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Alright, so I don’t mean afraid of the dark meaning no lights on in the room.  What I do mean is being in the dark if the server Orion is on fails due to a hard drive or OS failure (for example) and you have no visibility into monitoring your network.

 

What do you do if this happens?  Sleep sound, my dear friend, we’ve got your covered with the new SolarWinds Orion Failover Engine.  The Failover Engine -- or FoE for short -- will monitor and protect Orion, including all of the installed modules, additional pollers and even EOC if you have this.  As you can see in the below marketecture graphic, you can monitor and protect all of your Orion machines.

 

image

 

Let me take you on a feature tour of FoE.  The FoE client, which can be run from the Orion server or loaded on your desktop, allows you to configure failover settings and monitor the current status of all your FoE installations.

 

 FoE Summary

 

The FoE monitors all of the SolarWinds Orion services, including the IIS web server on both the primary and secondary Orion servers.  Based on your preferences for each service you can define the behavior of what happens if a service stops/fails.  This allows you to define some self-healing behavior into the FoE instead of just doing a flat out failover.  For example, say the Orion Information Service stops.  Since this is the first time, let’s go ahead and re-start the service.  Hmm, nope that didn’t work, it won’t start and stopped again, maybe there is a dependency on one of the Orion services, so let’s go ahead and re-start the entire Orion application.  OK, the service didn’t start that time either, something must be wrong, lets go ahead and initiate a failover to the secondary server.

 

 FoE App Service Actions

 

The Orion FoE doesn’t just monitor the services, it also monitors key OS, server and web server statistics and just like above, you can define the behavior on first, second and third event.  For example, if the server hard drive space gets to 15%, then send an email to user A.  If it gets to 10%, then email user B.  If it gets down to 5%, then initiate a failover to the secondary server. 

 

 FoE App Rules

 

The Orion FoE also has a built in alerting engine, independent of the Orion alerting infrastructure, which will notify you on any key statistic or event occurring with the FoE or the details it is monitoring.

 

FoE Alerts

 

Let’s get into more of the specifics here on some of the details going on in the back end.  The FoE can support multiple hardware deployment configurations:

 
      
  • Physical to Physical
  •    
  • Physical to Virtual
  •    
  • Virtual to Virtual
 

Once you get Orion installed and setup, the FoE will create a clone of key critical configuration, registry and file system parameters which get restored to the secondary server.  Once that initial setup is complete, a set of real-time file and registry filters as you can see below, replicate any file system and registry changes to the secondary.  This way you secondary Orion server is always up to date with what is going on within the primary Orion server.

 

 FoE Data Replication Filters

 

Let’s walk through the specifics of how it works in a high availability scenario using the below diagram as our guide.

 

The Orion primary and secondary servers are located within the same subnet and share the same identity including IP Address.  Since two identical IP’s cannot be on the network at the same time, a packet filter is installed on the secondary public NIC so it is not broadcasting or receiving traffic.  A second NIC exists between the two servers which handles the heartbeat and real-time data replication between the primary and secondary. 

 

When a failover condition occurs the following sequence of events occurs:

 
      
  • the remaining Orion services on the Primary Orion server that are still running are shut down
  •    
  • the packet filter is removed off the secondary NIC and the Orion services are started on the secondary server and the secondary server is now the active server
  •    
  • the primary Orion server which is now down is now the passive server and if the server is still online, a packet filter is placed on its primary NIC
 

Your downtime is minimized to the time it takes for the server failover to initiate and the services to start on the secondary Orion server.  The other beautiful thing here as well, since both servers have the same IP Address, is you do not have to reconfigure your network to send any Syslog, SNMP Traps or Netflow traffic to a new IP Address.

 

This is just one specific use case that the Orion Failover Engine can handle.  In another post I will walk through additional use cases and scenarios.

 

If you need more information, please check out the product page here and you can request a demo from one of our SE’s by emailing your sales rep or clicking here.

 

image

Update: In version 5.0 and later of Storage Manager and Storage Profiler, there is an Orion Integration Module that presents data in Orion automatically.  We definitely suggest you move to the new version and try out the integration instead of following the method below.

