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Update: NCM 7.4 Beta2 has been made available.

 

We have completed another bulk of the development effort and are now focused on testing the latest enhancements of Network Configuration Manager (NCM); NCM v7.4 Beta is available. 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 are open to customers with valid maintenance contract, cannot be installed in production, and you cannot upgrade the Beta to any other future versions.

 

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New features in Beta2 (topics in alphabetical order):

  • Auditing Improvements
    • Track username of user who made a config change (for real-time change detection)
  • Compiance Reports and Remediation
    • Automatic remediation of policy violations (optional).
    • Execute remediation script for all blocks in violation (e.g. interfaces).
    • Use Config Change Templates for remediation.
  • Config Change Approval
    • Two-step approval (optional).
  • Device Lifecycle Management
    • New report listing End-of-Life devices
    • Automatically assign End-of-Life information based on part number.
  • Device Template Assistant integrated in Web UI
  • Miscellaneous Web UI and Usability Improvements
    • Update or cancel only selected inventory transfers.
    • A number of small usability improvements

 

Content of Beta1:

  • Web-based reporting
  • Web-based alerting
    • Enhancement: Execute the NCM action on a different node.
  • Miscellaneous Web UI and Usability Improvements
    • Be able to quickly add/remove a lot of nodes to/from NCM at the same time.
    • Add SWQL filtering for drill-down charts on NCM summary page.
    • Make grids match browser window size.
    • Export config file from Web UI.
    • Ability to re-execute items on transfer status page.
    • Keep history for the transfer status page.
    • Notify requestor when his/her request has been approved.
    • Option to exclude devices with no config changes from the config change report email notification
    • Improved EoL/EoS summary resource
  • Improvements of Compliance Reports
    • Better navigation when inspecting violations.
    • Config block not found does not mean policy violation.
    • Update only selected policy reports.
    • Disable a policy report.
    • Copy/duplicate a policy or rule.
    • Delete all policies and rules associated with a report at once.
    • Policy violations summary resource is customizable.
    • Export violation details with the compliance report.
  • Security Improvements
    • Report vulnerabilities for Cisco IOS
    • The default NCM Role is None for a new Orion account.
  • New config change templates out of the box
  • Store device templates in the database

 

Inventory reports use Orion web reporting UI

The reporting system of Orion Platform brings a lot of improvements to NCM inventory reports.

  • Modern UI shared with other Orion products
  • Wide range of cusomization possibilities; both information and formatting.
  • No need to RDP to the NCM server

 

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Web UI improvements

Now you can add nodes to NCM without leaving the main node management page:

 

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The pie charts on NCM summary page can be filtered now; this is useful e.g. for Juniper devices that don't follow Cisco's model of startup and running configuration.

 

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You can re-execute transfers easily on the Transfer Status page. The records do not get overwritten in case you are interested in the history.

 

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The EoL/EoS summary resource presents the data in a better structured way. When you click on a part number, the EoL/EoS detailed grid filtered for that particular part number is opened.

 

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Compliance reports are easier to use

A few simple but useful improvements:

 

  1. Update only selected report(s)
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  2. Enable/disable a report
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  3. Policy violations resource is customizable
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  4. When a rule searches in a block rather than in the full config, you have the option not to trigger violation if the whole config block is not present.
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NCM reports vulnerabilities for Cisco IOS

See what vulnerabilities exist for your Cisco IOS nodes. Be alerted when there is a new vulnerability. Acknowledge, remediate, or ignore.

 

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Device templates are managed on the web

No need to distribute the device templates across all your pollers and keep them in sync.

 

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Patch Manager 2.1 is now Generally Available and available for download in the customer portal for all customers on active maintenance!!!!! All features described in the Beta post along with multiple bug fixes were addressed in this release.

 

 

The team at SolarWinds has been hard at work at producing the next release of Patch Manager with some great new features. It is my pleasure to announce Patch Manager 2.1 Beta which is packed full of features and is open to Patch Manager customers currently on active maintenance. To try it out please fill out this short survey and provide us your feedback in the Patch Manager Beta forum.

