the most obvious examples.

 

Maps

 

One of the first places you're likely to notice Enhanced Status is in Orion Maps. The example below shows the exact same environment. The first image shows what this environment looked like in the previous release using Classic Status. Notice the absence of any obvious visual cues denoting issues in the environment. The next image to the right is of the very same environment taken at the exact same time as the image on the left. The only notable difference is that this image was taken from a system running Orion Platform 2019.2 with Enhance Node Status.

 

In both examples, there are the exact same issues going on in the environment, but these issues were obfuscated in previous releases. This made the troubleshooting process less intuitive and unnecessarily time-consuming. With Enhance Status, it's now abundantly clear where the issues lie. And with the topology and relationship information from Orion Maps, it's now easier to assess the potential impact those issues are having on the rest of the environment.

 

Classic Status

Enhanced Status

 

Groups

 

Groups in the Orion Platform are incredibly powerful, but historically in order for them to accurately reflect an appropriate status or calculate availability accurately, you were required to add all relevant objects to that group. This means you not only needed to add the nodes that make up the group, but also all child objects associated with those nodes, such as interfaces, applications, etc.

 

Even in the smallest of environments, this was an otherwise impossible feat to manage manually. Given the nature of all the various entity types that could be associated with those nodes, even Dynamic Groups were of little assistance in this regard. Enhanced Status not only radically simplifies group management, but it also empowers users to more easily utilize Dynamic Groups to make group management a completely hands-off experience.

 

The following demonstrates how Enhanced Node Status simplifies overall Group Management in the Orion Platform, reducing the total number of objects you need to manage inside those groups. The screenshot on the left shows a total of eight nodes using Enhanced Status in a group, causing the group to reflect a Critical status. The image to the right shows all the objects that are required to reflect the same status using Classic Status. As you can see, you would need to not only add the same 8 nodes but also their 43 associated child objects for a total of 51 objects in the group. Yikes!

 

Enhanced Status (8 Objects)

Classic Status (51 Objects)

 

By comparison, the following demonstrates what that group would look like with just the eight nodes alone included in the group using both Classic Status and Enhanced Status. Using Classic status, the group reflects a status of “Up,” denoting no issues at all in the group. With Enhanced Status, it's abundantly clear that there are in fact issues, which nodes have issues, and their respective severity. This aids in significantly reducing time to resolution and aids in root cause analysis.

 

Enhanced Status

Classic Status

 

Alerts

 

Possibly the greatest benefit of Enhanced Status is that far fewer alert definitions are required to be notified of the exact same events. Because node thresholds and child objects now influence the status of the node, you no longer need alert definitions for individual node metrics like “Response Time,” or related child entities like “Interfaces.” In fact, of the alert definitions included out-of-the-box with the Orion Platform, Enhanced Status eliminates the need for at least five, taking you from seven down to a scant two. That's a 71% reduction in the number of alert definitions that need to be managed and maintained.

 

Out-of-the-box Alerts Using Classic Status - x7

Out-of-the-box Alerts Using Enhanced Status - x2

 

Alert Macros

 

I'm sure at this point many of you are probably shouting at your screen, "But wait! Don't I still need all those alert definitions if I want to know why the node is in whatever given state that it's in when the alert is sent? I mean, getting an alert notification telling me the node is “Critical” is cool and all, but I sorta need to know why."

 

We would be totally remiss if in improving Node status we didn't also improve the level of detail we included in alerts for nodes. With the introduction of Enhanced Status comes two new alert macros that can be used in your alert actions, such as email notifications, which lists all items contributing to the status of that node. Those two alert macros are listed below.

 

The first is intended to be used with simple text-only notification mechanisms, such as SMS, Syslog, or SNMP Traps. The second macro outputs in HTML format with hyperlinks to each child objects respective details page. This macro is ideally suited for email or any other alerting mechanism that can properly interpret HTML.

 

  • ${N=SwisEntity;M=NodeStatusRootCause}
  • ${N=SwisEntity;M=NodeStatusRootCauseWithLinks}

 

The resulting output of the macro provided in the notification includes all relevant information pertaining to the node. This includes any node thresholds that have been crossed as well as a list of all child objects in a degraded state associated with the node, which is all consolidated down into a simple, easily digestible, alert notification that pinpoints exactly where to begin troubleshooting.

 

 

 

 

Enabling Enhanced Status

 

If you're installing any Orion product module for the first time that is running Orion Platform 2019.2 or later, Enhanced Status is already enabled for you by default. No additional steps are required. If you're upgrading from a previous release, however, you will need to enable Enhanced Status manually to appreciate the benefits it provides.

 

Because status is the primary trigger condition for alerts, we did not want customers who are upgrading to be surprisingly inundated with alert storms because of how they had configured the trigger conditions of their alert definitions. We decided instead to let customers decide for themselves when/if to switch over to Enhanced Status.

 

The good news is that this is just a simple radio button located under [Settings > All Settings > Polling Settings]

 

 

Conversely, if you decided to rebuild your Orion server and have a preference for “Classic” status, you can use this same setting to disable “Enhanced” Status mode on new Orion installations and revert back to “Classic” status.

 

 

Cautionary Advice

 

If you plan to enable “Enhanced” status in an existing environment after upgrading to Orion Platform 2019.2 or later, it’s recommended that you disable alert actions in the Alert Manager before doing so. This should allow you to identify alerts with trigger conditions in their alert definition that may need tweaking without inadvertently causing a flood of alert notifications or other alert actions from firing. Your coworkers will thank you later.

 

 

Feedback

 

Enhanced status represents a fairly significant, but vitally important, change for the Orion Platform. We sincerely hope you enjoy the additional level of customization and reduced management overhead it provides. As with any new feature, we'd love to get your feedback on these improvements. Will you be switching to Enhanced Status with your next upgrade? If not, why? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

The Orion® Platform is designed to consolidate monitoring into a single source of truth, taking massive amounts of data and making it easier to identify issues in complex environments. A key component to this is the organization of data. As an example, if I were to present you with the dashboard below, you can see it’s aggregating a ton of information and highlighting issues from multiple modules like Network Performance Monitor (NPM), Server & Application Monitor (SAM), Virtualization Manager (VMAN), and Storage Resource Monitor (SRM). Single pane of glass, right?  However, it’s not interesting, not even a little bit, and most importantly, it’s not easily interpreted. This dashboard doesn't really help me understand the problem or where to focus.

 

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Simplifying how data is interpreted through better visualizations can provide drastic improvements for understanding problems. Now, if I present you with this view, can you tell me where the problem areas are?

 

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The Orion Maps team believes visualization of your data can be a powerful tool when put together in a meaningful way. Ensuring critical data is available but presenting it in a clear and concise manner allows you to quickly see the problem and its potential impact. Visualizations help tell the story, and can help members of your organization, or clients, understand the breadth and complexity of what you manage on a day-to-day basis. For those of you unfamiliar with the Orion Maps project to date, you may want to review the following posts. These should help paint the picture, no pun intended, on what we’ve delivered with the previous releases.

 

Orion Platform 2018.2 Improvements - Chapter Two - Intelligent Mapping

Orion Platform 2018.4 Improvements - Intelligent Mapping Enhancements

 

With the release of 2019.2, we’ve incorporated some new enhancements designed to extend the flexibility of the platform and provide some amazing new options for representing your environment and critical services.

 

 

ORION MAPS MENU & MANAGEMENT PAGE

 

As a new entry point to maps, an "Orion Maps" menu is now available under My Dashboards and Home.Selecting this option will transport you to the Map Management page.  This will be blank initially, prompting you to create a map.

 

 

It’s important to note here that any user can create a map. If you have access to this menu, you can create maps. However, each of you will only be able to see the maps you created yourself in the list view. The current features on this page will allow you to sort your list by Map Name, Last Updated, and Created Date. There’s also a search bar allowing you to search for maps by name.

