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I am excited to announce that Database Performance analyzer 10.1 with support for Oracle 12c multitenant is now available in the customer portal and for free evaluation from the SolarWinds Website. What's so special about DPA 10.1?  Let's take a look!

 

New Features in 10.1

  • Support for Oracle 12c Multitenant
    • Monitor Oracle Pluggable Databses (PDBs)
    • Automatic Grouping of PDBs
    • Summary View, showing usage per PDB
    • Detect and alert when PDBs are added, remove or moved.
    • Mass registrion for PDBs, just like other
    • PDBs should up in the Orion integration
    • Using a PDB as an DPA repository
  • Improved Mass Registration
  • Offline License Deactivation
  • Lots of minor fixes - see the Release Notes.

 

What is a PDB?

What's a PDB you ask?   Officially, a Pluggable Database is "user-created set of schemas, objects, and related structures that appears logically to an application as a separate database". Basically, its everything that makes up the database.  Why is this important?  Previously, Oracle didn't have a good way to have multiple databases on one Oracle instance. You had a couple of options, table spaces and multiple instances per server, but they had their drawbacks.  Multitenant support is kind of like virtualization, where you can quickly "plug" in multiple databases into one Oracle "container" (aka CDB) and let them share resources and be managed as a whole, improving resource utilization and reducing management time.

 

Monitoring Oracle Multitenant and PDB changes

Adding individual PDBs now works just like Oracle single tenant or the classic Oracle databases.  Just choose Oracle, enter the needed information and go!  Same thing with mass registration.  DPA will only allow you to register PDBs, not CDBs (Container Databases).  If you try to add the CDB, DPA will politely ask you to register the PDBs instead.

 

Once you have registered two Oracle PDBs in the same CDB (Container Database), they will auto group in the home screen.  If you register just one PDB from a CDB, is will still show up as an individual database.

CDB View - Summarizing PDB Load

As a bonus, you can click on the CDB and get summary data across the PDB instances, allowing you to quickly see which PDB has more wait time, what kinds of waits they are experiencing,

 

Which PDB is waiting the most in the CDB?  Quickly see the balance between the PDBs.

If you are seeing unusual wait times at the PDB level, you can drill up and review the PDB.  Here we see a major increase "direct path read" and "read by other session".

Finally, if you want to look across all your PDBs and find the query with the most wait time, use the Top SQL tab.  You can click on the link to see the query.

 

PDB Annotations and Alerts

The data collected from a PDB is the same data we've always collected for Oracle.  However, we do annotate all PDB changes - when they are added, removed or moved.

For example, you will see annotations on the 30-day trend when

  • You plug in a PDB
  • You move a PDB from one CDB to another (see sample below)
  • You unplug a PDB

PDB Odds and Ends

  • If you have a dozens or hundreds of PDBs, mass registration allows you to quickly add them via a spreadsheet upload.
  • If you want to use a PDB as a repository for DPA, no problem - it works out of the box.
  • PDBs will show up in the Orion integration and support all current features, so they will map to your Orion nodes and application just like traditional databases.

 

 

But Wait, There's More

Every release has some minor features too, and 10.1 is no exception.

  • The mass registration file can now be uploaded directly to DPA via the GUI, rather than moving the file to the DPA server.  This simplifies mass registration and makes it a more secure process.
  • You can now deactivate licenses without involving support or customer service - even if you are offline.
  • Lots of minor fixes - see the Release Notes.

 

What's next?

Our dedicated team of database nerds and code jockies are hard at work on the next awesome DPA release - check out the What We Are Working On for DPA (Updated April 7, 2017) post.  If you don't see everything you've been wishing for there, you add it to our Database Performance Analyzer Feature Requests

 

If the above features get you excited, get on the list for the next beta by filling out this survey.

Not all virtual environments are alike, the default out-of-the-box configuration of the virtual appliance is not necessarily best suited to environments of all sizes, and those particularly large environments may want to consider adjusting some of those default settings for optimal performance.  To take advantage of the features that have been added to VMAN over the last several releases requires Orion integration, which makes correctly configuring VMAN extremely important for performance and scalability. The VMAN Sizing Guide was created to assist with the preliminary setup and configuration of both the Virtualization Manager appliance and the integrated Orion server. 

 

To access the guide click here.

 

The the following items are addressed based on the number of VMs to be polled.

 

·       Memory, CPU, and storage considerations for the VMAN appliance

·       Memory, CPU, and storage considerations for the Orion server when integration is enabled

·       Identify when federated pollers are needed

·       Identify when to deploy Orion APEs to distribute the workload when integration is enabled

·       Advanced fine tuning of the VMAN appliance for Optimal performance

·       Necessary hotfix install version to solve integration issues

·       Fixes for database size issues

 

 

The guide is organized into small, medium, and large deployment recommendations to help you determine the starting configuration size for your VMAN and Orion deployment. Not all possible scenarios are included in this document, so consider the recommendations in this document as guidelines.  This is not an exhaustive list of all the fine tuning and performance tweaks that can be made, if you are still having performance issues than please reach out to your sales engineer or support contact.  They should be able to walk you through some advance tuning recommendations that would be specific to your virtual environment. 

