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If you're running Server & Application Monitor (SAM) or Network Performance Monitor (NPM) then chances are you're already monitoring many of your servers critical components, such as CPU, Memory, and Virtual Memory utilization, as well as volume usage. If you're running SAM 5.x then you're probably monitoring your servers hardware health, too. These are all vitally important components that should be monitored, since they all contribute to the performance and availability of the servers, and the applications hosted on them.

 

In SAM 5.5 Beta 3 (now available) we've taken server monitoring to the next level. First, by expanding upon our server hardware health monitoring introduced in SAM 5.0, which included support for Dell PowerEdge, HP Proliant, IBM X-Series, and VMware ESX/i hosts. In this beta, you'll find added support for server blade chassis such as Dell's M1000e, HP's C7000 and C3000; because monitoring the chassis your servers are in is just as important as monitoring the servers themselves.

Dell M1000e.pngHP C7000.png

Next, we turned our attention to storage. Up to now SAM has had very limited visibility into storage beyond basic volume usage. To make matters worse, a paradigm shift spearheaded by Microsoft has changed how we look at and think about storage on Windows systems today. No longer are we bound by the limits of 26 letters of the alphabet when creating new volumes on our Windows systems. Windows Volume Mount Points make it possible to add storage wherever we need it. However, up until now it's been very difficult to monitor these Mount Points like traditional volumes.

 

Windows Volume Mount Point.png

So in SAM 5.5 beta 3 we added native support for Windows Volume Mount Points, and made monitoring them as simple as monitoring any other volume in Orion.

 

Mount Point List Resources.pngMount Points.png


But we didn't stop there. Today storage is the leading cause of server and application performance issues. Having visibility into storage volume performance, such as I/Os per-second, queued disk I/O, and latency, from within the SAM web console alongside other key performance indicators allows you to isolate where performance bottle necks are occurring on your server, and which applications are effected. So in SAM 5.5 Beta 3 that's exactly what we did.

 

  Disk Queue Length.png  Avg. Disk sec Transfer.png

Best of all, these new volume performance metrics simply appear on your Volume Details view. No configuration necessary for volumes already monitored via WMI. These new resources will also automatically appear for any new volumes, including Windows Volume Mount Points you chose to monitor after upgrading. Again, no configuration necessary beyond selecting the volume to be monitored.

 

Total Disk iOPS.png

 

If you're currently running SAM, and are under active maintenance, we welcome you to sign-up here and download the SAM 5.5 beta today. We'd love your feedback on the features we've implemented so far. For more information on some of the other features included in the SAM 5.5 beta, including the Windows Service Control Manager, please checkout my earlier blog post

As you probably know, Config Change Templates (CCT) are a very powerful feature of the Network Configuration Manager. On top of the Execute Script functionality, they add flow control statements such as conditions and loops. You can also use custom properties, define input parameters etc. -- please see More Automation in NCM: Usage of Variables and Custom Properties in Command Scripts and Config Change Templates for details. Just remember that your device must be inventoried in NCM in order to be targeted with Config Change Templates.

 

You can use one of the templates provided with NCM out of the box, import from thwack, or create your own from scratch. Today I would like to show you a few tips and tricks that you might find useful when creating your own, advanced templates.

 

How to Use Special Symbols in CLI Statements

Imagine you need to include the following command in a CLI statement of your CCT:

 

show clock | append disk0:show_tech

 

You can not do it directly -- the pipe symbol breaks the script. Here is the trick:

 

script BaseChangeTemplate(NCM.Nodes @ContextNode)

  string @PipeSymbol='|'                               Define a string variable to carry the special symbol.

  CLI

  {

    show clock @PipeSymbol append disk0:show_tech      Place the variable in the command.

  }

}

 

The same trick can be used for other special characters such as the '@' symbol.

 

How to Add Variables to CLI Statements

You may want to include certain variables, that you normally use e.g. in device templates, in your CCT. This approach helps you keep your template as device-independent as possible. Additionally, you can include e.g. IP address (of your TFTP server, for example) in a clean way which will not make you modify the CCT source code when this IP address changes. The trick is basically identical to the previous case. The following fragment can be used e.g. when handling firmware.

 

script BaseChangeTemplate(NCM.Nodes @ContextNode)

  string @myTFTPImage='${StorageAddress}' + '/image.bin'    ${StorageAddress} is the IP address of TFTP server that comes with NCM. It is used e.g. in device templates for config downloads.

  CLI

  {

    copy tftp://@myTFTPImage flash                          You do not have to hard-code the IP address in the command.