 

 

Any Orion Administrator will have an additional function when they access this view. A very helpful tool is available in the upper-right corner allowing you to toggle the view to include all user maps vs. just your own. The main components to this page provide the capabilities to create a new map, edit existing maps, delete maps, or view a map by selecting its name.

Click to Enlarge

 

MAP EDITOR

Let’s begin by creating a new map via the Map Editor. Selecting New Map will open the basic editor for building maps from scratch. You’ll be greeted by an entity library on the left side, which defaults to a paginated list of your nodes. You can click the drop-down to choose from any entity type in Orion Maps. As always, a search bar is also available. The empty canvas will take up most of the view, and a few controls will be noticeable in the bottom-right corner, along with a Save button and More menu in the upper-right side. Building a map from the basic editor is for those of you who know exactly what you want in the map. For now, this is single drag-and-drop functionality, and any relationships or connections identified will automatically be drawn.

Click to Enlarge

 

Like any design tool, built-in functions allow you to manipulate the map. Holding the space bar will allow you to pan the map. Selecting entities will allow you to move objects, and holding the Shift key when moving objects will perform a snap to grid function. Using arrow keys will gently nudge the entity in a desired direction. Holding Shift while using arrows will move the object in larger increments. Holding the Control key or using the + or - buttons will allow you to zoom in or out while working with your map. Probably one of my favorite tools is the Center key in the bottom right. This will not only center your map, but perform a zoom to fit, ensuring the entire map is placed in the viewable area. This is an excellent tool as you expand or condense maps of different scales. Any entity can be removed from a map by selecting it and hitting the Delete key on your keyboard.

 

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Once we have our map situated how we want it, you’ll notice any change in the canvas enables the "Save" button in the upper-right corner.  Clicking save will generate a dialogue, which will allow you to add a unique name. This will warn you in the event you attempt to name your map with a previously used name.

 

 

Under the MORE menu, a number of options will be presented to you. "New" will allow you to start a new map and a blank canvas, much like the name implies. "Save As" is particularly useful if a map has been shared with you, or as an administrator you’re editing a map you didn’t create. Unless you’re the one who created the original map, you won’t be allowed to "Save" but will have to perform a "Save As" and rename the map. "Delete" needs little explanation, but again, if this isn’t your map, then the delete option will be grayed out. I’ll cover the "View" button a bit later in this post in more detail, and the "Help" button of course links to formal documentation for much of the items discussed in this post.

 

 

LEVERAGING CONTEXTUAL MAPS

We have massive plans to improve upon the function of building maps as we understand one of the biggest needs is expediting map creation and limiting the number of touches to maintain them. Feel free to share what you believe would make a difference in the comment section below. In this release, we’re taking advantage of the framework and functionality delivered previously through the contextual sub-views. If or when viewing an automatically generated map from the Node or Group Details sub-views, you’ll now see a new button added to the menu bar, "Open Map in Editor." Essentially, I can use the existing functionality to take a pre-built map, expand it further, and have what was done within the sub-view persisted and sent to the new map editor with the click of a button. The images below should show a basic demonstration of this workflow. This is a great way to build maps quickly and then make final adjustments in the editor before saving.

 

Navigating to Map sub-view from Node Details page

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Expanding the map through automatically discovered relationships

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Open Map in Editor

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Of course, using the built-in tools to move objects around the canvas, snap to grid, and taking advantage of the center/auto-fit tool as you make adjustments can help you properly create a representation that makes the most sense for your organization. Once I’ve saved the map, what do I do now?

 

ORION MAPS WIDGET

As maps are saved, they’ll be accessible as a Map Project from the list view under the Map Management page. You’ll also find a new widget available in the Widget Drawer, allowing you to add any of your custom maps to a dashboard or view. Click the pencil in the upper-left side marked Customize Page, then click Add Widgets, and the resource will be located under the Network Maps section called Orion Map.

 

 

Drag and drop as many of these widgets out to the page as you wish, and click "Edit" or "Choose Map" to specify a map from your list. A dialogue will contain options to customize a title or subtitle and specify the widget height by pixels. A list of maps will be shown, along with a search option for quickly identifying the map you wish to use. Like the Map Management page, admins will also have the option to see all user-created maps by clicking the toggle on the right side.

 

 

Click "save" and your map will now be available. Another one of my favorite features is we managed to build the widget where it‘ll automatically scale the map according to the size you specified. By adjusting the height and the column width, your map will auto-fit the available space, making it fast and easy to get the map exactly where you want on your dashboard, at just the right size.

 

 

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With the ability to incorporate these maps alongside other widgets in the dashboard, you have some amazing new ways in which to roll up critical problems within your environment.  Below is a quick example of what one may look like.

 

 

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ENHANCED NODE STATUS

If you are unaware, or have yet to come across this post, Orion Platform 2019.2 - Enhanced Node Status by aLTeReGo, we’ve included some very significant updates in how we highlight status in the Orion Platform. The desire for improvements in status was a consistent theme we heard during user research with maps as well, and the difference this change makes is awesome. To steal an excerpt from aLTeReGo's post: The example below shows the exact same environment. The first image shows what this environment looked like in the previous release using Classic Status. Notice the absence of any obvious visual cues denoting issues in the environment. The next image to the right is of the very same environment, taken at the exact same time as the image on the left. The only notable difference is this image was taken from a system running Orion Platform 2019.2 with Enhance Node Status.

 

 

In both examples, there are the exact same issues going on in the environment, but these issues were obfuscated in previous releases, making the troubleshooting process less intuitive and unnecessarily time-consuming. With Enhanced Status, it's now abundantly clear where the issues lie, and with the topology and relationship information from Orion Maps, it's now easier to assess the potential impact those issues are having on the rest of the environment.

 

 

Classic StatusEnhanced Status

 

 

INTERACTING WITH THE MAP WIDGET AND VIEW MODE

Now that you have an amazing visualization of your environment and the issues are clearly identified, a closer look may be in order. There are a couple of different methods for interacting with your maps. The first method takes advantage of the improvements made to the Orion Hovers and are accessible from the Map Widget.  By hovering over an entity in your map, performance status will be available and should highlight exactly why your entity is in a degraded state. You will also be able to access the Commands menu, which will allow you to Go To Details pages, Edit Node, Mute Alerts, or Unmanage the entity directly from the map!  This behavior will be the same if a group is on a map, or if you have nested maps.  You can see that the commands option for a map includes viewing a map, editing a map, or muting alerts associated to a map!  From here, you can choose to use the command options or simply click on the entity in the map. By doing so it will take you to the details page automatically as pictured below.  The View Mode, which can also be accessed as a button in the top right of the Map Widget, is a full screen depiction of that map and all its entities, allowing you to investigate further utilizing the inspector panel to show related entities, alerts, and recommendations, if viewing virtual entities.

 

Click to Enlarge

 

FEEDBACK

This release marks another significant step for the Orion Maps project and we hope you find these new enhancements valuable and useful in your environment.  I plan to write and attach a couple other posts to this announcement around using Maps in Alerts and Reporting.  Of course with each release, we find your feedback extremely valuable, and much of what has been done to this point centers around your asks.  Please be sure to comment below and SHARE YOUR MAPS and DASHBOARDS!  Stay tuned as we are already hard at work on the next major release and have some very cool stuff in store. 

 

Check out the other posts form serena and aLTeReGo on 2019.2 Platform improvements if you haven't already!

