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This past weekend, Skype was added to the collection of regularly published content available in the Patch Manager 3rd party updates catalog. Skype is a regularly updated product, and organizations that use Skype will likely benefit significantly from centralized management of these updates. For the current v5.x product, there have been at least 11 updates in 19 months since the release of 5.0 in October, 2010. There were 16 updates in 27 months for the v4.x product from July, 2008, to September, 2010.

 

Skype joins the other recent additions of Firefox ESR, Opera and Thunderbird, along with the staples of Reader, Flash, Java, Shockwave, Quicktime, iTunes, and Chrome.

 

You can download SolarWinds Patch Manager from here.

In case you missed Brandon 's post on the Blog, the title says it all: Say Goodbye to Your Pager: We’re working on a new, multi-vendor, centralized alert management product. We also need YOUR feedback about what devices you're using, how you manage alerts, and what you're interested in seeing with an alert management product.

 

The Cliff's Notes version of Alert Management is that you submit your alerts from various products to this system and it crunches the numbers against who is On Call and which group needs to address issues of that type to make sure the right person gets the hot potato. If the first person can't help or doesn't respond, it'll automatically escalate to the next person, or they can reassign to the group or person who might be better suited to help.

 

We're looking for everything from demographic info (how big is your team?) to how you'd like to receive alerts (smart phone? analog pager with a 4343 at the end for a good laugh? mobile app? just email?) to any thoughts you might have on the subject. We're all about building products for real IT folks, and Thwack is full of you! Those who fill out the whole survey and provide a little contact info will be entered in a drawing for a couple Amazon gift certs.

 

Here's the link to the survey over on SurveyMonkey: Centralized Alert Management Survey

 

Thanks!

The purpose of this blog is to provide basic explanation of how variables and custom properties can be used in NCM scripts. Both of them enable network administrator to

 

  • replace hardcoded statements by node-dependent values
  • execute actions on many devices automatically, which means reducing the amount of tasks that must be performed manually

 

Examples of activities you may want to automate are

  1. Using scripts
    • Downloading configuration files
    • Uploading configuration files
    • Uploading IOS images
    • Updating login banners
    • Updating access control lists (ACLs)
  2. Using config change templates
    • Changing VLAN membership by device port
    • Configuring device interfaces based on description
    • Enabling IPSLA for VOIP implementations
    • Managing NetFlow collection at the source devices

 

Custom properties enable you to attach additional information to your nodes to help you with e.g.

  • Organization – physical location of the device, its purpose / category, distinguishing between testing devices and those in production etc.
  • Bulk updates – create a custom property like ${NewIP}, populate with values and perform bulk update for all devices with one script.
  • Customer support (e.g. for MSPs) – support contact information per device, SLA type, contract number, etc.
  • Many other tasks where node-dependent information plays an important role.

 

Custom Properties Management

 

Custom properties must be first created using Custom Property Editor on your Orion server (Start -> All Programs -> SolarWinds Orion -> Grouping and Access Control -> Custom Property Editor).

 

You can either add some of the predefined properties, or build a property from scratch.

CP-Editor.PNG

Then you need to populate the newly created properties with values.You can do it manually

CP-Editor2.PNG

or import the values from a file.

CP-Editor3.PNG

 

For more information, please watch http://www.solarwinds.com/resources/videos/video-tutorial-managing-custom-properties-in-orion-npm.html.

 

Command Scripts

NCM-Web-Scripts.PNG

With the appropriate use of variables, a single script can be executed on several different devices, without concern for syntax differences. Scripts are delivered one line at a time to the target devices.

 

Variables and Custom Properties within Scripts

 

Variables and custom properties always begin with a dollar sign and a curly brace (${) and end with a curly brace (}).

 

Example: The following script contains commands with variables to remove the public read-only community string.

