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Following up on Kathy's great post, Announcing Beta for Database Performance Analyzer (DPA), which introduced some features in Database Performance Analyzer (DPA) 9.0.  I am writing today to tell you about some more DPA goodness heading your way.  In this post I will tell you about:

 

Before I get to the new features, I’d like to tell you why I love DPA. I didn’t decide I would become a DBA, go get training and then apply for DBA jobs.  It was quite the other way around.  I was a developer, there were DBA things to do and I won the honors (or lost depending on your perspective).  I still had my development duties so I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to DBA work.  In the early days of my DBA work, I was frequently over my head, combing Google for ways to interpret resource metrics to diagnose problems for development.  This made me what we call an “accidental DBA”.  It’s not a bad thing, it’s just how you come into it.  And for me, it was blessing b/c I discovered something I loved.  I loved the art of performance analysis so much that I made my own tools for it.  And they were so good that I mocked all of the 3rd party tools as being inferior to mine.  Even if my boss offered me budget to buy the tools I didn’t want them.  Then I discovered DPA at a SQL Saturday and was blown away that it did things the way I did them!  OK, maybe a little better…  As proof of how impressed I was, I applied for a DPA Product Management position… and here I am!  Telling you about it’s cool features.  And Basically put... There's no better way investigate database performance problems unless your users start complaining about buffer cache and queue depths instead of saying, "it's slow!"

 

 

If you are interested in being a part of the Beta program, please click the link below. The only requirement is that you must be an existing DPA/Ignite product owner under active maintenance.

DPA9.0Survey.png

 

New Version Support

As you might expect, our new version will advance support for newer versions of database platforms.  DPA 9.0 is being tested on and will support SQL Server 2014, Oracle 12c (single tenant) and DB2 10.5.


SQL Advisor Drop Down

Use CaseDisplay

One of the most popular new features according to a survey of DPA users is the SQL Advisor Drop Down.  DPA 8.3 already has SQL Advisors.  SQL Advisors are our way of offering you expert advice on what you might want to look at to enhance performance.  The way it works, DPA makes choices about what queries to analyze and the Advisors Tab will show you advisors sorted from most recent query to least recent query.  DPA 9.0 still does this, but sometimes you may want to know what DPA has to say about a particular query.  Now you can do this!  There's a drop down menu that lists the queries within the window of time you are analyzing.  When you select one, DPA will do an ad-hoc analysis for you!  This is especially useful for an accidental DBA because if you've got a new query going into production and you haven't the DBA experience to know what to scrutinize about that query, DPA can do it for you!  If you are an experienced DBA, it's a good place to start.  Experienced DBAs might appreciate time savings by deferring first level query analysis to a developer who uses this tool.  So no matter what your level of experience, this is handy!

SQL Advisor1.png

SQL Advisor2.png

SQL Advisor3.png


 

Resource Metrics Baselines

Use CaseDisplay

People often ask how much is too high or low for particular resource metrics?  The answer is usually, "it depends."  Sometimes "experts" will give you specific values and when pressed, they admit that they sort of knee jerked an answer so it was far from scientific.  That's why the new Resource Metrics Baseline feature enables you to take the default we chose and allows you to override it.  So you get good rules of thumb out of the box and the ability to customize it for your environment.


Imagine you have a new DBA on call who doesn't know what to expect for a particular environment?  Voila!  Now he can.


 

Manager: "Hey Johnny New Guy, how's the Physical I/O look?" 
Johnny: "Periodically there are bursts significantly over the baseline, but it looks fine."

Manager: "Wow!  That was a quick answer.  This new guy is really working out."

ResourceMetricBaseline.png

 

File & Drive Tabs

Use CaseDisplay
What if you have lots of databases on your server and your I/O problems are less of a problem at the database level, but the aggregate I/O problem at the drive level is an issue?  That's why we've added a drive tab.  You can aggregate all of your file access wait time by the drive to see the busiest drives.   DriveTab.PNG

Of course now that you know which drive is getting hammered, what can you do?  Assuming that some volumes have enough IO while others are hammered, you might want to move some database files, but how can you choose?  Well, we've got a file tab where we show you your I/O wait times by file.  Now you can start shuffling which database files live on which drives based on their I/O load.