 

Click the following  button for the VMAN Sizing Guide.

VMAN Sizing Guide.png

Recently, Cisco® added a collection of Smart Services reports to Smart Net Total Care™.  The new Smart Net Total Care reports rely on current information about your network devices and how they are configured and used.  To get these reports, you must send information about your network to Cisco. One way to do this is to use SolarWinds® Network Configuration Manager (NCM). NCM utilizes a variety of network discovery methods to identify the network devices it manages. Therefore, NCM knows a great deal about your network devices and how they are configured and used. Using a special connector, NCM is able to send this information to Cisco.

 

What follows is a quick overview of the reports included with a Smart Net Total Care subscription that are now available using NCM and the NCM Cisco connector.  

Service Coverage

The service coverage reports, also known as Know the Network (KTN), show devices and components not covered under a valid service contract. If service coverage exists, the report includes details about the service agreement, including coverage start and end times. Use this report to identify hardware and software that may not be covered under a service agreement, and identify devices that are covered but are no longer in service.

 

EoxHW

The Hardware EoX report shows you which devices you have in your network that are approaching critical lifecycle milestones. In addition to providing important dates associated with End-of-Life (EoL), this report provides recommendations for hardware you might consider migrating to. It also provides links to published bulletins that are full of information about planning budgets, preparing for eventual replacement, and ways to avoid problems when devices require service.

 

EoxSW

The Software EoX report is similar to the EoxHW report, except that it shows the software running on your devices that are approaching critical lifecycle milestones. This report provides important EoL dates associated with iOS® versions, recommends which iOS versions to upgrade to, and includes links to published bulletins. This information can help you identify which devices require iOS updates.

 

PSIRT

The PSIRT report identifies security vulnerabilities associated with devices on your network as determined by the Cisco Product Security and Incident Response Team. Use this report to identify and investigate potential security problems.

 

Field Notice

The Field Notice report summarizes all product defects found in devices on your network. It specifies affected devices and provides a URL where you can access a published Field Notice advisory. The advisory provides details on how a product can be replaced or fixed with an upgrade. Use this report to identify hardware and software that may be defective, and receive instructions on how to remedy any defects.

 

IPv6 Profile

The IPv6 Profile report evaluates your network and tells you what actions you need to take to support IPv6-based network services. Use this report to see which devices are capable of supporting IPv6, which devices are capable of supporting IPv6 with recommended hardware and software upgrades, and which devices are not capable of supporting IPv6.

 

Medianet Profile

The Medianet™ pre-deploy assessment report helps you determine which network devices are capable of supporting multimedia services. Use this report to see which devices are capable of supporting multimedia, which devices are capable of supporting multimedia with recommended hardware and software upgrades, and which devices are not capable of supporting multimedia.

 

To use the connector, you must install the most current version of NCM (v7.4).  Then you can access these reports in two ways. First, the NCM connector will download a CSV version of these reports locally for you to use. Second, you can view these reports in your Cisco Smart Net Total care portal.

 

To download or to learn more about NCM and Cisco connector, visit this Web page. If you already own NCM, you can download the free connector from your customer portal.

SCAWARDS2016_winnerhoriz.jpg

 

On March 1, SolarWinds® Network Configuration Manager (NCM) was recognized for being the Best Policy/Risk Management Solution by SC Magazine for the fourth straight year. Other finalists for this years’ award included Bay Dynamics, TraceSecurity, Trustwave, and Venafi.

 

SC Magazine wrote, “Managing, monitoring, and auditing configuration policies on network devices are the top three reasons why IT pros select and use SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager.”

 

Risk management is a central element of IT governance for most organizations, even if they don’t have to comply with information privacy regulations. The purpose of IT risk management is to identify the business impact caused by the loss of IT services, and take measures to reasonably avoid or reduce this impact. Since the network is the very foundation for all IT services, and the function and suitability of the network is defined by the configurations for its constituent routers, switches, controllers, access control devices and more, then it makes sense to carefully manage, monitor, and audit these configurations. This is why NCM plays such a critical role in IT risk management and operations.

 

So how does NCM manage, monitor, and audit device configurations?  Here is a quick overview.

 

Manage

 

Device access  – Perhaps the first place to start is by removing ad hoc and remote access to devices. NCM lets you centrally manage device passwords, and even require configuration changes to be made using the change management features in NCM.

 

Backup and recover – Hardware failure and human error can break your network. Recover from these disasters quickly with the ability to schedule, back up, find, and restore device configurations.

 

User roles and permissions – Want to control who has access to network devices and what they can do? Use NCM user roles and permissions to determine who can access specific devices and what actions they can perform.

 

Configuration templates – Have a big network change looming, or need to standardize your configs? Use NCM configuration change templates. Change templates save you time making consistent changes across many devices by providing powerful device- and vendor-neutral automation using control logic and variable-based attributes stored in the device profile. 

 

Change approval – Want complete visibility on all changes? Use NCM workflow to review and approve changes before they can be applied.

