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Users of Application Performance Monitor (APM), our new Server & Application Monitor 5.0, and Synthetic End User Monitor (SeUM) – we want your stories!  Please tell us here what you love about SolarWinds, why you bought APM or SeUM, and how these products have impacted your bottom line (saved time, saved software or hardware costs, improved availability %, etc.).  We will pick the 10 best stories over the next two weeks and award winners with a 7 foot by 3 foot wall cling of this BIG guy.

 

During this expert customer training session, we will discuss and demonstrate how to get the most out of SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset.  Here’s your chance to see how it works, get some technical pointers and to ask questions from the best!  Join hosts Josh Stephens, Head Geek at SolarWinds and Brandon Shopp, Director of Product Management as they take a deep dive into the power and technical aspects of Engineer’s Toolset.

 
      
  • Workspace Studio
  •    
  • Real Time NetFlow
  •    
  • Switch Port Mapper
  •    
  • Toolset/Orion Integration Widget
  •    
  • NPM/NCM
  •    
  • Config Tools
 

Register to attend this live event:

 

March 8, 2012 @ 11:00 (US Central Time)

 

 

 

FAQ:

 

 

 

How much is the webcast?   
It’s free.

 

Will this webcast be recorded?     
Yes, it will be recorded. To all those who register, we’ll email out a link to the slide deck and to the recorded version.

 

 

 

Can I forward this to my co-workers?     
Yes, forward it on to as many as you’d like.

 

 

 

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

In case you haven’t heard, Solarwinds recently acquired a company called Eminentware that provided a set of products for patch management.  Prior to the acquisition, Eminentware sold three extension packs for Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), and 3rd Party Updates.  Now that Eminentware is a proud new member of the Solarwinds family, we’ve combined all three extension packs into a single product called Patch Manager.  This means that you can now buy a single Solarwinds product for patching in your WSUS environment, SCCM, or Windows-based 3rd party applications like Adobe or Java.

The real value of Patch Manager is the ability to streamline the arduous process of ensuring the applications in your environment are up to date with the latest patches.  This is particularly important from a security perspective, as many hacks out in the wild exploit known security vulnerabilities in older versions of software.  Making sure your environment is up to date with the latest patches and security updates ensures your environment is less susceptible to attacks and exploits from hackers.  Patch Manager not only streamlines the process of deploying the latest patches, but it also gives you a great deal of visibility into that status of your environment in terms of which machines need to be patched, and which machines are at greatest risk.

You’re going to ask, if I already have WSUS or SCCM, why do I need Patch Manager?  Patch Manager was purposefully built on top of these existing solutions to provide much greater control and flexibility in terms of how patches are deployed and where critical updates are needed in your environment.  While WSUS or SCCM will tell you which patches are available, they’re not going to give any visibility into where those patches need to be deployed in your environment.  Patch Manager gives you the ability to build complex, multi-step workflows around how patches are deployed, including the ability to schedule patches around maintenance windows or times that won’t impact end users of the systems being patched.   

Patch Manager also gives you the ability to patch Windows-based 3rd party applications like Adobe Reader, Flash, and Java.  Given the variance of these applications in terms of how they’re deployed, what the prerequisites are, and the frequency in which updates are released, ensuring they’re up to date can be prohibitively time consuming without the proper tools.  Patch Manager’s Package Boot technology makes this much easier and greatly simplifies the process of building and deploying patches for 3rd party applications.

Check out the video below for a quick tour of the product.  You can also read more about how Patch Manager works with WSUS, SCCM, and its ability to patch 3rd party updates. Pricing starts at $1195 for 100 nodes; get a quote for your environment here. As usual, you can try before you buy.   Download a trial version here and let us know what you think.

SolarWinds NPM network monitor collects a ton of data. Literally, a metric ton. We focus on presenting you the data you need to troubleshoot and understand the long term trends (see the previous post - The Magic 8 Ball in Orion to see how to use the built in trend capabilities). But if you want to leverage stronger analytics on top of this data you might want to leverage our data with other common tools (for example: Microsoft Excel). This blog post will show you how to easily access the NPM data in excel and do fun things like trend analysis and basic analytics (well, fun for some of us....).