 

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Automated 3rd Party Patching and Publishing

Patch Manager currently offers 3rd party patch/updates through our 3PUP catalog so that administrators can simply update their products using Patch Manager as they would for Windows Patches.  In Patch Manager 2.1 we have introduced Automated Third Party Patching and Publishing which will save administrators time by automating the publishing of 3rd party updates to WSUS in the same way Microsoft updates distribution points.  This reduces the number of touches and time required to publish the 3rd party updates by allowing the local Microsoft WSUS server to automatically download 3rd party patch content on a scheduled basis and automatically publish.  An additional option can be set which automatically approves certain patches based on criteria (typically severity) and provide a scope for automatic approval. For a complete list of supported 3rd party updates check out Table of third party patches - updated 1/21/2015Follow the steps below for enabling and configuring Auto-Publish of 3rd Party Updates to WSUS.

 

Opening the Auto-Publish of 3rd Party Update Wizard

In the Patch Manager Console select Administration and Reporting - Software Publishing - Right click and choose Auto-Publish of 3rd Party Updates to WSUS.  Alternatively you can select Auto-Publish of 3rd Party Updates to WSUS in the actions panel after highlighting Software Publishing.

 

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Selecting Products and Specify WSUS

Select the WSUS server that will be publishing the 3rd party update and select the software to have published.

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Schedule

The schedule screen allows you to select your Auto-Publishing schedule. You may choose to have a set period of time to publish as a schedule task or auto-publish after every synchronization. In addition email notifications can be configured on this screen as well.

 

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Summary

 

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Scheduled Tasks

Once done, you can review and edit you auto-publish task by selecting Scheduled Tasks under Software Publishing

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Report Enhancements

Patch Manager contains volumes of data and environment metrics that can be reported. An important aspect of Patch Management is the ability to perform essential reporting of your environment for compliance and remediation purposes.  We have improved the out-of-the-box reporting by replacing dated reports with relevant and more intuitive reporting options. In addition the following reports have been added or modified based on demand from the Thwack user community.

 

ReportLocationInformation

Custom hardware report

Configuration Management Reports - Computer (System Information) - Custom hardware report

You no longer have to build a hardware report from scratch. The Custom hardware report can be configured using any of the existing 19 available data sources with each source having multiple fields.

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Installed programs and feature basic

Configuration Management Reports - Installed Programs and Feature Basic (MS Products Omitted)

The default Installed Programs and Feature Basic (MS Products Omitted) report can easily be modified to omit MS products specific to your environment.

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Approved updates status counts by WSUS server and update source

WSUS Reports - Windows Server Update Services Analytics Approved updates status counts by WSUS server and update source

Provides the WSUS server name, update source and total sum of approved updates in the following categorizations:

  • Approved not installed
  • Approved unknown
  • Approved downloaded
  • Approved failed
  • Approved installed
  • Approved pending reboot
  • Approved total

Computer update status - locally published updates

WSUS Reports - Windows Server Update Services Analytics - Computer update status - locally published updatesThis Out-of-the-box report identifies all updates that do not have Microsoft Update as a source

Computer update status with aggregate counts of install state for approved updates

WSUS Reports - Windows Server Update Services Analytics - Computer update status with aggregate counts of install state for approved updatesThis report provides an aggregate count all approved updates that are applicable to a particular computer/server and in which phase of install.

Computer Update status counts by classification for approved - not installed

WSUS Reports - Windows Server Update Services Analytics - Computer Update status counts by classification for approved - not installedProvides a list of all approved updates that have not been installed on a computer.

Computer Update status - Approved updates with ID and Revision

WSUS Reports - Windows Server Update Services Analytics - Computer Update status - Approved updates with ID and RevisionProvides a comprehensive report of all approved updates and their status as it pertains to each computer/server.