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Install/Upgrade Improvements Part 1

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Install/Upgrade Improvements Part 2

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Enhanced Node Status

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Additional Improvements

ORION PLATFORM 2019.4 - ORION MAPS RC (NPM Forum)

In addition to Node status improvements, the Orion® Platform 2019.2 includes a slew of other great new features and enhancements. There’s a tremendous amount of diversity in these improvements, ranging from deployment flexibility to usability all the way to security. So, no matter what your jam, this release for the Orion Platform is sure to have something for you.

 

 

 

Default Admin Password

 

If you're installing an Orion Platform product for the first time, perhaps on a lab system or in a staging environment, undoubtedly the first new thing you'll notice the first time you attempt to log in to the Orion web interface is you’re now required to define a password for the default “Admin” user account. No longer will you be able to login with the default “admin” account with no password. If you're upgrading from a previous release, however, this change won’t affect you. It's only applicable to new installs of the Orion Platform. However, if you're still running your Orion instance with no password defined for the “Admin” account, let this post serve as a reminder to check that off the to-do list.

 

Admin Password Change PromptError Returned When no Password is Entered

Azure SQL DB Support

 

In the earlier Orion Platform 2018.2 release, we added support for using Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) as a cloud-based alternative to more traditional on-premises Microsoft SQL database servers. This allowed those customers who were deploying Orion instances into the cloud using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) as their infrastructure as a service solution, to lower costs and reduce management overhead further by using Amazon's database-as-a-service offering. As more organizations lift and shift workloads into the cloud, it's natural for their monitoring solution to be one of them.

 

Since that release, however, we've received numerous requests to provide similar support for Azure SQL DB, Microsoft's equivalent alternative service offering to Amazon's RDS… and in the Orion Platform 2019.4, we’ve delivered. By adding support for Azure SQL DB to all product modules running atop Orion Platform 2019.2, you’re now afforded greater deployment flexibility and choice than ever before, without the worry of being locked in to a single cloud vendor. Best of all, using Azure SQL DB as the SQL database repository for your Orion install is just as easy as using a local on-prem MSSQL database server instance.

 

Regardless if you're installing the Orion Platform for the first time or migrating your Orion instance to the cloud, the magic begins in the Configuration Wizard. Simply enter in the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the SQL Server instance as shown in your Azure Portal and your credentials. With the introduction of Azure SQL DB, the Orion Platform now also supports the use of Azure Active Directory credentials for authenticating to the Azure SQL DB instance should you prefer not to use SQL authentication.

 

 

If this is a new Orion Platform installation, you can create an empty database from within your Azure Portal for your Orion instance to use, or the Configuration Wizard can automatically create one for you, no differently than if you were to deploy the Orion Platform on-prem. By default, the Configuration Wizard will create an S3 tier database, the absolute lowest Azure SQL DB tier supported by the Orion Platform and its associated product modules.

 

My favorite thing about Azure SQL DB is how incredibly fast and easy it is to scale your database tier up or down from within the Azure portal as your needs (or budget) dictates.

 

If for any reason you forget which Azure SQL database tier the Orion Platform is using, you can remind yourself from within the comfort of the Orion web interface simply by going to [Settings > All Settings > Database Details].

 

 

Orion Agent Rediscovery

 

Rediscovering things like newly added volumes, AppInsight applications, and interfaces on Agents has historically been a fairly binary operation. Your options were either to run a rediscovery against every Agent-managed node associated with a given Polling Engine, or none. There wasn’t really a way to specify additional criteria to narrow your rediscovery job to a subset of Agent-managed nodes. This was obviously fairly limiting if you wanted to handle some Agent-managed nodes differently than others, such as production vs. staging/lab machines or by office/region. If you wanted these handled differently, your only recourse was to divvy those Agents up across polling engines based on their role or location.

 

Since this was hardly an ideal solution for some customers, or even an option for others, we knew we could do better. In Orion Platform 2019.2, you can now specify rediscovery parameters for Agent-managed nodes based on node properties, such as IP addressing, node caption naming conventions, and even custom properties. These properties can even be combined to target a subset of Agents you want to be rediscovered, either one time or on a recurring basis. You'll even find a convenient “Preview” button so you can validate the rediscovery parameters you've specified to return the expected Agent-managed nodes. Coupled with automatic import, these Agent rediscovery options provide the Ronco Rotisserie equivalent of IT management, allowing you to simply set it and forget it.

 

Linux Agent Metrics

 

More than a few keen-eyed observers have noticed a slight discrepancy when monitoring Linux nodes using the Agent when compared to those same nodes being monitored via SNMP. Namely, the absence of specific volume types, such as Swap Space, Shared Memory, Memory Buffers, and more. Fortunately, in this release, we've corrected this injustice and now provide visibility into the same volume types with the Linux Orion Agent as are available when polling via SNMP. No longer will you need to make difficult compromises or tradeoffs when deciding to switch your node polling method from SNMP to the Linux Agent.

 

Orion Platform 2018.4Orion Platform 2019.2

 

Orion Agent SDK

 

Since the initial first release of the Orion Agent, it's been possible to use the Orion SDK to script the push deployment of new agents to remote machines no differently than you can through the Orion web interface. While this has been great, those systems have to be accessible via RPC and WMI for Windows or SSH for Linux for the agent to be deployed. Additionally, those machines where the Agent is deployed must be able to communicate back to the Orion server or one of its associated polling engines. For those customers who would prefer to pre-deploy the Agent in a passive mode (server initiated), either using Chef, Puppet, SCCM, or even SolarWinds Patch Manager, there hasn’t really been any good way to script or automate managing those systems. Instead, users have had to add those passive agents to the Orion Platform manually, one by one. Which is perhaps fine if you have the occasional one or two, but not so much fun when you have dozens or even hundreds of newly deployed Agents to manage in your Orion instance.

 

With Orion Platform 2019.2, this is now a problem of the past. You can now fully script and automate adding passive agents to your Orion instance using the Orion SDK. Simply pass all the same parameters you would normally be prompted to enter when adding a passive agent through the Orion web interface as part of your script. For example, the IP address of the machine where the passive agent is already deployed. Within seconds of executing your script, you should see your passive agent appear under [Settings > All Settings > Manage Agents] of the Orion web interface.

 

 

 

Manually Provision Agent Plugins

 

Some organizations have offices in very remote regions of the world where latency is very high and bandwidth is a sparse, precious commodity. While the Orion Agent is extremely lightweight to deploy and bandwidth-efficient during normal operation, when the Agent is initially provisioned, it downloads any and all dependencies necessary to perform whatever function it has been asked to do, such as functioning as a QoE sensor, NetPath probe, or becoming a managed node, to name only a few uses for the Agent.

 

Depending on which functions are being used, the age of the operating system, and how up-to-date the machine is with Windows Updates, the Agent plugin dependencies can reach up to a couple of hundred megabytes in size. If you need to provision dozens of Agents in one of these remote regions with high latency connections and very little bandwidth, it can take a very long time before all those Agents finish downloading all necessary plugins and dependencies (if they don't give up before then). Worse yet, if you're doing this deployment during working hours, the download of plugins and dependencies for all those Agents can significantly impede other people's ability to function in the office, as all available bandwidth could be consumed by those Agents attempting to download their plugins and plugin dependencies.

 

After upgrading to Orion Platform 2019.2, you’ll be able to pre-provision all Agent plugins and their related dependencies, thus eliminating the need for them to be downloaded from their associated polling engine as well as the potential to impact end users working in that remote office during the Agent provisioning process.

 

To get started, simply copy the contents of the “C:\Program Files (x86)\SolarWinds\Orion\AgentManagement\Plugins”' directory on the main Orion server to the “C:\ProgramData\SolarWinds\Agent\Plugins” directory of the Windows machine where you want to deploy the Agent. How you get those files to their intended destination is entirely up to you. You can use a CD, DVD, USB drive, even a local file share (or can I plug the tried-and-true Serv-U® MFT file transfer solution).