Step 1 - Define what you are looking for

If you are like me, you like poking around data sets to find what cool information you could build from it. However, if you are trying to solve a specific problem - for example, when will I run out of bandwidth, you will need to have very specific data. If you want to know when you are going to run out of bandwidth, you will need to collect data about how you are currently using the bandwidth over time (which also means you need to have collected the data for some time).

Step 2 - Get the data

NPM network management software allows you to automatically build charts with trend lines. However, if you want to do more details analysis, you can leverage Excel to directly connect to the NPM database. In Excel 2010, open a new file, click the Data tab, then select From Other Sources and From SQL Server. Enter the server name of the database server used for NPM and set credentials that have rights to read data from the database.

 

After you have connected to the database server, you will need to select the table you want to pull data from. In this example, we are going to look at interface traffic so the InterfaceTraffic_Hourly table (pay attention to the difference between tables and views, you'll need to scroll down about halfway for this table).

 

On the next screen about saving the data connection, you can just click Finish (unless you want to save the connection information). Finally, specify where you want to import it to (existing sheet or new sheet). You should now be seeing your NPM data in Excel!

 

Step 3 - Organize the data

Now that you have all of this data, what should you do? If you want to target specific interfaces, you'll need to correlate the interface ID (number) with the interface as you know it. The quickest way to do this is to open NPM and go to the node or interface for an interface you are interested in and look at the URL. You will see something similar to I:9 for an interface or N:2 for a node.

Step 4 - Add any necessary formulas

Use the trend function to create trend data for each of your interfaces so you can get an easy to use "Top 10 Fastest Growing Interfaces by Utilization".

Step 5 - Make it easy and re-usable

  We're working on making a spreadsheet that is easy for you to re-use. Check back here and we'll post a template spreadsheet that can be applied to your data! If you are interested in this specifically, post below and we will make sure to notify you when it's available.

As indicated in the “what we’re working on” Virtualization Manager–What We’re Working On, we have been hard at work with Virtualization Manager to support Microsoft Hyper-V environments.

This includes discovery of your Hyper-V hosts, performance monitoring, and many of the other features offered by Virtualization Manager.

If you have Hyper-V in your environment and you would like to try the beta, please register here.

ScreenHunter_04 Feb. 15 10.21

I am pleased to announce the General Availability of our latest free tool, the SolarWinds Event Log Consolidator. This latest free tool allows folks to centralize Windows Event Logs from up to 5 servers into one centralized console instead of having to remote desktop into each server or use native tools to accomplish this.  With SolarWinds Event Log Consolidator, IT Engineers can do the following:

 
      
  • Remotely gather Windows Event Logs from up to 5 server
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  • View Event Log information graphically over time as well as the ability to drill into and read the contents of specific event log  messages
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  • Define alert pop-ups in the OS system tray, as well as the ability to silence events from ever showing in the tool that the user does not care about
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  • Filter base on time range, server or user defined custom filters
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  • Export event log details to .csv file
 

Below is a video walking through this free tool, as well as a screenshot.

 

To read more about this free tool and to download, please visit here.

 

Let me know what you think and what other free tools you would like to see us do in the future.

 
 

ELC

Application and systems are changing at a break-neck pace. While the legacy management technologies are still valuable, there are entirely new ways to manage apps and systems as well. Join Brandon Shopp, Director Product Management to discuss The Evolution of Application and Systems Management.  We will cover:

 

Top-to-Bottom Monitoring

 
      
  • Understanding Application Components
  •    
  • Machine Level Systems Monitoring
  •    
  • Process and Service Monitoring
 

End-to-End Monitoring

 
      
  • Transaction Monitoring
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  • Leveraging new technologies to monitor global application monitoring
 

 

 

Join us for this educational webcast and walk away with the guidance and know-how to keep up with the systems and application management revolution!

