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66 Posts authored by: bshopp

Hopefully you saw my Sneak Peek blog post a couple weeks back on the Active Directory integration coming with 11.2 and are excited about it as much as I am.  If you haven't read it, I highly recommend checking it out. 

 

Also excited that the Release Candidate, (barring no last minute issues) should be available Monday.  The Release Candidate is a fully tested and supported release and you can upgrade to the RC from your previous version of DameWare.  Should you need assistance during the installation, feel free to contact SolarWinds support


If you are interested in the release candidate, either send me a direct message or please sign up here


Looking forward your feedback!

 

 

 

Coming off the release in December, in which we integrated DameWare into Web Help Desk, the team rolled straight into working on formal Active Directory integration as discussed here. With the product today, you can export a list of users from Active Directory (AD) and manually do a one-time import of those accounts into DameWare.  While this is helpful, as an Administrator of the product you still have to manage user passwords separately.

 

Based on feedback from our customers, we are enhancing this integration and I wanted to give everyone a sneak peek into how things are progressing now that we have been in beta for a couple weeks.

 

First, when you login to Central Server, you will notice the top ribbon menu is a bit different in that we added a new button and tweaked an existing button a bit as highlighted below.

New Nav.png

Let’s first walk through defining a new connection with our Active Directory server.  By clicking on the AD Import button, a wizard will be presented in which you can select if this sync/import will just be for a single time or if we want this to occur on a regular scheduled basis. Since we are leveraging Active Directory Groups, if you were to select synchronized, on the back end after the initial synchronization, then going forward we will check if new users have been added to the group since we last synchronized with Active Directory and automatically import that account into DameWare.  I will provide more details on how this works more specifically in a bit later in this post.

AD-Import-1.png

Next we specify the connection details for the Active Directory Domain, nothing out of the ordinary here to review and discuss with the exception that you can use the local domain, or any other domain for authentication.

AD-Import-2.png

Since we are leveraging Active Directory Groups, here is where we get to select one or more groups we want to import users from. For environments that have a large number of groups, we can auto filter down the list based on text typed into the dialogue below the group picker.

AD-Import-3.png

AD Groups have now been selected and the final step of the wizard allows you define which license is associated with each group and define the schedule in which we will synchronize with the Active Directory server.

AD-Import-4.png

We complete the wizard and an initial synchronization occurs if desired.  After the import is completed, you will now see a list of the users imported from AD.  Note the login name I highlighted is in domain\username format.

CS-Main.png

If you ever want to go back and edit a synchronization profile to change the schedule, groups to synchronize, etc. you can click on the AD Manager as highlighted in the first screenshot and you will be presented with a view of all the profiles that were defined and other information and actions as can be seen below.

AD-Manager.png

Your Active Directory accounts are now synchronized, so what will the experience now look like for your technicians using the product? If you are familiar with applications like SQL Studio, DameWare will have a similar experience in that you can choose either Windows or DameWare Authentication.  If you select Windows Authentication, then we will use the credentials you are logged into that machine with if you are logged into a domain.  If you “Remember last connection settings” and “Don’t show this again”, going forward when you launch the application it will perform a Single Sign On or SSO and automatically log you into the DameWare as long as that account has permissions in DameWare.

Login-Screen.png

Once logged in, if you look at the bottom of the application, as seen highlighted below, you will notice you are logged in as domain/username or in this case lab.tex\labuser.

AD-Logged-In-User.png

That’s it, pretty simple and straightforward.  We are currently running beta with a handful of customers, but if you have active maintenance and are interested in giving us some feedback, then please send me a direct message via thwack and we can set something up.

In talking with some of our more security focused and more tightly regulated customers from a compliance perspective; a common question I get asked is in regards to audit logging with DameWare.  With Mini Remote Control (MRC), there are a couple different options when it comes to logging.

 

By default, DameWare Mini Remote Control writes to the Windows Event Log.  The two events which MRC writes audit event are either attempts to connect to a remote host and disconnects from a remote host.  These Application Event Log entries contain connection information, along with specific information about the system the MRC user connected from and the username used to establish the MRC connection.

