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Announcing Mobile Admin 8.1 Release Candidate

 

It’s my pleasure to announce the Mobile Admin 8.1 Release Candidate. Mobile Admin 8.1 introduces several key improvements to Mobile Admin that were driven from feedback directly by you. If you’d like to participate in the RC, please fill out this short survey. Customers on Active Maintenance through Jan. 1st 2014 are eligible to participate in the RC. Without further ado, let’s dive into the new functions available in Mobile Admin 8.1!

 

 

 

Overhauled RDP - Now Supports Windows 8.x and Windows Server 2012

 

RDP is one of the most used services in Mobile Admin. It makes sense, given the full flexibility to address any issue you may find in your environment through the full desktop experience that RDP provides. Given the importance of this functionality, we are very happy to announce that as of Mobile Admin 8.1, we now support RDP connections to Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 machines.  You may ask why these versions of OS were different from an RDP perspective. Well essentially, Microsoft introduced a new version of the RDP API with Windows Vista and with Server 2012/Windows 8, they deprecated their old API, so our old implementation was unable to connect to those machine types. We also now allow you to connect to machines that have Network Layer Authentication enabled. The RDP Support does not just allow connection to machines with this specific configuration, but has been completely overhauled to allow for better usability and performance. These videos should give you a good overview of what you will see when using the new functionality.

 

Click to Play Video - New RDP OverviewClick to Play Video - New RDP Help
RDP-10-14.gifRDP-10-14-Help_Play.gif

 

 


iOS 7 Support

 

iOS 7 was the first major overhaul of Apple’s mobile operating system since the very first version was introduced. (For some comic relief, you might check out the Jony Ive Designs Things Tumblr) This overhaul introduced some major changes that we’ve addressed and released already on the App Store. With the official release of Mobile Admin 8.1, we will release another version update that addresses some minor lingering issues with the new OS. For the most part, users have related little or no issues using the new iOS client currently available on the App Store.  Happy Apping!

 

 

Improved SolarWinds Orion Integration

 

When SolarWinds acquired Mobile Admin, one of the most exciting opportunities for the product was to build a first class mobile experience for SolarWinds Orion inside of Mobile Admin. While I’ll be the first to admit that what we have isn’t perfect, I am excited to talk about a few additions to this integration in 8.1 that should significantly improve the value to those of you using Orion and Mobile Admin together.

 

Support for Orion Events

 

First, we added support for Orion Events inside of Mobile Admin. Although we supported Orion Alerts out of the gate with Mobile Admin, feedback from customers strongly suggested that Orion Events provided “the true state” of the system because it showed all of the state changes of the system in the recent past. You should see Orion Events from the main SolarWinds Service screen and once you drill into an event, you can navigate to the Node, Component, or Application associated with that Event to get more information.

 

OrionEvents_Play.gif

 

 

Second, on Node Details pages inside of Mobile Admin, we’ve always included an “escape hatch” URL to the Orion Web Console Mobile Views. This link would allow you view any information we didn’t provide natively inside of the Mobile Admin integration. However, if you had configured a custom URL for your Orion Web console that link wouldn’t be properly formed. In MA 8.1, we now support modifying the URL that Mobile Admin uses to build that link, including whether or not to use the port in case you’ve configured Orion to use port 80 instead of 8787. An improved usability feature is this link is now an actual hypertext link instead of just text with that odd chain icon that was there before.

 

CustomURL_Play.gif

 

Support for Filtering Orion Alerts and Creating Custom Real-Time Alert Feeds

 

Finally, I’m very excited to announce Alert Filtering for SolarWinds Orion. One of the most powerful features of Mobile Admin is the Real-Time Notifications Dashboard. Mobile Admin can take alerts from your heterogeneous monitoring systems in your environment, like SolarWinds Orion, and you can setup those alerts as “feeds” inside of Mobile Admin. Once you’ve setup the Mobile Admin Server to send Push Notifications to your phone, Mobile Admin becomes a real time alerting system that’s with you wherever you go and allows you to get critical alerts about your environment, whether or not you’re connected to network. One problem with the current alerting is that for an environment of any size, you may receive hundreds or thousands of alerts out of your Orion installation every day. With Alert Filtering for Orion, you can now filter alerts and create custom Mobile Admin Notification feeds based upon filters we’ve built into the product. The filters work the same as the Orion Message Center filters and are all implicitly “OR”d so you can filter on a particular host/IP OR vendor name  or whatever else you might be interested in. Only want alerts when Nodes go down? Now you can, so you only get notified when something is important to you. With Mobile Admin, you can even setup multiple custom feeds from Orion to build more complex alerting setups.

