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Product Blog

49 Posts authored by: cvachovecj

Release Candidates are fully supported early releases of our products and can be installed in production environments. If you own NCM covered by current maintenance, you can download the installation packages from customer portal. Should you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to reply to this post or send me e-mail directly.

 

Better Scalability and Performance

  • One of the most important enhancements this release contains is support for additional polling engines (APE). By deploying APEs one NCM installation can typically handle about 30,000 devices. If you already have APEs for other SolarWinds products (e.g. NPM), you can leverage them for NCM, too.
  • Not only scalability but also performance has been improved in this version; especially customers with large installations should notice better performance of inventory and Web UI. Example: if you click on a drill-down chart on the NCM Summary page, you can see that the details are now organized in a table that supports paging, which performs well with long lists of devices:
    NCM Backed up vs. Non-backed up devices

 

Improved Database Maintenance

Database purge and cleanup activities have been improved to avoid performance degradation over time, due to clogging of the database and disk directories with downloaded configurations.

 

NCM Settings in Web UI

We have made some progress with migrating funcionality from Win32 to Web UI. For example, the Settings page is now accessible through Web, which is another step in eliminating the need for NCM users to have access to the NCM server, i.e. better support for corporate user policies:

NCM Settings

Configuration Download and Upload for MikroTik, Alaxala, and Apresia

All of these devices are now supported natively. Alaxala and Apresia are especially popular in Japanese market.

SolarWinds NCM Support for MikroTik Alaxala Apresia

New Juniper Inventory Report

With this report it is much easier to inventory your Juniper devices:

NCM Juniper Report

In order to make the report work, be sure that it is enabled in the Node Inventory Settings:

NCM Enable Juniper Inventory

Wizard for Real Time Change Detection

This feature is now easier to configure as there is a small wizard available in NCM settings:
NCM Real Time Change Detection Wizard

Config Change Templates Enhancements for ACL Manipulation

The scripting language of Config Change Templates has been extended with a few string manipulation functions. These enhancements are particularly useful for IP address manipulation in access control lists:
NCM Config Change Template Enhancements

Release Candidates are fully supported early releases of our products and can be installed in production environments. If you own UDT, you can download the installation packages from customer portal. Should you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to reply to this post or send me e-mail directly.

 

One of the most important improvements this release contains is support for connection information in controller-based wireless networks where "thin" access points (AP) are deployed. Thin APs have been preferred in larger environments where many APs must be deployed and network logic thus can be concentrated in fewer devices (controllers). This is a big difference to UDT 2.0 where only "thick" access points can be polled for information.The new wireless capabilities are illustrated below.

 

Other major improvement of this release relates to back end performance.The database schema has been optimized, which means e.g. separate tables for current and historical data are used. This optimization resulted in e.g. faster searching and faster rendering of certain resources (in the endpoint details page, for example). These performance improvements should be noticed especially by customers with large-scale networks storing a lot of historical data.

Note: When upgrading from previous versions, the performance of UDT will probably be lower for some time after the upgrade. This is caused by data migration to the new database schema. The progress is indicated in the notification banner on the Orion website.

 

Wireless Support Overview

 

  1. New resources -- Top 10 Access Points by Current # of Endpoints and Top 10 SSIDs by Current # of Endpoints. The Device Watch List resource is also WiFi-enabled.
    UDT-Summary.PNG
  2. Endpoint Details page -- visual indication of the fact that the enpoint is connected to wireless.
    Endpoint-Details.PNG
  3. Access Point Details page -- which endpoints are connected and what SSIDs are being broadcast
    AP-Details.PNG
  4. SSID Details page -- what access points this SSID is being broadcast on, which endpoints are connected
    SSID-Details.PNG

The purpose of this blog is to provide basic explanation of how variables and custom properties can be used in NCM scripts. Both of them enable network administrator to

 

  • replace hardcoded statements by node-dependent values
  • execute actions on many devices automatically, which means reducing the amount of tasks that must be performed manually

 

Examples of activities you may want to automate are

  1. Using scripts
    • Downloading configuration files
    • Uploading configuration files
    • Uploading IOS images
    • Updating login banners
    • Updating access control lists (ACLs)
  2. Using config change templates
    • Changing VLAN membership by device port
    • Configuring device interfaces based on description
    • Enabling IPSLA for VOIP implementations
    • Managing NetFlow collection at the source devices

 

Custom properties enable you to attach additional information to your nodes to help you with e.g.