Event-Log.png

 

The next couple options are not enabled and configured by default, so for these to work, both the logging server and all remote systems must be running the MRC client agent.


If you already have MRC deployed in your environment and you want to enable this, you can configure the agents by either clicking on the highlighted icon within MRC or you can right click on the tray icon and select “Settings”.

UI-Setting.png

-OR-

Task-Menu.png

In the dialog you receive, as seen below, select the “Additional Settings” tab and click on the highlighted “Logging” button.

Agent-Setting-First.png

Once here you can either configure this agent log locally and/or log to a remote destination.  Double check and make sure the destination folder exists on the file system.  DameWare will automatically create the file, but only if the path exists.

Agent-Setting.png

If you have not deployed the DameWare agents on to your network yet, you can customize and configure the agents to have these settings by default.  In order to do this, you will need to create a new msi with our utility, which is installed by default and is called “DameWare Mini Remote Control Client Agent MSI Builder”.

 

Once you have this configured and are sending the audit events to a log file, using a comma separated file is recommended.  An example of what this would look like can be seen below.

CSV-File.png

If you have deployed and are using DameWare Central Server for over the internet or outside the firewall remote control sessions, the Central Server also writes various events to the Windows Event Log, such as licensing information, session connection and disconnection information.  In our upcoming release we will be adding active directory synchronization information.  If you need any further information on logging, you can also see a KB we have here.

 

I’m interested in hearing what other types of events or action you would like to see logged going forward, so please post any feedback to the comments section or you can always direct message me via thwack.

I am happy to introduce our latest free tool, Event Log Forwarder for WindowsIf you own an Orion family product or Kiwi Syslog, you may already be familiar with this tool, as we previously offered this as a free add-on or application you had access to as a customer.  Based on feedback from our customers and how much people love this tool we decided to make it free to all.

 

Many folks have dozens, if not hundreds of Windows Servers.  Trying to monitor the Windows Event Logs for specific errors, warnings, etc. is a pain point to ensure the servers and apps on it are running well.  Many folks may be running a Syslog server (like Orion SAM/NPM or  Kiwi Syslog) for gathering Syslog messages from your network equipment as an example or have a log management solution (like Log & Event Manager) for centralizing and analyzing all of your logs.  Event Log Forwarder for Windows helps these folks and is a lightweight app or agent you install on Windows machines which you care about looking for specific events.

 

A very basic example is failed login attempts to a Windows Server.  Someone mistypes a password and you get one or two here and there, no biggie.  However, if you see a spike and consistent pattern of failed login attempts, you are going to want to dig a bit deeper.

 

Simply define a subscription or what are the key events you care to know about and look for, as shown in the dialog below.

ELF2.png

 

When we find a match, we take that Windows Event and wrap it up as a Syslog message and based on the defined Syslog Facility you define to categorize this event, we send it off to one or more defined Syslog servers.  Depending on your environment we can send it as a standard UDP message or you can set it to use TCP as well for reliable delivery.

ELF1.png

 

That’s it, simple and easy.  Install on one Windows box or a thousand, it’s up to you.  SolarWinds Event Log Forwarder for Windows is another free tool from SolarWinds we hope everyone can use and enjoy and you can download it here.  If you have any questions or comments about this free tool, head on over to our thwack forum for this free tool.

In my many chats with customers, I’ve found they didn’t know we have tools that allow them to synchronize files across servers automatically – and we give it away for FREE!

Some history here, when we acquired Rhinosoft back many moons ago, they sold a crazy popular FTP Client called FTP Voyager.  As a part of the acquisition we decided to make this free to the world.  A hidden gem within this product was their scheduler set of functionality, which is a service that allows you to automate file transfer operations on a scheduled basis.


Once you have installed FTP Voyager, you can open this by right clicking on the task bar and selecting “Start Management Console”.

TrayMenu_On.png

 

Once you launch it you get a dialogue with some options to start from.

