This is the first post in a series on how to get the most out of Web Performance Monitor. WPM is a powerful tool with some very useful features that might not be so obvious.



When you are making a recording in WPM, you may notice that everything was recorded without issue, but when played back the transaction always fails. Why is that? Most often the culprit is a JavaScript action which did not fire when played back. Everything works just fine in your browser, but for some reason the transaction always fails in the WPM player.


Imagine the simple case of a menu dropdown which is effectively a hidden element on a website. There are web pages which load such menus dynamically, so it’s impossible to locate that element on the page before you trigger the appropriate JavaScript handler. Another example is a dynamically generated ID for an HTML element like menu items. It’s always different, making it impossible to reference.


How can we go about recording edge cases like these in Web Performance Monitor? Let’s take a look.


One way to address this problem is to use your keyboard for navigation instead of the mouse. Try using the tab or arrow keys to move around the page and use the space bar to select and de-select checkboxes. This way, instead of WPM referencing static element IDs, you can navigate to the correct element with a series of key strokes.


In the case where you are testing the general availability of the website or application versus specific features or links on a page, consider using alternative navigation paths to reach the page you want. It is often the case that certain pages are navigable from multiple points on the website. Use the simplest way to reach a page or do an action, especially if it’s not necessary to test a navigation option that requires JavaScript.


On the following screenshot you can see examples of three different links to the Solution Finder on There are two static links directly on the web page (marked in yellow) and one through a dynamic JavaScript menu (marked in blue).




Another option is to leverage native keyboard commands supported by some applications. For example, Gmail supports keyboards shortcuts like “c” to compose a new message, “r” to reply to a message or “e” to archive it. WPM normally records only keyboard actions related to forms and navigation around forms, so you might need to enable XY mode to record all of your keyboard actions and thus these keyboards commands. We will talk more about XY mode later.


Another option which might make your life easier is a neat trick with using “ctrl-shift” during your recording. If you hold these keys during your recording, WPM will record extra steps like mouse-over or mouse-down, helping you to record the display and subsequent click of menu items. WPM doesn’t normally record all possible events on the webpage. This is to prevent unnecessarily long recordings in most cases; however, sometimes you’ll actually want all steps recorded and using this keyboard combination allows for that.


On the screenshot below you can see actions that are recorded using ctrl-shift while randomly wandering around the main Google page with the cursor.




If all else fails, use XY mode. XY mode simulates mouse actions at the operating system level (as mentioned another characteristic of XY mode is, that it also records all keyboard actions). Because of this, there is no feedback to WPM that the mouse action actually worked. Therefore, always combine XY mode with some other validation (textual or image validation) on the page. XY mode will send mouse click actions to the defined absolute coordinates and thus helps you if for whatever reason JavaScript actions are not firing. Because XY mode uses absolute coordinates and webpages are constantly changing, elements on the page can often move so it's safer to avoid XY mode until you’ve exhausted other options. Your transactions will be more stable and easier to maintain.



WPM records all of the actions you make in the browser, intentional or not. In addition, user navigation on the webpage isn’t mechanically precise. Users can wander around the page with a cursor, or unintentionally point to various objects, all of which can trigger actions that you may not want to be recorded by WPM. All of that noise is later played back every time WPM interacts with the application.


This can of course cause prolonged response times. These types of recordings are also more prone to failures. In addition, webpages change over time, making it harder to maintain your recordings.


On the next screenshot you can see that I only moved the cursor over a menu dropdown on and it generated several other mouse over events.




For these reason it is best to keep your transactions minimalistic and clean. Use only actions which are necessary to verify the application is up and that the monitored functionality works. To keep your recording clean, either re-record it a few times until you find an ideal set of user actions, or manually remove and modify any recorded steps that need it.


In the next post we will look at how to master using WPM remote players and share some more tips and tricks on how to create more stable recordings.



I have had number of customer interviews lately and the most common question which arises quite often is, I have Orion Network Atlas why do I need another network mapping software?

To answer this question, we got to understand what use-cases these two applications solves.

Orion Network Atlas

Is a powerful tool built for creating custom network maps and diagram. It is a semi-manual network diagramming software which allows users to design and draw physical & logical topology diagrams by manually placing discovered nodes on to the map canvas. Using the Connect Now button the application automatically draw connections between the nodes.

SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper

Is an automated Network Mapping software. The software is built to create dynamic topology diagrams/maps by using its powerful auto-discovery engine. It can automatically discover, map, provide inventory and document your specific network environment. Network Topology Mapper is a replacement to its earlier network mapping application called LANSurveyor


With Network Performance Monitor (NPM) one monitors key devices, interfaces, etc. and not every single object in your environment. But, maybe you want a complete topology map of your network environment (example: Workstations, Printers, Hubs etc) for documentation purposes or to know what’s on your network and represent those devices on you Orion Web console, without actively monitoring them. With the combination of SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper (NTM) and Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM), now you can have your cake and eat it too!


Network Topology Mapper has the capability of exporting the network diagram it has discovered and rendered to Network Atlas and Vice Versa. Once imported, the user has the choice to add the nodes identified in NTM into the Orion database or simply display the identified nodes. The application, provides two ways to export your maps/diagrams into Network Atlas

  • One-Time Export: You can easily export your discovered map to Network Atlas using the following flow File – Export – Network Atlas. Choose from
    • Open directly in Network Atlas – This function will trigger the launch of Network Atlas in the background
    • Export as a Map – Choose this option if you want to save the map and bring it up into Network Atlas at a later stage.

        Note: For both these choices there is a need to save the map first and an option to secure your map by a password.


  • Schedule Export: Users can also schedule the export of NTM Maps into Network Atlas, there by staying ahead of network changes in your environment. In order to enable the scheduling function, setup the scheduling frequency in the Network Discovery Scan Wizard.


Choose on how you want to save the discovered results to bring up the map in Network Atlas. The available choices are


  • Automatically merge results with a map – This option will always merge the new discovered data with the old.
  • Manually select results to merge with a map - Users will need to choose the required map(s) to be displayed into Network Atlas from the available completed scans.
  • Save results as a new map – There will always be a new map created and saved with time-stamps.


Next, make sure Keep Network Atlas updated with these discovery results is ticked ON. Enter your Orion Server log-in details (where your active Network Atlas resides), make sure to test the credentials and hit the Set button. Hit on the  discover or update button to complete the wizard.



Open or Connect to Orion Network Atlas. An automatic map import window opens, choose the desired map file(s) from the list to be imported . Once completed, Network Atlas will pop up with a notification message informing you of how many objects are new to the Orion database (if any) and if you want to discover them.



If clicked Yes, Orion discovery will run. Upon completion the gathered data will be stored into the Orion database and these new identified objects will be actively monitored. If No, is chosen the nodes will be represented as unknown nodes into the Orion database.


I have a written a blog post on the subject How NTM integrates with Engineers Toolset, you can find more here. One can also call 3rd Party tools into the application. This integration, brings with it the advantage of troubleshooting and diagnosing problem on your network using network diagrams.



With just one-click, users can export their currently displayed network diagram to Microsoft Visio. From there on, the Visio file can be exported as a publication on to the Web.

The following Microsoft Visio versions are supported 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2013.

To receive updates on the Virtualization Manager  roadmap, JOIN thwack and BOOKMARK this page.

We are currently working on Virtualization Manager 6.1 and beyond.  Some of the items we hope to deliver:


Disclaimer:  Comments given in this forum should not be interpreted as a commitment that SolarWinds will deliver any specific feature in any particular time frame. All discussions of future plans or product roadmaps are base on the product teams intentions, but those plans can change at any time.


If you don't see what you are looking for here, you can always add your idea(s) and vote on features in our Virtualization Manager Feature Requests forum.

Wow, 2013 is flying by. It's already March, which means that SxSW is in full swing here in Austin, TX. The SxSW Interactive conference has grown into quite the major tech event and you can't swing a dead cat around here without hitting a budding entrepreneur trying to get you to download their super-cool new consumer mobile app in order to get into their party with free beer, food, and prizes (tough life, I know). Well, who says that the consumer market gets to have all the fun?!? SolarWinds has one of the best enterprise mobile apps around in Mobile Admin and I'm here to give you the low-down on some nifty features that you might not know about otherwise. (Sorry, no free beer in this article.)


Free Mobile Monitor for NPM or SAM


While I did just say no free beer, that doesn't mean that I would leave you without something fantastic to brag about to your friends. Just over a month ago, we launched Free Mobile Monitor for NPM or SAM which is a slimmed down version of Mobile Admin just for our SolarWinds NPM and SAM customers. The NPM integration and SAM integration with Mobile Admin have been covered in previous Product Blogs, so I won't go into detail here. However, from Mobile Admin, for both NPM and SAM, you can see Top 10 lists, receive and acknowledge alerts, manage and unmanage nodes, and more. This free product has been downloaded thousands of times already and is available in the Customer Portal, so get in on the action! Did I mention it's Free?!?



