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For those of you who didn’t know, Storage Resource Monitor 6.8 is currently available for download! This release continues our momentum of supporting new arrays that you all requested on THWACK® as well as deepening our already existing support for the most popular arrays.

 

Why don’t we go over some of what’s new in SRM with the 6.8 release?

 

NEW ARRAY SUPPORT - KAMINARIO®

We’re all really excited here about our newest supported array vendor: Kaminario®. With Kaminario® being an enterprise storage vendor that has a lot of exciting progress going on, we’re really excited to say that we now support their arrays, starting with K2 and K2.N devices. And we think that you will be to, if the voting in THWACK has anything to say about it.

 

Best of all, out of the box, this new support includes all the standard features you know and love: capacity utilization and forecasting, performance monitoring, end-to-end mapping in AppStack™, integrated performance troubleshooting in PerfStack™, and Hardware Health.

 

And, as always, we’re excited to share some screenshots.

 

Summary View

 

Hardware Health View

 

NEW HARDWARE HEALTH SUPPORT - DELL® COMPELLENT AND HPE 3PAR

Whether you’re a new customer to SRM or you’ve been a customer for a while, you know that there is a lot to be had when we extend support for an array to hardware health. With SRM 6.8, we focused on adding hardware health support to those arrays most popular with our customers. And so, we’re excited to announce hardware health support for Dell® Compellent and HPE 3PAR arrays. So now, starting in SRM 6.8, digging into these array types allows you to see details on fans, power supplies, batteries, and more.

 

A screenshot? Of course.

 

 

WHAT’S NEXT

Add in some bug fixes and smaller changes and you have SRM 6.8. We’re excited for you all to check it out.

 

If there are any other features that didn’t make it into SRM 6.8 but that you would like to see, make sure to add it to our Storage Manager (Storage Profiler) Feature Requests forum. But before you do, head over to the What We’re Working On page to see what the storage team already has in the works for upcoming releases.

 

And as always, comments welcome below.

 

- the SRM Team

I’m happy to announce the General Availability of Database Performance Analyzer (DPA) 12.1. This release focuses on deeper performance analysis and management of DPA through these cool new features:

  • Anomaly Detection Powered by Machine Learning
  • Management API
  • Upgraded Java
  • New Options Page
  • Alerting Improvements

Anomaly Detection Powered by Machine Learning

Users tend to log help desk tickets when things are running slower than normal, i.e., an anomaly. Those tickets often find their way to the database team’s inbox to check the database. DPA can be used to find issues when you have time to drill into the wait time data, but often, time is of the essence. Everyone wants answers immediately.

 

Tired of comparing the trends chart with previous days to decide what “normal” looks like? DPA 12.1 now does the work for you, using a machine learning algorithm to identify which hours are abnormal, and displays the information contextually on the trends page. Bonus! If DPA detects an anomaly in the last 60 minutes, it changes the wait time status on the home page, letting you quickly identify the database instances your users are waiting on.

 

The DPA wait meter on the home page is now powered by anomaly detection, and new correlation charts appear as you drill into an instance. For example, you may be reviewing the home page and suddenly see the wait meter turn red.

 

This is an indication the instance is having higher than normal wait times and may be having issues. Clicking on the wait meter takes you to a view of the last 24 hours, and the status of the last bar will match the wait meter.

 

Drilling into the last bar, we can start to unravel the root cause of the anomaly. In this example, we see heavy wait times on RESOURCE_SEMAPHORE_QUERY_COMPILE, usually an indication that one or more queries require more memory than is currently available. In our case, many queries were waiting on this wait type, indicating a potential memory shortfall on the database server, which is what we found to be the case. Without the anomaly detection feature, we may not have known about this problem.

 

For more about this story and others, see this feature post in the DPA Customer Success Center: DPA 12.1 feature: Anomaly detection - SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. Help and Support .

Management API

DPA has many customers automating tasks within their database environments, and many of you have scripts that can deploy/destroy a database environment in minutes. The new REST API in DPA 12.1 can be used to further that automation to management of DPA itself as well as monitored instances. It can safely connect to DPA and issue calls to:

  • Add and remove instances
  • List, allocate, and deallocate licenses
  • Stop, start, and update passwords for monitors
  • Add, retrieve, and delete annotations
  • And more

 

DPA customers are already using the API to:

  • Create annotations when a new build of an application is installed
  • Add monitoring to a newly created database instance and allocate proper licenses
  • Stop and restart monitors before and after O/S patches

 

If you are using the DPA API to do cool things, reply to this post and let us know about it.

 

For more information about DPA’s Rest API, including an interface to try them out before building code around them, use the new Options page and the Management API Documentation link. Here’s a list of other useful pages when you are ready to put the API into action:

What Did You Find?

Our QA team uses DPA to help make sure our code performs well. The anomaly detection feature has helped them be more efficient when problems crop up. DPA pings them using anomaly detection alerts rather than a person being required to drill into every instance to find issues. They can then use the anomaly detection charts to quickly understand the issues. If you find interesting stories in your environment, let us know by leaving comments on this blog post.

 

We would love to hear feedback about the following:

  • Does anomaly detection improve your workflow for finding wait time issues?
  • Are there issues in your databases that DPA did not find, or flagged incorrectly?
  • Are you using the REST API? How much time does it save you? What processes are you automating?

What’s Next?

To learn more about the exciting DPA 12.1 new features, see the DPA Documentation library and visit your SolarWinds Customer Portal to get the new software.

 

If you don't see the features you've been wanting in this release, check out the What We Are Working On for DPA post for what our dedicated team of database nerds are already looking at. If you don't see everything you've been wishing for there, add it to the Database Performance Analyzer Feature Requests.

I'm very excited to announce that SolarWinds Server Configuration Monitor (SCM) 1.1 is now available for download! This release expands on SCM 1.0 capabilities, both giving more detail for each change detected, and adding a new data source that can be analyzed for changes:

 

  • Detect “Who made the change” for files and registry
  • Detect changes in near real-time
  • Deploy PowerShell scripts and track changes in the output (with links to additional example scripts)
  • Set baselines for multiple nodes at once

 

Who made the change? In near real-time

SCM 1.0 is good at detecting changes in your Windows files and registry, but it didn't tell you who made the change, leaving you to do some additional investigative work. SCM 1.1 adds "who made the change" by leveraging our File Integrity Monitoring (FIM) technology, which also detects changes in near real-time -- a double benefit. Near real-time allows us to catch changes almost as they happen, and gives us a separate record for each change, even if changes are happening in rapid succession.

 

Turning on "Who made the change"

After you install or upgrade to SCM 1.1, you can easily turn on the "Who Made the Change" feature for the servers you want to monitor via a wizard:

  • From the "Server Configuration Summary -> What's New Resource," click the Set Up "Who Made the Change" Detection button
  • From the "All Settings -> Server Configuration Monitor Settings -> Polling Settings Tab," click the Set Up Who Detection button

Either way, it starts the "Who Made the Change" wizard.

The first step tells you about what happens when you turn on "Who Made the Change" detection:

The second step allows you to define the server exclusion list and turn on the feature:

Once you press Enable Who Detection, SCM will push out FIM driver to the agent(s) and turn it on, so file and registry changes will be monitored in near real-time rather than polled once a minute as in SCM 1.0. You can always come back and change the exclusion list or turn off "Who Made the Change" later.

 

Where to see "Who made the change"

You can see who made the change (user and domain) in a number of places, represented by the person icon.

  • SCM Summary: Recent Configuration Changes resource
  • Node Summary: Configuration Details and Recent Configuration Changes resources
  • Node: Content comparison, note the time I added to the file matches the time SCM shows the file changed.

Alerting

When building an alert, you can filter on "Who made the change" and add it to the text of your alert.

 

Reporting

The out-of-the-box SCM report includes "Who made the change" data.

