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The next release of Orion IP SLA Manager is right around the corner.  If your maintenance is current, you should already have the Release Candidate waiting for you in your SolarWinds customer portal.  This release includes a couple of really cool features for which we’d love to hear your early feedback.  First, we’ve added support for two new IP SLA operations: ICMP Path Echo and ICMP Path Jitter.  These operations are unique in that they not only give you Round Trip Time (RTT) between the source and target for the operation, but also give you a traceroute for the path on which the operation executed.  Let’s take a look.

 

Current Traceroute.

 

 

 

This is a screenshot of a new resource we’ve added for the Path operations that shows you the most recent traceroute on which the operation was executed.  Here we see the operation executed over four hops, and we can see the RTT for each hop from the source.  In addition to the most recent path, we also show you historical traceroutes with unique paths.  See screenshot below.

 

Historical Traceroutes. 

 

Here we can see unique paths over which the operation executed in the last 30 days.  This resource allows you to see any path deviations the operation experienced over a certain period of time.  You can configure the resource to show you only the time periods you care about.  For example, if you only cared about unique paths that have occurred over the last week, you can specify the resource to only show unique paths that have occurred over the last seven days.

 

The other neat feature in Orion IP SLA Manager 3.5 is the ability to discover existing, manually created operations on an IP SLA capable device.  If you’ve already made a significant time investment in configuring operations across your network, IP SLA Manager can now go discover those operations and monitor them.  Let’s take a look.

 

monitor wizard 1.

 

Here we see the Operations Wizard, which you can access from the IP SLA Manager Settings page or from the Getting Started resource.  To kick off an operation discovery, first you’ll want to select ‘Monitor existing operations’ then click Next.

 

monitor wizard 2.

 

On this screen you’re given two choices; select ‘Automatically discover existing operations then click Next.

 

monitor wizard 3.

 

On this screen you’ll select the node(s) on which you want to perform the discovery.  Select your node(s) and click Next.  (One thing to note: you’ll need to supply valid credentials for the nodes on which you want to perform the discovery.  Path operations require CLI credentials; all other operations require SNMP credentials).

 

monitor wizard 4.

 

Lastly, you’ll select the operations you want to monitor.  IP SLA Manager is smart enough to know if it’s already monitoring operations on the device, and will exclude those from the list of choices available for selection.  Select the operations you want to monitor, then you’re all set.  Orion IP SLA Manager will start collecting data on those operations, and will show you historical data for the operations as well as the operations’ availability over time.

 

Now for the fun part: go grab the Release Candidate from your customer portal and start checking out the new features.  We’d love to hear your feedback!

 
Technorati Tags: IP SLA
 

You all are probably familiar with our What We Are Working On Now... posts... Well, we're going to expand on that from time to time and not only *tell* you what we're working on... we're actually going to *show* you. And in NCM-land - one thing we're working on is enhanced policy reports. I hope you'll take some time to check out what we're up to and let us know your thoughts. 

 

One note - all of these screen shots are from the Orion integration module. Here we go - first - we have the Manage Policy screen. 

 

A few notes on this screenshot: 

 

1. Did you notice the "Share on thwack" tab? Yup, that does exactly what you think it does. Neat!

2. Search reports (got trimmed due to the blog display size, it's a field in the menu off to the right) - this searches what I'd refer to as the "visual" page content - title, date, description, etc.  - the content displayed on the page. Searching will search all the reports however, regardless of what folder you've put them in. 

 

____________________________

 

Moving on to screen shot two. We have Create New Rule. This one is especially exciting in that it provides the much-requested interface-level policy checking functionality. 

A couple of notes on this screen shot: 

1. The remediation scripts are not automatic. When you run a report, you have the ability to run a script to remediate a violation from the results, but we opted not to build in an auto-remediation function. Do you have an opinion on that? 

2. Check syntax does just what it says. If you write a regular expression in the box, the function will check to make sure you have formatted it correctly, but will not check to make sure it will work. 

 

___________________

Create New Policy: Rules go into Policies, Policies take those rules and assign them to nodes, then Policies roll up into Reports. Here we're showing the Create New Policy screen shot. 

______________

 

Lastly - here's the Violation Details popup. In the past, we only told you about the first time a rule was violated. Now we spell out each and every time. 