 

Once the agent plugins and their related dependencies have been copied to the appropriate directory on the remote machine where the Agent will be installed, install and configure the Agent as you normally would. The Agent should now use the local plugin repository rather than downloading those plugins across the wire from the polling engine with which it's associated. If you're pre-provisioning Linux or AIX Agents, you can follow the same steps. The only difference is the directory where the agent plugins are stored. For Linux or AIX Agents, be sure to copy them to the “/opt/SolarWinds/Agent/bin/Plugins” directory.

 

This same method can be used when upgrading Agents using a package management or software distribution solution like SolarWinds Patch Manager or Microsoft SCCM. Simply deploy the contents of the “C:\Program Files (x86)\SolarWinds\Orion\AgentManagement\Plugins” directory from the main Orion server to the appropriate directory listed above on the machine where the Agent is installed. Then execute the unattended Agent upgrade process as you normally would.

 

 

 

Continuing on the momentum of the previous release, Orion Platform 2019.2 adds even more direct links to PerfStack, where you can cross-correlate metrics across a variety of different entities and entity types to quickly identify the root cause of issues in your environment. Now, simply click on the numeric value or linear gauge in any of the 30 updated resources and you’ll be launched directly into PerfStack, where metrics are automatically plotted for you over time, ready for you to begin your analysis.

 

 

The following table lists all 30 Orion resources updated in this release to link their respective metrics directly to PerfStack.

 

New Resources Supporting Direct Links to PerfStack
Top 10 Avg. Disk sec/TransferTop 25 Avg. Disk sec/TransferTop XX Avg. Disk sec/Transfer
Top 10 Nodes by Average Response TimeTop 25 Nodes by Average Response TimeTop XX Nodes by Average Response Time
Top 10 Nodes by Average CPU LoadTop 25 Nodes by Average CPU LoadTop XX Nodes by Average CPU Load
Top 10 Disk Queue LengthTop 25 Disk Queue LengthTop XX Disk Queue Length
Top 10 Volumes by Disk Space UsedTop 25 Volumes by Disk Space UsedTop XX Volumes by Disk Space Used
Top 10 Nodes by Percent Memory UsedTop 25 Nodes by Percent Memory UsedTop XX Nodes by Percent Memory Used

Top 10 Nodes by Percent Packet Loss

Top 25 Nodes by Percent Packet LossTop XX Nodes by Percent Packet Loss
Top 10 Nodes by Current Response TimeTop 25 Nodes by Current Response TimeTop XX Nodes by Current Response Time
Top 10 Total IOPSTop 25 Total IOPSTop XX Total IOPS
Nodes with High Average CPU LoadVolumes with High Percent UsageNodes with High Memory Utilization

 

 

Automatic Removal of Unknown Volumes

 

In today's highly virtualized word, volumes are no longer the physical, heavy-metal rectangle components of the server seldom, if ever, removed or added from the machine. Instead, volumes are simply additional storage capacity easily added or removed on a whim with just a few mouse clicks or keystrokes. As such, it's not uncommon these days for new volumes to be added or removed as storage capacity needs change over the course of a server's lifecycle. This, however, results in some additional overhead to keep the monitoring server up-to-date with these changes in the environment. While scheduled recurring discoveries with automatic import helps address automating the monitoring of new volumes as they're added to servers in the environment, removed volumes remain managed in the Orion Platform until they're manually deleted by someone with Node Management rights. Hunting down all these “unknown” volumes can also be a tedious process, which is why it's seldom done. The result is wasted volume licenses and bogged down polling engines wasting polling cycles by trying to monitor volumes that will never return.

 

 

In our never-ending quest to reduce management overhead, we’ve now added the ability to automatically remove these “unknown” volumes after a predetermined period of time, which is, of course, user-configurable.

 

Under [Settings > All Settings > Orion Polling Settings], you’ll find a new option intuitively entitled “Automatically Remove Unknown Volumes,” which, as the name suggests, will remove any volumes from being managed by the Orion Platform if they’ve been “unknown” for longer than the number of days defined in “Remove Unknown Volumes After” field. To ensure we’re not inadvertently removing “unknown” volumes you may not want to be deleted immediately upon upgrading to Orion Platform 2019.2,, we’ve disabled this option by default. We do, however, recommend enabling this option and removing “unknown” volumes after a reasonable number of days as part of good monitoring hygiene.

 

 

Secure Syslog Alerts

 

For several years it's been possible to send SNMP Traps securely using SNMPv3 as an alert action. There has, however, not been any equivalent for sending Syslog messages as part of an alert trigger action in a similarly secure fashion… until now.

 

With the release of Orion Platform 2019.2, you’ll now find a new option to send Syslog messages via TCP, not just UDP, as in previous releases. There’s also an option for sending those Syslog messages via TCP using TLS encryption, providing secure communications and data privacy for data in motion. With these new capabilities, you can now safely and securely send alerts via Syslog to other Syslog receivers like Kiwi Syslog® or another Orion instance running Log Analyzer via TCP for improved reliability of message delivery and TLS encryption to comply with your latest security policies and regulatory mandates.

 

 

HSRP Addresses

 

Odd as it may seem, IP addresses configured on Cisco routers for use with HSRP are not expressed using the traditional industry standard MIB2 ipAdEntAddrhttp://oid-info.com/get/1.3.6.1.2.1.4.20.1.1 OID. This information is instead tucked away in Cisco's private cisco-hsrp-mib, out of reach from the Orion Platform's normal mechanisms for gathering IP addresses assigned to a node. This meant it wasn’t possible to search for a node via the “Search for Nodes” resource using any HSRP IP address configured on a device. It also meant any Orion product module attempting to associate information to a given Node via its HSRP address, like NetPath, was unable to because the Orion Platform was unaware of the node's HSRP addresses.

 

Fortunately for you, this is now a thing of the past. With Orion Platform 2019.2, it will now collect all HSRP addresses assigned to a given node, allowing you to quickly find nodes by their HSRP addresses and properly associating disparate information from Orion product modules to its associated node.

 

FortiGate CPU & Memory

 

Those of you running FortiGate firewalls in your environment should be pleased to hear Orion Platform 2019.2 now natively supports monitoring of both CPU and memory utilization for these devices out-of-the-box. No longer will you need to fumble with Universal Device Pollers. Best of all, you can even monitor these metrics in real-time via PerfStack Real-Time Polling.

 

If you're already monitoring your FortiGate firewalls with your Orion instance via SNMP, there's nothing additional you need to do. Simply upgrade your Orion product module to the latest version that includes Orion Platform 2019.2, and these metrics will begin being collected. If you were previously using Universal Device Pollers to monitor the CPU and memory utilization on your FortiGate firewalls, you may want to consider removing those pollers after upgrading to reduce polling overhead.

 

 

 

Dynamic External Nodes

 

For years now, the Orion Platform has had the notion of External Nodes, which essentially represents a node that typically isn’t owned or managed by you and doesn’t respond to ICMP, SNMP, or WMI. The primary purpose of external nodes is for assigning application templates from Server & Application Monitor. Those application templates are commonly HTTP/HTTPS User Experience Monitors or TCP Port Monitors for monitoring external websites and SaaS applications, but there are many more uses for External Nodes. These are simply two examples.

 

 

The trouble with external nodes historically has been since they don't poll any information, they also don't update their IP address—you must edit the properties of an External Node and select “Dynamic IP.” In previous Orion releases, you couldn't have external nodes with dynamic IP addresses. So, if you’d assigned an application template to an external node and its IP address ever changed, it would report a “down” status even if the application being monitored was really “up.” The Orion Platform was still polling the application using the original IP address of the node prior to it changing. Your only recourse for correcting this issue was to delete the node, re-add it to your Orion instance, and reassign any application templates you had assigned while losing any historical data for the applications monitored on the node.