 

Deploy and monitor the output of PowerShell scripts

Everyone's environment is different, and SCM could never monitor everything you want to "out-of-the-box." So, we added the ability to deploy and execute PowerShell scripts and compare the output over time. Now, configuration monitoring is only limited by your imagination and scripting super powers.

 

Adding a new script

I created a new Profile for this test, but you can add scripts to your current Profiles too.

First, create a new Profile and click Add to add a new element.

To add a PowerShell script configuration element:

  1. Choose PowerShell script as your Element type.
  2. Paste your script into the box.
  3. Click Add to add the element to the profile, then add again to save the profile.

Deploy and enjoy!

Once your new (or modified Profile) is ready, you can deploy it to one or more agents. From Server Configuration Monitor Settings > Manage Profiles, select the profile and click assign, then pick the servers you want, and walk through the wizard. SCM will deploy the scripts and start executing them on schedule.

Comparing the output

Comparing the output of the script over time works like any other source (file, registry, asset info) in SCM. You can set baselines and see changes in the content comparison. As you can see, the entire output of the script is captured and stored.

Mix and match elements in profiles

Don't forget -- one of the great things about SCM is you can mix and match elements in a single profile. Mix and match registry setting, multiple files, and PowerShell scripts into a single profile to monitor interesting aspects of your configurations.

 

Check Out Some Cool PowerShell Examples by Kevin

SolarWinds' own Technical Community Manager KMSigma put together some awesome examples of what SCM can do: Manage and Monitor PowerShell Scripts

Keep a lookout in our SCM forums for more PowerShell script examples in the future, and feel free to post your scripts too.

 

Set/Reset baselines for multiple nodes at once

Our early customers in large environments were limited to setting/resetting baselines one node at time, which was very painful when the dozens or hundreds of servers were updated (like a Windows update), so we addressed it quickly in this release. Now from the Server Configuration Monitor Settings screen, you can pick multiple servers, see a quick summary of the number of baselines you'll be updating, and then reset the baselines to the current output -- easy as 1-2-3.

What's next?

Don't forget to read the SCM 1.1 Release Notes to see all the goodness now available.

 

If you don't see the features you've been waiting for, check out the What We're Working on for SCM post for a list of features our dedicated team of configuration nerds and code jockeys are already researching. If you don't see everything you've been wishing for, add it to the Server Configuration Monitor (SCM) Feature Requests.

I’m pleased to announce the General Availability of Log Analyzer (LA) 2.0 on the Customer Portal.  You may be wondering what Log Analyzer is. The artist formally known as Log Manager for Orion has undergone a transformation. It has evolved past its former life as a 1.0 product and become Log Analyzer 2.0. Log Analyzer was selected after extensive research to better understand what our users would call a product that solves the problems our tool solves based on our feature set. I hope you like the new name!

 

This release includes Windows Event Support, Log Export, Log Forwarding and Rule Improvements as well as other items listed in the Release Notes.

 

 

 

Windows Events

As a System Administrator, closely monitoring Windows Events is vital to ensuring your servers and applications are running as they should be. These events can also be hugely valuable when troubleshooting all sorts of Windows problems and determining the root cause of an issue or outage. While there are vast array of Windows Events categories, the three main categories you'll likely focus on when troubleshooting are the Application (events relating to Windows components), System (events related to programs installed on the system) and Security (security related events such as authentication attempts and resource access). Trawling through Windows Event Viewers to find the needle in the haystack on individual servers can be a laborious task. Having a tool such as Log Analyzer can be a real life saver when it comes to charting, searching and aggregating these Windows Events. Thanks to the tight integration with Orion, you can view your Windows Events alongside the performance data collected by other tools such as NPM and SAM. Worth noting that you can also add VMware Events into the mix, thanks to the latest Virtualization Manager (VMAN) release.

 

In order to start ingesting Windows Events with Log Analyzer, you need to install the Orion Agent on your Windows device. Windows Event Forwarding is also supported, so if you prefer to forward events from other nodes to a single node with the Orion agent installed, that's an option too. By default, we collect all Windows Application and System events, along with 70 of the most common Windows Security Events. You can view more information on setting up Windows Event Collection here.

 

Once you have the agent installed and added the node(s) to Log Analyzer, you'll see the Events within the Log Viewer. Events are automatically tagged with Application, System or Security tags. Predefined rules are also included out of the box which tag events such as Authentication Events, Event Logs Cleared, Account Creation/Lockout/Deletion, Unexpected Shutdowns, Application Crashes and more.

 

 

Windows Events are also supported in PerfStack, enabling you to correlate performance data with Windows Events. For example, you can see below there are memory spikes on a SQL Server, with some corresponding Windows Events and Orion Alerts. Drilling into the Windows Events you can clearly see there is insufficient system memory which is causing the Node Reboot and SQL Server Insufficient Resources alerts.

 

 

Log Forwarding

Log Analyzer shouldn't be seen as a dead end for your log data. There may be times when you need to forward import syslog/traps to another tool such as an Incident Management or SIEM for further processing/analysis. This release includes a new 'Forward Entry' rule action which enables you to forward syslog/traps to another application. You can keep the source IP of the entry intact or replace with Orion's IP address:

 

 

 

Log Export

When troubleshooting problems it's often necessary to share important log data with other team members, external vendors or attach to a helpdesk ticket. You can now do so thanks to the new Export option within the Log Viewer.

 

 

 

Rule Improvements

We've added some pre-populated dropdown menus for fields such as MachineType, EngineID, Severity, Vendor and more to make it even easier to create log rules. It is now also possible to adjust the processing order of the rules.

 

 

The team is already hard at work on the next version of LA, as you can see covered here in the What We're Working On post. Also, please keep the feedback coming on what you think and what you would like to see in the product in the Feature Requests section of the forum.

Virtualization Manager (VMAN) 8.4 is now available and can be downloaded from your customer portal. In recent releases, we brought you VMware vSAN monitoring, container support, and better centralized upgrades to your deployment overall.

 

 

VMware Event Monitoring, Correlation, and Alerting

 

As a virtualization admin, it's a primary concern to track the many changes that occur in dynamic and often automated virtualization environments. While many virtualization vendors tout that the simplicity of their solution alleviates the need for admins to worry, I err on the side of caution. With VMware event monitoring, you now have real-time access to alert and correlate VMware's alarms, health checks, events, and tasks to issues in your environment. Ephemeral events such as vMotions are now easily tracked, and if you also have Log Analyzer, you can tag them for future cataloging.

Looking at my VMware Events summary, there are quite a few warning and critical events in the last hour. Filtering down to the warning events to do deeper inspection, I can see four of them are warning me of a failed migration for virtual machine DENCLIENTAFF01v

Clicking on one of these events allows me to drill in to get more context. Clearly, I need to look at the configuration of my vMotion interface.

Clicking "Analyze Logs" allows me to have better filtering and is also where I would configure processing rules to start configuring real-time alerting on these VMware events. Yes, event collection is real-time, and as a result, your alerts configured on these events are also triggered in real-time. If you want to be alerted to host connection changes, or when vMotions are triggered when they aren't supposed to be, you now can be alerted immediately.

 

For those of you who have Log Analyzer, you have even more troubleshooting tools that play very nicely with this VMAN feature. Are you looking to visually see occurrences of this event over time? Easy. Click "Analyze Logs" to navigate to the Log Viewer. Your Log Viewer will differ in that you'll have a visual graph to see how many times this event has occurred over the specified time period. In the example below, I increased the time to two hours, and searched for "vMotion." In addition, I've used the tagging feature to tag all events like this with a "vMotion" tag.

So how do I correlate this to problems? By using PerfStack dashboard.

After troubleshooting your issues, simply save the PerfStack project and put that project on your NOC view for future visibility.

 

Deeper Dives and Other Features

 

For a more in depth look at the VMware events feature check out these documents. Let me know if you have use cases that require real time alerting, monitoring and reporting so we can consider putting them in as OOTB content.