A lot of you are asking when Profiler and Orion are going to be integrated, and while I don’t have a date, you can see Profiler - What we are working on....  In the meantime, if you just have to have some Profiler goodness inside Orion, here is a way to do it.   This is several steps long, and we are working to improve this process.  I am assuming you are somewhat familiar with Orion navigation.
 
NOTE:  While this gets Profiler views into Orion, it is far from a perfect user experience.  A few caveats:

  • You have to log into Profiler in the same browser as Orion before these views will work
  • Occasionally you will break out of the Orion view into a new window or tab
  • There is no integrated navigation or breadcrumbs, drill downs in Profiler are generally one way.

Build a View:
In general, any Profiler view (summary, monitor, device) could be imported into Orion.  However,  we would recommend summary or monitor views, as they allow you to drill down to device views.

  1. Go to Settings > Views > Manage Views
  2. Click Add, then enter a name of the view (ex: Profiler Summary), choose Summary for Type Of View and click Submit.



  3. Change the number of columns to 1, and width to 1000, click Submit. 
  4. Next to the Resources box, click the plus sign to add a new resource.



  5. In the tree, open Miscellaneous folder and check Custom HTML, press Submit.
  6. Press the Preview button at the bottom, this will take you to the view with one resource with no data.



  7. Press Edit and change the title name to Profiler Main Console. 
  8. We will be using an iframe to connect show Profiler within a container on the screen.  In this example, the link is to the Profiler Main Console, but at the end of the post I will give you some more sample URLs from Profiler.
    Enter the following into the text Box:
    <iframe src="http://<ProfilerServerNameOrIP>:<ProfilerServerPort>/MainConsole.do?actionName=showConsole" height= 400 width =950  name="text" id="contentFrame"></iframe>
    where:
       src is the URL to Profiler
       ProfilerServerNameOrIP - the Profiler server's DNS name or IP address
       ProfilerServerPort - the port
       height is the height of the iframe
       width is the width of the iframe, generally you want this to be less than the width of the resource defined in Step 3.
       name and id are very important, make sure you copy them in there
    1. When you are done, it should look like the image below.  Press Submit.

    If everything is correct, and you have already logged into Profiler in another tab, you should see something like this.  Otherwise, you will see a Profiler login screen.
    NOTE: Once you are successful, copy the URL of this page - you need it for the next step.

    Add the new View to the list of Available items:
    The view you built above is not available to be added to the menu bar until you manually add it.

    1. Settings > Customize > Customize Menu Bars
    2. Edit any menu bar (ex: Default Menu Bar).
    3. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the list of Available items, click Add.
    4. Enter a name, paste in the URL from the last step from above, and uncheck "Open a New Window", and press OK.
    5. You should see Profiler Summary in the Available Items.

    Add the new View to a Menu Bar:
    You can now add any of the Profiler view you created to any existing tabs, just like any other view...

    1. Settings > Customize > Customize Menu Bars
    2. Edit any menu bar (ex: Default Menu Bar).
    3. Drag and drop the new View to the menu bar, reorder as you see fit.
    4. Press Submit under the selected items.
    5. Next time the page refreshes, you should see the new View (Profiler Server) in the Tab.

    Phew… I worked up a sweat, did you?  When integration comes, all the heavy lifting will be done, so you won't have to do it. 

    As always, if you have any thoughts or suggestions, please let us know.

    Use Cases and sample URL:

    To build more, right click any link in profiler and copy it to a text file for review.

    In this prior blog Graphing multiple data points on a single graph with the UnDP I outlined how you could put multiple elements in the same graph using the Universal Device Poller.  We have been having conversations with many of you on thwack about wanting to expand this to support additional use cases.  Based on that, I wanted to go ahead and do a post and give you a sneak preview into something we are working on.  Just as in our So what’s on tap next for Orion NPM posts, I cannot commit to any dates or releases, but I would love to get your feedback on the use cases and some of the mock ups we have put together on this.