 

A few notes on this one: 

1. Here's your chance to run that remediation script you defined in the Create Rule screen shot. 

2. You can remediate this node - or all nodes in violation (that have a script of course). 

 

So, there you are. I haven't added a ton of commentary for the express reason (and hope) that it should make sense to you without explanation. If it doesn't, please ask and we'll look into making it more self explanatory. As we get further along, we'll be doing beta reviews so stay tuned for that as well. Looking forward to your feedback!

Over the last several years, we’ve been watching IPv6 adoption very closely and talking to a lot of customers to find out what this means for them.   Besides seeing a lot more articles and videos about IPv4 armageddon (this one is an oldie, but goodie), we’ve noticed that there’s definitely a changing trend with customers, especially within the federal government and service provider spaces where IPv6 is no longer just a fuzzy bullet on their long-term IT infrastructure roadmap, but an important requirement that is getting some real attention.   For example, a lot of service providers are wanting to create v6-to-v4 tunnels, which will allow their customers to have IPv6 addresses while maintaining an IPv4 backbone and most government customers have already moved to dual-stack infrastructure.  In all cases, these customers are always happy to know that Orion works just fine monitoring dual-stack network devices and that seems to meet a lot of their short-term IPv6 needs. 

However, having noticed this trend is increasing and given our community-driven need to be as transparent as possible, we thought we’d use this blog post to explain our plans for expanding IPv6 support throughout the Orion product line.   If you’re wondering why we don’t just give you a roadmap slide with a quarter for delivery, please see Fear and Loathing of Roadmaps: Why your PM won’t give you a date.

So, let’s start with what we’ve done already as some of you may have missed this

1. Engineer’s Toolset

  • All of the most popular tools ported to use IPv6 in the WorkSpace Studio introduced in v10
  • All new tools added since v10 are fully IPv6 compatible  

2. Orion Network Configuration Manager (NCM)

  • Both Windows client and website supports dual-stack devices – both IPv4 and IPv6 IP addresses can be entered and displayed for every device
  • SSH, Telnet, and SCP based config transfers (backup and upload configs, execute scripts) on dual stack and “pure” IPv6 devices

3. Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) + modules

  • Verified Orion NPM works in a dual-stack environment, including the ability to poll IPv6-specific SNMP statistics on dual-stack devices using the Universal Device Poller
  • Introduced IPAM module with ability to track IPv6 addresses on dual-stack devices

Yeah okay, what have we done for you lately?   Here’s what we’re working on in development as we speak:

1. Orion Network Configuration Manager (NCM)

  • Remaining functionality is being ported to work with “pure” IPv6 devices in 2 phases.   The first phase will include device rediscovery and inventory.  The second phase will wrap up support with status polling and discovery.  

2. Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) + modules

  • The level of effort to port all of Orion is non-trivial so in parallel to last several releases, we’ve been busy at work on an enhanced poller that supports IPv6 along with planning for back-end changes to the Orion “Core” database schema and internal components.  Once the new poller work is complete (we’re about 60-70% of the way there), website user interface elements will be enhanced to allow configuration and display of IPv6 addresses 
  • IPAM module team is working on adding the ability to create IPv6 subnets to assist with pre and post IPv6 network deployment planning
  • All module teams are working on porting internal components to support IPv6 so they’re ready when the “Core” of Orion is ready

We hope this helps clarify our position on IPv6 (i.e., we take it very seriously) and ensures you have a better understanding of our strategy and roadmap for meeting your IPv6 monitoring requirements.   If your organization is planning on moving to an IPv6 network, we’d love to hear from you.   Please post to IPv6 - what you’re planning, when, and biggest challenge in making the shift and let us know what you’re planning, when, and what you see as your biggest challenge in making the shift.

PLEASE NOTE:  This is NOT a commitment that these enhancements will make any particular release.  As noted above, we are working on a lot of this in parallel to our standard feature releases.   If you have comments or questions on any of these items (e.g., how would it work?) or would like to be included in a preview demo, please let us know!

 

We usually like to provide tips and tricks on the Orion product line in this blog, but on occasion, we’ll slip in a bit on our philosophy.  What I wanted to share today is how SolarWinds approach to product creation is different than most vendors of IT management software, and why that’s good for our customers.

