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Now that you’ve seen how to use PerfStack for networks, it’s time to check out the improved Meraki wireless monitoring of NPM 12.1!

 

This feature was born from a simple customer request: to cover Meraki gear in the same way we do all the other wireless vendors, showing their hybrid infrastructure in a single pane of glass.  Additional research show a common need: don’t develop some different monitoring specific to Meraki, just cover all my wireless gear in one spot, in the same way.

 

Now NPM has been able to monitor Meraki wireless gear for quite some time.  Use the Add Node wizard to add APs with SNMP polling, and you’re off the races.  But there were a couple of problems:

  1. Each AP had to be added individually.  Discovery can speed this up, but many users prefer not to run comprehensive discovery often. This really clashes with the idea that Meraki APs can be deployed with near zero touch.
  2. Client information is not available via SNMP, so it is missing in NPM.  Turns out client information is kind of important if you want to know what’s going on with your wireless service.

 

Essentially, these two issues crop up because of the unique and innovative way Meraki technology works. In traditional thin AP deployments, APs connect to a physical wireless controller that is on-prem.  The controller controls (obviously) the APs and provides a central spot for configuration and management.  Meraki compounds the benefit of the wireless controller by replacing the physical unit with a logical controller in the Meraki cloud.  This means you can express the wireless policy for all of your locations on Meraki’s dashboard, at virtually any scale.  You have one wireless configuration.  As new APs are added to the network, they can be deployed with virtually zero touch.  And you don’t have to manage any physical controllers.

 

Pretty slick.

 

How do you poll the cloud controller though?  SNMP really doesn’t make sense to use in a Meraki environment where the controller is logical, and you have to reach it over an insecure medium like the Internet.

 

The solution is to poll via API.  TLS protects the communication just like it does your credit card number when you make a purchase online.  And RESTful APIs are just a more modern, intelligent solution.

 

So we partnered with Meraki to get that done.  In NPM 12.1, you’ll notice a new option in the Add Node wizard:

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Upon selecting Meraki Wireless: API, you’ll be prompted for your API key.  You can find this in your Meraki Dashboard.  Once that’s filled in, NPM will connect to the Meraki cloud and retrieve your Organization list.  Most companies will have a single Organization, but MSPs or companies that go through a lot of acquisitions may have multiple.  After selecting a specific organization and clicking next, NPM will discover all of the APs and list them just as we would for a traditional wireless controller.  You can select which you’d like to monitor, and additional APs can be monitored automatically.  With that done, you’ll see the Meraki logical controller, APs, and clients in your Node Details and Wireless views:

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That’s it!  All the complexity happens on the backend, and the UI you use stays the same, just with more data.  Simple, right?

 

Some additional facts you may be interested:

  • Licensing works just like it does for traditional on-prem wireless controllers and thin APs.  The controller costs one node license.  The thin APs do not take licenses!
  • While NPM shows more metrics than before, we’re still missing a few things.  We’ll look to improve this as the data becomes available in the RESTful API.  And some data just doesn’t make sense for Meraki gear, for example Wireless Controller CPU and RAM.

 

We’re very excited to continue down this path of providing complete monitoring visibility of hybrid infrastructure.  Special thanks to Meraki for providing us with shiny new Meraki gear for our lab and working side by side with our development team.

 

Edit:

NPM 12.1 is out, with Meraki wireless monitoring!  Check out the video to see how it works.  Current customers can find it in the Customer Portal.  If you don't own NPM and want to try it, or want to try it in a lab, you can get it here.

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I have been bursting at the seams to write about this topic. Now that the Server & Application Monitor (SAM) Release Candidate is available, I can tell you all about it. As many of you may know, SAM already has an ability to monitor workloads that are running in the cloud. The Orion® agent and agentless based technology allows SAM the flexibility to monitor all of your workloads on-premises as well as in the public cloud.

 

Now with SAM 6.4 or VMAN 7.1, you can collect configuration and metric data directly from Amazon Web Services® (AWS), and have that data visualized along with the rest of the environment you are already monitoring. All you need are your AWS account credentials.