FileTab.PNG

 

Alert Blackouts

Use CaseDisplay
You know those times you need to suspend alerting for some window of time?  Perhaps because of maintenance, for example.  Maybe it happens every week at that time?  Maybe you aren't part of the team doing the maintenance and you don't want to have to get up to do some manual work around that temporarily suspends the alerting.  Or maybe doing so would conflict with Saturday morning cartoons or Saturday Night Fever...  :-)  We've got ya covered!  We created an Alert Blackout tab under the Alerts screen.  It's a place to define recurring blackout windows.

AlertBlackouts1.png

AlertBlackouts2.png


Current I/O

Use CaseDisplay
One of the coolest new features in DPA 9.0 is the current tab in the new Storage I/O feature.  This screen provides easily understood indicators of workload & performance.  It will sort the files by the most active files/drives to the least active files/drives.  So if your users are complaining about performance right now and you suspect I/O, this can help you decide if your hunch is spot on or if you can rule it out.CurrentTabUnderStorageIo.PNG

 

If you are interested in being a part of the Beta program, please click the link below. The only requirement is that you must be an existing DPA/Ignite product owner under active maintenance.

DPA9.0Survey.png

I'm pleased to announce that the Storage Manager (STM) 5.7 Release Candidate (RC) is now available in your SolarWinds Customer Portal. I look forward to your feedback on the Release Candidate in the STM RC Forum! For information on STM 5.7, reference this Product Blog post and this Product Blog post!

 

Storage Manager 5.7 is cumulative with STM 5.6.2 and all of the STM 5.6.2 HotFixes. The Release Candidate is a fully tested and supported release and you can upgrade the RC from your previous version of STM, although we do recommend backing up your database first. If you have any problems with the Release Candidate, you can file a ticket with Support just as you would for any GA version of the product.

 

New Features in Storage Manager 5.7

  • Improved performance graphs
  • STM Health and Status Overview
  • User-defined LUN Grouping
  • New visibility into EMC VMAX FAST VP objects
  • Gen3 licensing
  • New default collection frequencies
  • Deprecated “Storage Array” reports
  • Significant bug fixes and stability improvements

 

I look forward to your feedback in the RC Forum! Also, if you'd like to give us feedback about Storage Manager and/or features you'd like to see in a future release, we'd love to get your feedback through this RC survey as well!

We have reached the Release Candidate (RC) status for Network Configuration Manager 7.3. RC is the last step before general availability and is a chance for existing customers to get the newest functionality before it is available to everyone else.

 

Here is the content of this RC version:

  • NCM and NPM databases become merged
    Streamlined node management: Using a single database enables NCM to manage its nodes, adding and removing them, on the Orion Platform HOME page.
    Optimized reading and writing: Merging the NCM into the Orion Platform database, and using a single database schema, facilitates the NCM software’s use of SQL statements to efficiently manage the insertion, retrieval, and modification of data.
    Account limitations applied to jobs: Using a single database enables NCM to apply Orion Platform account limitations in creating and managing jobs.
    Subviews: Using a single database schema allows NCM to efficiently support subviews.
  • Enhanced Configuration Management
    This version introduces a much more flexible user interface for doing your configuration management work.
  • Enhanced EOL/EOS data and data management.
    NCM offers additional EOL/EOS inofrmation and higher granularity for tracking the reliability of the data.
  • Enhanced Web Console
    • Admins can clear all transfers for all users from the Transfer Status resource.
    • Jobs Summary sorts by any column in the table.
    • Users can preview the list of nodes assigned to a job when the criterion is "Dynamic".
    • NCM uses SWISv3 to manage the web console’s database transactions.


More details and screenshots can be found in Beta2 for Network Configuration Manager v7.3 is Available!

 

RC builds are made available to existing customers prior to the formal release. These are used to get customer feedback in production environments and are fully supported. If you have any questions, I encourage you to leverage the NCM RC forum.


You will find the latest version on your customer portal in the Release Candidate section.

We've just wrapped up the Server & Application Monitor 6.1.1 Service Release, meant to address any major outstanding issues identified in SAM 6.1 since its official release. Now it's time once again to turn our attention to the future of Server & Application Monitor. With that said, below is a list of items the team is currently working on.