 

AlertFiltering_Play.gif

 

Direct Connect Services - Optional Credential Saving

 

Mobile Admin’s “Direct Connect” services include SSH, Telnet, RDP, and VNC (Android only). These services don’t require the use of the Mobile Admin Server to connect to an endpoint and can be accessed directly from the homescreen of Mobile Admin’s mobile clients. We had some strong feedback from customers over the last year expressing concerns that there was no option to not save credentials for these connections. Customers viewed this as a potential security risk, as these services can be accessed without first logging in to the MA Server. As of Mobile Admin 8.1, for these Direct Connect services, password saving is now optional via a checkbox when you create a new connection.

 

DCPwdSaving_Play.gif

 

FIPS 140-2 Compatibility

 

Some customers run MA in a secure environment where their Windows Servers are run in “FIPS Mode” which enforces use of FIPS compatible encryption algorithms. Prior to 8.1, the MA server would fail to work in these environments. The MA Server should now be able to run on a Windows Server where FIPS Compatibility mode is enabled.

 

Updates to other Supported Services – Exchange 2013, BackupExec 2012, and SCOM 2012 - Oh My!

 

As of version 8.1, Mobile Admin will now support Exchange 2013, BackupExec 2012 and SCOM 2012. All of these services were supported by Mobile Admin for earlier versions. You can read more about what you can do with these features on Mobile Admin’s features pages for each of these services.

 

Regarding Exchange, Mobile Admin now supports remote Exchange management. Now the Exchange Management tools can be installed locally on the Mobile Admin server machine (pre-8.1 behavior) or on the Exchange Server itself and controlled via remote PowerShell (8.1 and beyond). This aligns with the same way that customers manage Exchange today with SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor and has the added benefit that the MA Server no longer needs to be in the same domain as the Exchange Server you are managing. Mobile Admin will attempt to auto-detect where the tools are installed based upon the Exchange Server information provided. Besides enabling remote PowerShell on the Exchange Server, you will also need to add the Mobile Admin Server as a Trusted Host on the Exchange Server. To summarize Mobile Admin’s Exchange Support, I’ve included the table below:

 

10-15-2013 11-58-21 AM.png

 

We Want Your Feedback!

 

Be sure to check out the Mobile Admin Release Candidate Group here on Thwack. Use this forum to get your questions answered about the RC or report issues you want to bring to the attention of the larger community. The Product Team will be actively monitoring your posts and engage with you about any feedback you have. Remember Release Candidates are fully supported, so you can also file a Support ticket for any issues you encounter.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Fill out the survey and get started on 8.1 today!

Please join us for a monthly product update from the SolarWinds Product Management team.

 

This month, we’ll delve into “What We Are Working On” for a number of our tools. We’ll discuss the “What We Are Working On” thwack posts live with our product managers. Featured  products include Engineers Toolset, Network Topology Mapper, and DameWare Remote Support. Our PMs will also be able to answer any of your questions about our other recent releases. It’s an action-packed hour. We hope to see you there.

 

If you have any requests for topics or products to be included in this series, please let us know at customervoice@solarwinds.com.

 

Register here.

After release of Web Help Desk v12, we are now busily working on some great new features and enhancements to the product. Here is a preview:

 

  • Asset API to provide more flexibility and ability of automation
  • More robust reporting with options including
    • reporting on new objects like assets, parts or models
    • easier custom reports for common KPIs
    • redesign of custom report writer
  • DameWare integration
    • Some options are chat, screenshot capability or easier configuration for remote connections
  • Revamp of setup section
    • Make settings easier to find when returning to configuration options
  • Propagating information to child tickets
    • Pass various information from parent ticket to child tickets
  • More comprehensive documentation for different areas of Web Help Desk
    • Possible candidates for detailed documentation are SSO, Database migration, sizing and so on
  • Settings export for easier migration
  • Casper 9 support
  • Java 7 support

 

PLEASE NOTE:  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!

To receive updates on the Serv-U FTP Voyager roadmap, JOIN thwack and BOOKMARK this page

 

The Serv-U product team is working hard to build several new and exciting features. Some of these changes include:

 

  • Improvements in LDAP support & usability
  • Enhanced security with support for stronger cryptography
  • Adoption of SolarWinds licensing framework
  • Scheduler Enhancement and Capabilities

 

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!

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

 

The mad scientists of the SAM team have now fully recovered from the marathon release that was SAM 6.0; and as such it is time once again we turn our attention to the future of SAM. Below is a listing of several of the new features they're brewing up in the laboratory.

 

  • AppInsight for Exchange
  • JSON Monitoring
  • SOAP Monitoring
  • Independent Thresholds for Node CPU Utilization, Memory Usage, Response Time, and Packet Loss
  • Windows Scheduled Task Monitoring
  • User Definable Sustained Status Condition Alerting
  • Optional Agent for Monitoring Windows Applications and Servers
  • Application stacked integration and visualization (i.e. visual mapping through your entire application stack to help you answer the question, "Why is my app slow?")