 

Register to attend one of three live events:

 

North America/Latin America

 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012  

 

11:00 a.m. CST          

 

REGISTER NOW

 

Asia Pacific (APAC)

 

Thursday, 01 March 2012      

 

11:00 a.m. SGT          

 

REGISTER NOW

 

Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA)

 

Thursday, 01 March 2012                  

 

14:00 GMT    

 

REGISTER NOW

The recently released SeUM 1.5 is so chock-full of great new features that it would be nearly impossible to cover them all in a single blog posting. so over the course of the next few months I’ll be highlighting many of these new features in a series of blog postings. Today I’ll take you on a tour of SeUMs new Integrated Cloud Player Provisioning Portal

One of the most common questions we receive when discussing SeUM with customers is, “Does SolarWinds offer a Software as-a Service (SaaS) solution for monitoring  websites and internet accessible web apps”? Many of the customers who asked us this question were already utilizing expensive hosted SaaS solutions and were simply fed up with the exorbitant cost of these services. In usual SolarWinds fashion, we wanted to bring our customers the benefits of distributed monitoring that SaaS-like offerings provide but allow our customers to do it themselves faster, easier, and at a tiny fraction of the cost of what they were currently paying. Case in point, as of the time of this writing, the cost of an Amazon EC2 reserved instance starts at less than $100.00 a year. At those prices you can monitor more web sites & applications, more frequently, from more locations, and still save the company money. Making you an IT Super Hero.

Within SeUM 1.5 we’ve incorporated a simple, easy to use Amazon EC2 cloud player provisioning tool designed to streamline the process of monitoring websites and web based applications from the cloud. The idea was to provide customers the ability to monitor their web based services from various geographical locations around the globe. Deploying players to the geographical regions your users or consumers are likely to be located provides you insight into how those web based offerings are performing for those users. Leveraging the cloud allows you to inexpensively monitor performance and availability from locations beyond your data center, central office, or remote office locations to where your mobile work force, home offices, or customers are located.

Creating Amazon EC2 Cloud Player instances is handled through the SeUM web console. The only prerequisite is an Amazon EC2 account which can be created in just a few minutes. You will find the option to Add Location in the Cloud under Settings -> SeUM Settings -> Manage Player Locations as pictured below.

SeUM Cread Cloud Player

The wizard will then walk you through to process of creating a new Amazon EC2 instance in the cloud, complete with the SeUM Player pre-installed and pre-configured for your environment. Simply enter your Amazon EC2 access key and secret key which can be found by logging into your Amazon EC2 account. Once there, click on your account name in the top right corner of the screen and select Security Credentials. Scroll down to Access Credentials. Here you will find the Access Key and Secret Key that was automatically generated when you first created your Amazon Web Services EC2 account. Copy and paste these credentials into the SeUM Cloud Player Portal to begin creating your cloud player instance.

EC2 Security Credentials   EC2 Access Credentials

Add a Transaction location in the cloud

Next you’ll be asked to provide a name for this cloud instance, as well as create a password for authenticating to this AMI should you need to connect to it via Remote Desktop (RDP) in the future. You’ll then need to select a geographical region where the SeUM Player will be deployed. There are seven distinct regions to select from. It is recommended you select the region closest to where your end users and/or customers are located. This will ensure the synthetic transactions being played back from these locations accurately reflect your end users experience.

Enter Details for the VM you want to create

The only thing left to do now is select a cloud instance size. There are three default EC2 sizes you can select from, or optionally you can chose Advanced if you need to create a custom tailored EC2 instance for higher CPU or Memory needs. In almost all cases selecting one of the three default instance sizes of small, large, or extra large is plenty sufficient for most customers needs. To aid you through the decision making process we’ve included an EC2 sizing calculator that can be found by clicking Recommend a size for me.

recommend a size for me

The EC2 sizing calculator asks a series of four questions, and based upon the answers provided, it will recommend an instance size best suited to your needs, while ensuring you’re not paying for unused capacity.  You can see the recommended instance size highlighted in blue in the screenshot above. To accept the recommended size simply click Select the recommended size and the cloud instance size recommended by the calculator will be automatically selected for you.