Main.png

 

Backup & Synchronize are purpose built wizards which ultimately create the same thing as the first option, which is create a task.

Within a task you can set it to perform many tasks and behave in different ways, for example

  • Tasks starting additional tasks
  • Email notifications on success, failure & task completion
  • Tray icon balloons for custom alerts
  • Multiple transfer sessions
  • Conditional event handling
  • Optional trace logs (with log aging) for each task
  • Custom icons & colors for each task

Task-Properties.png

The Backup wizard backs up files or folders and allows you to restore lost data due to hardware failure, software glitches, or some other cause for data loss. Many organizations perform backups of day to day activities to insure minimal downtime in case a disaster like a corrupt hard-drive occurs.

Backup.png

Synchronization focuses on keeping folders and files from/to your local machine to/from a remote server in sync. For example, web developers may use synchronization to maintain a local copy of an entire website. This allows the web developer to make changes to the website offline, and then upload those changes when they are complete.

Sync.png

I can already read your mind and predict your next question via the power of thwack.

               “This is awesome Brandon, but how do I do this in bulk or push out to many machines?”


Here’s the bare minimum you would need to have for a fully configured FTP Voyager Scheduler configuration with no end user interaction.

  1. Deploy FTP Voyager via your favorite app deployment application or leveraging GPO
  2. The registration ID: C:\ProgramData\RhinoSoft\FTP Voyager\FTPVoyagerID.txt
  3. Pre-configured Scheduled tasks: C:\ProgramData\RhinoSoft\FTP Voyager\Scheduler.Archive
  4. Pre-configured site profiles for Scheduler: C:\ProgramData\RhinoSoft\FTP Voyager\FTPVoyager.Archive
  5. Pre-configured transfer settings for Scheduler:  C:\ProgramData\RhinoSoft\FTP Voyager\FTPVoyagerSettings.Archive

 

This assumes that all machines receiving these files use the same file system structure defined in the tasks, that all required folders for those tasks already exist, etc.

    NOTE: When doing #3 and #4, you must copy them from the same machine, as the items configured in step #3 uses values present in #4 to link the two together. If different machines are used to generate the data, the values will not link properly.


That’s it, simple as that.  Whether you want to deploy this on one of your machines or many in your environment, now you can have your files automatically backed up or synchronized to your Serv-U server for safe keeping.

One evening this week, I was reading the latest in tech news on Engadget and Re/code about yet another organization whose network and data had been compromised. With businesses like Target, Home Depot, and even JP Morgan Chase falling victim to Advanced Persistent Threats I wondered what controls, processes and procedures these organization had to monitor suspicious activity and the sharing and storing of sensitive files. Add concerns with compliance requirements like those mandated by PCI and HIPAA, and you end up with a severe migraine.

 

There are logs, logs everywhere with tons of data and there are solutions in the SIEM space which analyze all of these logs from a security perspective, but this is typically reactive in nature. Organizations need proactive protection of data while it resides on the corporate networks – they need encryption of data at rest.

 

Reality is, you need protection, both in transit and at rest.  Serv-U MFT Server protects data while it is in transit using SSL and SSH. Serv-U Gateway, the reverse proxy add-on which prevents the storage of data in the DMZ, further reduces risk.  However, data-at-rest encryption is another important part of the picture, protecting data while it resides on network storage or on a server.

 

Image 1.png

Serv-U.png

There are several options available to customers who are seeking to provide this additional layer of security on their network. Typically, encrypted file systems are the optimal choice as they are usually easiest to deploy. Depending on the platform you want to secure, there are a couple different options.

 

Image 3.png

You can leverage EFS or Encrypting File System, which is a feature already built into many Windows versions including the newest versions of Windows and Windows Server.  There is another feature within Windows in regards to file encryption called BitLocker, but don’t confuse this with Cryptolocker. You can read more about BitLocker vs. EFS here.

EFS.jpg

If you are looking for non-Windows options or even other Windows options that are not created by Microsoft, historically many folks used an open source program called TrueCrypt, but active development for this recently ended.  You can still use this product, but just know that any new issues will not be fixed.  With this being said, this code base has been forked and in the process of being turned into a free product called CipherShed, which will work on Windows, Mac OS and GNU/Linux.