${EnterConfigMode}                         enter configuration mode – device-dependent
no snmp-server community public RO        
remove the community string – common for many devices
${ExitConfigMode}                         
exit configuration mode
${SaveConfig}                             
write configuration to memory
${Reboot}                                 
reboot the device

 

The script is parsed in a different way for e.g. Cisco IOS devices and e.g. a Dell PowerConnect switch. Device-dependent variables like the above ${EnterConfigMode}, ${ExitConfigMode}, etc. are defined in device command templates (located in <Orion directory>\NCM\Device Types).

 

Custom properties, previously created and populated in the Custom Property Editor, can be referenced in the same way – for example ${City}, ${Department}, etc.

 

More details, together with the list of predefined variables that can be used in command scripts, can be found in Orion Network Configuration Manager Administrator Guide.

 

Config Change Templates

 

Config Change Templates are even more powerful than the scripts alone; they have the power of a programming language that enables you to create very sophisticated config change routines.

NCM-CCT.PNG

Most fundamentally, the framework for creating config change templates depends on the SolarWinds Information Service (SWIS), an API installed with NCM that interacts with inventory data in the NCM database. Any device that has not been inventoried in NCM cannot be targeted with a config change template. Each object in a device inventory is a SWIS entity that can be referenced in specific ways within scripts.

 

Variables within Templates

 

Variables in config change templates always begin with an at sign, e.g. @TargetPorts. Variables that you can use are given by the input parameters that you specified for your template. Example:

 

script ConfigureVLANmembershipCiscoIOS (
NCM.Nodes @ContextNode,
NCM.Interfaces[] @TargetPorts,
NCM.VLANs[] @VlansToRemove,
NCM.VLANs[] @VlanToAssign
)


In our example, the variables that you can use in the body of the template are @ContextNode, @TargetPorts, @VlansToRemove, and @VlanToAssign.

 

Note: Each template must have at least one parameter – the node. Other parameters are optional and depend on what you want to achieve with the template.

 

As the declaration suggests, variables @TargetPorts, @VlansToRemove, and @VlanToAssign are arrays; you can iterate through them:

foreach (@portItem in @TargetPorts)
{
  CLI
  {
    …

 

Please note that @portItem is declared implicitly, i.e. when used for the first time.

 

Custom Properties within Templates

 

Custom properties are tied with nodes, and therefore can be referenced via the node parameter:

 

script BaseChangeTemplate (NCM.Nodes @ContextNode)
{
  CLI
  {
    show @ContextNode.MyCustomProperty
  }
}

 

Assuming we have created and filled in the AssetTag custom property for our devices, we can make use of e.g. it in the following way to change access lists:

 

script ChangeAccessList (NCM.Nodes @ContextNode)
{
  string @myip = '10.10.'
  @myip = @myip + @ContextNode.AssetTag        
here we make the asset tag part of the IP address
  @myip = @myip + '.32'                        
finish building IP
  CLI                                          
commands within a CLI block are sent to the device
  {
    configure terminal
    no access-list 112
    access-list 112 remark This is a test
    access-list 112 permit tcp @myip 0.0.0.31 host 123.234.123.234 eq 445      
include the IP with asset tag info in the access list
  }
}

 

For exhaustive information on config change templates, please see Orion Network Configuration Manager Administrator Guide.

Please join us for a free webinar with Scott Lowe, Founder and Managing Consultant at The 1610 Group, and SolarWinds virtualization expert Brian Radovich. We’ll be discussing “Performance Management and Capacity Planning in VMware® and Hyper-V® environments.”
Implementing a management solution that is designed specifically for VMware and Hyper-V environments is critical to ensure that you are monitoring the metrics and issues unique to virtual environments. In this presentation, we will discuss:

 

  • How virtualization affects each of the 4 traditional hardware resource areas
  • The top areas you should be looking at when choosing a management solution for your virtual environment
  • The reasons why you need to use management solutions that are designed specifically for virtualization.

 

Register now for this special event!