 

For those of you who are curious what we have for those users who do not need VMware event visibility check out these documents for more details:

 

Next on the VMAN Roadmap

 

Don't see what you're looking for here? Check out the WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON FOR VIRTUALIZATION MANAGER (UPDATED MARCH, 2019)  post for what our dedicated team of virtualization nerds and code jockeys are already looking at. If you don't see everything you've been wishing for there, add it to the Virtualization Manager Feature Requests

 

This version of VMAN is compatible with the legacy VMAN 8.1 appliance; however, all the newly available features are only on VMAN on the Orion Platform. If you're using the appliance on your production VMAN installation, I recommend that you consider retiring the appliance at your earliest convenience to reap all the benefits of the new features we are developing for VMAN on Orion. If you cannot retire the appliance for any reason, I'm very interested in your feedback and reasons, and would love to see them listed out in the comments below.

Helpful Links

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a fan of PowerShell. “Fan” is a diminutive version of the word “fanatic,” and in this instance both are true. That’s why I was so excited to see that PowerShell script output is now supported in Server Configuration Monitor (SCM).

 

Since SCM’s release, I’ve always thought it was a great idea to monitor the directory where you store your scripts to make sure they didn’t vary and to validate changes over time, even going in and reverting them in case there was a change without approval. However, that part was available in the initial release of SCM. Using PowerShell with SCM, you can monitor your C:\Scripts\*.ps1 files and get notified when any deviate from their baselines.

 

Using PowerShell scripts to pull information from systems you’re monitoring is only limited by your scripting prowess. But let me say this plainly: You don’t need to be a scripting genius. The THWACK® members are here to be your resources. If you have something great you wrote, post about it. If you need help formatting output, post about it. If you can’t remember how to get a list of all the software installed on a system, post about it. Someone here has probably already done the work.

 

Monitoring the Server Roles

Windows now handles many of the “roles” of a machine (Web Server, Active Directory Server, etc.) based on the installed features. There never was a really nice way to understand what roles were installed on a machine outside the Server Manager. This is especially true if you’re running Windows Server Core because it has no Server Manager.

 

Now, you can just write yourself a small PowerShell script:

Get-WindowsFeature | Where-Object { $_.Installed } | Select-Object -Property Name, DisplayName | Sort-Object -Property Name

 

…and get the list of all features displayed for you.

 

Name                      DisplayName

----                      -----------

FileAndStorage-Services   File and Storage Services

File-Services             File and iSCSI Services

FS-Data-Deduplication     Data Deduplication

FS-FileServer             File Server

MSMQ                      Message Queuing

MSMQ-Server               Message Queuing Server

MSMQ-Services             Message Queuing Services

NET-Framework-45-ASPNET   ASP.NET 4.7

NET-Framework-45-Core     .NET Framework 4.7

NET-Framework-45-Features .NET Framework 4.7 Features

NET-WCF-Services45        WCF Services

NET-WCF-TCP-PortSharing45 TCP Port Sharing

PowerShell                Windows PowerShell 5.1

PowerShell-ISE            Windows PowerShell ISE

PowerShellRoot            Windows PowerShell

Storage-Services          Storage Services

System-DataArchiver       System Data Archiver

Web-App-Dev               Application Development

Web-Asp-Net45             ASP.NET 4.7

Web-Common-Http           Common HTTP Features

Web-Default-Doc           Default Document

Web-Dir-Browsing          Directory Browsing

Web-Dyn-Compression       Dynamic Content Compression

Web-Filtering             Request Filtering

Web-Health                Health and Diagnostics

Web-Http-Errors           HTTP Errors

Web-Http-Logging          HTTP Logging

Web-ISAPI-Ext             ISAPI Extensions

Web-ISAPI-Filter          ISAPI Filters

Web-Log-Libraries         Logging Tools

Web-Metabase              IIS 6 Metabase Compatibility

Web-Mgmt-Compat           IIS 6 Management Compatibility

Web-Mgmt-Console          IIS Management Console

Web-Mgmt-Tools            Management Tools

Web-Net-Ext45             .NET Extensibility 4.7

Web-Performance           Performance

Web-Request-Monitor       Request Monitor

Web-Security              Security

Web-Server                Web Server (IIS)

Web-Stat-Compression      Static Content Compression

Web-Static-Content        Static Content

Web-WebServer             Web Server

Web-Windows-Auth          Windows Authentication

Windows-Defender          Windows Defender Antivirus

WoW64-Support             WoW64 Support

XPS-Viewer                XPS Viewer

 

This is super simple. If someone adds or removes one of these features, you’ll know moments after it’s done because it would deviate from your baseline.

Monitoring Local Administrators

This got me thinking about all manner of other possible PowerShell script uses. One that came to mind immediately was local security. We all know the local administrator group is an easy way to have people circumvent security best practices, so knowing who is in that security group has proven difficult.

 

Now that we don’t have those limitations, let’s look at the local admins group and look at local users.

 

Get-LocalGroupMember -Group Administrators | Where-Object { $_.PrincipalSource -eq "Local" } | Sort-Object -Property Name

 

Now, you’ll get returned a list of all the local users in the Administrators group.

ObjectClass Name                         PrincipalSource
----------- ----                         ---------------
User        NOCKMSMPE01V\Administrator   Local
User        NOCKMSMPE01V\Automation-User Local

Now we’ll know if someone is added or deleted. You could extend this to know when someone is added to power users or any other group. If you really felt like going gang-busters, you could ask for all the groups, and then enumerate the members of each.

 

Local Certificates

These don’t have to be relegated to PowerShell one-liners either. You can have entire scripts that return a value that you can review.

 

Also, on the security front, it might be nice to know if random certificates start popping up everywhere. Doing this by hand would be excruciatingly slow. Thankfully it’s pretty easy in PowerShell.

 

$AllCertificates = Get-ChildItem -Path Cert:\LocalMachine\My -Recurse

# Create an empty list to keep the results

$CertificateList = @()

ForEach ( $Certificate in $AllCertificates )

{

    # Check to see if this is a "folder" or a "certificate"

    if ( -not ( $Certificate.PSIsContainer ) )

    {

        # Certificates are *not* containers (folders)

        # Get the important details and add it to the $CertificateList

        $CertificateList += $Certificate | Select-Object -Property FriendlyName, Issuer, Subject, Thumbprint, NotBefore, NotAfter

    }

}

$CertificateList

 

As you can see, you aren’t required to stick with one-liners. Write whatever you need for your input. As long as there’s output, SCM will capture it and present it in a usable format for parsing.

FriendlyName : SolarWinds-Orion
Issuer       : CN=SolarWinds-Orion
Subject      : CN=SolarWinds-Orion
Thumbprint   : AF2A630F2458E0A3BE8D3EF332621A9DDF817502
NotBefore    : 10/12/2018 5:59:14 PM
NotAfter     : 12/31/2039 11:59:59 PM

 

FriendlyName :
Issuer       : CN=SolarWinds IPAM Engine
Subject      : CN=SolarWinds IPAM Engine
Thumbprint   : 4527E03262B268D2FCFE4B7B4203EF620B41854F
NotBefore    : 11/5/2018 7:13:34 PM
NotAfter     : 12/31/2039 11:59:59 PM

 

FriendlyName :
Issuer       : CN=SolarWinds-Orion
Subject      : CN=SolarWinds Agent Provision - cc10929c-47e1-473a-9357-a54052537795
Thumbprint   : 2570C476DF0E8C851DCE9AFC2A37AC4BDDF3BAD6
NotBefore    : 10/11/2018 6:46:29 PM
NotAfter     : 10/12/2048 6:46:28 PM

 

FriendlyName : SolarWinds-SEUM_PlaybackAgent
Issuer       : CN=SolarWinds-SEUM_PlaybackAgent
Subject      : CN=SolarWinds-SEUM_PlaybackAgent
Thumbprint   : 0603E7052293B77B89A3D545B43FC03287F56889
NotBefore    : 11/4/2018 12:00:00 AM
NotAfter     : 11/5/2048 12:00:00 AM