    ...

  }

}

 

Resulting script:

copy tftp://${StorageAddress}/image.bin flash

 

Using Custom Properties in CCTs

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


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

Details about the use of custom properties in Config Change Templates is described in More Automation in NCM: Usage of Variables and Custom Properties in Command Scripts and Config Change Templates.

 

Configuring Specific Interfaces

A customer once asked how he could run a command on an interface with a specific IP address. (He wanted to set logging source interface on a Cisco router.) All you have to do is to iterate through interfaces and their IP addresses:

 

script BaseChangeTemplate(NCM.Nodes @ContextNode)

{

    foreach (@interfaceItem in @ContextNode.Interfaces)                        Iterate through all interfaces of the node.

    {

foreach(@ip in @interfaceItem.IpAddresses)                              Iterate through all IP addresses of that interface.

{

        if (@ip.IPAddress contains '10.199.2.1')                               Test the IP address.

        {

          CLI

          {

            logging source-interface @interfaceItem.InterfaceDescription       Set logging source.

          }

        }

      }

    }

}


Simultaneous Execution of CCTs

Last but not least, you can configure the number of devices for that can execute in parallel. In the Web UI (NCM v7.1), go to Settings -> NCM Settings -> Configs -> Config Transfer -> Simultaneous Downloads/Uploads.


NCM Config Settings


The default value is 10, i.e. when you run a template on 50 devices, the task will be carried out in 5 batches (10 devices each).

ITIL- What does it mean to you? No really, think about it for a moment- what role do ITIL practices play in your environment? Has your boss simply mandated all IT tools be “ITIL certified” without perhaps understanding the context? Or does your organization actually have an active interest in implementing ITIL processes and getting value out of the methodology? If you implement an “ITIL” tool, is the expectation that it will fix currently less-than-optimal business processes? If so, are you concerned with how long it will take to implement a new tool?

        

Keeping in mind what you want to accomplish with ITIL- let’s talk about what ITIL is. ITIL is a collection of processes. It is a means to an end, rather than the goal itself. While that could probably be turned into a good haiku, in plain English it means that instead of a single “certification” a product can conform to any number of processes to support the ITIL framework. For example:


  • Incident management
  • Change management
  • Problem management
  • Service-level management
  • Continuity management
  • Configuration management
  • Release management
  • Capacity management
  • Financial management
  • Availability management
  • Security management
  • Help desk management
  • Knowledge Management

 

 

Your organization may care about all of these features, or just a small subset. The key point here is that even “ITIL-certified” products may not have the features you are looking for and may only be “certified” in a particular area. Why are we using quotes around “certified” you may be asking? It is because ITIL itself (or rather the Cabinet Office of Her Majesty’s government that administers the ITIL standard) does not offer certifications for software products. There are third-party companies that charge a small-fortune to provide “certification” of a product, but the certification does not come from ITIL. Bottom line is just because a product is “ITIL Certified” it doesn’t mean they have all the processes or features you are looking for.

So where does Web Help Desk fit on the ITIL continuum? Web Help Desk supports the core of ITIL IT service management processes, and allows you to implement them quickly and easily.



 

The core of IT service management (or service management in general) is ticketing capability as it relates in an incoming flow of incidents. The incident ticket is then routed, has an SLA applied (or not) and is worked in innumerable ways. Incidents can be linked to Problems, Changes, as well as existing assets and the resulting knowledge or root cause can be captured in the knowledge base. Assets are tracked throughout their lifecycle and any changes or incidents related to them are automatically recorded. The Web Help Desk pragmatic approach to ITIL gives you the power of the ITIL framework, with the flexibility and ease of use to make it work for your environment. For more information on how Web Help Desk maps to ITIL processes, please visit: http://www.webhelpdesk.com/help-desk-software/itil/

Users have found Mobile Adminhttp://http//www.solarwinds.com/solutions/mobile-IT-administration-app.aspxincredibly useful for managing a wide-range of IT administration functions from resetting passwords in Active Directory while out to dinner to restarting VM's from their bedsides. But many SolarWinds customers have long cried out for the ability to monitor and manage their other Orion products from a user friendly native app. Well, we've listened to your requests and are now releasing Mobile Admin 8.0 with support for SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, Server and Application Monitor, Network Configuration Manager, NetFlow Traffic Analyzer, and User Device Tracker! Now some of you may recall macnugetz great post a few months back walking you through the support for Network Performance Monitor in Mobile Admin. Well, I'm happy to let you know that we've deepened support for Network Performance Monitor while also broadening it to the other products in the Orion family.