Microsoft has taken to increasing the complexity of some of their product auditing functions, starting with Exchange and SharePoint's auditing implementations in the 2010 versions. Gone are the days of simple configurations to log to the event log, here are the days of audit tables, databases, and API calls. This makes it difficult if you're someone who is moving content to SharePoint, already has content in SharePoint, or is looking to move toward SharePoint, and have audit or regulatory requirements. We've had a LOT of requests for SharePoint auditing and rather than build something, we've chosen to leave it to the experts.

 

In case you missed our Unveil SharePoint’s Audit Logs webinar (links to the slides in this post), we've partnered with the fine folks over at the Monterey Technology Group to become one of their SIEM partners with LOGbinder SP, a super useful SharePoint auditing utility. These are the same experts who are also responsible for bringing you Ultimate Windows Security - a site you should surely check out if you're interested in Windows event logs, auditing, and security.

 

Use LOGbinder SP for:

  • Pulling SharePoint audit activity out of the cryptic database and into the Event Log
  • Providing object & user names in SharePoint audit events
  • Managing SharePoint audit policies

 

Use LEM with LOGbinder for:

  • Alerting on SharePoint change activity (new administrators, permissions changes)
  • Auditing SharePoint item & object access, deletion, import, and export
  • Reporting on SharePoint activity for compliance
  • Viewing SharePoint audit activity in context with operating system, network device, and other application logs

 

I just uploaded some rules, filters, and reports for LOGbinder over on the Content Exchange that provides everything you need to get going on the LEM side. There's an integration guide in the Zip file that will explain how to install the files, which are all tailored to the LOGbinder SP event log data. You will need an agent installed on your SharePoint+LOGbinder system, you'll need to make sure you have either LEM version 5.4 or the latest product connectors installed, then it's just a matter of following the guide to get set up and start monitoring.

SolarWinds Synthetic End User Monitor (SEUM) offers a powerful and affordable solution for monitoring business-critical web transactions and web sites from the end-user’s perspective. Whether you are testing the impact of website changes or troubleshooting web application performance problems remotely, you don’t want to miss this session to learn how SEUM can save you countless hours!  And with v1.5, we make it quick and easy for you to deploy tests to the cloud and run synthetic transactions whenever you see fit!


During this session we discuss:

  • SEUM architecture
  • Best practices for monitoring websites/web apps
  • Recording a transaction
  • Deploying transaction players
  • And of course, what you get with SEUM!!
    • Stepwise transaction analysis
    • Distributed playbacks
    • Centralized management

 

LISTEN HERE  http://www.solarwinds.com/resources/webcasts/customer-training-synthetic-end-user-monitor-best-practices.html

There has been a lot of buzz around Systems Center 2012 in recent weeks.  Microsoft has made a lot of improvements to Operations Manager, in particular new capabilities for dashboarding, some network monitoring and application monitoring for J2E and .NET applications.  These improvements are great for large enterprises that have already invested their time and resources to getting SCOM deployed.   SolarWinds offers an easy-to-use, easy-to-implement product for monitoring your physical & virtual servers & applications, which is ideal for companies of all sizes who need visibility into their infrastructure & application environment.  Attend this ‘Back to Basics’ webcast to learn from a former SCOM admin how easy it is to monitor your server & application environment with SolarWinds.  This webcast will cover how to:

 

1) Deploy existing agentless templates, add community templates to your environment and how to augment out of the box templates to add additional performance metrics.

2) Customize dashboard views, leveraging dynamic service groups

3) View and create reports – no SQL experience necessary!

 

Presenters: Brandon Shopp, Director of Product Management; Jed Krisch, Manager, Technical Services, Carilion Clinic

 

WHEN: May 24, 2012

TIME: 11:00 am CDT

REGISTER:       https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/449309240

TheLEMBoat.jpg

We're pretty excited about our latest Log & Event Manager release, version 5.4. We've packed a ton of good stuff in this release in typical SolarWinds "You Asked, We Listened" fashion. You can check out the Release Notes for all the details, but here's the slightly more descriptive version. For those of you curious about the picture, it's a shot of the first piloted Mercury spacecraft (just a little less roomy than the Love Boat, only room for a ship's complement of 5).