 

FriendlyName : SolarWinds-SEUM-AgentProxy
Issuer       : CN=SolarWinds-SEUM-AgentProxy
Subject      : CN=SolarWinds-SEUM-AgentProxy
Thumbprint   : 0488D26FD9576293C30BB5507489D96C3ED829B4
NotBefore    : 11/4/2018 12:00:00 AM
NotAfter     : 11/5/2048 12:00:00 AM

 

FriendlyName : WildcardCert_Demo.Lab
Issuer       : CN=demo-EASTROOTCA-CA, DC=demo, DC=lab
Subject      : CN=*.demo.lab, OU=Information Technology, O=SolarWinds Demo Lab, L=Austin, S=TX, C=US
Thumbprint   : 039828B433E38117B85E3E9C1FBFD5C1A1189C91
NotBefore    : 3/30/2018 4:37:41 PM
NotAfter     : 3/30/2020 4:47:41 PM

Antivirus Exclusions

How about your antivirus exclusions? I’m sure you really, really want to know if those change.

 

$WindowsDefenderDetails = Get-MpPreference

$WindowsDefenderExclusions = $WindowsDefenderDetails.ExclusionPath

$WindowsDefenderExclusions | Sort-Object

 

Now you’ll know if something is added to or removed from the antivirus exclusion list.

C:\inetpub\SolarWinds
C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\SolarWinds
C:\Program Files (x86)\SolarWinds
C:\ProgramData\SolarWinds
C:\ProgramData\SolarWindsAgentInstall

Trying to find this out by hand would be tedious, so let’s just have SCM do the work for you.

 

This is all just a sample of the power of PowerShell and SCM. We’d love to know what you’ve got in mind for your environment. So, download a trial or upgrade to the latest version of SCM. Be sure to share your excellent scripting adventure so the rest of us can join in the fun!

In part 2 of "What's New in SAM 6.8" we are going to discuss the improved Cisco UCS monitoring that is shipping with SAM 6.8

(If you were looking for part 1 it is over here: SAM 6.8 What's New Part 1 - AppInsight for Active Directory )

Those of you who have been using SAM with NPM for a while are probably already aware that some support for UCS monitoring is possible in Orion. UCS support has been re-written to be utilized by any combination or standalone deployment of SAM, VMAN or NPM Additionally we added a new overview resource that let's you visualize your UCS environment. We fleshed out the hardware health support to include all the pieces. Fabric Inter-connects, Chassis, Blades and any rack mount UCS servers that you have managed under UCS. Finally we added a widget to let you see native errors and failures from UCS via the API. If you are using Cisco UCS in a Hyper-converged (HCI) configuration or hosting your critical virtualization resources in UCS then the new monitoring we have added is going to be a big win for you!

 

Get started by adding your Cicso UCS Manager node. In the Add a node wizard, click  'Poll for UCS' and enter your credentials.

 

 

Once you are successfully polling the UCS Manager some new widgets will become available:

 

Overview and UCS Errors and Failures

 

Chassis Overview

 

 

Blade hardware health

 

 

New layer added in AppStack!

AppStack let's you see the relationship between your Cisco UCS resources and the VMs and Applications running on them.

See end to end status from containers and applications all the way to the storage at the foundation of your UCS stack!

 

Out of the box alerts and reports:

 

Hardware Alerts:

 

 

Cisco UCS Entity Report

 

 

That wraps up our quick tour of this great new feature in SAM 6.8... As always, if you like what you see or have a question or a comment please feel free to contribute below.

You can also submit a feature request Server & Application Monitor Feature Requests

If you are curious about what we are planning for future releases jump over to the public road map What We're Working On Beyond SAM 6.8 (Updated March 13, 2019)

 

Here are some additional useful links related to SAM:

SAM 6.8 is now available - Following up to our previously released AppInsight for SQL, Exchange and IIS... The latest installment of AppInsight is here and it wants to make your life easier when it comes to monitoring Active Directory. In addition to performance counters and event logs, detailed information about Replication, FSMO Roles and Sites is provided out-of-the-box

 

To get started there are a couple ways to get AppInsight for Active Directory applied to your domain controller nodes:

You can either use "List Resources" on a node you know to be a domain controller or you can run a network sonar discovery and we will find your DCs for you!.

 

 

 

Perf-counters and events are still here but we took the time to add some new ones and also improve the grouping presentation. User and Computer Events, System Events, Replication Events, Policy Events and Logon Events are all neatly grouped together to make it easy to find what you are looking for.

 

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Replication: If replication isn't working, your Active Directory isn't working. Keep an eye on replication and get alerted if anything goes wrong. In addition to status we are representing direction and site location. You can also expand any given DC to see more detail about it's configuration.

 

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FSMO Roles at a glance: When something is wrong with a particular DC it can be helpful to know what roles it holds. Hover over the pill to expand the role description. Filters are also available at the top of the resource to allow you to focus on servers of a particular type of role.

 

 

Site Details: This widget provides a detailed overview of your sites including a view into related Links and Subnets. The widget also allows for quick searching to zero in on a specific item.

 

 

Alerts objects specific to AppInsight for AD

 

 

So that wraps up our quick tour of this great new feature in SAM 6.8... Don't forget to check out part 2 of what's new in SAM 6.8 SAM 6.8 WHAT'S NEW PART 2 - Enhanced Support for Cisco UCS Monitoring

 

As always, if you like what you see or have a question or a comment please feel free to contribute below.

You can also submit a feature request Server & Application Monitor Feature Requests

 

If you are curious about what we are planning for future releases jump over to the public road map What We're Working On Beyond SAM 6.8 (Updated March 13, 2019)

 

Here are some additional useful links related to SAM:

 

Thanks for stopping by!

After four months, it is time again to write another article about another product.
As it happens, we’ve added a new toy to our portfolio:

SolarWinds Access Rights Manager (ARM)

Some of you may know it under its former name, 8MAN.

 

What exactly does ARM do? And who came up with this TLA?

The tool validates permissions within Active Directory®, Exchange™, SharePoint®, and file servers. So who has access to what, and where does the permission come from?

Users, groups, and effective permissions can be created, modified, or even deleted.

Reports and instant analysis complete the package.

Everything works out of an elegant user interface, and you can operate it—even if you aren’t a rocket scientist.

 

ARM will be installed on any member server and comes with minimal requirements.
The OS can be anything up from 2008SP1; give it two cores and four gigs of RAM, and you’re golden, even for some production environments. The data is stored on an SQL 2008 or later.

The install process is quick.

 

 

Once installed, the first step is to click the configuration icon on the right-hand side. The color is 04C9D7, and according to the internet, it is called “vivid arctic blue,” but let’s call it turquoise.
On that note, let me tell you: I am German and unable to pronounce turquoise, so I am calling it Türkis instead.

 

 

The next step is to create an AD and SQL® user and connect to the database:

 

 

ARM is now available, but not yet ready to use.

 

 

We need to define a data source, so let’s attach AD. The default settings will use the credentials already stored in ARM for directory access.

 

 

In my example, an automated search kicks off in the evening. When you set it up for the first time, I suggest clicking the arrow manually once to get some data to work with.
Attention: Don’t do this with 10,000 users in the early morning.

Alright, that’s it.


Now click the orange—sorry, F99D1C—icon to start the tool.

 

 

Login:

 

 

The first thing we see is the dashboard:

 

 

Let’s deal with the typical question, “Why was that punk able to access X at all?”
The main reason for this is probably a nested authorization, which isn’t obvious at first glance.
But now ARM comes into play.
Click on Accounts and enter Mr. Punk’s name into the search box above:


 

The result is a tree diagram showing the group memberships, and it is easy to see where the permission is coming from.

