I am very excited to announced that Solarwinds NCM 7.8 is available for download in the Customer Portal! This release brings many valuable features and the release notes are a great resource for these.

 

Network Insight for Cisco Nexus
This is the third iteration in our Network Insight series and in this release we have extended those insights to Cisco Nexus. We understand that your Cisco Nexus devices are a sizable investment and come with a host of valuable features and that you also expect deeper insight from your Solarwinds monitoring and management tools as a result. This meant that we had to go back and develop some new features and expand on existing ones to ensure that the relevant information you need is presented properly. It means that your workflows are logical and more time efficient.

 

 

Virtual Port Channels

One of the really awesome features of a Cisco Nexus, that comes with a good deal of complexity, is the ability to create and deploy vPCs. vPCs operate as a single logical interface, but are actually just a group of interfaces working together. What this means is that managing vPCs can become a time drain, as the number of vPCs increases and as the number of interfaces on each vPC pair increases. Network Insight provides a view to show each vPC and the member interfaces in each of those vPCs. This is covered in the NPM v12.3 release blog.

 

In addition to this view, there is another layer of detail that shows the configuration of each vPC and its member interfaces. To see this detail you will click on "View Configs" on the vPC page. This page displays the configuration details for each of the side of the vPC and the configurations of each member interface. This allows you to save time by more efficiently identifying configuration errors within the vPC and the member interfaces. I think we can all agree that not having to hop across multiple windows and execute manual searches or commands to find issues is a major workflow improvement!

 

The example below is a vPC with multiple member interfaces:

 

Virtual Device Contexts

As it is covered here, each VDC is essentially a VM on a Cisco Nexus (also Cisco ASAs!) and each context is configured separately and provides its own set of services. These configurations are downloaded and backed up by NCM. They are also referenced for all the features in this release.

 

To manage a context in NCM, one just needs to click "Monitor Node" and it will walk through node addition process, after that has concluded each configuration is downloaded and stored separately.

 

Access Control Lists

ACLs define what to do with the network traffic. ACLs are very complicated to manage because within each ACL are rules (Access Control Elements) and within these are object groups. The object groups are containers that house specific information for the given rule like the interfaces that you might block a particular MAC address from traversing. The layering creates some problems. Manually you need to verify the rules are handling traffic by examining the hit counts, and that none of the rules are shadowed or redundant. Lastly, to ensure we met all of your needs for ACLs we extended the existing functionality of Access Control Lists (ACLs) beyond Port Access Control Lists (PACLs) and VLAN Access Control Lists (VACLs), to include MAC ACLs and non-contiguous subnet masks.

 

ACLs are super easy to add and once the Nexus nodes are added to NCM, it will automatically discover ACLs and grant you access to all the information available inside those ACLs. You won't need to spend copious amounts of time digging into each ACL, determining if changes occurred, and what changes occurred.

 

To see the list of ACLs for a particular Nexus, mouse over the entities on the side panel and select “Access Lists.”

Access Control List Entity View

 

With this view you are able to see the historical record of ACLs, including the date and time of each revision, and if there are any overlapping rules inside of each version of the ACL. To expose the previous version for viewing just expand the view. From this same screen you are able to view the ACL details and also compare against the next most recent, older revision, or a different nodes ACL.

ACL detail view and rule alerts

 

When you navigate into the ACL, each of the rules in that ACL are displayed including all the syntax for that ACL. In this view each rule provides a hit counter, making it easy to see which rules are impacting traffic and which ones are not. You are also able to drill down into the object groups.

 

Viewing conflicting rules is simple in NCM. Expanding on the alert, you can see the shadowed or redundant rules.

  • Redundant: a rule earlier in the list overlaps this rule, and does the same action to the matched traffic.
  • Shadowed: a rule earlier in the list overlaps this rule, and does the opposite action.

 

Interface Config Snippets???

At some point during the course of your day you will have identified one or many interfaces that warrant deeper inspection. Based on feedback from many of you, we discovered that once you reached this point you needed to see more information. Specifically, information about that interface and the interface configuration information. Normally you would have had to dig into overall running or startup configs requiring you to navigate away from the interface screen. This is why we created where interface config snippets and this is probably one of my favorite features in this Network Insight release.

 

These snippets are the running configurations of the specific interface you are viewing.

Interface Config Snippet


Once you have found the snippet on the page, you are able to verify which configuration this snippet is pulled from and the date and time of when it was downloaded.

Interface Config Snippet details + history

 

Conclusion

That is all I have for now on this release but I recommend you go check out our online demo and visit the customer portal to click through this functionality and see all the great features available in this release. My fellow cohort cobrien put together a great blog on Network Performance Monitor's v12.3 release for Network Insight and I highly recommend that you head over and give it a read! I look forward to hearing your feedback once you have this new release up and running in your environment!