 

Appliance Improvements: Hyper-V, Migration, & Resize

 

We've spent a little time improving our virtual appliance support after tons of great customer feedback. With this release we officially support Hyper-V 2008 R2 and have provided an evaluation download just for Hyper-V.

 

In addition, we've expanded our migration & restoration capabilities (for both hardware and virtual appliance customers), should you find yourself in the situation where you need to:

  • stand up an entirely new appliance
  • migrate from the TriGeo hardware appliance to the LEM virtual appliance (or a VMware appliance to a Hyper-V appliance)
  • recover settings after an outage

 

There's a great KB documenting the appliance migration process: SolarWinds Knowledge Base :: How to import settings from a SIM or LEM appliance backup to another appliance

 

Lastly, we've made it possible to expand the virtual appliance beyond the default 250G, by popular demand. You'll find those instructions in yet another awesome KB: SolarWinds Knowledge Base :: How to resize a LEM virtual appliance

 

A Browser-Based Console! Hooray!

As we've had our Flex/AIR console in the wild for over 2 years now, we heard from a lot of people who really wanted to run it in the browser. As a part of the SolarWinds family, we've heard this even more, and we put it at the top of our list for this release.

 

LEMConsole-Browser.png

 

There's only a few differences between the two related to importing/exporting settings, file operation dialogs, popups, and things that in the desktop console are in a separate window, otherwise they are functionally identical. We haven't ended support for the desktop console (and we've included it in the upgrade for those of you that already have it), but response from the RC was that even long-time desktop console users were pretty happy with the move to the browser. Customers interested in moving to the browser-based console from the desktop console should upgrade their desktop console to the new version, Export their desktop settings (all of them!) from Manage > Appliances (gear on the far right), then Import them into the web console from Manage > Appliances (gear on the far right).

 

Make sure you're running a supported browser AND flash version BEFORE launching the console, there's some misbehavior with older versions of some browsers and Flash. We officially support:

  • Chrome 17+
  • Firefox 10+
  • IE 8+
  • Flash Player 11+

 

For those of you with NPM, SAM, or other Orion-based products, you can add the LEM console as an External Website view and have them all in one browser tab/window.

 

Authenticate to LEM via Active Directory

For those of you tired of managing dedicated accounts for your LEM users, we can down pull in those users (or groups) from AD and use them rather than requiring you to manage both places independently. I blogged on this one pretty extensively in the RC Post and there's some instructions/notes on it in the KB: SolarWinds Knowledge Base :: How to create LEM console users with domain credentials.

 

Send/Receive SNMP Traps from SAM, NPM, Virtualization Manager, and LEM

We've added a new notification to LEM - Send SNMP Trap - to let you correlate data in LEM and pass that on to other systems. We've also added a connector that is designed to gather data generated from NPM, SAM, and Virtualization Manager and present it to you in LEM, so you can correlate and monitor that activity in the context of your other systems & event log data.

 

Some examples of how this is useful:

  • If LEM correlates an issue, you can send the notification to SAM/NPM, where it'll appear in the SNMP Traps section of the system, and you can perform root cause analysis from the SAM/NPM side to determine if there was a security or other event found in the log data around the time your issue started.
  • Rather than using SAM/NPM to receive ALL your event log, syslog, and other data, use LEM and forward only the critical/useful events on to the teams that need them.
  • Notify and forward events to third party systems (outside of NPM/SAM) to share data across your organization.

 

There's setup details on this one in the previous RC Post, too.

LEM-Orion.png

Orion-Traps.png

 

Videos, Help, & Manuals

We've spent a lot of time listening to customers who have had to spend time wrapping their brain around LEM as a pretty flexible, but naturally complex, system. For a lot of people, this is the first time you're seeing all your log data consolidated in one place and it feels a little (or a lot) overwhelming. Rest assured, you're not alone. We've done our best to add new content that we think will really help.