It is important to note that all Out-Of-The-Box reports are configurable with hundreds of data sources and fields. Customization of reporting has been greatly enhanced in Patch Manager 2.1 with the addition of Cross-Datasource Reporting. This provides users with the ability to write reports without worrying about the specific data sources hampering real creativity within the reporting engine. 


Logging Enhancements

We have enhanced the log collection functionality in Patch Manager by centralizing and bundling of logs which will assist in the troubleshooting of Patch Manager.  By extending the existing Orion diagnostic tool an administrator can now collect the relevant logs and review for diagnostic evaluation or submit to support.  This eliminates having to browse to individual directories to gather separate logs.

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Windows 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 Support

Windows 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 are now OS options when selecting computer properties.

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Notification Bar Enhancements

A banner notification has been added to the web console to notify the administrator that new patches are available.

 

Additional Computer Group Scoping Options

You know have 3 three additional grouping options to allow management and task targeting at subnet, AD organizational unit and/or site levels.This provides granular device grouping options depending on the task at hand when creating computer groupings.


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IP Subnet - You now have the option to target a subset of machines based on a specific subnet.

 

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Active Directory Organizational Unit (OU) -  Patch Manager administrators are able to target all computers within an Active Directory Organizational Unit.options.JPG
Active Directory Site -  You can now group computers by Active Directory Sites as a possible element in routing requests to automation servers. Larger environments with multiple Patch Manager servers require automation routing rules to assign tasks to specific Patch Manager servers based on the IP of the machine in question.

 

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That's it for now.  Don't forget to sign up for the Beta and provide your feedback in the Patch Manager Beta forum


The Log & Event Manager (LEM) team has been hard at work on a release intended to make your lives easier. We know you're swamped and decided to take a little time to make it faster to get LEM up and running and configure rules related to problems you're interested in solving without looking through a big list and clicking, clicking, clicking.

 

Getting Started with LEM: New & Improved!

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We had a handy dandy getting started widget in LEM before, but we've taken it one step further and glued together those steps into one location rather than sending you on a bit of a wild goose chase. Now, from the Ops Center Getting Started widget you can:

  • Quickly configure Basic Settings needed for LEM to be up and running - email server settings and directory service server (for groups and/or authentication) configuration
    • As you click "Next" to move through the wizard, each step will be tested and verified. If you see a pause, that's what's going on. If there's a problem, LEM will let you know.

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  • Quickly access the Add Node Wizard including links to the agent installers and the full syslog scan to configure connectors automatically

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  • Use the NEW Add Rules Wizard to add rules for different areas of interest (more on that later)
  • And, view all of the quick training videos from within the LEM console!

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New Feature: Add Rules Quickly by Category

 

Our next big addition is the new Add Rules wizard. From Build > Rules or from the Ops Center Getting Started widget/wizard flow, you can launch the fancy new wizard. This wizard will configure for you ALL rules that match a given category that can be configured easily - no active responses, just email and "infer alert" or "create incident" actions (we'll look at improving to add more active response choices in the future). This should be MUCH MUCH faster than all that cloning you had to do before. As a part of this, we've also created a new "General Best Practices" subcategory in each parent category - if you're not sure where to get started, these categories will get you a wide swath of the most common rules enabled.

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          Select each category of interest

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          View and select subcategories, including the new General Best Practice subcategory

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          Specify email server settings (if not already configured), and email recipients (even add contacts from within the wizard if they don't exist)

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          Clicking "Finish" will clone, select the right users, and enable the selected rules all in one step!

 

We've also revamped our quick rules training video to include how to use the new wizard and a fast example of building a rule by hand:

 

 

 

Fixes, Fixes, Fixes

 

As always, we've fixed a bunch of customer issues and included notable minor improvements. Included:

  • Improvements to our IIS coverage - if you've struggled with which fields to configure, or IIS not working right after you configure it, this is for you!
  • Support for Windows 8.1 with Workstation Edition - if your 8.1 workstations are coming up as servers and pulling Universal instead of Workstation nodes, this will help
  • Lots of new connectors! As always you can download connectors out of band to releases, but you'll get them automatically with the upgrade, too.