 

  • AppInsight for IIS
    • Sites
    • Application Pools
  • Optional Agent for Monitoring Windows Applications and Servers that addresses the following needs:
    • Allows for polling host and applications behind firewall NAT or proxies
    • Polling node and applications across multiple discrete networks that have overlapping IP address space
    • Allow for reliable and secure encrypted polling over a single port
    • Support low bandwidth, high latency connections
    • Polling nodes across domains where no domain trusts have been established
    • Full end to end encryption between the monitored host and the Orion poller
  • Application stack integration and visualization (E.g. visual mapping through the entire application stack to help identify root cause of performance and availability issues)
  • Performance & Scalability Improvements
  • Web Based Advanced Alert Manager
  • Packet-level Traffic Analysis and Classification
  • Web Based Syslog and Trap Management
  • Unmanage Behavior Improvements
  • Disk Volume Capacity Forecasting
  • Mandatory Custom Properties
  • Independant Volume Thresholds
  • Hardware Health Improvements
  • Support for SQL Server 2014

 

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!

Server & Application Monitor 6.1.1 Release Candidate is now available for all SAM customers under active maintenance through your Customer Portal. Release Candidates are fully supported and upgradable to the final release when available. If you are experiencing any of the issues outlined below, we recommend downloaded the SAM 6.1.1 Service Release and upgrade now.

 

Fixed Issues and Additions in this Release

This release of SAM includes the following fixes and additions:

Version 6.1.1

Fixed Issues:

  • An issue where certain Asset Inventory resources were displaying volumes that were not appearing in the web console has been fixed. a
  • The Exchange database file size default limit was increased in size from 50 GB to 1 TB, and can now be configured manually in the following file: SolarWinds.APM.BlackBox.Exchg.Collector.dll.config.  The 50 GB limit made it difficult to determine proper thresholds. b
  • An issue where AppInsight for Exchange incorrectly calculated the limit for any mailbox database on Exchange 2010 Standard Edition at 50GB has been resolved. c
  • An issue where a PowerShell scripts are unable to run because user accounts and the Exchange server are from different domains has been resolved. d
  • An issue where AppInsight for Exchange threw an error citing, Exchange Version Mismatch, has been resolved. e
  • A conflict between:
    • Windows Scheduled Task Manager and templates of the same name causing the former not to function properly, has been fixed. f
    • AppInsight applications and templates of the same name causing the former not to function properly, has been fixed. m
  • An issue where certain Asset Inventory resources were showing duplicate records due to external updates has been fixed. g
  • AppInsight for Exchange now has the ability to poll all mailboxes within a domain forest. Prior to this fix, AppInsight for Exchange could only poll root mailboxes.  
  • A memory leak has been fixed. This leak occurred during the attempted initialization of certain performance counters resulting in performance counters endlessly attempting to start. i
  • An issue where some physical servers being monitored were falsely reporting a child Warning status has been fixed. j 
  • AppInsight for Exchange now supports Windows 2008 (non-R2). k 
  • A timeout setting has been increased for Linux script execution which now prevents a script execution error. l
  •   A Linux script execution error has been fixed. n, p, q
  • After  upgrading to SAM 6.1, an issue where the variables, ${Threshold-Statistic-Critical} and ${Threshold-Statistic-Warning} no longer populated, has been fixed. o
  • An issue where certain Asset Inventory resources were showing duplicate records due to external updates has been fixed. g
  • AppInsight for Exchange now has the ability to poll all mailboxes within a domain forest. Prior to this fix, AppInsight for Exchange could only poll root mailboxes.
  • A memory leak has been fixed. This leak occurred during the attempted initialization of certain performance counters resulting in performance counters endlessly attempting to start. i
  • An issue where some physical servers being monitored were falsely reporting a child Warning status has been fixed. j
  • AppInsight for Exchange now supports Windows 2008 (non-R2). k
  • A timeout setting has been increased for Linux script execution which now prevents a script execution error. l

 

Table of Fixed SAM Issues

The following table provides the internal Development ID numbers and external support ID numbers for fixed SAM issues as well as new feature requests in this release. Search in the support ID number column for the number assigned to your support case.

 

SuperscriptSupport ID numberDevelopment ID number
a591714321074
b586749318056
c603164328359
d591412320755
e593737321838
f, m594985, 602168323456, 328549
g576182312166
h581448314906
i490700255402
j577567312188
k596422324735
l599218326004
n, p, q594888, 583631, 601187323753, 325219, 327131
o598659325679

We are very excited to talk to you about this feature packed Beta of Database Performance Analyzer (DPA). Since there is so much in this Beta, we will be covering the features in multiple blog posts.  In this post I get the privilege of introducing.

If you are interested in being a part of the Beta program, please click the link below. The only requirement is that you must be an existing DPA/Ignite product owner under active maintenance.

