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(Updated March 2, 2015)

Following our 6.1 release of LEM (more info: Announcing General Availability of Log & Event Manager 6.1 - Better Config, and More!), we're back to work on more features and improvements. Some of these features will be included in our 6.2 release of LEM (more info: Log & Event Manager 6.2 and a Threat Intelligence Feed).

 

Obligatory 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.

 

Here's what's on the top of our radar:

 

Also, the following ongoing/longer-term items:

  • Ongoing performance investments in our core data processing
    • Customers are sending more and more data to LEM, naturally, so we're investing some time in staying ahead of the curve.
  • Ongoing investments in new connector development
  • Continued customer feedback-driven fixes and updates
  • Better integration with LEM and the Orion platform products (Integration: Log & Event Manager and Orion Platform)
  • Connector building, generic connectors, and general data integration (Build Your Own Syslog Connectors, among others)

 

Be sure to let us know here, and in the Log & Event Feature Requests forum, if there are features you're really keen on. This list doesn't enumerate a lot of the features we're looking into for long term development and further releases, but we continually use Thwack as our biggest source of feedback.


Storage Manager 5.7 Beta 2 Now Available


Thanks for everyone who gave us feedback on Beta 1. It's my pleasure to announce that Beta 2 is now available and the team would love your feedback. Fill out this short survey to participate in the STM 5.7 Beta!

 

Sign-Up Button.png

Without further ado, let’s jump into what is available in Beta 2.

  • Storage Manager Health Status Overview
  • User Defined LUN Grouping
  • EMC FAST VP Support


Storage Manager Health Status Overview Page

 

Storage Manager is responsible for monitoring a large slice of your IT environment. Whether it's just used for SAN monitoring, or you're leveraging VMware, Physical Server, and Fibre Channel switch monitoring as well, the server is handling many tasks in order to pull together the data for your monitoring, reporting, and alerting needs. One thing that has been challenging is getting a handle on the state of the product itself to answer questions such as:

  • What all is the product monitoring?
  • How is the server it's installed on handling the load from a CPU and memory perspective?
  • Do I need to add Proxy Agents?
  • Are my agents and proxy agents performing as expected under their monitoring load?
  • Are my devices data collections happening within their expected collection intervals?


I'm happy to announce that Storage Manager 5.7 is introducing a web console consisting of a central place to view the overall health and status of the Storage Manager software to answer these questions and more regarding the state of the Storage Manager Server, Storage Manager Database, and Storage Manger Proxy Agents. The Health and Status page is accessible directly from the left-hand navigation pane for Admin users only. Once you click on it, you will be shown the full page which I'll breakdown in the table.


 

STM Health Status Section and DecriptionScreenshot (may differ from final product)

Storage Manager Server Performance Metrics

 

The Storage Manager Server Performance Metrics resource displays the health status of the Storage Manager Server. The following information is provided:

  • CPU utilization
  • Physical Memory (RAM) consumption
  • Disk Usage
  • Clicking on any of the above metrics - CPU/RAM/Disk - takes you to the STM Server's Console view where you can get a full picture of the overall health of the server.
  • Collection List – Shows all agents that are schedule for collection. You can click on the Collection List which drills down to the Collection List report to see all agents waiting for collection.
  • An explanation of warnings that are generated.

 

When a threshold reaches 70%, the indicator bar will turn yellow meaning warning. When a threshold reaches 90%, the indicator bar will turn red meaning critical.

Server Metrics.png

Services

 

The Services resource shows memory consumption and Java Heap memory allocation of the Storage Manager Services. When a threshold reaches 70%, the indicator bar will turn yellow meaning warning. When a threshold reaches 90%, the indicator bar will turn red meaning critical. If a service is stopped, it will be labeled as offline. Users can learn more about allocating physical memory to the Storage Manager services by clicking the Learn how to allocate physical memory for services link.

Services.png

Database Status

 

The Database Status resource provides the current state of the Storage Manager Database. The user will be provided the following information:

  • Displays the size of the database.
  • Displays the largest table and the size.
  • Displays the date of the last dbutil/index rebuild.

Database Status also provides the following information and help links:

 

Note: If there are any crashed table in the database, a display message will appear notifying the user. The user can then click the Show Crashed Tables link and view which tables are reporting as crashed.