Mobile Admin Deployment and You


Mobile Admin has a Mobile Client, which you install on your smartphone or tablet, and a Mobile Admin Server, setup behind your firewall or in your network's DMZ so it has access your back-end IT infrastructure. To illustrate the point, here is a basic diagram of how a standard Mobile Admin deployment looks (Note: your deployment may differ, for example, a BlackBerry Enterprise Server is not required):




With this deployment architecture, Mobile Admin allows you to carry your IT infrastructure with you in your pocket, allowing you to resolve problems on-the-go, wherever you may be. Whether you have to reset an Active Directory password for a locked out VP at 3AM or SSH into your Cisco router to troubleshoot from the road (as a passenger!) or much more, Mobile Admin can help. But getting it setup for you and your team is the first step.


Users, Hosts, and Global Folders - Oh My!


Say your the lucky devil who gets to setup and deploy Mobile Admin for the rest of your on-call rotation team. We've given you some tools to help make this easy to setup and deploy as possible. First, you have to know about the three main concepts in Mobile Admin.


  1. Users - The folks on your team. The guys doing the dirty work. The heros of the day, resetting passwords from the mobile phones without batting an eye (or leaving the dinner table).
  2. Hosts - Your servers, routers, switches. Things with an IP address and a power cable.
  3. Global Folders - You guessed it - Folders. But important for helping you to manage items #1 and #2.


Global Folders are very useful as you add users and servers to Mobile Admin. In your IT environment, you have tens, hundreds, or thousands of servers and other nodes in your environment you'd like to manage. Without some way to sort those, a flat list could get unwieldy pretty quickly. Folders not only let you sort your servers and nodes (e.g. Exchange Servers, Oracle DB Servers), but it also lets you assign users to these folders so that other users of Mobile Admin only have access to what they need or are authorized for.


Global Folders can be accessed from the Mobile Admin Configuration page. Once on the Configuration page, just select Global Folders, which will then display a list of all Global Folders you have currently defined on the Mobile Admin Server. As you can see in the screenshot below, I only have one folder, MyGlobalFolder, defined. I can add another folder by clicking on Add Folder, inputting a new folder name and voila!

3-13-2013 10-58-38 PM.png3-13-2013 10-59-35 PM.png3-13-2013 11-00-33 PM.png3-13-2013 11-00-53 PM.png

Now that my new Global Folder is created, it's simple to add hosts to the folder. Just click "Add Servers," multi-select which servers you'd like to add and your done.


3-13-2013 11-01-25 PM.png3-13-2013 11-05-24 PM.png


Now that I have my servers added to my Global Folder, I can select which users I want to have access to that Folder by clicking "Users" (which shows me there are currently no users assigned to this folder) and then "Add User." Select your users, like you did servers above and your done!

3-13-2013 11-07-36 PM.png3-13-2013 11-08-38 PM.png3-13-2013 11-09-36 PM.png



Mobile Admin Database Administration....with cheat codes


"Well, Balki, that's all well and good, but my environment has hundreds of nodes and tens of users, and there is no way I'm walking through that process hundreds of times" I can hear you say. Yep. Totally agree. If you've read this far, congratulations, you're about to get the prize. The Mobile Admin Dev team is all over it and Mobile Admin currently ships with a data import tool for exactly this process. What, you haven't seen it? Well, that's because it's buried in one of your install folders. <Program Files>\SolarWinds\Mobile Admin\bin\MAdbLoad to be exact. With this script you can automate all of the above steps en masse. How does it work, you say? Glad you asked:


Usage: MAdbLoad.exe [-clear] [-servers file] [-si n] [-sharedFolder name] [-users file] [-ui n] [-ubi n] [-uei n] [-udomain domain]

where file is the name of a comma separated file. Each line of the file represents a row of data for one server or user. Each row of data contains one or more comma separated fields, with the server or user name appearing in the same field on each row. If a value contains commas then it must be quoted. The command line specifies which field to get the server or user name from.


Explanation of options:

-clear Clears the current list of servers in mobile admin.  With no -clear specified, then servers are appended.

-servers Specifies a file of server names that will be loaded. If the servers file is a - character then standard input is read. The same CSV rules apply to standard input supplied data. Server names are stripped of all preceding and trailing white space.

-si Specifies the field number of the server name in the csv file with the first field being field 1. Defaults to 1.

-sharedFolder Specifies a name of a shared folder that the servers will assigned to.