DPA9.0Survey.png

 

WHAT IS DPA?

At this point you may be thinking, 'but what is this DPA of which you speak'.  Database Performance Analyzer (formerly Confio Ignite) is a database focused product that uses 'Response Time Analysis' to quickly decompose your queries and identify why they are slow - and then helps you fix them.  How does this fit in with the SolarWinds products you already own and love?  See this post to find out more detail: SQL Server Two Ways - SAM AppInsight for SQL and Database Performance Analyzer

Oh, and yes, we plan on adding Orion integration in future releases of the tool!  Check out the What we are working on now post.


Performance I/O - Drill Down Into I/O Bottlenecks at the File and Drive level

‘It’s slow’ is often all a DBA ever hears when there are performance problems in the database.  Slow queries can be attributed to many things in the environment.  DBAs in the past have always used wait events to detect I/O problems, now we have another wait to detect these I/O problems!!!  

Use CaseDisplay

Let's say it is a 'normal' day in the life as a DBA and Performance Tuning.  The customers have complained that the system 'Was Slow' on April 7th sometime in their nightly load, from 1am to 2am.  You pull up DPA to see if you see anything that jumps out at you drilling into this time period

pic1.png
However nothing jumps out at you, let's look at the wait events during this time frame. By clicking on the bar for the 1am to 2am time frame I can see that there is wait that is I/O related here (PAGEIOLATCH_SH, WRITELOG, LOGBUFFER, and PAGEIOLATCH_EX)pic2.png

Happily we can now dive further in with Performance I/O.  We now have another way to look at this data to let me know if this was an I/O Problem.


Note: From this screen or the main Trend screen you will see that we now have 'Storage I/O'.


At this point, you may be thinking, ‘How are the Top 15 Data Files ranked’. Well we have come up with an 'I/O Rating' that rates the data files for the instance. The I/O Rating behind the scenes of DPA does the same thing you would do when determining which data file should be looked at.

 

First, DPA will find the files that are in a 'Critical' or 'Warning' state, based on industry standards by default. Then for these files we perform a calculation based on the latency (either Read or Write depending on which tab you are on), the throughput and most importantly the duration the files have been in the 'Critical' or 'Warning' state. This calculation shows you the files you should review first.

 

If there are no files that show up here, that doesn't mean there was no I/O against your database, it just means that the I/O related activity was never in the 'Critical' or 'Warning' state

pic3.png
As an added troubleshooting feature, you can compare these files with what the wait is in the database outside of I/O Wait. This is important because you want to know what your aggregate I/O wait, however you also will want to know if this wait is the largest type of wait or if it is just a small percentage of wait (could we have high Memory/CPU wait, or high lock wait). In our example, over 90% of the wait occurring in this instance is I/O related wait.  Because of this, we will want to drill in further to get more details.pic4v2.png

Let's continue our troubleshooting for April 7th from 1am to 2am.  Just like with the Trending data, you can drill into the 'Storage I/O' data.  Click on April 7th and you will see that day's data, then as we did previously, click on the 1am bar and we will see the detailed hour graph.  As we can see, there is a lot of activity in the early morning hours. Specifically I see a lot of activity on the 'C:\..ignite_ignite_depas13.mdf'' file during our 1am to 2am time frame.

Select this file from the drop down list.

pic5v2.png

Once you select this file, NOW you have hit the MOTHER LOAD of data!!! Not only are there several ways to view I/O Performance for this file, we can also look at the SQL statements being run contributing to the I/O wait (this tab is highlighted on the graph), against this particular file, the Programs this SQL is being generated from, the DB Users that ran the SQL, and the Machines this SQL was sent from.

pic6.png

As you click through the different links at the top of the page,DPA gives you different ways to slice the data to assist in troubleshooting. For our example, we can see a spike that is out of the norm or 'Typical Hour' for our file.  This leads us to believe there may have in fact been an issue with this file.

 

Let's look a little further though.

pic7.png

I click on the 'Comparison over Files' link and I can see that in comparing my file, I see the average for the other files (both on the same drive and for the instance I am on) still have much lower latency.  Yep, it sure continues to point to my file is isolated with this high latency.

 

What if the problem is that I just had higher throughput, more records, than normal.  This could be a good thing, maybe more product is being sold!!!  Let's click on the last tab to find out.

pic8.png

Clicking on 'Throughput Analysis' I can see clearly, I need to talk to my Storage Admins.  My throughput is actually lower than at other times though my latency is high.  This indicates a Hardware issue vs a Software (more product clogging up the latency).  If throughput were much higher, we might surmise that the high I/O was due to more data.  Looks to me the problem happened right after 1am.