 

If any of the above don’t fit the bill for you, here are some other options for you to look at and consider.

 

Combining Serv-U with one of the options listed above ensures that you data is completely secure, both in-transit and at rest.

Over the coming weeks I will be posting a series of blog posts on common misconception, questions, issues etc. that I have run into over the years that we have been offering the Failover Engine.  The most common question I do get asked is "what exactly is the difference between high availability vs. disaster recovery".

 

I will provide a more in depth explanation below, but the best and quickest way to remember this is:

  • High Availability = LAN
  • Disaster Recovery = WAN


Some groundwork before I jump into the more in depth explanation, the Failover Engine works in a Active-Passive setup, meaning only one server has the SolarWinds services started and running.  The Failover Engine is not an Active-Active solution, meaning both servers have the SolarWinds services started and running.  With that in mind, for this post I will refer to each server as the following

  • Primary or Active server = SolarWinds services are active and running
  • Secondary or Passive server = SolarWinds services are not active and running

 

High Availability

As also illustrated below in the first image, the High Availability (HA) role is normally deployed in a LAN where communications are configured with the Public IP Address being shared by both the active/primary and passive/secondary servers. The active/primary server makes the Public IP visible and available to the network while the passive/secondary server leverages a packet filter installed by the Failover Engine on to hide the server and prevent network access since two machines with the same IP cannot be on the network at the same time.


In the event of a failure on the active/primary server the packet filter is removed from the passive/secondary server making it now assume the role as the active/primary server while simultaneously adding the packet filter to the server that was originally the active/primary server making it the passive/secondary server. Since both servers are sharing the Public IP address, DNS updating is not required.

 

SWBlogLAN.png

Disaster Recovery:

When deployed in a Disaster Recovery role, the active/primary server and the passive/secondary server operates over a Wide Area Network (WAN) in different subnets. As a result, the active/primary and passive/secondary servers are configured with different Public IP addresses. In the event of a failover, the Failover Engine automatically updates DNS with the IP address of passive/secondary, so to the end users they just continue to access the SolarWinds server with the same DNS name they always use.

SWBlogWAN-1.png

Any questions or comments, please ask in the comment section.

Wait no more, the Enterprise Operations Console or EOC Release Candidate is here with some goodies.

 

Enhanced Module Support

With this release we added support for both User Device Tracker (UDT) and IP Address Manager (IPAM), which you can see below for each.

UDT.jpg

IPAM.jpg

Support for Orion Groups

We already support Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) & Server & Application Monitor (SAM) in EOC, but we have added support for a feature of theirs called Groups now into EOC as well.

Groups.jpg

New Look & Feel

Orion introduced tabs a release or two ago and with this release EOC now has them as well.  We also took some customer feedback in which users had difficulty determining if they were still in EOC or had left EOC into the given Orion server they had drilled into.  This should not occur anymore as the color scheme should be clear.  If you see the white header, you are in EOC and if you see the black header, you have drilled into an Orion server.

 

We have also added better error handling to let you know if for some reason we have lost polling connectivity with any of the Orion servers with banner notifications as you can see below.

EOC-1.jpg

 

If you are a customer under active maintenance, you should see the EOC Release Candidate or RC in your Customer Portal.

 

Release Candidates are fully supported by our support staff, so you can call in with any issues and you can also post questions, comments etc. on the forum here

I am pleased to announce the General Availability of Engineers Toolset 10.9.

 

LAUNCH PAD – THE NEXT GENERATION

With this release, we have expanded on a concept we introduced a while back called the Launch Pad, but this one is on steroids.  Some things you will notice right off the bat are a Google-like search to help guide you in finding the right tool to solve the problem you are currently working.

Second is organization.  As you see on the left hand side with the folders, these are customizable and you can even create your own folders and organize which tools are in them in a way that makes sense to you and how you work.