What most traditional enterprise software vendors do is try to create a product that is differentiated on features.  That is, they put together long checklists of features, piling up green checks of awesomeness under their own name and red x’s of failure under the names of their competitors.  And why not?  Checklists are simple.  Even your boss’s boss can understand a checklist.  The problem is that for most product categories, every vendor has had all the most important features for a long time.  The only way to out-feature your competitors is to create increasingly esoteric features that only a few customers actually need.  So vendors tell stories about exciting new trends to try to convince everyone that they need the new features.  If you’ve been in IT more than a few years, you remember when CMDB, Single Sign-on, or BSM were hot stuff, and each promised to revolutionize IT.   These trends, when they are new, sound great to IT analysts and journalists who read and talk trends all day.  They’re newness junkies—it keeps them from going mad talking about the same thing over and over. 

But there’s a dark side to the obsession with newness.  It means that the product vendor spends almost all of their engineering effort on building the next big thing to attract fresh customers who are looking to try out the newest trend.  And those new features lead to complexity in the product, which leads to resource-intensive deployment and management.  As a result, solving the more pedestrian problems of existing customers often goes by the board. 

Worse yet, those hot new features are often not ready for prime time.  Gartner, the biggest name among the IT analysts, even named this whole process the “hype cycle” in recognition of the fact that during the time that some new tech trend gets most of the attention from the media, that technology is not especially productive.  By the time the technology is actually useful enough to help real IT pros get work done, the media and the product vendors are all, “Bored now.”  And on they move to the new, new thing.

So how is SolarWinds different?  We consciously avoid focusing on the latest IT fad.  Instead, we try to provide new solutions to the problems you already have.  We’ve found that the vast majority of users still have the same old problems because the early solutions were too expensive or too hard to use or not, in fact, solutions at all.  We take another cut at the situation, informed by the mistakes of the past.  Imagine if you could rebuild the house you’re living in today now that you’ve lived in it a while.  Wouldn’t you do a better job?  The cutting edge products are forced to guess at what users are going to need because the users don’t even know yet.    Once everyone has spent some time with the new technology, the real day-to-day challenges become more obvious. 

One of the difficult things about this approach is knowing which of the many lingering issues we should tackle.  There are only a few “hot” features that everyone’s chasing, but there are a host of old problems that remain poorly solved or completely ignored.  How do we choose?  Simple—our users tell us.  We take a user-centric approach to building software.  That’s why we created thwack—to make it easier to listen to our users.  And that’s why SolarWinds product managers spend so much time listening and talking to users on the forums and on the phones on a daily basis.  To be successful by breaking old ground, we have to listen closely to what you really need. 

So what’s your takeaway?  Well, now that you understand a little more of how we’re wired, then you should understand what buttons to push.  Spell out your unmet needs, even if they’ve been around for a while (um..please stick to your IT management needs.  We like you and all, but there are things we’re pretty sure we don’t want to know).  Tell us why it’s important, and we’ll do what we can to provide a solution.  Even if our current products aren’t in that space.  Tell us anyway.  Our eyes and ears are open to new opportunities.   We may surprise you.