 

I can now confidently take my findings to my customers identifying when the problem occurred specifically.  I can then talk to my Storage Admins to figure out the best fix so that this peak is handled in the appropriate manner.

 

AND.. the BEST part is it just took a couple of clicks!!!

pic9.png

I/O Performance is a great feature, but WAIT, there’s more …..


Mass Registration Wizard - Quickly add all your databases into DPA

If you have a large environment, today you have to go through a tedious process to manually register each database instance. In this beta you can try out the Mass Registration Wizard which will make it much easier to load multiple instances into DPA.  What a great feature to use for testing the beta!!!    

Use CaseDisplay

For either Oracle or MS SQL Server Repositories, the steps are the same.  You go to Options and select the Mass Registration button which brings you to the initial screen in a 3 step process.

 

The templates you will need come with the product and are located where you have DPA installed <install directory>/iwc/tomcat/ignite_config/registration.

 

Just take this csv file, update it with your information and select to load it into your respository

pic9v2.PNG

When you select to load the file, DPA goes through an initial check to make sure all the fields are filled in properly and that we can connect with the credentials provided.

 

Click on the 'Register Valid Databases'

pic10v2.PNG

After clicking on the 'Register Valid Databases' DPA will go through the list and try to connect to the desired monitored instance and load the required information into the repository.

 

If there are instances that didn't get registered, DPA will show in this screen  a red 'Invalid' icon with detailed information on why the instance could not be registered.

 

If a monitored instance already exists, you will get a red 'Invalid' and a comment in the status column stating it is already registered

pic11v2.PNG

 


GUI Improvements - Its not always just about the look

Many of the screens you’ll see, and have seen in this blog, during the Beta process will just have a cleaner, crisper and much more SolarWinds-ier feel.  Yes, we are rebranding the product for SolarWinds, but this is more than skin deep - we have also spent a lot of time improving usability and the speed of the product.  We have also spent a lot of making GUI enhancements that improve usability and give it more modern aesthetic.

Is that all you say? Not by a longshot. There will be more blog posts coming to continue describing the new features of DPA including:

  • Resource Metrics Baselines
  • Alert Blackouts
  • Custom Metric Alerts.

 

So, stay at the edge of your seat, the edge of Thwack and STAY TUNED!!!

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for the Beta

   DPA9.0Survey.png

SolarWinds takes security seriously, and in addition to performing exhaustive internal security testing, we do our best to respond swiftly to any reported issue. With the recent heartburn around Heartbleed, the development teams at SolarWinds have been working feverishly to determine if any of our products are affected. For those out there that may have missed the news, a few days ago a high-severity vulnerability in many versions of OpenSSL was made public- and dubbed "Heartbleed." If you have a system serving up SSL content, you may well be impacted. Since the details have been covered ad-nauseam by a variety of sources, we won't go into the nitty-gritty, but good primary source material may be found here: http://heartbleed.com/

While we do ship an OpenSSL library in our core platform that would be affected, it is not exposed as a service and is used in a limited outbound capacity. Because of this reason and our failure to locate any vulnerabilities during the course of our research we believe our products are not vulnerable to Heartbleed. Despite having zero known exposure to the vulnerability, we have released an OpenSSL library fix for Core to further put everyone's mind at ease: http://downloads.solarwinds.com/solarwinds/Release/HotFix/OpenSSL-Security-HotFix.zip

[Revised 6/12/14 10:45am CST to include 1.0.1h]

As everyone here hopefully is aware, we take community transparency quite seriously. In that spirit, please find below matrix:

 