 

With the release of Orion Platform 2019.2, we have addressed this glaring limitation of external nodes. Now, when the “Dynamic IP Address” box is checked on an “External” node, a reverse lookup against the hostname or fully qualified domain name (FQDN) for the node is done every two minutes by default, automatically updating the IP address. The frequency in which this query is done can be adjusted simply by updating the “Node Status Polling” interval for the node.

 

 

Newly Added SysObjectIDs

 

Every release of the Orion Platform includes support for identifying new makes, models, and manufacturers of devices. This comes in large part from customers just like you who help identify these new devices in the wild and report them to us in the Tell Us Your Unknown Devices v2.0 thread.

 

The following is a list of all new devices that will now be properly identified by Orion Platform 2019.2. If you're running the latest release of the Orion Platform and the “Machine Type” for any of your devices is reported as “Unknown,” simply post its SysObjectID to the Tell Us Your Unknown Devices v2.0 thread along with its make, model, and manufacturer, and we’ll ensure it's properly identified as such in the next release of the Orion Platform.

 

Cisco 800M with 8-Port LAN Integrated Services RouterCisco C1111-8PLTELAWH Router
DELL S5000Cisco C1111-8PLTELAWF Router
DELL S4810-ONCisco C1111-8PWE Router with WLAN E domain
DELL S6000-ONCisco Aironet 1815
DELL S4048-ONCisco Aironet 1540
DELL S3048-ONCisco Catalyst 2960L-24TQ-LL Switch
DELL S3148PCisco Catalyst 2960L-48TQ-LL Switch
DELL S3124PCisco Catalyst 2960L-24PQ-LL Switch
DELL S3124FCisco Catalyst 2960L-48PQ-LL Switch
DELL S3124Cisco Catalyst 9407R Switch
DELL S6100Cisco Catalyst 94010R Switch
DELL S6010Cisco C1111-4P Router
DELL S4048TCisco C1111-4PLTEEA Router with Multimode Europe and North America Advanced LTE
DELL S3148Cisco C1111-4PLTELA Router with Latin America Multimode and Asia Pacific Advanced LTE
DELL Z9500Cisco C1111-4PWE Router with WLAN E domain
DELL Z9100Cisco C1111-4PWB Router with WLAN B domain
DELL S4148FCisco C1111-4PWA Router with WLAN A domain
DELL S4148TCisco C1111-4PWZ Router with WLAN Z domain
HP 2930F-24G-PoE+-4SFP (JL261A)Cisco C1111-4PWN Router with WLAN N domain
1920S 24G 2SFP PoE+ (JL385A)Cisco C1111-4PWQ Router with WLAN Q domain
ForeScout CounterACT ApplienceCisco C1111-4PWH Router with WLAN C domain
Corvil CNE ApplianceCisco C1111-4PWR Router with WLAN R domain
Corvil CNE ApplianceCisco C1111-4PWF Router with WLAN K domain
FortiWeb 1000DCisco C1111-4PWD Router with WLAN D domain
Fortinet Fortigate 280D-POECisco C1116-4P Router with VDSL/ADSL
FortiGate 500DCisco C1116-4PLTEEA Router with Multimode Europe and North America Advanced LTE
FortiGate 600DCisco C1117-4P Router with VDSL/ADSL
FortiWeb 4000DCisco C1116-4PWE Router with WLAN E domain
Pulse Secure IC4000Cisco C1117-4PLTEEA Router
Pulse Secure MAG-2600Cisco C1117-4PLTELA Router
Pulse Secure PSA-3000Cisco C1117-4PWE Router with WLAN E domain
Pulse Secure PSA-5000Cisco C1117-4PWA Router with WLAN A domain
Pulse Secure PSA-7000cCisco C1117-4PWZ Router with WLAN Z domain
Pulse Secure PSA-7000fCisco C1117-4PM Router with VDSL/ADSL
9982P2ETCisco C1117-4PMLTEEA Router
IAP-325Cisco C1117-4PMWE Router with WLAN E domain
IAP-315Cisco C1112-8P Router
ClearPass Policy Manager CP-HW-5KCisco C1112-8PLTEEA Router with Multimode Europe and North America
6548 SwitchCisco C1113-8P Router
Internal Management Module SwitchCisco C1113-8PM Router with VDSL/ADSL
AnnuncicomCisco C1113-8PLTEEA Router
InstreamerCisco C1113-8PLTELA Router
DataDomain 9300Cisco C1113-8PMLTEEA Router
S6720-54C-EI-48S-ACCisco C1113-8PWE Router with WLAN E domain
Lantronix EDS4100Cisco C1113-8PWA Router with WLAN A domain
Xerox DocuColor 242Cisco C1113-8PWZ Router with WLAN Z domain
ColorQube 9301Cisco C1113-8PMWE Router with WLAN E domain
D110Cisco C1113-8PLTEEAWE Router
Palo Alto PA-5200Cisco C1113-8PLTELAWE Router
Palo Alto PA-5200Cisco C1113-8PLTELAWZ Router
Palo Alto PA-220Cisco C1114-8P Router
H3C S5560-54C-EICisco C1114-8PLTEEA Router with Multimode Europe and North America
H3C S12504X-AFCisco C1115-8P Router
H3C S6520-48S-EICisco C1115-8PLTEEA Router with Multimode Europe and North America Advanced LTE
LP-1030Cisco C1115-8PM Router with VDSL/ADSL
TSM-24-DPSCisco C1115-8PMLTEEA Router
VMR-HD4D30Cisco C1118-8P Router(ciscoC11188P)
NPS-8-ATSCisco C1116-4PLTEEAWE Router
vMXCisco C1117-4PLTEEAWE Router
Juniper Virtual Route Reflector (vRR)Cisco C1117-4PLTEEAWA Router
Juniper ACX2200Cisco C1117-4PLTELAWZ Router
Juniper ACX5048Cisco C1117-4PMLTEEAWE Router
Juniper ACX5096Cisco 807 Industrial Integrated Services Routers
Juniper vSRXCisco 807 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service Router
Juniper SRX345Cisco 807 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service Routers with multi-mode  Global (Europe & Australia) LTE/HSPA+
Juniper ACX2100Cisco 807 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service Router
Juniper ACX1100Cisco 807 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service Routers with multi-mode  AT&T and Canada  LTE/HSPA+
Juniper EX3400-24TCisco Catalyst 9500 series with 32 Ports of 100G/32 Ports of 40G
Juniper QFX10002-72QCisco Catalyst 9500 series with 32 Ports of 40G/16 Ports of 100G
Juniper QFX10008Cisco Catalyst 9500 series with 48 Ports of 1G/10G/25G + 4 Ports of 40G/100G
WIB 8000Cisco Catalyst 9500 Router with 24 Ports of 1G/10G/25G + 4 Ports of 40G/100G
Meraki DashboardCisco Catalyst 9500 Series Switch
Xerox ApeosPort-IV C3375C9500-16X
Xerox ApeosPort-V C6675 T2IR829M-LTE-LA-ZK9
DCS-7060CX2-32SCisco C1109-2PLTEGB 2 ports GE LAN M2M Router with Multimode LTE WWAN Global
SX6036Cisco C1109-2PLTEUS 2 ports GE LAN M2M Router with Multimode LTE WWAN US
SX6036Cisco C1109-2PLTEVZ 2 ports GE LAN M2M Router with Multimode LTE WWAN Verizon
MSB7800-ES2FCisco C1109-2PLTEAU 2 ports GE LAN M2M Router with Multimode LTE WWAN Australia and New Zealand
F5 BIG-IP 10350vCisco C1109-2PLTEIN 2 ports GE LAN M2M Router with Multimode LTE WWAN India
BIG-IP i2800Cisco C1101-4P 4 Ports GE LAN Router
F5 Networks BIG-IP i4600Cisco C1101-4PLTEP 4 Ports GE LAN Router
Delphix DB EngineCisco C1101-4PLTEPWE 4 Ports GE LAN Router
TSC ME240Cisco C1101-4PLTEPWB 4 Ports GE LAN Router
Dell S4048-ONCisco C1101-4PLTEPWD 4 Ports GE LAN Router
Dell S6000-ONCisco C1101-4PLTEPWZ 4 Ports GE LAN Router
CX923deCisco C1101-4PLTEPWA 4 Ports GE LAN Router
OmniSwitch 6450-48LCisco C1101-4PLTEPWH 4 Ports GE LAN Router
OmniSwitch 6450-P10Cisco C1101-4PLTEPWQ 4 Ports GE LAN Router
Alcatel OmniSwitch 6450-C48XCisco C1101-4PLTEPWR 4 Ports GE LAN Router
Alcatel OmniSwitch 6450-P48XCisco C1101-4PLTEPWN 4 Ports GE LAN Router
Alcatel OmniSwitch 6450-U24Cisco C1101-4PLTEPWF 4 Ports GE LAN Router
Alcatel OmniSwitch 6350-P48Cisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2P)
OmniSwitch 6860E-U28Cisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWB)
InfoBlox ND-1400Cisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWE )
TelePresence MCU 5320Cisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWD)
Cisco IE 2000-16PTC-G-NX Industrial Ethernet SwitchCisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWZ)
Cisco IE 2000-4S-TS-G-L Industrial Ethernet SwitchCisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWA)
Cisco IE-2000U-4S-G Industrial Ethernet SwitchCisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWH)
Cisco C887VAM Integrated Series RoutersCisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWQ)
Cisco 897 Multi-Mode VDSL2/ADSL2+ POTS Annex M with Multi-Mode 4G LTE RouterCisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(iscoC11094PLte2PWN)
Cisco C899 Secure Gigabit Ethernet with Multi-mode 4G LTE RouterCisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWR)
Aironet 1572EC Outdoor Access PointCisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWF)
Cisco Catalyst 6824-X-LE-40GCisco C9407R
Cisco Firepower NGFW 4140Cisco 1000V
Cisco NCS 5001Cisco Nexus 3132Q Switch
Cisco NCS 5002Cisco UCS 6332 32-Port Fabric Interconnect
Cisco 897 Multi-mode VDSL2/ADSL2+ POTS with Multi-Mode 4G LTE RouterCisco Nexus 5672UP Switch
Cisco NCS 1002UCS 6332-16UP Fabric Interconnect
Cisco NCS 5508Cisco Nexus 31128PQ Switch
Cisco NCS 5502-SECisco Nexus 3132
Cisco 897VAGLTELAK9-4G LTE Latin America router with 1 Giga Ethernet WANCisco Nexus 3172
Cisco 819 Non-Hardened 4G LTE M2M with Dual Radio 802.11n WiFi RouterCisco Nexus 3172
Cisco 819 Non-Hardened 4G LTE M2M with Dual Radio 802.11n WiFi RouterCisco Nexus Nexus 9236C
Cisco Aironet 1560Cisco Nexus 31108PC-V
C899G-LTE-LA-K9 4G router with 1 Giga Ethernet WAN, 1 SFP (Small Form-factor Pluggable) Giga Ethernet WANCisco 3172
C819G-LTE-LA-K9 Router with 1 Gigabit Ethernet WAN, 4 Fast Ethernet LANCisco 9232C
Cisco 4221 ISRNexus 93180YC-FX
Cisco 4221 Integrated Services RouterNexus 9348GC-FXP
Cisco Catalyst CDB-8U SwitchCisco Nexus 9K C9364C
Cisco Catalyst CDB-8P SwitchCisco 7600 Series Route Switch Processor 720 with 10 Gigabit Ethernet Uplinks
Cisco NCS 5501WS-X45-SUP9-E (Cisco Catalyst 4503-E  Switch Module )
Cisco NCS 5502Cisco 3172
Cisco 829 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service RouterCisco SGE2000 10/100/1000 Ethernet Switch
Cisco 829 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service Routers with multi-mode LTE/HSPA+ with 802.11nSF550X-24
Cisco 829 4G LTE Dual-modem Industrial Integrated Service RouterSF550X-24P
Cisco 829 4G LTE Dual-modem Industrial Integrated Service Routers with multi-mode LTE/HSPA+ with 802.11nSF550X-24MP
Cisco 809 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service RouterSF550X-48
Cisco 809 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service Routers with multi-mode LTE/HSPA+SF550X-48P
Cisco C1111-8P RouterSF550X-48MP
Cisco C1111-8PLTEEA Router with Multimode Europe and North America Advanced LTESG550X-24
Cisco C1111-8PLTELA Router with Latin America Multimode and Asia Pacific Advanced LTESG550X-24P
Cisco C1111-8PWE Router with WLAN E domainSG550X-24MP
Cisco C1111-8PWB Router with WLAN B domainSG550X-24MPP
Cisco C1111-8PWA Router with WLAN A domainSG550X-48
Cisco C1111-8PWZ Router with WLAN Z domainSG550X-48P
Cisco C1111-8PWN Router with WLAN N domainSG550X-48MP
Cisco C1111-8PWQ Router with WLAN Q domainSG350X-24
Cisco C1111-8PWH Router with WLAN C domainSG350X-24PD 24-Port 2.5G PoE Stackable Managed Switch
Cisco C1111-8PWR Router with WLAN R domainSG350X-24P
Cisco C1111-8PWF Router with WLAN K domainSG350X-24MP
Cisco C1111-8PLTEEAWE RouterSG350X-48
Cisco C1111-8PLTEEAWB RouterSG350X-48P
Cisco C1111-8PLTEEAWA RouterSG350X-48MP
Cisco C1111-8PLTEEAWR RouterSG350X-8PMD 8-Port 2.5G PoE Stackable Managed Switch
Cisco C1111-8PLTELAWZ RouterSG350-8PD 8-Port 2.5G PoE Managed Switch
Cisco C1111-8PLTELAWN RouterPravail NSI
Cisco C1111-8PLTELAWQ Router