The NPM team is busy at work on a number of highly requested enhancements

  • Active Directory authentication integration with group support
    • Ability to authenticate users into Orion using their individual AD account, based on their membership in an AD group, or using native Orion authentication (same as today)
  • Dependencies 2.0 / Basic Root Cause Analysis
    • Ability to define dependency relationships within the Orion web console.  For example, if this parent node or interface goes down, then mark all items defined as children as “unreachable” instead of “down”.   This effectively suppresses alerts on all children objects while still allowing you to use your existing alerts configured on “down” status.
    • New state called “unreachable” for elements which are children to a parent device or interface that has gone down
    • Allows parent and children to be defined using groups (see below).   For example, objects in the “Site A” Group are dependent on the WAN link being up
  • VMware infrastructure monitoring
    • Visibility into the vCenter, DataCenter, and Cluster levels (in addition to ESX host and VM guest visibility already provided)
  • Dynamic Service Level Groups
    • Ability to select multiple Orion objects (statically or using a dynamic query) even of different types (e.g. nodes, interfaces, applications, groups) and group them into a container that can be used to visualize status and for configuring "service level" alerts
    • Ability to see Groups at the summary and details view levels
    • Ability to set Group level status as worst (worst status rolls up), mixed (yellow unless all objects are green, or all or red), or best (best status rolls up for high avail/hot backup scenarios)
    • Ability to alert on Group status
  • Ability to PDF Reports and Web Console Views via Report Schedule
    • Send Orion Web Console Views or Report Writer Reports as PDF attachment to Orion users email account
  • Cisco UCS Support (Unified Computing System)
    • Dynamically maintain the logical relationships from operating system through virtual guest and host to the Cisco UCS blade  and chassis
    • View the status of the UCS chassis hardware, such as fans and PSU’s
  • Meru Wireless Controller Support
    • First class support for the Meru Wireless Controllers
    • See Controller and Thin AP stats along with connected client information
  • Ability to create custom SQL advanced alerts
    • Just like in Report writer, you can use SQL to create advanced alerts you cannot create through the built-in trigger creation interface
  • Mobile Alert View
    • A dedicated alert view made for mobile web browser to allow you to view and acknowledge alerts from your phone
  • Node and interface details on Summary Views
    • Ability to quickly and easily add any resource from node details and interface details to Summary views
  • Enable, disable, and delete Advanced Alerts in the web console
  • Notes on alerts
    • Ability for users to add notes to alerts in the web console
  • Acknowledge Alerts via link in email alerts
    • Receive an email alert notification and directly from your email whether on your PC or mobile device, acknowledge that alert by clicking on a link
  • Platform Support  
    • SQL 2008 
  • Stackable Charts 
    • Ability to place multiple interfaces from a single node or multiple nodes on a single chart
    • Ability to place a UnDP assigned to one node or multiple nodes to a single chart 

    PLEASE NOTE:  We are working on these items based on this priority order, but this is NOT a commitment that all of these enhancements will make the next release.  We are working on a number of other smaller features in parallel.   If you have comments or questions on any of these items (e.g. how would it work?) or would like to be included in a preview demo, please let us know!

    I have been asked this question a few times now thought the NPM 10.0 blog series would be a good place to talk through this.  Since this feature is near and dear to me, this will be one of my longer blog posts!

     

    With NPM 10.0, leveraging Network Sonar, we are now gathering and storing topological data and this is exposed in various features through out the product.

     

    Question: How is Orion gathering topological information?  
    Answer: Orion uses the following MIB’s

     
        
    • Bridge-MIB
    •    
            
      • For Cisco, browse the Bridge-MIB::dot1dTpFdbTable (1.3.6.1.2.1.17.4.3 )
      •      
      • For non-cisco device, browse the dot1qTpFdbTable (1.3.6.1.2.1.17.7.1.2.2)
      •   
         
    • ARP-IP MIB
    •    
            
      • Browse for the ARP-IP::ipNetToMediaEntry (1.3.6.1.2.1.4.22.1 ) table
      •   
     

    Question: So what is ConnectNow?  
    Answer: Connect Now is a new feature within Network Atlas with Orion NPM 10.0 focused around automating drawing L2 topological connections. 

     

    Once you have run the Network Sonar discovery and imported the nodes and interfaces you wish to manage

     
        
    1. Open Network Atlas, select the nodes you want to automatically connect, and drag them from the tree onto right pane
    2.    
    3. HIt ctrl-A to select all the nodes on the map and either right click and select ConnectNow or on the top menu ribbon click the ConnectNow button
    4.    
    5. You will see a dialog once it has completed indicating how many direct connections is has found and mapped
    6.    
    7. On the top ribbon bar, select the Edit tab and on this tab you will see a set of auto-arrange selection to lay out the map in a more readable fashion
    8.    
    9. Save and name your map
     

    The first screenshot below is an example of how this will look within Network Atlas.  Once saved you can edit your Summary Home page in the Orion web console to display this same map, see second screenshot.

     

    image 

     

    image

     

    Question:  
    Can I display my directly connected neighbors on the node details page?

     

    Answer:  
    Yes, please read If topology gets you excited, here’s something else for you to tinker with… on how.  I put a screenshot below to entice you to read this post too.