ProductVersionStatusDisposition
Alert CentralOK
DameWareOK
DPA (formerly Confio Ignite)OK
EOCOK
FSMOK
FTP VoyagerOK
IPAM>Core 2012.2OKOrion Core >2012.2 does contain OpenSSL 1.0.1e library, but is only used for outbound SNMPv3 AES communication. It is not able to be referenced by outside process or communication, therefore not vulnerable. Core 2012.2 and earlier do not contain affected OpenSSL library.
ipMonitorOK
Kiwi CatToolsOK
Kiwi SyslogOK
LEMOK
Mobile Admin ServerOK
n-CentralOK
NCM>Core 2012.2OKOrion Core >2012.2 does contain OpenSSL 1.0.1e library, but is only used for outbound SNMPv3 AES communication. It is not able to be referenced by outside process or communication, therefore not vulnerable. Core 2012.2 and earlier do not contain affected OpenSSL library.
NPM>Core 2012.2OKOrion Core >2012.2 does contain OpenSSL 1.0.1e library, but is only used for outbound SNMPv3 AES communication. It is not able to be referenced by outside process or communication, therefore not vulnerable. Core 2012.2 and earlier do not contain affected OpenSSL library.
NTA>Core 2012.2OKOrion Core >2012.2 does contain OpenSSL 1.0.1e library, but is only used for outbound SNMPv3 AES communication. It is not able to be referenced by outside process or communication, therefore not vulnerable. Core 2012.2 and earlier do not contain affected OpenSSL library.
NTMOK
Patch ManagerOK
SAM>Core 2012.2OKOrion Core >2012.2 does contain OpenSSL 1.0.1e library, but is only used for outbound SNMPv3 AES communication. It is not able to be referenced by outside process or communication, therefore not vulnerable. Core 2012.2 and earlier do not contain affected OpenSSL library.
Serv-UOK
SFTP/SCP Server Free tool1.0.3.20 - 1.0.4.31OKSFTP/SCP Server 1.0.3.20 - 1.0.4.31 does contain OpenSSL 1.0.1e library, however only for internal encryption. No external SSL service is referenced, therefore not vulnerable.
Free SSH ClientOK
Storage ManagerOK
TFTP Server Free toolOK
Engineer's Toolset10.9.1 - 11.0.0OKSFTP/SCP Server in Toolset 10.9.1 - 11.0.0 does contain OpenSSL 1.0.1e library, however only for internal encryption. No external SSL service is referenced, therefore not vulnerable.
UDT>Core 2012.2OKOrion Core >2012.2 does contain OpenSSL 1.0.1e library, but is only used for outbound SNMPv3 AES communication. It is not able to be referenced by outside process or communication, therefore not vulnerable. Core 2012.2 and earlier do not contain affected OpenSSL library.
Virtualization ManagerOK
VNQM>Core 2012.2OKOrion Core does contain OpenSSL 1.0.1e library, but is only used for outbound SNMPv3 AES communication. It is not able to be referenced by outside process or communication, therefore not vulnerable. Core 2012.2 and earlier do not contain affected OpenSSL library.
WebHelpDeskOK
WPM>Core 2012.2OKOrion Core does contain OpenSSL 1.0.1e library, but is only used for outbound SNMPv3 AES communication. It is not able to be referenced by outside process or communication, therefore not vulnerable. Core 2012.2 and earlier do not contain affected OpenSSL library.

 

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns, and we will address them straight away.

Last quarter we announced the release of Virtual Classrooms, our free product training program for customers with active maintenance. The response to these deeply technical and hands-on courses has been stupendous.

 

Since the January launch, we've had nearly 1,400 students pass through one of our 80 intimate classroom sessions. With the positive feedback and high demand for the program, we have been working hard to develop new courses and expand the offering.

 

To help facilitate the growth, the NPM 101 and 102 courses are being upgraded to include basic training across the entire Orion Platform (and they will be getting new names). If you own any products that live on the Orion Platform, these courses are a perfect way to get your bearings or catch up on the latest platform advancements.

 

But that's not all. Coming later this quarter we will be launching advanced courses for Server & Application Monitor (SAM), so stay tuned to thwack and your customer portal for more information.

 

Current Classes

All courses are approximately four hours long and offered at various times and dates.

 

SolarWinds Orion Platform 101: Getting Started - Navigation and Management, Discovery, Mapping, and Custom Views

The SolarWinds Orion Platform provides the backbone for a suite of SolarWinds products including NPM, SAM, NTA and more. This course offers a product-neutral introduction to Orion Core. We will take you from the initial install through customization and daily use. We'll cover familiarization with the web interface, automatic discovery and manually adding devices and applications, creating maps, managing user accounts, and creating custom views.

 

SolarWinds Orion Platform 102: Digging In - Advanced Alerts, Reporting, and More

SolarWinds Orion Platform 102 dives into advanced alerting and reporting with a product-neutral look at the tools and features available, including the new web-based reporting interface. We cover creating and managing custom alerts, alert suppression, object dependencies, and custom properties. We will create and automate reports, and also show how to integrate those reports into custom views for easy, real-time access.