     

    So the first set of use cases we are looking to do are the following:

     
        
    • Chart an interface from one or more nodes
    •    
            
      • this also includes the ability to display as a sum/aggregate
      •   
         
    • Chart multiple interfaces from a single node
    •    
    • Chart a single UnDP which is assigned to many nodes
    •    
    • Chart a single UnDP which is assigned to many interfaces
     

    I will walk through the user flow of how this would work for multiple interfaces on the same device

     
        
    1. Add a new multi-element graph resource to a node details view
    2.    
    3. Select which interfaces you wish to add to the chart    
      clip_image002
    4.    
    5. Tweak the parameters of the view. For example, do you want to show all interfaces individually or as a sum?    
      image
    6.    
    7. Submit and those interfaces will be rendered on the same chart
     

    image

     

    So what do you think?  Are there features or use cases not covered here?

    Have you ever right clicked a node and seen a list of tools drop down? Most of us have been trained never to right click on a website. In most instances, this is correct, however, we’ve provided a great way for you to interact with nodes without cluttering up the interface by using the right click functionality.

    This is the current Toolset and Orion integration. It allows you to quickly launch relevant troubleshooting tools directly from the web interface. If you have Toolset installed on your local machine and access the Orion web console, you will see the right click integration. This integration is supported in IE as well as Firefox!

    Here’s what it looks like:

    image

     

    There are several great tools here but what if you want to add your own application to the list? No problem! This blog post was motivated by this thwack forum, SSH in right click menu.

    For example, say we are having problems with an application and want to understand what is happening by using Wireshark. By the way, if you don’t know what Wireshark (formerly Ethereal) is, go to their website now.

    Find the SWToolset.MenuOptions file on your local machine. We recommend you backup your existing file first, then add the following text to the file between the <MenuOptions> and </MenuOptions> tags.

    <MenuOption Order=”28” ID=”1028” Visible="TRUE" Title="Wireshark" BeginGroup="FALSE" HasSubMenu="FALSE" ExecString="C:\Program Files\Wireshark\wireshark.exe –i 1 –k –f &quot;host {TARGET}&quot;" Icon="" Extra="" Parent="" Required="4"/>

    image

     

    The Order and ID values will depend on the other values in the file, the ones I provided were the first available and should work for you. To break down the Wireshark parameters, –i indicates the interface index (in my case it is 1), –k means to start capturing immediately, and –f is the capture filter (in this case, “host {TARGET}” where {TARGET} is replaced with the IP Address of the device automatically when you right click in NPM). For more information on Wireshark Capture Filters, see the Wireshark Wiki. Obviously, this will only show you traffic that your machine can see. To configure port spanning on Cisco devices, refer to these resources from Cisco.

    For other applications, simply replace the Title value and ExecString with appropriate values. Also, the Orion Admin Guide has a great write up of how to accomplish this in the “Adding Programs to a Toolset Integration Menu” section. You can find all of our documentation at http://thwack.com/support.

    Saving the above changes and re-launching the right click integration menu should result in the newly updated menu.

    You can post to this blog to brag about what cool and useful tools you launch from the Toolset menu! If you don’t have the Toolset, click here for more information and go try it for free!

    Orion IPAM 1.7 is right around the corner, which has a couple of really cool features we want to tell you about.  First, as usual, you asked for it, so you shall receive: Cisco DHCP.  Yes, now you can add Cisco DHCP servers and their corresponding scopes to IPAM.  Let’s take a look.  You’ll add a Cisco DHCP server in the same way you add Microsoft DHCP servers.

    Add DHCP.

    From the DHCP Scope Monitoring tab, select ‘Add New,’ then ‘DHCP Server.’  From here you’ll be given a list of devices. 

    Add Cisco DHCP.

    From this list it’s easiest to sort by Vendor, then expand the list of devices under Cisco.  Here, we’re going to add Tok-2621.aus.lab, which is one the Cisco DHCP servers in our lab.  The next step will be to provide credentials for the DHCP server.  See screenshot below.

    Add CLI credentials.

    For Cisco DHCP servers, you’ll select ‘CLI Credential’ (vs. Windows).  You can use an existing set of credentials, or you can create new credentials.  Here we’ve created a new set of credentials for Tok-2621.aus.lab.  We’ve specified Telnet as the protocol on Port 23, and we’ve successfully tested our credentials against the DHCP server, and IPAM found seven scopes on the server.  Once credentials have been added, click ‘Add DHCP’ at the bottom of the page.  You should now be able to see this server on the DHCP Scope Monitoring tab.