 

 

If you click on a random icon, you will see more details—give it a try.
You can also export the graphic as a picture.
On the right side, you will find AD attributes:

 

 

Now it is getting comfortable. It is possible to edit any record just from here:

 

 

Oh yes, I don’t trust vegetarians!

By the way, this box here is mandatory on any change, as proper change management requires the setting of notes.

 

 

And while we’re at it, right-click on an account:

 

 

Let’s walk from AD to file permissions. It’s only a short walk, I promise.
Click Show access rights to resources as seen above.

Now we need to select a file server:

 

 

On the right, we see the permissions in detail:

 

 

We ship ARM with a second GUI in addition to the client—a web interface accessible from anywhere, where you find tools for other tasks.

Typical risks are ready for your review out of the box. Just click on Risks. I know you want to do it:

 

 

You’ll find some interesting information, like inactive accounts:

 

 

Permanent passwords:

 

 

Or everybody’s darling, the popular “Everyone” permission on folders:

 

 

One does not simply “Minimize Risks,” but give it a try:

 

 

I could initiate changes directly from here – also in bulk.

 

By the way, any change made via ARM will be automatically logged.
The logbook is at the top of the local client, and we can generate and export reports:

 

You may have seen this above already, but you can find more predefined reports directly on the Start dashboard:

 

 

Let’s address one or two specific topics.

Since Server 2016, there is a new feature available called temporary group membership.
It can be quite useful; for example, in the case of an employee working in a project team who requires access to specific elements for the duration of the project. That additional authorization will expire automatically after whatever time has been set.

Practical, isn’t it?

 

But also consider this: Someone might have used an opportunity and given him- or herself temporary access to a resource with the understanding that the change of membership will disappear again, which makes the whole process difficult—if not impossible—to comprehend.

But not anymore! Here we go:

 

 

If you hover over this box here…


…you will find objects on the right side:

 

 

For this scenario, these two guys here might be interesting:

 

Unfortunately, in my lab, there’s nothing to see right now, so let’s move on.

 

ARM allows routine tasks to be performed right from the UI; for example, creating new users or groups, assigning or removing permissions, and much more.
This becomes even more interesting when templates, or profiles, are introduced.

Let’s change into the web client. Click the cogwheel on top, then choose Department Profiles:

 

 

At the right side, click Create New.

 

 

The profile needs a shiny name:

 

 

Always make sure people who operate microwaves receive proper training. But that’s a different story.

More buttons on the left side; I will save it for now:

 

 

Starting now, you can assign new hires to these profiles, and everything else is taken care of by the tool, like assigning group memberships or setting AD attributes.

 

Of course, these profiles are also baselines, and there is a predefined report available showing any deviations from the standard. Just click Analysis and User Accounts.

 

 

Select a profile and off you go:

 

 

Elyne is compliant; congratulations. But that’s hardly surprising, as she is the only employee in Marketing:

 

 

These are just a few features of ARM. Other interesting topics would be the integration of different sources, or scripts for more complex automation. This is food for future postings.

 

But you know what I like most about ARM, as a computer gamer?
You can click on just about anything.

Try this out; it’s at the left side of the Start dashboard:

 

 

Have fun exploring.

Woes of Flow

A poem for Joe

 

It uncovers source and destination

without hesitation.

Both port and address

to troubleshoot they will clearly assess.

Beware the bytes and packets

bundled in quintuplet jackets,

for they are accompanied by a wild hog

that will drown your network in a bog.

The hero boldly proclaims thrice,

sampling is not sacrifice!

He brings data to fight

but progress is slow in this plight.

 

Mav Turner

 

As network operators, one of the most common—and important—troubleshooting tasks revolves around tracking down bandwidth hogs consuming capacity in our network infrastructure. We have a wealth of data at our fingertips to accomplish this, but it’s sometimes challenging to reconcile into a clear picture.

 

Troubleshooting high utilization usually begins with an alert for exceeding a threshold. In the Orion Platform’s alerting facility, there are several conditions we can set up to identify these thresholds for action. The classic—and simple—approach is to set a threshold for utilization defined as a percentage of the available capacity. The Orion Platform also supports baselining utilization in a trailing window and setting adaptive thresholds. Next, you need to investigate to determine what’s driving utilization and decide what action to take.

 

Usually, the culprit is a particular application generating an unusual level of traffic. We can get some insights into application traffic volumes from a NetFlow analyzer tool like NetFlow Traffic Analyzer.

 

So, why don’t the volume measurements match exactly from these two sources of data? Aren’t interface utilization values the same as traffic volume data from NetFlow?

 

Let’s review the metrics we’re working with, and how this data comes to us.

 

Interface capacity—the rate at which we can move data through an interface—is modeled as an object in SNMP, and we pick that up from each interface as part of the discovery and import process into Network Performance Monitor network monitoring software. It can be overridden manually; some agents don’t populate that object in SNMP correctly.

 

Interface utilization is calculated from the difference in total data sent and received between polls, divided by the time interval between polls. The chipset provides a count of octets transmitted or received through the interface, and this value is exposed through SNMP. The Orion Platform polls it, then normalizes it to a rate at which the interface speed is expressed. That speed is usually “bits per second.”

 

SNMP Polled Utilization

 

The metrics reported by SNMP about data received or sent through the interface includes all traffic—layer two traffic that isn’t propagated beyond a router, as well as application traffic that is routed. Some of the data that flows through the interface isn’t application traffic. Examples include address resolution protocol traffic, some link-layer discovery protocols, some link-layer authentication protocols, some encapsulation protocols, some routing protocols, and some control/signaling protocols.

 

For a breakdown of application traffic, we look to flow technologies like NetFlow. Flow export and flow sampling technologies are normalized into a common flow record, which is populated with network and transport layer data. Basic NetFlow records include ICMP traffic, as well as TCP and UDP traffic. While it’s possible on some platforms to enable an extended template that includes metrics on layer 2 protocols, this is not the default behavior for NetFlow, or any of the other flow export protocols.

 

Top N Applications traffic volumes

 

The sFlow protocol takes samples from layer 2 frames, and forwards those. So, while it’s possible to parse out layer 2 protocols from sFlow sample packets, we generally normalize sFlow along with the flow export protocols to capture ICMP, TCP, and UDP traffic, and discard the layer 2 headers.

 

When we work with flow data, we’re focusing on the traffic that is generally most variable and represents the applications that most often drive that high utilization that we’re investigating. But you can see that in terms of the volumes represented, flow technologies are examining only a subset of the total utilization we see through SNMP polled values.

 

SNMP Polled versus application flow volumes

 

An additional consideration is timing. SNMP polling and NetFlow exports are designed to work on independent schedules and are not synchronized by design. Therefore, we may poll using SNMP every five minutes and average the rate of bandwidth utilization over that entire period. In the meantime, we may have NetFlow exports from our devices configured to send every minute, or we may be using sFlow and continuously receiving samples. Looking at the same one-minute period, we may see very different values at a particular interval for interface utilization and application traffic that is likely the main driver for our high utilization.

 

SNMP Polling and flow export over time intervals

 

If we’re using sFlow exclusively, our accuracy can be mathematically quantified. The accuracy of randomly sampled data—sFlow, or sampled NetFlow—depends solely on the number of samples arriving over a specific interval. For example, a sample arrival rate of ~1/sec for a 10G interface running at 35% utilization and sampling at 1:10000 yields an accuracy of +/-3.91% for one minute at a 98% confidence interval. That accuracy increases as utilization grows or over time as we receive a larger volume of samples. You can explore this in more detail using the sFlow Traffic Characterization Worksheet, available here: https://thwack.solarwinds.com/docs/DOC-203350

 

So, what’s the best way to think about the relationship between utilization and flow-reported application traffic?