 

 

But Wait, there's more!

 

The list of improvements above is just a small sampling of everything included in the Orion Platform 2019.2 release. There are still plenty of additional new features and improvements added to this release of the Orion Platform, including Enhanced Node Status, Orion Maps 2.0, and Install/Upgrade Improvements. As always, we appreciate your feedback on all these improvements, so be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

In our latest release of User Device Tracker (UDT), you'll discover new port discovery and polling support for Cisco Nexus switching equipment. You'll also see UDT make a cameo appearance in our Network Insight™ for Palo Alto firewalls, with new visibility for devices connected to these firewalls. We'll show you where it integrates today into NPM.

 

Speaking of discovery, we've completely reworked the port discovery process to be very similar to node discovery. We'll show you what it looks like, and how to configure credentials for these new device types.

 

Finally, we'll talk briefly about some Orion® Platform enhancements, and improvements to the SDK we've recently published for working with ports.

 

Discovering and Importing Ports

 

In this release, we're adding some significant granularity in the Discovery and Import process for ports. The experience and the workflow is similar to the NPM node discovery, with granular selection criteria and port-filtering options:

 

It's simple to exclude operationally or administratively down ports from the import. This flexibility saves overhead and simplifies licensing by offering better, granular control.

 

Configuring Access for UDT

For most devices supported by UDT, all that's necessary are the SNMP credentials. For some devices—the Cisco Nexus 5K, 7K, and 9K series switches, or for the Palo Alto Firewall—a set of command-line interface (CLI) credentials are required.