    Cisco DHCP added and scanning.

    Here we can see the server has been added, and IPAM is actively looking for scopes.  Once added, the scopes will appear under the Scopes subtab above.

    The next feature we want to highlight is something we call Indirect Discovery.  If ICMP and/or SNMP is disabled on a particular subnet, IPAM can’t get an accurate status on the IPs in that subnet; however, Indirect Discovery solves that problem.  Indirect Discovery works by specifying a ‘neighbor’ device that has up to date ARP tables, which gives IPAM an accurate status on the IPs in that subnet.  Let’s take a look at how to configure Indirect Discovery in IPAM.

    subnet properties.

    From the Manage Subnets & IP Addresses tab, select a subnet then click Properties.  This will open up the Edit Subnet Properties dialogue in the screenshot below.

    neighbor scanning.

    Here you’ll notice a new section titled ‘Neighbor Scanning.’  In this section you’ll specify the IP address of a neighbor device (in other words, a high traffic device on the subnet), and the scan interval.  In the scenario where ICMP and/or SNMP is blocked on that subnet, IPAM should now get an accurate status on the IPs in that subnet.

    As I stated at the beginning of the post, IPAM 1.7 will be out very, very soon.  We hope you like the new features (you specifically asked for them!); let us know what you think.

    We had a lot of folks click through the last training announcement, so we thought we’d use the blog to make sure folks know about Part 2.  If you missed Part 1, we recorded it, so watch whenever you have time. 

     

    We’re going to do Part 2 on Thursday, August 19 at 11:00 A.M., CDT.  Register Now

    What are we going to cover? 

    • Customizing and building reports
    • Advanced uses for network maps
    • Tuning the Orion polling engine
    • Building fault tolerance

    Will the training be recorded?    
    Yes, all of our training sessions are recorded and posted to SolarWinds.com for on-demand playback. We’ll e-mail a link to everyone that registers.

    How much is the training?     
    It’s free to all SolarWinds customers with active maintenance agreements.

    Can I forward this to my friends/coworkers?     
    Yes, forward it on to as many as SolarWinds end-users as you’d like.

    If I can’t make this class, will there be others in the future?     
    Yes, we’ll be sending out announcements for future sessions as they’re scheduled.

     

    Edit, August 23rd:  Now that the event has passed, you can see the recording here.

     

    __________________________________________________

    Shameless Marketing

    __________________________________________________

    Like a spoiler alert in a movie review, if you don’t want to see any marketing, stop reading now.  On the other hand, if you’re considering buying any Orion modules, you might want to read this.  For the rest of the month, we have significant discounts on all Orion modules, including IP Address Manager and IP SLA Manager.  Our product titles are pretty self-descriptive, so you can imagine that IP Address Manager helps you to manage your IP Addresses.  If you’re still using a spreadsheet, do yourself a favor and take a look.  Likewise, IP SLA Manager leverages Cisco’s IP SLA technology.  If your network has more than one physical location, IP SLA lets you collect network quality stats on critical protocols (e.g., VoIP, DHCP, DNS, FTP, HTTP) from the perspectives of any or all of your different offices.  We wouldn’t have built these modules if we didn’t think they were useful for our typical customer.  For more info on the discounts, contact Sales at 866.530.8100 or sales@solarwinds.com

    Here's the scenario: you use IE8 with https. You use NPM 10 and upgrade to SP1. Then, IE starts complaining in a message like the one below: 

     

    We have heard reports that some customers are seeing this alert on every single page as they navigate through the Orion website. Ugh, we're sorry. So there's good news and bad news. We'll give you the bad news first: we don't have a permanent fix for this yet, but we're working on it. But wait - we have some really good news too. So, the good news is - we know what causes this and we're going to fix it. It has to do with the optional Toolset integration. Additionally, the problem is more annoying than anything else. There's no real danger or underlying issue you need to worry about. But wait - there's still more good news: we also have a workaround. First, you can use Firefox or another browser. That solves the problem in that this is just IE specific. You can also disable Toolset integration by going to Settings->Account Manager -> Select your Account (admin) -> Change the option for “Allow Browser Integration” to No. 