 

SolarWinds NPM 201: Advanced Monitoring - Universal Device Poller, SNMP traps, Syslog Viewer

NPM 201 digs into some of the more advanced monitoring mechanisms available. We'll get away from the "out-of-the-box" object configs and default monitoring settings to create a customized monitoring environment. If you have a good understanding of MIBs, OIDs, and SNMP (or would like to), this is probably the right class for you.

 

SolarWinds NPM 202: Performance Tuning - Tuning, Remote Pollers, License Management

NPM 202 focuses on maximizing performance. This means tuning your equipment to optimize its capabilities, tuning your polling intervals to capture data you need without bogging down the database with less critical data, and adding additional pollers for load balancing and better network visibility. This class is great if your NPM could use a tune-up, or if you are considering expanding your deployment with additional licenses, polling engines, or web servers.

 

Where to Sign Up

You can sign up in your customer portal.

virtual_classroms.png

 

If the classes you want is full, feel free to write us at CustomerVoice@solarwinds.com and we'll let you know as soon as we add new classes to the schedule.

 

Don't Forget About Customer-Only Trials!

And...don't forget about the benefits of downloading customer trials from the customer portal. You have access to every SolarWinds product with a streamlined evaluation experience including:

  • No need to fill out a registration form
  • Download will not trigger emails about other products or offers
  • We will only contact you at the beginning and midway through your trial (unless you reach out to us)
  • If you have questions or need assistance with your evaluation contact customersales@solarwinds.com

We are pleased to announce the general availability of Kiwi CatTools v3.10.

 

This version includes the following enhancements:

  • Variations added to the following device types: Cisco Router.General, Cisco.Switch.IOS.
  • Variations added to the following device types: Dell.Switch.CLI, HP.Switch.2500, and Enterasys.SecureStack.
  • Monthly Scheduling options on Activites.
  • Support for Cisco Small Business devices.
  • Support for HP Devices 12000, 12500, and 3500.
  • New option to ignore a block of text from comparison during Device Running Config activity.
  • Support for Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Newest SolarWinds licensing framework adopted

 

Kiwi CatTools v3.10 is available for download in your customer portal for those customers under current Kiwi CatTools maintenance.

 

You can view the full set of release notes, including problems fixed here.

 

Enjoy Kiwi CatTools 3.10!

Regular expressions are used in many places in the Network Configuration Manager (NCM). Because of technical and historical reasons, NCM uses a few different flavors of regular expressions for different functionality. In this post, I would like to explain the differences and provide references to more detailed documentation.

 

What Are Regular Expressions

Informally, a regular expression is a search pattern (sequence of characters) used mainly for string pattern matching and string finding. The term originated in formal language theory where regular expressions are exactly defined and related to other concepts of the same power (regular languages, finite automata, etc.). Although the current tools still use the term 'regular expression' (regex), it would be more precise to call them something like 'search patterns'; the expressive power of the search engine is, in fact, often much higher than that of the original regular expressions. (Many modern tools support patterns that are even more powerful than context-free languages.).

 

Regular Expressions for Comparison Criteria

When you compare two config files for changes, you may want to ignore some of them. (Examples: certificates, last modification time.) Defining comparison criteria enables you to filter out of comparison results lines that you do not need NCM to evaluate; this saves both processing time and, more importantly, makes the review of compared files easier.

 

Comparison-Criteria.PNG

 

The regular expressions you create and enable in the settings (Settings -> NCM Settings -> Comparison Criteria) are used throughout NCM — for example, in performing scheduled jobs — wherever the software needs to compare config files as part of its work. A few criteria that are often used come with NCM out of the box; you can also define your own. The lines you typically want to ignore are often informational comments like when was the configuration changed last.

 

NCM uses the well-known diff tool (from the GNU Diffutils package) for config file comparisons. As you can find in Diffutils documentation, diff uses grep-style regular expressions; then it's not difficult to learn from GNU grep manual that the default regex flavour for grep are basic regular expressions (BRE). Please note that the diff program works line by line -- you cannot define a regex that would match multiple lines.

 

Let's review some implications of BRE being the regex kind used in NCM comparison criteria.

  • Meta-characters ‘?’, ‘+’, ‘{’, ‘|’, ‘(’, and ‘)’ lose their special meaning; you must use the backslashed versions ‘\?’, ‘\+’, ‘\{’, ‘\|’, ‘\(’, and ‘\)’. In other words, you will use backslashes to give certain characters special meaning, while many other regex implementations use backslashes to take the special meaning away.
  • You have to use '%%' in the pattern when you want to match '%'.