Database.png

Device Types

 

The Device Types resource provides the status and type of devices being monitored by Storage Manager. This view provides the following:

  • View Device Collection Status – Shows device collection status values.
  • View All Devices - List all devices being monitored by Storage Manager.
  • Devices – The type of device being monitored.
  • Total – Total number of devices being monitored by Storage Manager. This is a clickable link that allows you to see a filtered view of that device type and it's collection status across your environment.
  • Up – The number of devices responding to polling.
  • Down – The number of devices up at one time yet are not currently responding to polling.
  • Offline – The devices that have never been up and are not responding to polling.
Device Types.png

Storage Manager (STM) Proxy Agents

 

Storage Manager has the concept of Proxy Agents. These are STM Agents that are also responsible for monitoring devices that are not on the server where the agent is installed, like a storage array. This can be thought of as akin to an Orion Additional Polling Engine that you may have deployed to monitor multiple endpoints in a remote environment. This resource displays the health status of the proxy agents that have devices assigned to them. The following information is provided:

  • View all agents – A link that displays a full list of all agents assigned to the Storage Manager Server. This includes all proxy agents as well as all agents that are just acting as stand-alone server agents.
  • Monitored Devices – The number of devices being monitored by the proxy agent. This is a clickable link that will take you to the Device-to-Agent mapping report to help you understand what that agent is monitoring and the load that is placing on the agent.
  • Device – Name of the server hosting a Storage Manager Proxy Agent and its current status.
  • CPU utilization – Amount of CPU resources being used by the proxy agent.
  • Physical Memory (RAM) consumption – Amount of RAM being used by the proxy agent.
  • Disk Usage – Amount of disk space being used by the proxy agent.
  • Forecast – Estimate of when the disk will run out of space on the server hosting the proxy agent.

 

When a threshold reaches 70%, the indicator bar will turn yellow meaning warning. When a threshold reaches 90%, the indicator bar will turn red meaning critical.

Proxy Agents.png

Collection Jobs Queue

 

The Collection Jobs Queue resource provides users with a list of the last 10 devices that were either successful or failed when data collection occurred. The users will be provided the following:

  • Device – Device name.
  • Last Run – The last time Storage Manger polled the device to retrieve information.
  • Last run duration - How long it took Storage Manager to retrieve information from the device.
  • Frequency – How often Storage Manager polls the device for information.
  • Job type – The information Storage Manager requested from the device.

 

Note: The Diagnose link within the Last 10 Failed Jobs provides users with additional information as to why data collection could be failing.

Collection Jobs Completed.png

Collection Jobs Failed.png

Help and Support

 

The Help and Support resource provides users with the following information:

 

Help and Support.png

 

User-defined LUN Grouping

 

This has been a long-standing request from customers and we are very happy we could finally deliver in 5.7. Users want to group their LUN's for many reasons to represent:

  • Applications (e.g. Exchange)
  • Geographical distribution
  • Customers (especially in MSP environments)
  • Anything really!


User-defined LUN Grouping can really be broken up into three main parts:

  • Creating the group
  • Viewing the group information in the console
  • Using the groups for reporting


 

Create the GroupScreenshot

Simply navigate to the Settings page to begin and select Device Groups.

Settings Device Groups.png
Go ahead and click "Add Group." As you can see from the screenshot on the right, I've already created a couple of LUN groups. Existing groups of all kinds can be edited or deleted from this page.2-25-2014 6-11-20 PM.png
Give your new group a name. I've chosen "MyNewLUNGroup." Once you've done that, select "Storage - LUN." For those that are familiar with STM, you may recall that there already existed a limited LUN Grouping feature, but it only applied to NetApp LUN's. "Storage - LUN" as a category is not new, but now applies to all supported STM arrays.2-25-2014 6-11-43 PM.png

Now you can build your LUN Group. There are two major ways available to create your group:

  1. Filter by regular expression. Many storage admins have predefined naming conventions in their environment for LUN's, so this provides a shorthand way of getting a list of all available LUN's that match a regular expression.
  2. Filter by the endpoint to which the LUN is attached. If you are monitoring physical or virtual servers in your environment such that Storage Manager can provide End-to-End mapping, you can use this feature to filter out LUN's by associated endpoint. This is useful for filtering out LUN's presented to certain ESX hosts or Windows Servers that might make up an application group (e.g. Exchange Servers). Endpoint filtering also allows you to filter by a particular array or array type in your environment.
2-25-2014 6-12-32 PM.png
Once I've selected all of my LUN's and added them to the "Selected" box on the previous screen, I hit "Save" and am taken back the Edit page. I now can see that 2 LUNs have been added to my LUN Group. Once I hit "Save" here, I'm done creating my group. Note that you can add other items to you group, but because of the way the product works, their will be implicit filtering applied in the product depending on what console your are viewing that will filter out these non-LUN objects.2-25-2014 6-26-34 PM.png


Now that we've created our group, let's see what it looks like. I'm not going to break down all the views available here, but this section should give you a good sense of where to look for information related to your LUN Groups.