 

You can configure devices in bulk or individually in the Port Management section of the User Device Tracker settings page.  Select "Manage Ports" to see the list of devices which can be configured:

 

Select one or more of these devices, edit their properties, and you'll find a section for configuring SNMP polling:

You'll also find a section for CLI-based polling:

The polling interval is set in its own section of the UDT Settings page, under "Polling Interval." The default polling interval for port information is 30 minutes.

 

Once you’ve enabled UDT Layer-3 polling for a CLI-based device, you can expect to see port information populated in the Port Details resource on the Node Details page.

 

UDT SDK Updates

This release adds some basic create, read, update, and delete operations for UDT ports into the Orion SDK. Refer to the documentation available in GitHub for examples.

 

 

Platform Improvements

Along with all of the other modules in the Orion Platform, UDT can be installed now in Azure, and make use of the native Azure SQL database service to host the Orion database. This adds additional deployment flexibility—we already support deployment in AWS using the RDS service.

 

How Do I Get This Goodness?

For UDT, you can find the latest release in your Customer Portal.

 

 

To see all the features of Network Insight for Palo Alto, you’ll want to have several modules installed and working together.

  • Network Performance Monitor discovers and polls your Palo Alto firewall and retrieves and displays your site-to-site VPN and GlobalProtect client VPN connection information.
  • Network Configuration Manager collects your device configuration and provides a list of your security policies for zone-to-zone communication. This module tracks configuration changes over time and provides context for policies spanning multiple devices.
  • NetFlow Traffic Analyzer collects flow data from the firewall and maps the traffic to policies in the Policy Details page. You can also view traffic through the firewall or through specific interfaces.
  • User Device Tracker collects directly connected devices and provides a history of connections to the ports on the device.

 

 

You can demo these products individually or install/upgrade from any installer available in your Customer Portal.

 

We're looking forward to hearing your feedback and questions on the release in the forum below!

VoIP & Network Quality Manager version 4.6 builds on the SIP trunk monitoring work we introduced in the previous release. In the last release, we introduced SIP trunk health and availability metrics monitored from the Cisco Unified Call Manager element. In this release, VNQM delivers SIP trunk call metrics—with on-demand polling—and SIP trunk utilization from the Cisco Unified Border Element. It's comprehensive visibility throughout the CUCM environment.

 

Monitoring the CUBE

 

You'll notice there's a new resource available on the VoIP Summary Page—"VoIP Gateways." These are the border gateway elements where SIP trunks terminate.

 

In this release, we support the Cisco Unified Border Element, or “CUBE” appliance.

 

The Call Manager hosts, visible in the VoIP CallManagers resource, drill down into details pages for each call manager. The VoIP Gateways expand directly into a list of SIP trunks.

 

 

 

At this level, you can see a quick status for each trunk. Drilling into one of the trunks provides this view.

 

 

The SIP Trunk Details view provides resources for monitoring status over time, metrics for inbound and outbound call activity, and SIP trunk utilization. Each of these metrics can be individually opened in a new PerfStack™ project, or the collection of status and call metrics for this trunk can be opened from the summary resource. In PerfStack, the "Performance Analyzer" view looks like this.

 

Pulling these metrics into PerfStack gives you visibility on the same timescale for other related metrics—resources on the CUBE device, for example.

 

 

Or, perhaps the active inbound and outbound calls for several trunks.

 

 

The PerfStack dashboard gives you the flexibility to compose views that you can save and use for monitoring or troubleshooting in the future.

 

Immediate Real-Time Polling

Note that the Inbound and Outbound call metrics from the CUBE have the "rocket ship" icon next to them to denote real-time polling is available. This means we can enable continuous polling and presentation of these metrics from the CUBE when we're troubleshooting issues, and we need to see the current call metrics from the perspective of the CUBE. This is a valuable insight into the key utilization metrics for each SIP trunk.

 

SIP Trunk Utilization

Tracking SIP trunk utilization is complex; there are several different factors to calculate utilization. Utilization depends upon the mix of typical calls, the codecs used in the environment, and the number of active calls. In this release, we're using maximum concurrent calls as the primary indicator of utilization, and calculating and presenting a percentage value useful for capacity planning. You should work with your SIP provider to estimate the number of concurrent calls your trunks can support and configure your thresholds accordingly.

 

To configure the maximum concurrent calls we'll use in the utilization calculation, you'll need to visit global settings for "VoIP & Network Quality Manager (VNQM) Settings," and select "Edit VoIP & Network Quality Manager Settings" to see these global values for "Gateway" settings.

 

In addition to the "Maximum Concurrent Calls," you can also set thresholds, polling intervals, and retention period for these metrics here.

 

CLI credentials are configured at the CUBE level by selecting "Manage Gateways" and providing credentials for one or all gateway devices.

 

 

You can also override the maximum concurrent call value in the CUBE properties.

 

The default out of the box value is 100 concurrent calls. You'll want to confirm this for your environment with your SIP trunk provider.

 

 

Platform Improvements

Along with all the other modules in the Orion® Platform, VNQM can be installed now in Azure, and make use of the native Azure SQL database service to host the Orion database. This adds additional deployment flexibility; we already support deployment in AWS using the RDS service.

 

We're excited to provide comprehensive health, availability, and utilization monitoring for SIP trunks in the Cisco CUCM environment. Visit your Customer Portal to review the Release Notes, verify the System Requirements, and download this release.

 

 

We're looking forward to your experiences and questions in the forum below.

In our latest release of NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA), we’re focusing on features that deliver expanded visibility, and flexible evaluation and deployment options. For the first time, NTA is providing a significant contribution to our Network Insight™ feature for Palo Alto firewalls.

 

Also, in this release, we’re adding support for IPv6 flow records, and enhancing our filtering to display IPv4 only, IPv6, or both types of traffic.

 

For evaluation customers—and for current customers upgrading—we’ll automatically configure a local source of NetFlow data on the local server. This will provide an immediate source of data for evaluation installations and a comprehensive source of information for traffic sourced or destined to the primary poller.

 

Finally, we’re fully supporting the deployment of NTA into Azure, using the native Azure SQL Database service to host the flow database. This builds upon our existing support for deployment in AWS, using the native RDS service.

 

We’ll explain an important upcoming change in the upgrade process, and how to plan for it.

 

Traffic Visibility by Policy

 

In this release, NTA is contributing to our latest Network Insight through an integration with Network Configuration Manager (NCM). Users of SolarWinds NCM with Palo Alto firewalls will see top traffic conversations by security policy on the NCM Policy Details page. Examining traffic by policy helps answer the question, "Who might be affected as I make changes to my security policies?"

 

Let's look at how we find this view.  We'll start at the Node Details page for this firewall:

 

 

We'll use the slide-out menu in this view to select "Policies." This will take us to a list view of all the policies configured for zones on this device.

 

Selecting a policy from this list brings us to the Policy Details page:

Close

 

Policies define security controls between zones configured on the firewall. For a Palo Alto firewall, a zone can include one or more interfaces. So, in this view, we're looking at all the conversations based on applications defined in the policy.

 

It's a very different way of looking at conversations; this isn't a view of all traffic through a node or an interface. Rather, it's a view that relates to the policy definition, so the endpoints in these conversations are running over the applications on which your security rules are based.

 

The mechanism here is filtering; we’re looking at application traffic that references the application IDs in your security policy. So, the endpoints in those conversations may be from any zone where you’re using this policy.

 

For an administrator considering changes at the policy level, this is a valuable tool to understand how those rules apply immediately to production services and what kinds of impacts changes to them will have.