This leads me to the third and one of my favorite things about the new Launch Pad - the ability to import other tools.  Ex. If you own DameWare MRC or use PuTTY or any other tool outside of toolset, you can import or link them to the Launch Pad, which includes entering a description (which is then exposed to the search described above) and adding them to the folders.

The new Launch Pad should be your one stop shop for all your tools based troubleshooting needs, whether the tool comes from SolarWinds, is Open Source, or you purchased from another vendor.


Toolset 10.9.png


BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…..

For many years, many of the older tools only worked with Cisco. Which back in the late 90’s made sense, but this is a different world today.  With this being said, we have expanded device support for many of our tools to other Cisco OS’s but also Juniper, which was the most highly requested vendor.  Going forward we plan to add more based on your demand. 


Juniper Support (JunOS)

  • Interface Monitors
  • CPU monitoring
  • Memory Monitoring
  • Router CPU Load
  • Advanced CPU Load
  • Netflow Realtime
  • Switch Port Mapper
  • IP Network Browser
  • Neighbor Map

Nexus Support

  • Interface Monitors
  • CPU Monitors
  • Memory Monitors
  • Router CPU Load
  • Advanced CPU Load

 

With any release there are also bug fixes, so head over to the customer portal to download this version if you are on active maintenance.

We are nearing the Release Candidate stage of Toolset 10.9, so I wanted to share with folks some of the things we have done in this release, but also solicit customers who have Engineers Toolset with active maintenance for their help in testing out some new things we added.


Our Roots

Toolset is how SolarWinds started and over the years, we have added more and more tools to where we now have over 50 tools engineers can use in troubleshooting issues.  While this is great, unless I know exactly what I need and where it is, sometimes finding the right tool to troubleshoot a problem can be difficult. 


Launch Pad – the Next Generation

With this in mind we have expanded on a concept we introduced a while back called the Launch Pad, but this one is on steroids.  Some things you will notice right off the bat are a Google-like search to help guide you in finding the right tool to solve the problem you are currently working.

Second is organization.  As you see on the left hand side with the folders, these are customizable and you can even create your own folders and organize which tools are in them in a way that makes sense to you and how you work.

This leads me to the third and one of my favorite things about the new Launch Pad - the ability to import other tools.  Ex. If you own DameWare MRC or use PuTTY or any other tool outside of toolset, you can import or link them to the Launch Pad, which includes entering a description (which is then exposed to the search described above) and adding them to the folders. 

The new Launch Pad should be your one stop shop for all your tools based troubleshooting needs, whether the tool comes from SolarWinds, is Open Source, or you purchased from another vendor.

 

Toolset 10.9.png

 

But wait, there’s more…..

For many years, many of the older tools only worked with Cisco. Which back in the late 90’s made sense, but this is a different world today.  With this being said, we have expanded device support for many of our tools to other Cisco OS’s but also Juniper, which was the most highly requested vendor.  Going forward we plan to add more based on your demand.


Great, how can I try this out?

This is where my request for assistance comes in.  As we approach our release candidate phase, we would love feedback on the new  Launch Pad, but also those of you out there who have Juniper or Cisco Nexus gear, we would love to have you participate in the RC and give us feedback and ensure the broadest support against all the various OS versions and models these vendors offer.  While we have a nice lab, we cannot own every device Juniper releases as much as I would love to have them all. Below is a list of the tools by vendor we added support for.


Juniper Support (JunOS)

  • Interface Monitors
  • CPU monitoring
  • Memory Monitoring
  • Router CPU Load
  • Advanced CPU Load
  • Netflow Realtime
  • Switch Port Mapper
  • IP Network Browser
  • Neighbor Map

 

Nexus Support

  • Interface Monitors
  • CPU Monitors
  • Memory Monitors
  • Router CPU Load
  • Advanced CPU Load


These are many of the main things coming in Toolset 10.9 besides bug fixes.  If you are a customer on active maintenance and are interested in installing the RC when we release it, please let me know by signing up here.

At SolarWinds, we believe one of our differentiators vs. other companies out there is the fact we have such a strong user community, and we listen to that community.  With that being said, I am excited to talk about an acquisition we just announced, Web Help Desk.