 

Navigating LUN GroupsScreenshot
Now that you've created your LUN Group, it will appear in with all of it's LUN Group friends in a newly created LUN Groups section in the Left-hand navigation Pane (LHP). Underneath this LUN Groups category, you will see all of your created LUN Groups, as well as a default "LUN Groups Summary" item that is a roll-up summary of capacity and performance informatio of all the LUNs from all the groups you've created.2-25-2014 6-34-50 PM.png

LUN Group Main Console - This view is much like Storage Manager's Main Console giving you a high level roll-up of key performance and capacity metrics as they pertain to the LUN's in your storage environment. One user experience item that merits pointing out: Not all storage arrays support the metrics being reported on in this view. If you've created a LUN Group that is mixed and an array in that group does not support reporting a particular metric (say "Free LUN" capacity), then the bar in the capacity chart will be gray to denote "incomplete data." Basically, we wanted to avoid designing to the lowest common denominator of array data and give you all the data if arrays in your environment support it. We are very interested if this is confusing or helpful (either way!), as this is something new in the product and direct result of trying to aggregate dissimilar data across our broad array support.

2-25-2014 6-37-41 PM.png
Performance Tab - The place to go to troubleshoot performance problems in your LUN Group. There is a lot here and some of it is still a work in progrees, so I'll save elaboration for a later post. But dive in and play around and let us know what you think!2-25-2014 6-38-06 PM.png

Servers Tab - This is where you go to see associated file system information, LUN configuration details, and logical mapping information for physical and virtual servers.

2-25-2014 6-38-33 PM.png


OK, so now that you've got your LUN groups created, how do you go report on them? There is a new "category" in the STM Reporter, called Storage LUN Groups that contains all the filterable LUN Group reports:


2-25-2014 6-58-42 PM.png

We are very interested in your feedback on the LUN Grouping feature, so tell us what you think!


EMC FAST VP Support


As customer's deploy hybrid arrays in their environment to take advantage of the awesome speed of SSD, they are also leveraging incredible new features from array vendors like EMC's Fully Automated Storage Tiering for Virtual Pools.  (FAST VP) This technology is available on EMC VMAX/Symmetrix and EMC VNX arrays, although the theory of operation differs dramatically between the two. I'm not going to elaborate on FAST VP here, as it could be a post on it's own and I would highly recommend Vijay Swami's post on the subject for reference reading, but needless to say we've adopted supported for showing you more information about this technology and it's configuration in your environment inside of Storage Manager.


 

FAST VP TechnologyScreenshots

EMC VMAX implementation of FAST VP and it's user facing theory of operation could fill a textbook. It was the subject of not one, but two full 50 minute presentations at EMCWorld last year. In simplest form, the configuration of a FAST VP system requires interactions between the following objects which are now represented inside of STM:

  1. disk groups: collection of like type disks (i.e. 200GB SSD)
  2. Virtual Pools: pooled storage capacity formed from disk groups
  3. FAST-VP Tiers: association of a tier with the previously mentioned pooled capacity; multiple pools of like drive type & RAID protection type can be associated with a single FAST-VP Tier
  4. FAST-VP Policies: auto-tiering policy specifying how much of each tier can be utilized
  5. storage groups: collection of host LUN
2-25-2014 7-13-25 PM.png

EMC VNX implementation of FAST VP is much simpler. STM had previously already provided insight into Storage Tier configurations for VNX. We've now extended some of the existing reports to reflect the simple configuration options available on VNX:

  1. the physical drives
  2. the storage pool
  3. the LUN
  4. the tiering policy of the LUN

2-25-2014 7-18-57 PM.png

2-25-2014 7-18-27 PM.png

2-25-2014 7-17-58 PM.png


That's all for now folks. Sign-up for the Beta and get us your feedback!!!

SolarWinds is pleased to announce that latest and greatest version of IP Address Manager (IPAM) 4.1 has been recently released.