 

Rather than describe in words all the integration that our development team has built into the product, I thought I'd demonstrate by taking a look at how integration with Server and Application Monitor can help you track down and resolve issues in your environment while on the go:

 

A Mobile Walk Through Server and Application Monitor

 

1) Once you've setup Mobile Admin to monitor your installation of SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor, go into the SolarWinds service:

12-4-2012 11-21-59 PM.png

 

2) Dive into "Applications with Problems" to....you guessed it...see your applications with problems

11-29-2012 5-41-47 PM.png12-3-2012 10-05-40 PM.png

3) I see that there is a problem with the Sharepoint 2007 server LAB-SHAREPOINT.lab.tex so I dive in for more information:

12-3-2012 10-06-00 PM.png

4) I get a little bit of information here, but I can dive even deeper by launching the menu and selecting Components:

12-3-2012 10-06-15 PM.png12-3-2012 10-06-37 PM.png

 

 

5) I see that a number of my Component Monitors are down, some of them are up and others are in an unknown state. From here I can drill down into any component monitor to get even more information. For example, if I click on the "Single-sign On" monitor:

12-3-2012 10-07-03 PM.png

6) It appears that this monitor has never collected successfully. Now, here's the magic: While in the Server and Application Monitor, I am only 1-click away from fixing the issue on the actual node having problems. I simply go back to the menu and select "Open Node in Mobile Admin"

12-3-2012 10-07-33 PM.png12-3-2012 10-07-57 PM.png

7) When you open the node in Mobile Admin, I can launch any service available to me on that node. I can restart the server, ping it to see if it's responding, run debugging or configuration scripts or simply launch RDP, Telnet, VNC, or SSH sessions to debug the machine directly. And all of this power is in the palm of your hand, from your phone or tablet (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, iPad, Kindle Fire), wherever, whenever you are.

 

Just one more thing....

 

That's just a simple example of what's available within Mobile Admin. Obviously within this limited space, I can't go through all the cool integration we've built in detail. However, one of our intrepid developers built this handy flowchart that shows all the integration at a very high level (Thanks Vacek!):

MA-Solarwinds-Integration-Map-Color.png

 

I hope you'll explore all the new features available in Mobile Admin v8.0 for yourself! Mobile Admin 8.0 is available for download now in your Customer Portal for customers on active maintenance. I'd also love your feedback on how to improve integration with other SolarWinds services in the future!

The Storage Manager product team has been hard at work these last few months adding some killer functionality to the product. Storage Manager 5.3  includes the following improvements:

 

  • Support for EMC Isilon Arrays
  • New “Add New Device Wizard”
  • An overhaul of the Administrator's Guide (user documentation)
  • Improved support for IBM SVC Arrays
  • Improved support for EMC VMAX, DMX, and Symmetrix Arrays
  • New monitoring metrics and support for tiering data for EMC VNX / CLARiiON Arrays

 

We're most excited about our new support for EMC Isilon and for our new "Add New Device Wizard" so, without further ado, let's dive into it.

 

Storage Monitoring for your Big Data Environment

 

EMC bought Isilon Systems at the end of 2010. It is now clear that Isilon is EMC's major play in the Big Data space with the recent marketing efforts we've seen around the technology. Isilon has a very unique scale-out architecture that can be expanded to literally Petabytes of storage data in a single cluster (apparently Apple purchased a 12 Petabyte system just to store iTunes video). It appears that Isilon has a bright future in the storage marketplace and now you can use Storage Manager to help monitor this impressive storage system.

 

Main Console and other views for EMC Isilon:

12-5-2012 2-48-30 PM.png12-5-2012 2-55-05 PM.png12-5-2012 2-55-26 PM.png12-5-2012 2-55-45 PM.png12-5-2012 2-56-08 PM.png12-5-2012 2-56-45 PM.png

 

Easier Setup and Configuration with the New "Add a Device Wizard"

 

We've always tried to make it extremely easy to setup and configure Storage Manager to monitor your environment, but in v5.3 we're really proud of the work we've done to improve this flow across the different array vendors we support. Although SMI-S is a "standard," it is not a technology that is ready to use out of the box. Often you have to install and then configure an SMI-S provider to communicate with your array, which can be frustrating because depending on array type or vendor sometimes it's stand-alone software, sometimes it's embedded on the array, and sometimes it's part of the vendor's management software. Even finding where to get the provider can vary from vendor to vendor. With the new "Add a Device Wizard" combined with our streamlined documentation, we're hoping to ease that setup process dramatically.