 

For this feature, you'll need both NCM and NTA. NTA, of course, requires Network Performance Monitor (NPM). NCM provides us the configuration information that includes the policy definition and the applications definitions. NTA reads application IDs from the flow records we receive from the Palo Alto firewall, and correlates those with the policy configuration to generate this view. With NTA, you can also easily navigate to more conventional node or interface views of the traffic traversing the firewall, and we integrate traffic information seamlessly into the Node Details page in NPM as well.

 

IPv6 Traffic Visibility

 

This release offers comprehensive visibility in mixed IPv4 and IPv6 environments, and the flexibility to isolate TopN views in each of these protocols. While deployment of IPv6 has not been aggressive as some originally predicted, it's gaining some significant traction in the public sector, large-scale distribution operations, universities, and companies working with IoT infrastructures. Our latest release consumes NetFlow v9 and IPFIX flow templates for IPv6 traffic and stores those records along with the IPv4 flow records we support today. Let's see what the NTA summary page looks like.

 

You'll notice some IPv6 conversations, and some IPv6 endpoints in the TopN views. This view gives you complete visibility into the traffic driving your utilization in a mixed IPv4 and IPv6 environment. We've also added new filters, both on the dashboard and in the flow navigator.

 

Close

 

These filters give you the flexibility to examine how traffic running over each version drives utilization, and which conversations are dependent on different configurations within the infrastructure.

 

The Orion® Platform—and NTA—already support installation on dual-stack IPv4 and IPv6 servers. You can receive these flow records on either an IPv4 or IPv6 interface, depending on how your server is connected.

 

IPv6 changes how we think about the security model. This visibility gives us a perspective on how our security polices act on IPv4 and IPv6 traffic to permit or deny conversations. In that sense, it's a valuable tool to confirm your traffic is compliant with your security policies.

 

Local Source of NetFlow

 

This release will automatically add a new source of NetFlow data to your NTA main poller. This new source is a composite of physical network interfaces on your Orion main poller represented as a special type of virtual interface: Local NetFlow Source. This new source of flow information gives you unprecedented visibility into the traffic that originates on or arrives to the Orion server. You can use this to answer questions about your network and system management traffic trends. "How much SNMP traffic does my monitoring generate? What volumes and frequencies of flow traffic do I receive, and from where? How much DNS traffic does my management platform drive, and to where?"

 

Let's see what this looks like.

Close

 

Selecting the "Local NetFlow Source" interface and drilling into it, here's the view.

 

Close

 

You can manage this source of traffic the same way you manage any other source of flow data: by selecting the "Manage Sources" link in the NetFlow Sources resource.

 

Close

You can enable or disable the Local NetFlow Source here to include or exclude traffic from this source.

 

For brand-new installations of NTA, this new source will be created and enabled by default. If you’re working with an evaluation copy of the NTA application, this will give you immediate live data in the product that's personal to your network. It's a great way to introduce your colleagues to new versions or evaluate new releases without having to reconfigure your network devices to send flow records to this instance.

 

If you’re upgrading NTA, this source will be created but will not be enabled by default. We'll respect your existing configuration and give you the flexibility to make the choice about whether you'd like to include this traffic in your current view. Disabling this source completely shuts down capture of traffic on the local interfaces.

 

Creating this interface consumes a single node license for both NPM and NTA. If you would prefer not to use a node license for local NetFlow source, you can completely delete this interface to release the license. You cannot, however, add this interface back later.

 

Azure Deployment

 

Finally, we've been working to ensure users deploying into Azure can make use of the native Azure SQL Database service for both the common Orion database and the SQL NTA database. You'll be able to specify Azure SQL Database to build both of these databases during installation, in much the same way as you build in existing SQL instances today. We're supporting additional choices to help lower operational costs and expand your deployment flexibility.

 

To take advantage of this option, you’ll enter the connection string for your Azure SQL Database instance much the same way you enter any other connection string in the Configuration Wizard.

 

AzureCW.png

 

Changes in the Upgrade Process Are Coming

 

If you’re upgrading to NTA 4.6 from an older version of the product, you’ll once again see a familiar option to defer your NTA upgrade and remain on a version that doesn’t require SQL 2016 or later for the flow database.

 

In the past three releases of NTA (4.4, 4.5, and 4.6), we’ve included a pre-flight check in the upgrade dialog to allow customers to defer the upgrade and retain (or upgrade to) NTA version 4.2.3, the latest version that supports flow storage in the FastBit database. This in turn allowed updates to the Orion Core and other product modules without requiring an NTA upgrade. 

 

In the next release of NTA, this option will no longer be available. An upgrade to the next release of NTA after 4.6 will require a SQL 2016 or later database (or appropriate AWS RDS or Azure SQL option) to complete the upgrade.

 

A modern version of SQL supports columnstore technology, which provides significant performance and scale benefits for NTA. We’re building on this technology in every new release to drive better performance and a better user experience.

 

You should plan now for your next upgrade to deploy a SQL 2016 or later instance for flow storage. Refer to the NTA System Requirements documentation for supported options.

 

How Do I Get This Goodness?

 

For NTA, you can find the latest release in your Customer Portal. Remember, we also have a terrific complementary set of free NetFlow tools in the Flow Tool Bundle, including Flow Replicator, Flow Generator, and Flow Configurator.

 

To see all the features of Network Insight for Palo Alto, you’ll want to have several modules installed and working together.

 

  • Network Performance Monitor discovers and polls your Palo Alto firewall and retrieves and displays your site-to-site VPN and GlobalProtect client VPN connection information.
  • Network Configuration Manager collects your device configuration and provides a list of your security policies for zone-to-zone communication. This module tracks configuration changes over time and provides context for policies spanning multiple devices.
  • NetFlow Traffic Analyzer collects flow data from the firewall and maps the traffic to policies in the Policy Details page. You can also view traffic through the firewall or through specific interfaces.
  • User Device Tracker collects directly connected devices and provides a history of connections to the ports on the device.

 

You can demo these products individually or install/upgrade from any installer available in your Customer Portal.

 

Post your questions and experiences in theNetFlow Traffic Analyzer community forum!

It gives me great pleasure to introduce the newest version of Network Configuration Manager (NCM), v8.0, as generally available!

 

I’m pretty excited about this release, as it’s jam-packed full of great features. Per popular request, Network Insight includes awesome capabilities from NCM, Network Performance Monitor (NPM), NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA), and User Device Tracker (UDT). This very special Network Insight for Palo Alto firewalls provides users with insights into their policies, traffic conversations across policies, and VPNs. We have a great detailed write-up about all the great value we stuffed into the feature here.

 

In addition to Network Insight, NCM is now easier to use when executing config change diffs, adds two new vendors to the Firmware Upgrade feature, and is more performant when executing config backups.

 

Updated Config Diff

 

In an effort to reduce the amount of time committed to spotting changes in a config diff (all those lines…), a simpler and easier-to-use Config Diff has been implemented in this version. By focusing the view around the context of the diff, the changes, you’ll now see the changes highlighted plus five lines above and below the changes. All unchanged lines beyond the five-line limit are collapsed to remove the endless scroll. This gives you the context of the change and makes it easier to discern what steps need to be taken next.

 

 

Additional Vendor Support for Firmware Upgrade

 

For some time now, you’ve all been asking for additional vendors to be added to Firmware Upgrade, and I’m pleased to say we’ve delivered. Take advantage of the automation to apply firmware to Juniper and Lenovo switches to patch vulnerabilities or ensure your network devices are on the latest. Have a different switch model? Just use the framework from the out-of-the-box templates to make it work for you.

 

 

Go check out the release notes for the full details or review the admin guide. We’ve been working hard to bring these wonderful new features to you, so be sure to visit your Customer Portal to download this version.

 

If there’s anything you think we should consider in a future release, please be sure to go create a new feature request to let me know about the additional functionality you would like to see.

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