 

Job scheduling – Want to control when changes are made? Use NCM scheduling to execute changes during maintenance windows.

 

Monitor

 

Change detection – Want to know whenever any change is made and who made the change? Detect configuration changes in near real-time, and even take automated actions, like archiving a configuration, writing a changed configuration to flash memory, or issuing an alert.

 

Change analysis – Want to know exactly what changed? Compare two configurations side-by-side and see exactly where statements have been added or removed.

 

Audit

 

Policies – Want to help ensure your configs contain (or don’t contain) specific configuration statements? Use NCM policies to define what is expected (or forbidden) in a configuration. NCM delivers out-of-the-box policies for PCI, DISA STIG, FISMA, SOX, and HIPPA, or you can build or customize your own.

 

Audit – Want to help ensure configurations never drift from your standards? Automatically audit your configurations as frequently as you like using the policies you have selected to use.

 

Report – Need to know when a violation occurs? Use interactive reports to see violations organized by policy or device, and then interactively drill into the details.

 

Remediation – Correct violations fast with remediation scripts (defined as part of the policy), that right violations quickly and consistently. Scripts can be manually executed from within interactive audit reports, or automatically when a violation is detected.

 

Summary

 

Managing, monitoring, and auditing are just three ways NCM helps you protect your network configs and manage IT risk. To learn about the SC Magazine 2016 awards and other category winners, read this article.  To learn more about Network Configuration Manager, visit our product page. To learn how to write a NCM policy, read this thwack® post.

 

How you are using NCM to manage, monitor, and audit your network configs? Use the comments below to share your stories.

In the previous two posts, we talked about high level performance information and then we dove into the details around storage performance from the array, pool, and LUN/Volume detail. Now let's talk about thresholds and alerting. This is where we start making Storage Resource Monitor adapt to your environment, while also showing what performance information matters to you. 

 

Thresholds

Setting thresholds is a key step in making sure your data center runs efficiently. When you start SolarWinds® Storage Resource Monitor the first time, there are pre-set thresholds setup based on general best practices. For most situations this will work, however there are solutions that require something a little more specific. There are applications in your environment that require low latency and if any of them deviate from that it would cause major headaches. There are other applications that require a specific amount of IOPS and any dip will slow the business down and lead to your inbox being filled with not so nice requests for information. Having your thresholds set properly can help you avoid "fire drills." The "SRM Settings" section is where you can set global thresholds for key storage resources.

Thresholds can be set for IOPS, throughput, I/O size, Capacity, and latency (LUN & Volume specific).  In addition, some of these can be set by read, write, or total so you can even customize for applications that are heavy on read or heavy on write performance. 

Using global settings allows you to tailor monitoring for your data center, but, as you know, there are also applications that differ from the others that need special attention.  If that’s the case, Storage Resource Monitor has you covered. Under each details screen (array, pool, and LUN/Volume), you can adjust the thresholds for that specific resource. Pool 1 needs to maintain 500 IOPS and I need to know when it goes below it. You can set the threshold to warning when IOPS are less than or equal to 600 and critical when IOPS are less than or equal to 550. LUN 2 has to maintain latency of 50ms. You can set the threshold to warning when it hits 40ms and critical when it hits 50ms. The thresholds you set for the individual resources will translate to the summary screens we talked about before, so at-a-glance you can see if the required performance needs are being met.

 

Alerting

So now you’re thinking, "thresholds are great, but if something happens when the custom thresholds are  reached I need to be alerted."  In addition to custom thresholds, setting custom alerts will make sure you know when something goes wrong quickly. Like before, the standard alerts in Storage Resource Monitor will get you going, however custom alerts help make sure you understand if all of your resources are performing as required. Creating custom alerts can be done for groups of resources with the same performance profile or for specific resources that have a very unique requirement.

 

You can set a single alert for a specific storage resource or set an alert for multiple resources that share a common performance profile. There is the ability to customize everything from a specific team to handle the alert, to setting that the condition has to exist for a period of time, and even the ability to set the alert to only be enable during a certain time of day to name a few. Setting a custom alert for a specific time helps avoid the unwanted alerting noise during expected downtime and/or planned degraded performance. 

 

 

By using thresholds and custom alerts, Storage Resource Monitor has you covered when monitoring storage performance for all your applications. Along with dashboards and storage resource details, you can easily stay ahead of your storage performance needs and track when more resources are needed.

 

What are some of your best practices around thresholds? What are the items you customize with alerts?

We have been working hard to bring another bulk of enhancements to the Network Configuration Manager (NCM) and NCM 7.5 Beta is available. We have been working on:

  • Additional F5 LTM & GTM Support (Including Binary Config Support)
  • Compliance Reports (security best practices) for various vendors
  • Usability Improvements

 

To get access to the Beta, you need to be a customer on active maintenance for NCM and sign up here.

 

You can discuss your experience in the NCM Beta Forum.

 

As an added incentive, Beta users who submit feedback will receive 2,000 Thwack points to buy swag at the Thwack Store.

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