     

    We're working to fix this issue in a more permanent way - so stay tuned!

    Other IE 8 Issues You Might See

    While we're on the topic - we know that IE 8 will also give you all this error even if you don't have HTTPS configured: 

    If you add the site to the Local Sites in IE, then you get the option to download SWToolset.exe. 

    However, even if you install, you will still be prompted to download and install every time you go to a new page. If you disable Toolset integration, or use a different browser, the ActiveX control is not run and this is not a problem. Also, you can manually register it per the Engineers Toolset V10.2 integration with Orion NPM

     

     

     

     

    Thanks to everyone who participated in the Orion NTA 3.7 RC!!  We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback in the RC forum and we’ll be going GA very (very) shortly, so stay tuned!  

    So, with 3.7 virtually out the door, it’s time to turn our attention to what’s next, and as you might expect, there’s already a lot of research and planning activity underway.   I’ve included a list of features/enhancements below that we’re currently considering for the next release.   Please remember to check back on this post over the next few months as there will likely be changes as we complete our planning cycle and move into development.   If there are things you expected to see that aren’t on the list, please let us know!

    • Scalability and performance
      • We’ve made significant improvements in this area over the past couple of releases and our goal is to continue on this path
    • Expansion of traffic analysis capabilities
      • Provide endpoint-centric (non-NetFlow source) versions of Top XX Conversations, Top XX Applications, and Top XX Protocols resources for placement on node details views. E.g. Place Top XX Conversations on APM server view to see conversations to/from that server.
      • Huawei NetStream support 
      • BGP AS support
      • More out-of-the-box reports
    • Visualization and usability
      • Allow users to create a filtered network-wide summary view versus having to choose a particular source device and interface(s)
      • Allow users to leverage filtered network-wide summary view as results from search (versus having to choose specific endpoints/hosts and then adjust timeframes to see data)
      • Allow Traffic View Builder views to be easily saved for quick access at a later time
      • Enable grouping and filtering of nodes and interfaces in the NetFlow Sources resource similar to the All Nodes resource
    • Start backend work on IPv6 

    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 also 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!

    We recently received a comment to one of our previous blog So what’s on tap next for Orion NPM requesting the ability to display static information in Orion that may be relevant to a device.  For example, let’s say you wanted to display specific information about a site or an office, like geographical location, site name, etc.  This is possible today using one of Orion’s hidden gems: the custom HTML resource. 

    First, you’d probably want to create a new view.  On this view, you’d add whatever resources are important to you, including the custom html resource.  See screenshot below.

    Custom Foo View.

    Here I’ve created a custom view called ‘Custom Foo View.’  Next, I’m going to add the custom HTML resource to this view.  Click the ‘+’ button on whichever column you want to add the resource, then you’ll be given a list of resources from which you can select.

    Custom HTML.

    The custom html resource is under the Miscellaneous category.  Select it and click ‘Done.’  Now, let’s take a look at the view we’ve created that includes the custom html resource.

    Custom Foo View with html.

    Here we can see our new Foo view with the custom HTML resource displayed; however, it’s empty.  To add content to the resource, simply click ‘Edit.’

    Edit Custom HTML Resource.

    Simply paste HTML into the text box.  In this case, we’ll add some HTML that gives us some basic information about one of our sites.

    Site information.

    That’s it!  This is but one of the many ways you can use this resource; we’d love to hear about some of the other creative ways you’re using the custom HTML resource.

    We are currently working on version 5.0 and (in parallel) 5.1 and beyond.  Some of the items we hope to deliver:

    • Integration with Orion NPM or APM.  Users who already own these products will be able to view Profiler data from the Orion console.
    • Integration with SolarWinds' latest acquisition, Hyper9 (to be renamed)
    • Enhanced Thin Provisioning Support - adding more data, reports and alerts for more storage arrays
    • End-to-End Visualization - show a visualization of each data path, with drill downs to associated paths.  
    • Support for NetApp's ONTAP 8
    • Support for IBM XIV
    • Support for Dell Compellent

    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!

    Brian

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