    1. If the shared folder does not exist then it is created. Use double quotes if the shared folder name contains a space.

-users Specifies a file of users account names that will be either assigned to the shared folder if a share folder is specified or assigned to the servers in the server file. If a user is not a Mobile Admin user then it is added. If no users file is specified then the default is all users. The user Windows account name must be prepended with domain name that contains the Windows account name or the -udomain option must be used to specify the Windows account name domain.

-udomain Specifies a domain to prepend to all user Windows account names in the users file.

-ui Specifies the field number of the users name in the CSV file with the first field being field 1. Defaults to 1.

-ubi Specifies the number of lines to ignore at the beginning of the users file. Defaults to 0.

-uei Specifies the number of lines to ignore at the of the users file. Defaults to 0.

-v Prints the version. An attempt to log into the database is also performed, useful for checking database credentials.


Here are several examples of using the script to demonstrate:


madbload.exe -clear - Wipes out the current server list.

madbload.exe -servers fileName -clear - Load a list of servers with all users assigned to manage. Useful for a bulk load of servers for all users.

madbload.exe -servers fileName -users fileName - Append a list of servers and assign a list of users to manage those servers. Useful for when a new server is to be added for a list of users.

madbload.exe -servers fileName -sharedFolder someName -clear - Load a list of servers into a shared folder with all users assigned to manage. Useful to wipe out current server list, load new list in a Global Folder and assign all users to the Global Folder.

madbload.exe -servers fileName -sharedFolder someName -users fileName - Append a list of servers into a Global Folder and assign a list of users to manage the Global Folder. Useful if a new user is to be added to Mobile Admin to manage a new Global Folder.


And that's pretty much all folks. Hope that makes your life a bit easier...and a little more mobile.

SolarWinds is excited to introduce to you the latest and greatest in network discovery and mapping tools: SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper. Network Topology Mapper (or NTM for short) scans your network and provides a detailed and accurate map of your environment- and it looks good to boot. Since NTM is a visualization tool, the below video will likely do more justice to the end result than I can with mere words:



All too often with automated topology mapping products, you run a discovery, and it creates a map that looks something like a big Ferris-wheel. Cool looking? Maybe. Useful? Not so much. NTM was designed first and foremost to generate a map that gets you as close possible to the final diagram you would want to show to someone, and let you do the detail work from there.

3-7-2013 1-37-33 PM.jpg



We’ve also tried to make the manual manipulation of nodes as easy as possible, by letting you select by node role (router / switch / server / etc) and hide devices that are just generating clutter.

3-7-2013 1-48-19 PM.jpg

And of course you can export to Visio for those final touches, or to Network Atlas to use in NPM.

3-7-2013 3-14-461 PM.jpg

Once in Network Atlas, you can further manipulate the map, overlay NPM node data, and create nested maps.


But wait, there’s more…



NTM also has some unique features that let you get an even
better picture of your (or your client’s) environment:


  • Support for link aggregation                                                                          3-7-2013 1-47-17 PM.png
  • Mapping VMWare guest OS’s to the host
  • Spanning tree reporting
  • Reoccurring scheduled scans
  • “Unidentified Nodes”


Let me spend a moment on “Unidentified Nodes.” We’ve all encountered the circumstance where some rogue devices get plugged into the network, usually taking the form of a 5-port “Linksysco” sitting undersomeone’s desk. These unmanaged devices may have a dozen other systems daisy-chained behind them.


3-7-2013 1-58-25 PM.jpg

We had some pretty bright people spend quite a bit of time trying to figure out how we can determine if these devices are present, and also how to figure out what is plugged into them. What we call “unidentified nodes” in the product represent these unmanaged devices. We know they’re there, we know what’s plugged in, we just can’t talk directly to them to determine all the details. Depending on the amount and type of data we can gather from other devices that are attached to this “unidentified node”, we may be even able to tell you what port on the mystery device is connected to a device we know about. Is it perfect? No, it depends on the amount of data we can gather from other devices, but it’s pretty darn good.








What about LANSurveyor?



Those of you acquainted with the SolarWinds product line may recall we have had a product that performed topology mapping previously- the venerable LANSurveyor. Unfortunately the platform LANSurveyor was built on was getting a bit long in the tooth, and it is with much sadness that we have put LANSurveyor out to pasture. Current LANSurveyor customer should have received an email with the details, but if there are any questions just ping your sales rep.

We have completed the bulk of the development effort and are now focused on testing the latest release of Network Configuration Manager (NCM); NCM v7.2 has reached Beta status. This is your chance to install the latest version and provide feedback on the new features and fixes. Providing feedback during the beta is the best way to ensure that your feedback will be incorporated in to the release. To participate, simply fill out this survey and you will be sent the download links for the Beta. Remember, Betas cannot be installed in production and you cannot upgrade the Beta to any other future versions.