 

Sounds Great - Where do I Download? Where do I Ask Questions?

 

Easy: from the Customer Portal!

 

If you've got any questions, head on over to the Log & Event Manager Release Candidate thwack forum and let us know.

 

As always, feel free to post here and/or contact me directly with any feedback.

Here at SolarWinds we've been working overtime on another update to Web Performance Monitor (WPM), only a few short months after our release of WPM 2.1. I am pleased to announce that the result of our efforts, WPM 2.2, has reached beta status. Now is your chance to install the latest version and provide us your feedback on the newest features. We remain committed to constantly improving WPM and your beta participation and feedback guarantees that we are making improvements that are beneficial to our users.

 

To participate in the beta, simply fill out this survey and we will send you the download links as soon as they’re ready.

 

 

Below is an overview of the newest features you’ll see in WPM 2.2.

 

1. New AppStack Integration

The AppStack environment is a new feature that we’re very excited about here at SolarWinds. It provides users an overview of their entire environment in a single, easily digestible view – from storage arrays all the way up to the applications consuming the data they house. As a part of the AppStack formula, transactions managed by WPM as well as their dependencies can easily be viewed and any issues diagnosed.

 

To give an example of where the magic of AppStack + WPM would shine, let's say you get an alert that your WPM transaction has failed and users are beginning to call with complaints. From the AppStack view below, you can quickly glance to determine if the issue lies in your storage, server, web application, virtualization, or elsewhere. Knowing this allows you to focus your remediation efforts right away, decreasing the time to resolution.

 

Check out a recent blog post for more information about our new AppStack and the screenshot below of what you can expect to see.

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2. New Web-Based Alerting

By popular demand, web-based alerting is now ready to go with WPM. To be clear, for us that doesn’t mean simply moving alerts to the web. With WPM 2.2, you’ll see a whole new alerting engine built from the ground up. The update won’t affect the alerting functionality you’re used to; instead, it will give you increased functionality and control when creating transaction alerts. All said, that means you’ll be able get more out of your existing WPM transactions by making the data it generates more actionable. Lots of functionality with this so you'll have to dig in to see more, but a sneak peek of the UI is below and check out a recent blog post that gives an overview of the new features.

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3. Step Dependencies

WPM 2.1 brought you dependencies at the transaction level. That meant that you were able to set resource dependencies to transactions as a whole. However, we started to see that users had different dependencies on the various, individual steps of a transaction. With WPM 2.2, we’re letting you take that one step farther (pun intended) - you’ll now be able to drill down even deeper by setting dependencies on the transaction step level.

 

A quick example. Let's say you have a web transaction that includes various dependencies across the different steps of the transaction - e.g. you're an e-commerce site with a dependency in the first step on checking inventory from an inventory system, a dependency in the second step on routing shipping through a shipping system, and a dependency in the final step on posting a sale to a sales system. Before step dependencies, all three of these systems would have been dependent at the transaction level. That meant if any single step of the transaction were to fail, you would get a warning that any one of those systems might be a potential cause for the transaction failure - you wouldn't know where to start. Now, with step dependencies, WPM 2.2 can tell you based on which step of the transaction failed the exact dependency that is the root cause. The result is more focused alerting, thus a more focused response and a quicker time to resolution.

 

This granularity of control is why we're excited to provide step dependencies and why we think they'll be valuable to our users. Check out a screenshot below where you can see individual transaction steps on the left and a VM node step dependency for the first step.

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So there you have it – WPM 2.2. Be sure to fill out the beta survey to be included and if you have any feedback, leave it here. We’re working hard on making WPM better and your beta participation and feedback goes a long way in our being able to do that.

 

 

- the WPM product team

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