 

  • Utilization is my leading indicator for interface capacity. This is the trigger for investigating bandwidth hogs.
  • Generally, utilization will alert me when there’s sustained traffic over my polling interval.
  • Application traffic volumes are almost always the driver for high utilization.
  • I should expect that the utilization metric and the application flow metrics will never be identical. The longer the time period, the closer they will track.
  • SNMP-based interface utilization provides the tools to answer the questions:
    • What is the capacity of the interface?
    • How much traffic is being sent or received over an interface?
    • How much of the capacity is being used?
  • Flow data provides the tools to answer the questions:
    • What application or applications?
    • How much, over what interval?
    • Where’s it coming from?
    • Where is it going?
    • What’s the trend over time?
    • How does this traffic compare to other applications?
    • How broadly am I seeing this application traffic in my network?

 

Where can I learn more about flow and utilization?

 

An Overview of Flow Technologies

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJhQaMN1ddo

 

Visibility in the Data Center

https://thwack.solarwinds.com/community/thwackcamp-2018/visibility-in-the-data-center

 

Calculate interface bandwidth utilization

https://support.solarwinds.com/Success_Center/Network_Performance_Monitor_(NPM)/Knowledgebase_Articles/Calculate_interface_bandwidth_utilization

 

sFlow Traffic Characterization Worksheet

https://thwack.solarwinds.com/docs/DOC-203350

Choosing the right monitoring tool can be difficult. You have fires to put out, time is limited, and your allocated budget may rival that of a first grader's allowance. When budgets are tight, there's nothing better than free, and many of you may lean on open-source solutions. These tools usually have no price tag and are essentially "free," but we have a saying here at SolarWinds®... "Is it free like a puppy, or free like a beer?"

 

While there isn't an actual cost through a purchase with open-source software, the caveat is that you usually need to put extensive work into getting them up and running. What if you had an alternative? A monitoring solution already purpose built for you, that is intuitive and helps cover the essentials. I'd like to introduce you to SolarWinds ipMonitor® Free Edition. The free edition of ipMonitor offers all the same functionality as paid software and supports up to 50 monitors.

 

ipMonitor is a comprehensive monitoring solution for your network devices, servers, and applications in a consolidated view. The tool is streamlined for simple agent-less monitoring of availability, status, and performance metrics in a lightweight tool that can be installed almost anywhere.

 

Perfect for even the smallest satellite office, ipMonitor sets up in minutes, uses minimal resources, and is completely self-contained, so there is no need to install a web front end or separate database and be forced to maintain it.

 

 

Use and customize built in dashboards to organize the critical data in your environment.Easily track response time, hardware health, or bandwidth of your firewalls, routers, and switches.Monitor servers for cpu, memory, drive space, and even critical services.

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Drill down to investigate in more granular detail and view historical statistics.Click a chart to instantly generate an automated report to share, print, or save.

Leverage built in service monitors or assign port checks.

Pull performance counters or simulate user experience through built in wizards.

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  Take advantage of simplified NOC views to quickly pinpoint areas of concern.

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There is a ton of power packed in such a small package, and best of all - it's FREE!  Download it for yourself. Check it out here: ipMonitor Free Edition | SolarWinds

 

Want to learn more? Check out the upcoming webinar: https://launch.solarwinds.com/essential-monitoring-with-ipmonitor-re-broadcast.html

 

Share feedback or see how others are leveraging ipMonitor in the ipMonitor forum on THWACK.

 


Need to expand beyond the free edition? ipMonitor offers the ability to scale to help stay ahead of the next crisis, without emptying the pocket book. Whether you run a small business or need dedicated monitoring for a particular project fast, ipMonitor is designed to simplify the day-to-day.

 

Check out the ipMonitor documentation in the SolarWinds Success Center

SolarWinds® Access Rights Manager (ARM) v9.1 is now available on the customer portal!  For a broad overview of this release, the releasehttps://support.solarwinds.com/Success_Center/Access_Rights_Manager_ARM/Access_Rights_Manager_9_1_Release_Notesnotes are a great place to start. 

 

Feature Summary

View and Manage Azure AD Accounts with ARM

Create Azure AD accounts with ARM

Identify shared directories and files on OneDrive

Create a report about directories and files shared on OneDrive Identify users assigned to a transaction code in SAP R/3

Identify multiple authorizations for transaction codes in SAP R/3 Identify critical basic permissions in SAP R/3 Conclusion

Feature Summary

 

The primary changes you will see in this new release are designed to extend support for your critical applications and simplify integration with other systems and business processes, with explicit design to save you time on repetitive tasks.  

 

1.    Rebranded interface.The legacy 8MAN branding has been removed and the UI now looks similar to other SolarWinds products.  This is a small change but the first step in making ARM an important part of the SolarWinds security portfolio.

 

2.    Microsoft Azure Active Directory.  SolarWinds ARM now provides the ability to see and change permissions within Azure Active Directory.  By extending ARM to Azure-based Active Directory deployments, organizations who are directly leveraging Azure or who have hybrid environments can now utilize ARM to get better visibility and control over both. 

 

3.    Microsoft OneDrive.  SolarWinds ARM has been extended to include permissions visibility and change for Microsoft OneDrive, complementing the existing access rights permission visibility with Active Directory, Exchange, and file servers. Gain visibility into key areas, such as which files an employee has shared externally, and who has shared what files and directories internally with which employees.

 

4.    SAP R/3.  With this release, SolarWinds ARM introduces support for SAP R/3, allowing you to search for security-critical transaction codes, find authorization paths, and recognize multiple authorizations.  See which Active Directory users are assigned to each SAP account through the Access Rights Manager interface.

 

 

5.    UI/UX Improvements.  The ARM UI now has a more modern look.  The loading indicators have been improved.  We’ve added user pictures next to the comment boxes.  And, the user experience was improved by introducing tables with persistence in areas such as the resource view.  No need any more to re-apply your changes to the order or size of columns.  They stay with you after you set them.  Also, Analyze & Act scenarios can now be selected much easier by the new grouping and filtering functionality.  We heard you and made these improvements to make your job easier.

 

6.    Microsoft SQL Server Express Integration.  To make the installation for smaller environments easier, ARM now supports the automatic installation and configuration of Microsoft SQL Server Express directly from the ARM configuration page.  Use this option out-of-the box or utilize Microsoft SQL Server instead if you need a higher performance database.

 

7.    ARM Sync!  Most companies have several systems in place to manage users and their data.  This includes Active Directory, HR systems, and ERP systems.  Without proper synchronization processes, the systems may have an inconsistent view of the user’s data, resulting in administrators and HR employees having a difficult time identifying the correct set of data. ARM Sync! Helps to automate the data exchange between third-party systems and a system administered with ARM. With ARM Sync!, you can automatically create, deactivate, or delete user accounts.

 

8.    Recurring Task Scripting. Scripts are often used by administrators to ease the execution of recurring or repetitive tasks.  ARM now allows you to make a script available to users via the cockpit in a safe way to allow those users to execute an action immediately without an approval workflow.  These scripts can be executed before or after user provisioning processes, making it flexible and easy to apply.

 

9.    Create SharePoint Permission Groups.Industry best practices for SharePoint and file servers is not to grant permissions directly to users, but instead via group memberships to resource groups. With the Group Wizard for SharePoint, ARM relieves you of the many manual work steps needed to do this.  ARM now let’s you assign authorizations through a simple drag-and-drop procedure, and ARM will automatically create authorization groups and group memberships for both SharePoint online and SharePoint on-premises.

 

The SolarWinds product team is excited to make this new set of features available to you.  We hope you enjoy them.  Of course, please be sure to create new feature requests for any additional functionality you would like to see with ARM in general.

 

To help get you going quickly with this new version, below is a quick walk-through of the new Azure Active Directory feature, SharePoint, and OneDrive.

 

View and Manage Azure AD Accounts with ARM

ARM helps you to view, manage, and get control of your accounts in Azure AD and on-premises AD through a common interface.