The following enhancement have been added to NCM:

  • Continue moving functionality from Win32 client to Web UI
    • Job management (Windows Task Scheduler not used anymore)
    • Config management (edit, delete, set baseline)
    • Possibility to test device login credentials
    • Import config from file
  • Provide End-of-Life information for managed devices.
  • Multiple global connection profiles
  • The execution of Config Change Templates can be scheduled.
  • Change Approval System enhancements
    • Approved requests to be executed at specified date/time
    • Approved requests to be returned to requestor for execution
    • Requesters can see a history of what they requested and was approved
    • Approvers can see a history of what they approved
  • SNMPv3 -- Support of AES-256 encryption
  • Make downloaded configurations searchable for IP addresses with FTS enabled.


Continue Moving Functionality from Win32 Client to Web UI


Job Management

The Job management UI has been migrated from the Win32 application to the Web UI. Jobs are executed within Orion Platform infrastructure; there is no dependence on the Windows Task Scheduler anymore.

The summary page allows you to perform basic tasks like create, delete, enable/disable, or edit a job. You can also inspect the log for each job.




There is wizard that helps you with editing jobs. Schedule can be entered either using user-friendly, intuitive controls (basic setup):



Or there is advanced mode that gives you more flexibility. If you are familiar with CRON, then it will not be difficult for you.



After you go through all the steps, you can review job details again to ensure correctness of the properties.



Config Management

You can edit config, delete it or set baseline in the Web UI.




Import Config from File

NCM node details page gives you the same options plus you can import config from a file.




Possibility to Test Device Login Credentials

You can now test the assigned device login credentials when you edit node properties. The session is captured to help you troubleshoot problems.






Provide End-of-Life Information for Managed Devices

This lookup tool will search through nodes and return suggested results for End of Sales and End of Support dates. All results will need to be confirmed and assigned manually by selecting one or more nodes and clicking on the "assign" button. If no information is available, there is an option to manually enter data and assign it to a node, or quickly bulk assign to a selection of many nodes.

You can filter the data according to different parameters and export the results as an Excel sheet or a CSV file.




You can either assigned the EoL item just to a single node,




or select multiple nodes in the Bulk Assing menu.




Multiple Global Connection Profiles

You can define multiple connection profiles in NCM settings. Some of them can be marked as "auto-detect" (see below).

NCM-Connection-Profiles-Summary.PNG NCM-Connection-Profiles-Edit-Profile.PNG


The connection profile can be selected on the node properties page.




If you select "Auto Detect", NCM will try all profiles marked as "Auto Detect" in the setting when connecting to the device.




The Execution of Config Change Templates Can Be Scheduled

You can choose "Schedule" as execution methind for Config Change Templates.




Config Change Templates are scheduled as any other job.




Change Approval System Enhancements


Approved Requests to Be Executed at Specified Date/Time Or to Be Returned to Requestor for Execution

You specify date and time or chose "Return to requestor" when requesting approval in the Web UI. Requestor's view on the left, approver's on the right:


NCM-CCA-Requestor.png NCM-CCA-Approver.png


Approvers and Requestors Can See History of the Requests



SNMPv3 -- Support of AES-256 Encryption

This is an extension for better security; applicable especially to inventory reports.


Make Downloaded Configurations Searchable for IP Addresses with FTS Enabled

You can search configurations for IP adresses in the Web UI while using Full-Text Search.



The dust is still settling after the blowout success of the SAM 5.5 release earlier this week, but that doesn't mean it's time to rest on our laurels. In fact we're hoping the next release is even bigger than the last! With that said, below is a list of some of the bigger items the mad scientists in the lab looking at cooking up.


  • Improvements in SQL Server Database Monitoring
  • Server Asset & Inventory Management
  • Real-Time Windows Event Log Viewer
  • Statistical Baselining with Automatic Recommended Threshold Calculations
  • Disk I/O Performance Metrics for Monitored Processes and Services
  • Web Services Monitoring for SOAP & JSON
  • Host Header Support for HTTP/HTTPS User Experience Monitors
  • Update all Remaining Charts to New Charting Library
  • User Auditing of SAM Configuration Changes and Remediation Actions
  • Additional macros for script monitors
  • Reduce product license key management overhead associated with major version upgrades and maintenance renewals


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!

While Alert Central is no longer supported, SolarWinds does offer Pingdom as a great monitoring solution.


| Pingdom

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