 

This new version primarily focuses on monitoring and management of high-performance DHCP service from ISC via IPAM web-console. 4.1 namely brings following new features:

 

  • A new re-designed DHCP management UI that helps to manage multiple methods of organizing IPs across Windows, CISCO and ISC DHCP vendors
  • Management of ISC DHCP subnet options, ranges and pools (New to ISC)
  • Monitoring of ISC shared network containers and their subnet utilization
  • Monitoring of ISC DHCP IP address static assignments within groups


But that's not all. We were listening to you, our users who requested support for more complicated configuration scenarios on DHCP servers. This advanced scenarios typically requiring setup for specific DHCP Options. IPAM v4.1 can namely do following:

 

  • Monitor and manage over 180 (RFC 2132) DHCP options on Cisco, Microsoft and ISC DHCP servers
  • New UI for DHCP options management with data type validator and text translation of numeric value of each option (you don't have look into RFC)
  • Automatic detection of supported/unsupported options per DHCP vendor
  • Both-way sync between IPAM and DHCP server.

 

For example, you may use options 66 & 67 in order to setup TFTP and VoIP config file name for your VoIP infrastructure running on DHCP server.

 

You may find additional information about fixed bugs and related details in IPAM V4.1 Release Notes

 

If you are interested in how the UI looks look like, here is a small summary:

 

1) ISC DHCP monitoring with shared subnets container

GA ISC.png

 

2) Create/Edit ISC DHCP Subnet - add pools, ranges or setup DHCP options

GA ISC Edit.png

3) DHCP options settings is the same for all vendors supported in IPAM

GA DHCP Options.png

 

 

IPAM 4.1 is available on your customer portal for a download and upgrade on production servers.

At first glance, Server & Application Monitor (SAM) 6.1 might sound like it's a "minor" release. However, with the mountain of new features we've managed to cram in, 6.1 is anything but minor. In previous blog posts I discussed Windows Scheduled Tasks and JSON/XML monitoring, as well as Sustained Threshold Conditions that can be used to squelch nuisance alerts. Despite more than half a dozen additional new features in this release I haven't even talked about yet, such as new SOAP Monitor, Drag & Drop resources (that's right, I said drag and drop), and a new Web-Based Report Scheduler, much of the buzz surrounding SAM 6.1 has centered around AppInsight for Exchange. This is likely due to the success of AppInsight for SQL in the SAM 6.0 release, coupled by the tease that was my previous blog posting entitled "Introducing AppInsight for Exchange - Server & Application Monitor 6.1 Beta 2 Sneak Peek". In that post I gave readers a very early glimpse into AppInsight for Exchange, that barely scraped the surface of what this new application monitoring capability provides. So today I'll attempt to satisfy some of that curiosity by showcasing some of the other functionality included in AppInsight for Exchange.

 

I first cut my teeth back in the day of Exchange 5.5. Since that time I've seen tremendous improvements in Exchange scalability, reliability, and performance. As a consequence of these improvements however, Exchange has become significantly more complex to manage, monitor, and maintain. Simply isolating a performance bottleneck in your Exchange environment can be akin to playing a bad game of "Where's Waldo".

 

AppInsight for Exchange ends the madness by centrally consolidating all information about each mailbox database and its copies across all mailbox servers in the Database Availability Group, into a single Mailbox Database Details view. It is within this Mailbox Database Details view where you will find all relevant information pertaining to that specific individual mailbox database on the server, as well as all other servers where a copy of that database resides.

 

Information including last full and incremental backup, number of mailboxes in the database, average mailbox size, and default storage quotas applied at the mailbox database are all easily at hand.

Database Details.png
Database size and disk io.png

The Database Details view also contains multi-server performance, health, and availability information that should make troubleshooting common mailbox database issues a breeze.

 

For example, in the screenshot to the left you can easily identify where the mailbox database resides on each servers file system, the size of that mailbox database, and how it relates to the amount of free space on each servers volume. You can also identify disk I/O performance issues across servers by seeing the Disk Queue Length, Latency, and total IOPS for the volumes on each server where a copy of that database resides.

 

Similar resources also appear in this view for Transaction Logs, showing additional detail such as the total number of transaction log files, as well as their cumilitive total size on disk.

 

All this information allows you to easily spot problems before they start. There's nothing worse, or more preventable than a database dismounting because the volume it's located on has run out of space. With AppInsight for Exchange, now you can be proactively alerted and take corrective action before it impacts your users.

Now let's say your mailbox database was running out of space. Where do you go, and what do you do now? You could move the mailbox database to a different volume that has more space. If you have more unallocated storage you could even extend the volume. Both of those options require heavy lifting, and likely some downtime.