 

1. Use the search box to find an Azure AD (AAD) account.  Use the search configuration (arrow) to ensure that Azure AD accounts are included in your search results.

 

 

2. Click on the desired entry. The icon with the cloud symbolizes an AAD account.

3. ARM focuses on the account. After right-clicking, select the appropriate action you want to perform.

 

Create Azure AD accounts with ARM

Create new Azure AD accounts or groups based on templates. Ensure the correct attributes and data is set.

 

1. On the start page, click "Create new user or group". 

2. Click on the desired template for a new user or new group in the AAD.

3. Enter the required information.

The information requested by the template can be fully customized.

 

4. Specify the logon information used to create the account in the AAD.

 

5. Enter a comment.

 

6. Start the execution.

 

Identify shared directories and files on OneDrive

OneDrive is an easy tool to let your employees share resources with each other and/or external users. ARM makes it easy for you to check which files an employee has shared externally, and who has shared what files and directories internally with which employees.

 

Option A: Browse through the OneDrive structure.

 

1. Select the resource view.

 

2. Expand OneDrive.

 

3. Browse the OneDrive structure.

 

4. ARM displays the permissions.

 

5. ARM shows you the authorized users.

 

"External" is used to identify files or folders shared externally. OneDrive creates a link (hence the symbol used). Anyone who owns the link can read or change it.

"Internal" identifies files or folders that are shared within the organization.

 

If a file or folder is shared with a specific user (email address) within the organization, this user is given permission (not a link).

 

Option B: Search for shared resources on OneDrive.

1. Search for "Internal" or "External" in …

 

2. OneDrive Accounts. 

 

3. This will open a scenario that displays all with OneDrive internally or externally shared files and folders.

 

Create a report about directories and files shared on OneDrive

Sometimes a report is easier to share, or you just want to follow up later on something you found. ARM allows you to easily generate a report about the files and folders your employees share on OneDrive.

1. Select the resource view.

 

2. Expand OneDrive and select a resource.

 

3. Select "Who has access where?".

4. The previously selected resource is preset.

 

5. Optional: Delete the preselected resources.

 

6. Use Drag-&-Drop procedure to add resources.

 

7. Start report creation.

 

Identify users assigned to a transaction code in SAP R/3

Transaction codes are important entities of SAP permissions. ARM helps you to identify which users are assigned to a specific transaction code, either direct or indirect, via membership in roles.

 

1. Use the search to find the transaction code you are looking for.

2. Click on the search result.

 

3. ARM automatically expands the tree view of the permission structure and focuses on the transaction code you are looking for.

 

4. ARM displays all permissions.

 

5. ARM displays all SAP users that have assigned the transaction code.

 

Identify multiple authorizations for transaction codes in SAP R/3

As with all permissions, there is often more than just one way a transaction code has been assigned to a user. ARM resolves all of these authorization paths and clearly visualizes these, leaving no room for ambiguity.

 

1. Use the search to find the transaction code you are looking for.

2. Click on the search result.

3. ARM automatically expands the tree view of the authorization structure and focuses on the transaction code you are searching for.

 

4. In the user list, ARM shows you how many authorization paths (arrows) have been set for the transaction code. Click on the user.

 

5. ARM shows you the authorization paths.

 

Identify critical basic permissions in SAP R/3

Use ARM to check regularly for critical basic authorizations following the principle of least privilege, and reduce the risk of data leakage.

 

1. Use the search box to find and select the critical basic authorization you are looking for. ARM opens the SAP authorization structure and focuses on the entry you are looking for.

 

2. Browse through the subordinate structure to analyze the use of the critical basic authorization.

 

Conclusion

That is all I have for now on this release.  I hope that this summary gives you a good understanding of the new features and how they can help you more effectively manage the permissions of your Azure AD, SharePoint, OneDrive, and SAP R/3 applications. 

I look forward to hearing your feedback once you have this new release up and running in your environment!

 

If you are reading this and not already using SolarWinds Access Rights Manager, we encourage you to check out the free download.  It’s free. It’s easy.  Give it a shot.

The Ghosts of Config Past, Present, and Future (Well, Sort Of)

 

The scene is set: the curtains open to a person in bed trying to get a good night’s sleep during a dark and windy night. The hair on the back of their neck is standing on end, and with one big gust their worst features come true! In bursts, a flurry of emails demanding proof for configs of old.

 

Okay, okay, while I’m no Hemingway, I can tell you that we’ve all experienced the nightmare of being visited by configs of old. Being bothered to prove an older configuration was in compliance is a real pain, and the thought of doing this manually makes skin crawl. Enter SolarWinds® Network Configuration Manager (NCM) network configuration management software v7.9 and the Favorite config.

 

Being a “favorite” is always a good thing, and the same can be said for Favorite configs inside of Network Configuration Manager. Just as any favorite gets special handling, Favorite configs are granted special privileges within compliance policies. Compliance Policies are always evaluating the most recent version of a configuration file. If you’re trying to prove compliance of an old file, you need to tell NCM to use that file instead. You do that by setting the config as Favorite.

 

If you set one config from each node as Favorite, then those Favorites will forever be the most recent. This means that you, as the user, would be able to prove these configs’ compliance at any point in the future from that day without any extraordinary effort. The best part of getting this setup is that it can be fairly easy, if you have established rules and policies.

 

Simply mark a config as Favorite either through the UI or, for the savvy user, through the SDK. This is done by navigating to the Configuration Management page and expanding the list of configs nested under a node.

 

Once this is done, you need to make sure to set up or modify your Policies to use this config type.

 

After the policies are set, just add these policies to a Compliance Report. 

 

 

After the Compliance Report is set up, update the report and click on it to see the output. You can verify that this is evaluating the correct config by drilling into any violation and clicking the “View Config” link.

 

If everything is set up correctly, you will see the details for the Favorite config. 


 

And there you have it! You’ll no longer be pressed to manually evaluate older configs for audit review or documentation. If you find this useful, have any comments, or would like to see how this can be done through the SDK, please let me know below!

The team continues to hammer away on enhanced and new application template content for Server & Application Monitor. The list below adds to what has been discussed in recent earlier posts, which you can find here, here, and here.

 

In this update, we will walk through the latest updates, including:

 

  • Verson 2 of Office 365 monitoring – We’ve reorganized the templates a bit, but more importantly, fixed an issue some customers were experiencing where components would randomly go into unknown status
  • Citrix XenServer – Net-new template support
  • Citrix PVS Accelerator for XenServer – Net-new template support
  • Oracle RAC (Real Application Clusters) – Net-new template support

 

As always, please let us know if you have any comments about these templates or requests to add to our list for new template creation. 

 

The info provided in this post is relatively high-level. Click on the links to see the complete detail for each new or updated template.

 

With that, let’s jump right in!

 

Office 365 Exchange Enhancements:

 

As mentioned above, besides reorganizing the templates a bit, the main update here is the fix to the issue some folks had reported where components would randomly go unknown. The issue was due to the fact that Microsoft has a “Global Throttling Policy,” which limits simultaneous connections from one client for O365 and maximum three simultaneous connections are allowed.

 

To overcome this concurrency issue, we have implemented a locking mechanism and restricted three scripts establishing a connection with Office 365.

 

Oracle RAC:

Next up, following on from the previous Oracle template updates, we are also releasing a new template for Oracle RAC, which you can download and read more about at https://thwack.solarwinds.com/docs/DOC-203744

 

The list of metrics available for monitoring include:

  • Average MTS response time
  • Average MTS wait time
  • Sort ratio
  • MTS UGA memory
  • Database file I/O reads
  • User locks
  • Locked users
  • Global cache service utilization
  • Global cache block lost
  • Global cache average block receive time
  • Long queries elapsed time
  • Redo logs contentions
  • Active users
  • Buffer cache hit ratio
  • Dictionary cache hit ratio
  • Average enqueue timeouts
  • Global cache block access latency
  • Nodes down
  • Long queries count
  • Database file I/O write operation
  • Global cache corrupt blocks

 

 

The thing to keep in mind about this template is, just like our other Oracle templates, it requires some prerequisites be set up on the Orion Server and/or Poller for it to work.