 

But rather than talking about it. I'll walk you through an example of configuring an EMC CLARiiON array in the new version of Storage Manager. We begin on the standard Getting Started page:

12-4-2012 6-35-04 PM.png

I simply select "Add More" next to Storage Arrays to add my array. For those of you familiar with previous versions of Storage Manager, you may remember that there were multiple different ways to add arrays. Well, we've eliminated the confusing variation in workflows. Now you have one place to go to add all of your arrays to Storage Manager. When I click "Add More," I'm presented with a selection box to select my array:

12-4-2012 6-36-33 PM.png

 

Once I select my array, I'm brought to a customized page for my array type. We've done the legwork for you and determined how each vendor deploys their SMI-S providers and given you guidance on how to configure the provider, the array, and Storage Manager for each array type and vendor. This should help eliminate confusion around which IP address or credentials to enter (as the Provider and Array IP and credentials tend to be different for most environments).

12-4-2012 6-36-49 PM.png

To further streamline setup, we've created custom help document links as you can see in the Yellow Text Box above. If I click on that help link, I'm brought to the page below. The help document explains what SMI-S deployment looks like for this array family. Links in the page will take you directly to guidance on how to download, install, and troubleshoot configuration of the vendor's SMI-S providers.

 

12-4-2012 6-37-38 PM.png

We've heard repeatedly from customers that the link from Storage Manager to the vendor's provider can be troublesome. Whether due to stability, problems with configuration, or just wrong credentials, we've sought to remove that issue by placing an easy "Test Connection" button right on the page. This will verify that Storage Manager can indeed communicate with the SMI-S provider with the given IP address and credentials. If for some reason Storage Manager cannot communicate with the Provider, we will give you troubleshooting steps you can take to determine the root cause of the issue and then try again.

12-4-2012 6-45-54 PM.png12-4-2012 6-46-19 PM.png12-4-2012 6-52-08 PM.png

Storage Manager can communicate with the Provider...so all is done! Well, not so fast. Storage Manager is a very scalable architecture and while we would like to think we know what's best for everyone, only you know the exact layout of your environment. This is especially important when deciding how you are going to distribute load between the Storage Manager Server and Agents and also between the Agents and the Arrays they are going to monitor. The final step in the configuration process then is to just select which agent you'd like to communicate with this SMI-S provider. Note that a single SMI-S provider can monitor multiple arrays (although this again varies by array vendor and type) so this is not necessarily 1 Agent to 1 Array. Once you select the agent you'd like to use to monitor your arrays, select assign agent, and you're done!

 

As always, make sure that you've opened the appropriate ports (4319) in your firewall between the Storage Manager Server and Agent so the agent can send data back to the server. If your Storage Manager Server is monitoring the SMI-S provider directly, make sure that ports 5988 & 5989 are clear.

12-4-2012 6-52-35 PM.png12-4-2012 6-52-55 PM.png12-4-2012 6-53-09 PM.png12-4-2012 6-53-21 PM.png

 

We hope that this dramatically simplifies the configuration of Storage Manager for both new and old customers. Of course, we'd love your feedback on how we can make it even better!

 

Try out version 5.3 of Storage Manager today! It is now live in the Customer Portal for all SolarWinds customers on active maintenance. If you are not a customer, you can always download an eval or go to ourhttp://storage.demo.solarwinds.com/Live Demohttp://storage.demo.solarwinds.com/to try it out!

Just in time for Holidays is more goodness for Virtualization Manager.  The new version is available for all customers under maintenance in the Customer Portal, but if you are not a customer, you can always download an eval or go to our Live Demo to try it out!

 

What's New in Virtualization Manager

 

  • Virtual Desktop Dashboard - a dashboard dedicated to your desktops, allowing you to quickly see top consumers in your environment.  Combined with our new per-Socket licensing, this makes Virtualization Manager a perfect fit for your VDI environments.
  • More Hyper-V data - we've added more storage data in our Host and VM views.
  • Improved speed and scalability - lots of collection improvements have increased speed and scalability of our collection and GUI.
  • Many minor improvements (see the Release Notes for more info) - one example is our sorting objects in map views and widgets by alert severity.

 

We will expand on a couple features below.

 

Virtual Desktop Dashboard

If you have a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and need insight into your performance and capacity, our new dashboard is for you.  With it, you can:

  • Find out how many and what kinds of desktops are running in your VDI.