 

The first place you want to stop: our new Introductory (SHORT) Videos. These videos are meant to help you understand LEM, identify common tasks and tips, walk you through an example or two end-to-end, and help you decide when to choose one part of the system (or method) over another. Each one is around 5 minutes long. For those of you who want more details, we go through a TON of examples and all of the parts of the system in our Advanced Videos/Tutorials (best enumerated here on Thwack), but those can run more like 20 minutes.

 

We've also been cooking up a new User Guide (HTML) that has really useful content in it. The "Leveraging" sections will help you implement LEM for common tasks. There's a lot of good troubleshooting content we added based on YOUR feedback, and our InfoDev team did a complete restructure of the organization of the manual - losing 200 pages in the process (more effective than any diet, for sure!).

 

Fixes & Notes

There are a bunch of specific issues resolved that are noted in the Release Notes. Included in them are:

  • Event Explorer performance improvements. The Event Explorer is a super handy (often overlooked) tool for figuring out events around rules (why did this rule fire? what specifically occurred and when? what actions took place? who was notified?). Previous versions didn't always return results in a timely fashion, so we've spent some time ironing those issues out.
  • nDepth Explorer cancellation issues. Some customers reported the search-oops-cancel-search pattern caused never-ending searches - things weren't getting cancelled. We ironed these out and you shouldn't see any backlogged searches bogging down new ones.
  • Tool Profile synchronization issues. Sometimes the "Agents" list in Tool Profiles would show old hostnames, mismatched hostnames, and cause difficulties when you tried to tweak the profiles.
  • Improved copy/paste! This one probably drove some of you nuts, but we think we've resolved most/all of the copy/paste issues in the alert grids in Monitor.

 

Thanks & Feedback

We'd like to send a shout out to all of our RC participants - your feedback helped us tie the bow on top of a great release. For anyone who has additional feedback, feel free to post here on the forums or contact me directly.

 

As always, be sure to check out the Release Notes. There's also some detailed tips (noted above) about implementing several of our new features in the recent Log & Event Manager 5.4 RC Available blog, and be sure to check out the hot off the presses User Guide (HTML) also.

We're Taking You Back to the Basics of Log and Event Management

 

Everyone in the IT industry seems to talk about log and event management, but what makes it so important?  Is it really something we need to be concerned about?   Join SolarWinds Geeks (a.k.a. Sales Engineers) Chris Jeffreys (chris.jeffreys) and Rob Johnson, as they discuss the importance of log and event management, why it is so vital, pitfalls we’re likely to encounter and some possible solutions available in SolarWinds Log and Event Manager 5.4.  Topics to be covered include:

 

  • What is Log and Event Management?
  • Why is it so important?
  • What problems does it present?
  • How can we make it more manageable?
  • LEM 5.4 – How it can help

 

This session will discuss the importance of Log and Event Management, what needs to be done and how we can do it.

 

Who should attend?

  • Anyone curious about how Log & Event Management can help their IT organization better meet the needs of their business
  • IT organizations with compliance and security mandates that require log & event management
  • People overwhelmed by using event log, syslog, and other log data to help their organization get their jobs done
  • Anyone interested in how Log & Event Manager (and the new features in LEM v5.4) addresses these needs
  • Anyone who wants to learn why Logs truly are Better than Bad, they're Good.

 

DATES/TIMES:

 

This 60 minute FREE webcast will be offered at three times to accommodate different global regions. Click on "Register Now" to sign up!

 

North America/Latin America

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

11:00 a.m. CST  

REGISTER NOW

 

APAC

Thursday, 10 May 2012    

11:00 a.m. Singapore     

REGISTER NOW

 

EMEA

Thursday, 10 May 2012

2:00 p.m. London          

REGISTER NOW

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