 

What if you could easily identify the offending user mailboxes that are taking up a large percentage of space in the database? You could then either hunt those users down and ask them them to clean up their mailbox, or move them to another mailbox database that has more available space.

 

The "Users By Mailbox Quota Used" and "Users By Mailbox Size" resources allow you to view each and every user mailbox, its total size, amount of space all attachments in the mailbox are consuming, total number of attachments, and percentage of quota used. This information is available in each mailbox database view, as well as across the entire Exchange environment.

 

You can even spot dormant mailboxes easily within the same resource by viewing the "Last Accessed" date.

Users By Mailbox Quota Used.png

From this resource you can drill down even further into the User Mailbox Details view. Here you can see the quota limits applied to the individual users' mailbox, the Active Directory Organizational Unit where this user resides, and can even click their Primary SMTP Address to notify them that some mailbox cleanup is required.

 

Before you do that though, you might want to get a better understanding of how this user is using their mailbox. Perhaps they recently received several very large email attachments that they could move off onto the file server. Maybe this user regularly receives a large volume of incoming email. This could be normal given their job function, or indicative of ineffective SPAM filtering.

 

With AppInsight for Exchange you can easily visualize each users historical mailbox usage, identify trends such as the growth of a user's mailbox over time, and the total size of all attachments within the users mailbox over the same period. You can also gain insight into the volume of mail sent and received by the user each day, both internally and externally.


This information allows you to make informed decisions before extending users mailbox quotas or adding additional storage to the Exchange server. This information can also be included in alerts that give helpdesk staff a heads up as users approach their quota limit.

Mailbox Details.png
Total Mailox and Attachments Sizes.pngReceived Mail.png

What if the problem you're facing was the other direction? Instead of a massive influx email or attachments driving the users mailbox size, it was malicious activity the end user wasn't even aware of? The Users By Messages Sent resource helps identify mailbox abuse caused by potential trojans, botnets, or otherwise unscrupulous activity. Should your users mailbox be taken over by such mass mailing marauders, AppInsight for Exchange makes identifying this unusual traffic a trivial affair.

 

AppInsight for Exchange also allows you to report on the mobile devices being used in your environment, the operating system version running on those devices, as well as the last time any device was used to connect to Exchange via ActiveSync.

 

This information is available on any individuals Mailbox User Details view. It is also available as an out of the box report that lists all mobile devices in use in your organization and their respective owner.

 

Until now, SAM 6.1 has been available only to a select number of beta participants, but that's no longer the case. As of today, all current SAM customers under active maintenance can download and install the official SAM 6.1 Release Candidate simply by signing up here. Upgrading of your existing production Server & Application Monitor installation is also fully supported. So give AppInsight for Exchange, or any of the over a dozen other improvements in this release a go, and tell us what you think!

Users By Messages Sent.png

Synced Devices.png

 

SAM 6.1 RC button.png

Even with all of the new and exciting product updates, our development team somehow finds the time to outdo themselves. I'm pleased to be able to share with you an early beta of one of our most exciting projects to date: code-named "DPI."

With the ability to sniff the wire and analyze packet-traffic, DPI provides real observed network response time (NRT) and application response time (ART.) In addition, DPI has the ability to classify and categorize ~1300 different applications by associated purpose and risk-level.

Let's take a look at a few of the data points we will start to capture:

 

Network Response Time (NRT)

Is the problem the application or the network? Now you'll be able to prove your pipes are pristine and start to focus on the troublesome app server:

NRT.png

Application Response Time (ART)

The opposite end of the network problem- how long did it take to receive the first byte for a response? Good insight into the Quality of Experience that your users perceive...

ART.png

 

Data Classification

Sure, with NPM interface statistics or Netflow, you can determine how much of your pipe is being filled, and potentially by whom. However, unless you are able to stay on top of the latest in social apps and malware, who may not realize what you should be looking for.

Our list of ~1300 pre-defined applications makes this easy- whether you are looking for Exchange traffic, or Torrent:

Application_List.pngRisk_Level.png

 

 

 

Very likely this technology would begin to surface in a NPM release in the near future- so stay tuned.

For beta purposes, we're limited to just gathering data from a packet filter driver on the Orion server itself, but we have a few ideas on how we can scale that out.

Bear in mind, we're not yet storing any captured data, but rather just analyzing and discarding. Storage would potentially come later.

 

Interested? Sign up here: DPI Beta Survey

Already signed up, or want to learn more? Join our DPI Beta forum

 

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?) please let us know!

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