 

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!

WPM & Citrix XenApp


As described in previous posts Web Performance Monitor is a powerful tool designed to monitor performance of your web apps from an end-user perspective. With a bit of creativity and Citrix Xenapp environment properly configured, you can use it to also monitor your desktop applications as described previously by aLTeReGo.

 

Using Citrix XenApp is relatively straightforward, but in some cases you can have a transaction, which needs some more care. Let me show you a few tips and tricks how to use XenApp with WPM, but please note that XenApp is a fairly flexible tool and your environment might differ from the defaults used in this post. Simply adapt principles described to the look and feel of your own instance.

 

Citrix Xenapp is a framework which will help you to use your desktop applications from a wide range of computer systems and mobile devices. You can benefit from the ability to access your desktop application via web browsers, which makes it possible to monitor it by WPM.

 

Prerequisites

Before we start, we will need a deployed and configured XenApp environment, an up-to-date version of Java Runtime Environment (JRE) and WPM.

 

Login window.png

 

When you open the login window of Citrix XenApp, you can check the Messages tab to see if you have client software (Java Runtime Environment) installed and ready. In this post we will rely on using Java to access your application.

 

missing_client_sw.png

 

After you install JRE (if it was missing), I recommend you to hide security warnings:

  1. Open Internet Explorer on the computer where you want to make a recording.
  2. Open the XenApp webpage and log in.
  3. Try to launch the application you want to monitor.
  4. Click Run on all modal security warning windows and select that you don’t want to show the warning again.

 

security_warning.png

 

Configuring XenApp

Configuring XenApp requires setting the window size and setting client type for the connection.


You can either define these settings system-wide for all users or you can define them at the beginning of each transaction. I recommend setting them for each transaction individually, because it is more independent of system settings and it wouldn't be affected by upgrade unintentional changes in system-wide configuration.

 

Configure settings of window size to of 640x480 or 1024x768. This ensures any Citrix application being recorded will remain within the bounds of the WPM Recorder. To set this up, go to the XenApp home page and select Preferences -> Session settings.

 

screen_resolution_setting_MARKED.png

 

After that make sure you use Java client for your transaction. Go to Preferences -> Connection settings and click the Change Client button. This will set the session to use Java client only.

 

java_client_setting_MARKED.png

 

Now you are ready to simply start your application and do the actual recording.

 

Citrix_apps.png

 

Making it more robust


Image Match

When using XY mode, we are sending mouse click events on the level of operating system and there is no feedback if the action runs correctly. Best practice is to verify the results with Image Match after a mouse click action.

 

Image Match actions are CPU intensive. To improve the performance of a playback:

  • Select only small regions or portions of the image
  • Make sure that the selected area is unique. If you select the close window button, it might easily happen that WPM selects the first close button it detects (not on the one you wanted).

 

If the playback is failing on an Image Match action:

  • Examine the application screenshot to see if the image is present.
  • Make sure you use the same version of Internet Explorer for both recording and playback.

 

Image Match compares bitmaps and as such can be prone to errors due to variations in color depth. To make it more resilient either set lower sensitivity or make sure you use the same color depth for both recording and playback of transaction. This is very important if you for example record your transactions via remote connection using RDP or similar protocols.

 

To lower the sensitivity of Image Match, run the Recorder with /advancedmode command line option. This will give you the ability to define custom sensitivity for Image Match actions. See the threshold setting on the screenshot below.

 

image_match_sensitivity_MARKED.png

 

Note: If you set the similarity setting to a too low value, you might get some false positives.


Using XY mode you are sending mouse click events to the absolute coordinates. You can make your transaction more robust if you use Image Match with Click instead. Image Match will find the button even if it changes the position or even if the application window opens on a different position.

 

More Tips

  • As discussed previously, with XenApp it is very important to keep your transactions clean and minimalistic. Remove any clutter, unnecessary actions recorded, anything that is redundant or irrelevant for monitoring of your application. This way, your transaction will remain robust and maintainable.
  • It also very important that your application is running within the browser window and is not opening separate windows. If the application opens in a new separate window, WPM cannot reach it and you cannot record your transaction. This is matter of configuring Citrix XenApp properly.
  • The last thing to check is the timing of your transaction. Use wait actions or combination of Image Match actions to absorb any variance in response times and also to ensure that when you send your mouse click on the object, the object is already displayed in the browser.

 

In this post we have learned how to configure Citrix XenApp for usage with WPM and how to record robust and maintainable transactions for monitoring of your desktop applications.

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