 

Once you have your account configured in the Orion console, you will then be able to see all of your EC2™ instances and EBS volumes within one summary screen.

cloud_summary.png

 

If you have multiple AWS accounts, no problem. Add each one, so the Orion platform can discover all of the associated cloud instances and know which AWS region they are running in.

cloud_infra.png

 

Just like the detail that is available with existing Orion Nodes, you can drill down and see more information about individual cloud instances, including attached EBS volumes, default CloudWatch™ metrics, and configuration settings like Auto Scaling Group membership.

cloud_details.png

 

Now, if you want to go deeper into monitoring your workloads running in the cloud, beyond what AWS provides, all you have to do is manage the cloud instance as an Orion Node. We even created a handy mechanism for you to do so, directly from the Cloud Instance Details page.

manage_instance.png

 

This will give you the ability to monitor what’s running on the OS, directly from the cloud instances. At that point, all you have to do is switch between the Orion Node Details view and the Cloud Instance Details view to have complete visibility.

node_details1.pngnode_details2.png

 

As an added benefit, you can apply your existing SAM Application Templates and visualize the end to end infrastructure relationships with AppStack™.

app_details.png

 

Our goal with introducing this feature was to ensure that no matter where your workloads are running, you will have the information you need to ensure their health and availability. We know that the landscape of IT is changing, and as increasing public cloud adoption transforms traditional IT environments into hybrid ones, we need to deliver the tools necessary for adapting to this new complexity.

 

But wait, there’s more!

Since you made it to the bottom of this post, I thought I would share something extra with you. If you have read the recent post, Drag & Drop Answers to Your Toughest IT Questions, you will be aware of the new PerfStack feature that is also available. What you may not have known is that the cloud instance data, mentioned above, is also available in PerfStack, allowing hybrid environment comparisons and correlations with on-premises workloads.

perfstack_cloud.png

 

So, what are you waiting for? Log into the Customer Portal and download SAM 6.4. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to post them in the Server & Applications Monitor Release Candidate group as well.

OK, OK, I admit it. My favorite new feature of NPM 12.1 is PerfStackTM which is actually a feature of the Orion® Platform (or “Core”). So my team didn’t actually build it. Darn.  Fortunately, all the products that run on the Orion Platform get it, including NPM.  More importantly, all products can contribute data to it, making it super powerful.

 

The idea is simple. Put all of the data points that Orion has on a single page and make it pleasantly interactive.  Check it out:

 

1.png

 

Search for an entity on the left, browse through all the data we have about that entity, and drag and drop it onto the visualization pane on the right.  Works for all sorts of different entities like nodes, interfaces, and volumes.  Works with all sorts of data types too, like status (think: up/down/warning), time-series (think: bandwidth utilization), and events (think: alerts).

 

What does that look like for networks?  Check it out:

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Interface status, transmit utilization and errors, and top egress flows on a single page.  Including NPM and NTA data.  Awesome.  We’ve been wanting to build this into the product for years!  I never would have guessed we would instead build a framework so that YOU can build these views on a whim.

 

Making it this easy and fast to view data points is absolutely a game changer. I was exploring some of the data the other day.  It’s like the scientific method in real time.  Observe some data, come up with a hypothesis, drag on related data to prove or disprove your hypothesis, rinse and repeat.

 

Check this out.  We’ve been experiencing slowness on one of our routers here at SolarWinds.  Bandwidth wasn’t saturated, and slowness didn’t seem to be tied to any specific interface.  I started by seeing the performance the poller gets when contacting the router:

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That looks good, so why is my transit traffic impacted?  How’s CPU and RAM?  Add those…

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RAM is kinda high for a router.  Is that causing any buffer drops?  Yes! Let’s see what size is dropping by pulling in the history for the 5 different sizes.

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Ok, so we’ve got high RAM, causing buffer misses, specifically and only for Medium Buffers. I can jump on the router and tell it to be more aggressive about preparing more Medium Buffers to cover spikes of packets of this specific size.

 

This takes literally seconds, which is exactly what you want during an outage.

 

And data is provided by everything that works on Orion Core.  Think about that!  Notice high load time on a web page?  Pull in your WPM chart to see the history.  Correlate to CPU usage.  Correlate that to IIS queues.  To interface stats.  To flow data.

 

PerfStack does several of the things you guys have been asking for, and a few extra things we thought up:

  • Imports new data points as they’re polled in near real-time.  Without reloading the page or even a graph.
  • Hide the metric panel if you want and PerfStack displays the graph full screen.
  • Save your favorite PerfStacks and go back to them whenever you want.
  • Send someone the URL of the PerfStack you’re looking at, and they’ll see the same, even without saving.  Of course if they don’t have permission to see some data, they’ll see only the data they have permission to see.
  • Update the timeframe and all charts will adhere to it.

 

Want to try it out for yourself?  Keep an eye on your inbox.  We’ll be emailing you soon that NPM 12.1 is ready in your customer portal!

 

And what would you do with PerfStack?  We want to hear over at the appropriately titled post: What Would You Do with PerfStack?

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