 

Personally, I am very excited about this acquisition.  A Help Desk offering has been requested by our customers for a while now and we finally found the right product that represents what we expect in a SolarWinds product.  There are tons of help desks out there that we could have acquired, but what makes me excited about this one is how it started and why it was built in the first place.

 

For those of you who have been around SolarWinds long enough, you know that we started with Engineer’s Toolset, which was written by our founder when he was a network consultant to help make his own job easier.  He shared it with other engineers where he worked, and they loved it too.  They told him he should sell his tools and SolarWinds was born.

 

The story with Web Help Desk is very similar.  The founder worked for a K-12 school district and was looking for a IT Help Desk product, but all of the products available were too hard to use, set up or manage, or were way too expensive, or were offered as software-as-a-service, for which he would have to pay recurring annual costs, basically re-buying the product each year, which was a problem for a school with a limited IT budget.  So what did he do?  He decided to build one himself and then decided to start selling it as well, creating Web Help Desk.

 

Web Help Desk fits perfectly into the SolarWinds family of products.  I highly encourage you to go and check it out.  The two pages I recommend are:

  1. Feature Page - This page walks through all the features that are available in the product.  This is not only a ticketing system, but also has features for IT Asset Management, Knowledge Base, Change Approval/Change Management and much, much more.
  2. Online Demo & Download Page - where you can check out an online demo and if you wish, download a fully-featured 30 day evaluation, which you can get to from here.

 

Here is a screenshot from the online demo of the dashboard, which is fully customizable.  Tell us what you think, we would love to hear your feedback.

which you can get to from here.


Dashboard.png

The following table provides an overview of the SolarWinds products that are certified and under evaluation.  Our current certifications are listed here on the NIAP website.  More information on products under evaluation can be found here.

 

ProductCertifiedIn Eval
Network Performance Monitor (NPM)10.1.310.6
Network Traffic Analyzer (NTA)3.73.11
Network Configuration Manager (NCM)6.17.2
IP Address Manager (IPAM)1.74.0
VoIP and Network Quality Manager (formerly IPSLA)3.54.1
User Device Tracker (UDT)3.0.1
Enterprise Operations Console (EOC)1.31.4.1
SAM (formerly APM)4.06.0
Web Performance Monitor (formerly SEUM)2.0.1
Fail Over Engine (FoE)6.7
Log and Event Manager (LEM)5.7

YOU'RE INVITED TO A FREE WEBCAST

TechEd 2012 – What happened when you weren’t looking.

 

If you weren’t able to clone yourself at Microsoft TechEd 2012 to see everything you wanted or you were not able to be at this content packed event, we have you covered!  Join myITforum’s Rod Trent for the rundown of key messages, monumental product releases and critical technology components that are sure to impact your professional life for the next year.

 

Presenters: Rod Trent and Lawrence Garvin

 

WHEN: June 21st,  2012

TIME: 11:00 am CDT

REGISTER:       https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/194532184

It hasn’t been very long since EminentWare joined the SolarWinds family and we are already working on the next release of SolarWinds Patch Manager.  You can get a full run down of all the features we are working on for this release here, but the one that I wanted to focus on today is Microsoft SCCM 2012 (also known as ConfigMgr 2012), which just went GA in April at Microsoft Management Summit. Our dev team is working hard at adding SCCM 2012 support (Patch Manager already integrates with SCCM 2007) and below are a few screenshots which show Patch Manager snapped into the SCCM 2012 Console.


If you are an existing customer of Patch Manager and are interested in signing up for the beta, you can do so here.


sccm 2012 3rd party updates.PNG

List of all available third party vendor catalogs from Patch Manager collapsed in the 2012 console

sccm 2012 admini update servers.PNG

sccm 2012 catalogs.PNG

The details of a given third party patch from Patch Manager in the SCCM 2012 console


sccm 2012 synchronization.PNG
Status of Patch Manager third party patches deployed to end points managed in the SCCM 2012 console

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