 

More details on BRE syntax can be found e.g. on this page.

 

Device Templates

The parameter RegEx may be added to certain commands to recognize the string that is received when the command is complete. For example, if the command is complete when the device responds with System Characteristic, then you must add the following attribute to the command: RegEx="System Characteristic".

 

Another example: If you login on a device and must switch user context to execute a command, resulting in a different command prompt, use the following example to guide you when switching context and recognizing the new command prompt:

<Command Name=”Reset” Value=”appropriateSwitchContextCommands” RegEx=”newPrompt”/>

(You should also specify that the template logic should run in CLI mode: <Command Name=”MenuBased” Value=”false”/>)

 

NCM uses the Microsoft VBScript Regular Expression 5.5 engine to parse the value of the RegEx parameter. This engine implements Perl-style regular expressions with some limitations that you will probably never notice. Please see the details on this page.

 

Using Regular Expressions for Compliance Checks

Policy reports help ensure device configurations conform to both internal business practices and federal regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA), and Computer Inventory of Survey Plans (CISP). Policy reports scan configuration files and report any discovered rule violations. For example, a rule requires configurations not to include the read-only community string public. You can run a report on your configuration files, and then display any configurations that violate the rule.

 

If you want to search the device config for a text block, or by a regular expression, you should use the Advanced Config Search. Compliance checks use the Microsoft .NET Framework regex engine. The syntax is described in Appendix B of the NCM Administrator Guide (http://www.solarwinds.com/documentation/orionNCM/docs/orionNCMAdministratorGuide.pdf) and also in Regular Expression Language - Quick Reference and Using Regular Expressions with .NET - C# and Visual Basic.

 

A Basic Example

By Tim Nelson.

When you create an advanced rule with multiple patterns, it simply takes the true/false of the patterns and then performs an AND operator on them to see if any are violated based on the overall criteria, not the individual rule criteria. Second, you can use parentheses to make rules inclusive of each other. This is needed when you want conditional statements with dependencies. Think of it as a creative way around if-then statements. So to explain this in better detail let’s cover what will and will not match in a policy.

 

If you create an advanced rule and you want to do a conditional based on bandwidth, you can say the following (keep in mind you should test ALL rules with the single regex you want to match before creating a complex multi-line rule, or use a regex tester):

 

       Must contain “string”: bandwidth 1536

and    Must not contain “regex”: class ipp1[^\r\n]

or     Must not containt “string”: bandwidth 1536

 

In order for this to actually work the top two rules must be contained within parentheses to make them inclusive of each other, i.e. one requires the other. What we are actually doing with the middle pattern is matching anything BUT “class ipp1\r” or “class ipp1\n” which is why we used, Must not contain. Lastly, all of this is wrapped within a container of “Must not contain” for rule violation, this is what actually decides if the rule is violated or not.

 

Policy-Create-Rule.PNG

 

What you will notice when this violates is that the “bandwidth 1536” is matched within the config, because you put “must contain” and it matched, NCM will add a plus sign where ever there is a pattern match. You must keep this in mind as you write rules, as without being the creator of the rule, this can become difficult to parse through.

 

NCM will show the first line on a multi-line match as the violation, so for end-user readability we can create rules that identify the exact line in error and therefore have more granular reporting. You should keep in mind that if your standards change in your network environment, you will have to be able to update these rules. So it is best to fully document your logic for every advanced rule you create.

SolarWinds® Virtualization Manager 6.1 Release Candidate (RC) is now available and we are seeking input on this version from interested customers.

 

Some of the great features you will be able to try in the RC:

  • Significant extension of the integration with Orion including:
    • Addition of Hyper-V clusters
    • Ability to use Orion Web-based Reporting Engine to report on Virtualization Manager data in the integration
    • Ability to use Orion’s Advanced Alert Engine to alert on Virtualization Manager data in the integration
    • Account view limitation (role-based access control)
    • Dynamic Thresholds – Also known as Performance Baselining for dynamic objects
    • A new synchronization wizard to enhance ease of setup of integration
    • Bug fixes and stability improvements

 

If you are interested in joining this Release Candidate program, please fill out our survey. Once you sign-up, the Product Team will notify you when the RC is available in your Customer Portal.

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