Desktop OS Breakdown.png  Desktop VM Count.png

 

  • Identify and alert on which desktops are consuming the most resources (CPU, Memory, Network, Disk)

Desktop VMs CPU Ready Latest.png  Desktop VM Memory Ballooning Latest.png

Desktop VM Network IO.png  Desktop VM IOPs.png

    

  • Identify which desktops are about to run out of space

Desktop VM Disk 95pct Full.png Desktop Datastore Low Free Space.png

 

  • Find capacity and performance issues at the datastore and cluster levels.

Desktop Cluster CPU Util Latest.png  Desktop Cluster Memory Util Latest.png

Desktop Datastore IO Latency Latest.png

 

Severity Ranking in Maps

Previously, our Map View and Map Widget would sort objects (datstore, VM, etc) in a way that could hide those with issues.  In this version, sorting is by severity so all your problems bubble up to the top.

  • Map Widget: Now your more severe issues appear at the top:

     Environment Map.png

 

  • Map:  Each widget in the map will bubble up the objects with the most severe alerts, so you can quickly find where your problems are, and who and what are being affected by them.  We also changed the object popup (see VM in image) to also show the most severe alerts first.

MapView1.png

 

That's all the goodness we have to show today, so give it a try and let us know what you think!

Customers can download Virtualization Manager from the Customer Portal, but if you want to try it, you can download an eval.

Good news, everyone! Log & Event Manager 5.5 is now available for download. Existing customers under maintenance for both LEM and SIM can download the upgrade on the Customer Portal, and if you're not yet a LEM customer, download the evaluation from our product page and check it out. There's a ton of changes especially for new and evaluating customers that'll help you get started with LEM.

 

I'll keep this post relatively short and instead send you to the previous blog post for the release candidate that covers all of the new features in detail: Log & Event Manager 5.5 Release Candidate is Here!

 

If you're new to LEM, an evaluating customer, or want to try LEM but hesitated before, you should check out version 5.5 because:

  1. You can get LEM installed and showing your syslog data faster than ever with our new connector auto-configuration/discovery
  2. You can spot issues in your data and see trends faster with our new top 10 and health widgets
  3. You can more quickly identify useful filters and track potential issues in real-time with the new default filters
  4. You want to deploy to Hyper-V on Windows 2012

 

If you've been a LEM (or SIM) customer for a while, you should check out version 5.5 because:

  1. You can mix and match real-time and historical data with the new top 10 widgets and spot agents or nodes that haven't been sending data lately with the new node health widget
  2. You can more quickly add new syslog devices and identify that new devices are logging (new "non-agent nodes" are added) with connector auto-configuration/discovery
  3. You have been confused by language and names within LEM, including things like "what's a tool or connector?" "why is it alert and not event? what's the difference?" and "what the heck is NATO5?", which is much more straightforward and consistent in this version
  4. You have experienced any issues or requested any features that are mentioned in our release notes such as:
    1. SNMP trap actions not working with thresholds
    2. SSL/TLS support for e-mail notifications
    3. Distinguishing between agent/non-agent nodes in the connected/disconnected nodes area
    4. Regularly spiking CPU on the LEM virtual appliance

 

Here's a couple of quick screenshots of the new features, borrowed from the previous post:

 

Node Health: see when an agent - or device - last sent events; and Top 10 Users: see the most frequent usernames present in your events (check out the other top 10 widgets for rules, events, and nodes)

http://thwack.solarwinds.com/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-159713-7439/405-306/LEM-55-NodeHealth.pnghttp://thwack.solarwinds.com/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-159713-7438/403-304/LEM-55-Top10Users.png

Connector Auto-Configuration/Discovery: quickly add new nodes and start receiving data without manual configuration steps:

http://thwack.solarwinds.com/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-159713-7443/620-387/LEM-55-NodeScanAddConnectors.png

New Default Filters: find what you're interested in faster, in categories that make sense and came straight from customers like you:

http://thwack.solarwinds.com/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-159713-7432/257-400/LEM-55-DefaultFilters.png

 

Be sure to check out the release notes and the previous blog post with lots of details.

 

For customers, you can find the download by going to "Choose Download" next to LEM in the Customer Portal/License Management, then selecting to download "Upgrade Package for Virtual and Hardware Appliance (includes Appliance, Console & Reports Upgrades) v5.5.0" from the grid.

 

Questions about this release? Comments about a new feature? Post them here as a reply to this post or in our Thwack discussion space: Log & Event Manager. Ideas for new features or want to put in your two cents on what you think we should do next? Post, vote, and comment over in our Thwack Ideas space: Log & Event Feature Requests.

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