Now that all the hard work is done it’s time to review our changes one last time.

Review and create your virtual machine

Once you’re satisfied all settings are correct click CREATE VM and the Amazon EC2 instance will be created. It usually takes a minimum of 10-15 minutes for the instance to start for the first time. You can monitor the status of your newly created cloud player from Manage Player Locations under Settings -> SeUM Settings. You can also start assigning any of your existing SeUM 1.0 recordings to this cloud player instance even before it’s started. As soon as the SeUM Player comes online, the assigned recordings will begin being played back from this newly created location, monitoring the performance and availability of your web-based services.

Starting EC2 Instance

We have officially reached Release Candidate (RC) status for NTA 3.9. RC is the last step before general availability and is a chance for existing customers to get the newest functionality for network bandwidth monitoring before it is available to everyone else.

 

NTA netflow anlayzer 3.9 includes some long standing customer requests as well as several bug fixes. Here is a list of the features included in 3.9.

 

  1. CBQoS Reports
    • Top 100 CBQoS Drops for the last 24 hours
    • Top 100 CBQoS Drops for the last update
    • Top 100 CBQoS Post-Policy Traffic for the last 24 hours
    • Top 100 CBQoS Post-Policy Traffic for the last update
    • Top 100 CBQoS Pre-Policy Traffic for the last 24 hours
    • Top 100 CBQoS Pre-Policy Traffic for the last update
    • Top 100 CBQoS Statistics for the last 24 hours
  2. CBQoS Alerts
    • CBQoS Drops
    • CBQoS Post-Policy Traffic
    • CBQoS Pre-Policy Traffic
  3. CBQoS resources can now be added to NPM Interface detail pages
  4. You can now specify the default flow direction for details pages on the NTA website
  5. Updated applications table
  6. Updated BGP Autonomous System (AS) table
  7. Matching of flows to different IP Addresses than the one being managed by NPM

 

RC builds are made available to existing customers prior to the formal release. These are used to get customer feedback in production environments and are fully supported. If you are interested in participating and you have active maintenance, simply fill out this survey:

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/T9WH82L

 

Below are some screenshots to see the new features of NTA for monitoring your network traffic. But if you really want to see more, request and install the RC today!

 

 

 

CBQoS Reports – Top 100 CBQoS Drops for the Last 24 hours

 

These reports can be modified in the Report Writer just like any other standard Orion Platform report.

 

image

 

 

 

CBQoS Alerts – CBQoS Drops

 

The alerts for NTA network traffic monitor are all customizable in the Advanced Alert manager.

 

image

 

 

 

Adding CBQoS resources to NPM Interface Details views

 

Customize the page, Click  you will find the new resources under the “NetFlow CBQoS – Resource for NetFlow CBQoS Views”

 

image

 

 

 

SNAGHTML10c30ac1

 

 

 

Changing the default flow direction

 

image

Riding on the heels of todays announcement I’m excited to announce the Release Candidate availability of Server & Application Monitor v5.0. For those of you who may not as yet heard, Application Performance Monitor (APM) has been officially renamed Server & Application Monitor (SAM) to reflect new product features and enhancements centered around server health monitoring.

SAM 5.0 retains all the great application performance and availability monitoring you already know and love but has now grown to include server hardware health and real-time performance monitoring. All existing APM customers under active maintenance will receive the SAM 5.0 upgrade at no additional cost when it’s officially released. For now, we welcome these customers looking to get in on the action early, to sign-up to download the SAM 5.0 Release Candidate.