 

 

 

 

Citrix XenServer:

The third template we are releasing is for XenServer, which you can download and read more about here – https://thwack.solarwinds.com/docs/DOC-203745

 

Monitors the host as well as the guest VMs running on that host, including the following metrics:

 

  • Host - Free Memory
  • Host - Average CPU
  • Host - Control Domain Load
  • Host - Reclaimed Memory
  • Host - Potential Reclaimed Memory
  • Host - Total Memory
  • Host - Total NIC Receive
  • Host - Total NIC Send
  • Host - Agent Memory Allocation
  • Host - Agent Memory Usage
  • Host - Agent Memory Free
  • Host - Agent Memory Live
  • Host - Physical Interface Receive
  • Host - Physical Interface Sent
  • Host - Physical Interface Receive Error
  • Host - Physical Interface Send Error
  • Host - Storage Repository Cache Size
  • Host - Storage Repository Cache Hits
  • Host - Storage Repository Cache Misses
  • Host - Storage Repository Inflight Requests
  • Host - Storage Repository Read Throughput
  • Host - Storage Repository Write Throughput
  • Host - Storage Repository Total Throughput
  • Host - Storage Repository Write IOPS
  • Host - Storage Repository Read IOPS
  • Host - Storage Repository Total IOPS
  • Host - Storage Repository I/O Wait
  • Host - Storage Repository Read Latency
  • Host - Storage Repository Write Latency
  • Host - Storage Repository Total Latency
  • Host - CPU C State
  • Host - CPU P State
  • Host - CPU Utilization
  • Host - HA Statefile Latency
  • Host - Tapdisks_in_low_memory_mode
  • Host - Storage Repository Write
  • Host - Storage Repository Read
  • Host - Xapi Open FDS
  • Host - Pool Task Count
  • Host - Pool Session Count
  • VM - CPU Utilization
  • VM - Total Memory
  • VM - Memory Target
  • VM - Free Memory
  • VM - vCPUs Full Run
  • VM - vCPUs Full Contention
  • VM - vCPUs Concurrency Hazard
  • VM - vCPUs Idle
  • VM - vCPUs Partial Run
  • VM - vCPUs Partial Contention
  • VM - Disk Write
  • VM - Disk Read
  • VM - Disk Write Latency
  • VM - Disk Read Latency
  • VM - Disk Read IOPs
  • VM - Disk Write IOPs
  • VM - Disk Total IOPs
  • VM - Disk IO Wait
  • VM - Disk Inflight Requests
  • VM - Disk IO Throughput Total
  • VM - Disk IO Throughput Write
  • VM - Disk IO Throughput Read
  • VM - VIF Receive
  • VM - VIF Send
  • VM - VIF Receive Errors
  • VM - VIF Send Errors

 

 

Citrix PVS Accelerator for XenServer

Last but not least, we added a net-new template for Citrix PVS Accelerator for XenServer, which you can read more about and download here - https://thwack.solarwinds.com/docs/DOC-203773

 

Includes the following metrics available for collection:

 

  • PVS - Accelerator Eviction Rate
  • PVS - Accelerator Hit Rate
  • PVS - Accelerator Miss Rate
  • PVS - Accelerator Traffic Clients Sent
  • PVS - Accelerator Traffic Servers Sent
  • PVS - Accelerator Read Rate
  • PVS - Accelerator Saved Network Traffic
  • PVS - Accelerator Space Utilization

 

That’s it for this round of content updates! We have more in process and will post to let you all know as soon as they are ready. As always, you can suggest new templates or features for SAM by creating a Feature Request.

 

Network Configuration Manager (NCM) v7.9 is available today on the customer portal! For a broad overview of this release, the release notes are a great place to start. This is a particularly pleasing release as we are delivering a feature that has received over 470 votes: Multi-Device Baselines.

 

What are Configuration Baselines?

Baselines are often attached to the act of measuring and rating the performance of a given object (interface, device, or similar) in real time. In configuration management terms, baselines are used to provide a framework for change control and management. The configuration baselines measure and evaluate the content set within the config and indicate whether the content is aligned to the baseline or not.      

 

Given that configuration changes over time are more difficult to directly observe and more complex to manage, this means that baselines play a role in monitoring and preventing unwanted changes. I find that this definition of baselines from Techopedia is interesting and accurate:

“It is the center of an effective configuration management program whose purpose is to give a definite basis for change control in a project by controlling various configuration items like work, features, product performance and other measurable configuration.”

 

This means that monitoring may be possible for a small number of nodes, but it is not practical nor is it reasonable to scale this type of manual monitoring framework. Actively monitoring each device’s config makes the validation of consistency and alignment to corporate or regulatory requirements reliable and possible.

 

Baselines

The great news is that NCM already helps with mitigating the challenges related to monitoring configuration drift by providing config change reports, Real Time Change Detection, rules and policies that monitor configurations based on a set of user-defined conditions, and a one-to-one configuration baselining. What we implemented in the latest version of NCM extends and improves configuration baselines to include:

  1. Creating new baseline(s) through
    1. Promoting an existing config to be a baseline, or
    2. Creating a new baseline by copy/paste or loading a file
  2. Ignoring unnecessary configuration lines (or lines unique to each device)
  3. Applying baseline(s) to a single node or multiple nodes

 

<New!> Baseline Management

In this release, there is a new list view of all baselines that have been created or migrated from an upgrade. From this new page, users can create new baselines, edit existing, apply or remove nodes for a given baseline, enable or disable a baseline, update the status of the baseline, or delete a baseline.

 

<New!> Updated Diff Viewer

A major improvement in this release is the implementation of a new diff viewer for baselines. This new diff viewer will collapse lines that are unchanged, highlight ignored lines as gray, and mark all changes as yellow.

 

 

More Ways to Create a Baseline

The process of creating baselines should be easy—take an existing config and simply apply it against a set of nodes, right? In NCM, you can do just that by promoting an existing configuration, loading a config from file, or copying and pasting.

 

Promoting a config is now nested under the node and in the baseline column:

 

Creating a new baseline can be done through the new Baseline Management Page:

 

No matter the steps to create the baseline, each will ultimately lead to applying the baseline to the nodes and configs.

 

Ignoring Extraneous Config Lines

One of the key challenges with baselines is being able to get an accurate assessment of the config and not having false positives for config lines that are unique to a node or not relevant to the baseline. In NCM v7.9, we have introduced an ignore line capability that allows users to click through lines that are not relevant to the baseline to aid in reducing false positives. To read more on this, check out this link.

 

Baseline Status Indicators

To monitor whether or not a node (config) is in compliance with a baseline or baselines, there needs to be a visual and written indication. Baseline Management, Configuration Management, and ‘Baseline vs. Config Conflicts’ report all now have visual and written indicators. On the Configuration Management page, there is a new baseline column that contains the visual and written indication of whether or not that node is in alignment with the baselines applied.

 

For each status, there is a hover that provides a list of all the baselines and their associated status for that node.

 

The new Baseline Management view provides a complete list view of all baselines that have been created. This view is meant to show the alignment of all the nodes that are applied against a single baseline.

 

Each baseline can be expanded to show the status for different nodes to which it is applied (similar to the hover for Configuration Management). Each one of the statuses is clickable and will load the diff of that baseline vs. the config selected.

 

Lastly, the “Baseline vs. Config Conflicts” report also inherits the visual indicators and now shows the status of a node to one or many baselines.

 

This is a major step forward for baselines and the monitoring of configuration drift within NCM. Of course, please be sure to create new feature requests for any additional functionality you would like to see with baselines or NCM in general.

 

Helpful Links:

NCM v7.9 Releases Notes

NCM Support Documentation

Network Configuration Management Software

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