     

    If you want to learn more on this, you can watch this video here by our Head Geek

     

    image

    bmrad

    Oh Storage, Where Art Thou?

    Posted by bmrad Employee Jun 11, 2010

    I've talked to a lot of customers lately who are wrestling with their virtual infrastructure, especially with storage.  Trying to chase performance issues is like sorting out a bowl of spaghetti because its hard to know where your storage is coming from, or who you are sharing it with.  

    For example, what if you have a performance issue on a VM and suspected the disk?  How would you diagnose the issue and decide how to fix it?  First, you need to know if you have contention issue by looking to see what VMs are on the same datastore, then drill down to LUN, and then find the Raid Group and see what other LUNs are on it.

    In the VMware Logical Mapping report, Profiler can do the leg work for you with drill downs to the details. You can access the Logical Mapping report at any level of virtual infrastructure (VC, DC, Cluster, ESX, VM) by clicking the storage tab, then clicking the Logical Mapping link.  The report correlates VMWare data (ESX, Datastore, VM) to the Array data (LUN, Array) for fibre channel, iSCSI or NFS connectivity.

    The VM level Logical Mapping report for VM "D3TMPVT4" tells us it lives on Datastore LSI04_FIB_DS22_Migrate_Dev (VM > Storage > Logical Mapping).

    The Cluster level Logical Mapping report (below) tells us there are 10 other VM's on that datastore.

    You can look at the Datastore and drill down to the individual VMs to review contention, or jump across to the Array and LUN, with further drill downs to the RAID group to reivew LUN performance. 

    In this case, if we run a ranking report for the VMs on this datastore (Quick Reports > VMware VM > Disk Performance), you can see one VM is much busier than the rest.

    At this point, your options are to diagnose the problem on QA-test box, or move the VM to another Datastore.  The logical mapping reports shows the other datastores available in the infrastructure (and the available space), and you could review the performance of these both on the virtual side and the Array side. Looking at the performance of the LUNs on the array:

    We can see that LUN "Migrate1" is a lot less volatile from a performance perspective, and has the required amount of space available 10GB.

    So you now decide which way to solve your disk issue, either further diagnosis of the offending VM or migrate your VM to another datastore.

    macnugetz

    Community in Action!

    Posted by macnugetz Jun 3, 2010

    This post’s topic is a bit of a deviation from our normal posts on the Orion product blog; however, we felt this one warranted a little extra attention.  Any software product is going to have some degree of exposure to vulnerabilities, and there are plenty of smart guys out there who have made it their mission to find and expose those vulnerabilities.  Well, this happened last week with the SolarWinds TFTP server.  The short version is that we were made aware of a TFTP Server vulnerability via Twitter, we worked closely with the individual who discovered the vulnerability and immediately patched a fix, and all of this occurred within the span of a few short days.  You can read the full story here on the Head Geek blog.

    As an Orion customer, why should you care?  First, many of you use our TFTP server, whether it’s the free version or the version we ship with the Engineer’s Toolset.  If you’re using either of these, you can grab the latest versions which will have the fix.  The second reason you should care is because our swift action was possible because of our commitment to engaging with and responding to the larger SolarWinds community: that’s you.  We pride ourselves on our transparency, we’re not bashful about our flaws, and this was a great example of how that transparency and our relationship with the community helped us resolve a nasty issue very quickly.

    Well, we wrapped up NCM 6.0 and we've hit the ground running working on a number of new features. In addition to the routine set of fixes, new device templates, and other optimizations – we’re working on:

    Improved Policy Reports –

    • moving a lot more of this functionality to the web
    • the ability to import and export policies, rules, and possibly whole reports  
    • adding the ability to check for violations in config blocks (interface-level checking)

    **Special bonus note on this one - look for mockups on this functionality soon. I'll be posting them to thwack to get your feedback while we're in the design phase. 

    Support for multiple config types 

    • you’ve asked for this, and we’re working on it now - we're planning for these to be fully customizable

    Additional IpV6 support

    • NCM already has IpV 6 support for many activities, and we’re working on additional support

    Improved inventory management 

    • we are working on making this process easier and the reports even more useful

    Of course, I can't promise that all of this will make it into the next release, but we are working on all these features now. Let me know what you think - and be sure and check the NCM forum for updates. 

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