In an Application Performance Monitor 5.0 Beta – Sign up now I provided a sneak peek into some of the killer new features we’ve been working on for the launch of the new Server & Application Monitor v5.0. As the new name implies, many of the new features in this release center around server health and performance monitoring. Since your organization’s critical business applications run on servers, application availability can be negatively impacted by a failure of any of the servers internal components. Properly monitoring your servers hardware health is just as important as monitoring the applications that run on them.

Monitoring your server’s hardware health in SAM 5.0 is as simple as clicking a button. Or in the case of the Network Sonar Discovery, completely auto-magical. To manually enable or disable hardware health monitoring for an existing node, simply click the image button located in the Node Details Resource. Then check the checkbox next to image to enable hardware monitoring for the node. You’ll find this automatically checked by default for any newly added nodes that support hardware health monitoring.

image         image

Once you’ve enabled hardware health monitoring for the node you should see the new Hardware Details, Current Hardware Health and Hardware Health chart resources pictured in my Application Performance Monitor 5.0 Beta – Sign up now on the Node Details page of the monitored server.

Additionally, we’ve made excellent use of the information collected via the Real-Time Process Explorer. Occasionally I’m asked by a customer why they’re seeing high CPU, Memory, or Virtual Memory utilization on their server, but none of their monitored applications show unusually high resource utilization. In almost all cases this is because the offending process is not currently being monitored by SAM. So how does one gain visibility into those unmonitored processes that might be negatively impacting their overall system performance without monitoring each and every process? This was one of the challenges we addressed with the Real-Time Process Explorer. By providing real-time visibility into what processes are running on the server, and what resources they’re consuming, regardless of their managed/monitored state, you can effectively troubleshoot performance issues in real-time from the SAM web console. But we didn’t stop there.

If you’re anything like me you don’t camp in front of your APM/SAM web console 24x7, and you rely on alerts to notify of things that either need your immediate attention, or require further investigation. So in SAM 5.0 we added three new out-of-the-box alerts for high CPU, memory, and virtual memory that includes a listing of the top 10 offending processes by metric.

image

You can easily enable these alerts from within the Advanced Alert Engine. The only configuration required is a valid email address and the IP address of your SMTP server. Once you’ve enabled the alerts you will receive detailed process information provided through the Real-Time Process Explorer when thresholds defined in the alert trigger condition are exceeded. Below is an example email based on the “High CPU Utilization with Top 10 Processes” alert.

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Now when it’s 3am and you receive a high CPU utilization alert you’ll have all the necessary information to make an informed decision about what to do next.  If it turns out just to be the nightly backups kicking off, or a scheduled antivirus scan of the server, you can safely rollover and go back to sleep.

Also in my previous blog posting I briefly touched upon SAM’s added support for managing Windows nodes via WMI, eliminating the need to enable or configure SNMP (or anything else for that matter) on your Windows servers. WMI is enabled by default for all Windows hosts, so this should significantly reduce deployment time and ease management overhead associated with SNMP. 

In addition to allowing you to managing nodes via WMI, we’ve included the ability for you to leverage these same WMI node credentials for applications assigned to those Windows hosts. Anywhere you have the option to specify credentials for an application template or component monitor, you also have the the option to utilize the existing WMI credentials already used to manage the host. This is shown below as <Inherit Windows credential from node>.

image

In the case where you may be assigning an application template to a mix of WMI and SNMP/ICMP nodes, the Add New Application Monitors wizard allows you to easily utilize the existing Windows credentials for WMI nodes, as well as allowing you to designate specific credentials, or inherit credentials from the template for SNMP and ICMP nodes. This simplifies the credentials juggling workflow process so it’s easy to understand precisely which credentials are being used for each node the application template is being assigned to. 

image

The ability to leverage WMI node credentials when assigning application templates also allows you to manage these credentials from the node itself. This is especially helpful in workgroup environments, or where domain credentials simply aren’t allowed due to policy, or security concerns. Should the password you’re using to monitor the server and the applications running on it expire or change for any reason, you need only update the WMI credentials for the node, and any application templates assigned to that node that are inheriting their credentials will also be updated. That’s server and application management simplified!

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