  • Organization – physical location of the device, its purpose / category, distinguishing between testing devices and those in production etc.
  • Bulk updates – create a custom property like ${NewIP}, populate with values and perform bulk update for all devices with one script.
  • Customer support (e.g. for MSPs) – support contact information per device, SLA type, contract number, etc.
  • Many other tasks where node-dependent information plays an important role.

 

Custom Properties Management

 

Custom properties must be first created using Custom Property Editor on your Orion server (Start -> All Programs -> SolarWinds Orion -> Grouping and Access Control -> Custom Property Editor).

 

You can either add some of the predefined properties, or build a property from scratch.

CP-Editor.PNG

Then you need to populate the newly created properties with values.You can do it manually

CP-Editor2.PNG

or import the values from a file.

CP-Editor3.PNG

 

For more information, please watch http://www.solarwinds.com/resources/videos/video-tutorial-managing-custom-properties-in-orion-npm.html.

 

Command Scripts

NCM-Web-Scripts.PNG

With the appropriate use of variables, a single script can be executed on several different devices, without concern for syntax differences. Scripts are delivered one line at a time to the target devices.

 

Variables and Custom Properties within Scripts

 

Variables and custom properties always begin with a dollar sign and a curly brace (${) and end with a curly brace (}).

 

Example: The following script contains commands with variables to remove the public read-only community string.

${EnterConfigMode}                         enter configuration mode – device-dependent
no snmp-server community public RO        
remove the community string – common for many devices
${ExitConfigMode}                         
exit configuration mode
${SaveConfig}                             
write configuration to memory
${Reboot}                                 
reboot the device

 

The script is parsed in a different way for e.g. Cisco IOS devices and e.g. a Dell PowerConnect switch. Device-dependent variables like the above ${EnterConfigMode}, ${ExitConfigMode}, etc. are defined in device command templates (located in <Orion directory>\NCM\Device Types).

 

Custom properties, previously created and populated in the Custom Property Editor, can be referenced in the same way – for example ${City}, ${Department}, etc.

 

More details, together with the list of predefined variables that can be used in command scripts, can be found in Orion Network Configuration Manager Administrator Guide.

 

Config Change Templates

 

Config Change Templates are even more powerful than the scripts alone; they have the power of a programming language that enables you to create very sophisticated config change routines.

NCM-CCT.PNG

Most fundamentally, the framework for creating config change templates depends on the SolarWinds Information Service (SWIS), an API installed with NCM that interacts with inventory data in the NCM database. Any device that has not been inventoried in NCM cannot be targeted with a config change template. Each object in a device inventory is a SWIS entity that can be referenced in specific ways within scripts.

 

Variables within Templates

 

Variables in config change templates always begin with an at sign, e.g. @TargetPorts. Variables that you can use are given by the input parameters that you specified for your template. Example:

 

script ConfigureVLANmembershipCiscoIOS (
NCM.Nodes @ContextNode,
NCM.Interfaces[] @TargetPorts,
NCM.VLANs[] @VlansToRemove,
NCM.VLANs[] @VlanToAssign
)


In our example, the variables that you can use in the body of the template are @ContextNode, @TargetPorts, @VlansToRemove, and @VlanToAssign.

 

Note: Each template must have at least one parameter – the node. Other parameters are optional and depend on what you want to achieve with the template.

 

As the declaration suggests, variables @TargetPorts, @VlansToRemove, and @VlanToAssign are arrays; you can iterate through them:

foreach (@portItem in @TargetPorts)
{
  CLI
  {
    …

 

Please note that @portItem is declared implicitly, i.e. when used for the first time.

 

Custom Properties within Templates

 

Custom properties are tied with nodes, and therefore can be referenced via the node parameter:

 

script BaseChangeTemplate (NCM.Nodes @ContextNode)
{
  CLI
  {
    show @ContextNode.MyCustomProperty
  }
}

 

Assuming we have created and filled in the AssetTag custom property for our devices, we can make use of e.g. it in the following way to change access lists:

 

script ChangeAccessList (NCM.Nodes @ContextNode)
{
  string @myip = '10.10.'
  @myip = @myip + @ContextNode.AssetTag        
here we make the asset tag part of the IP address
  @myip = @myip + '.32'                        
finish building IP
  CLI                                          
commands within a CLI block are sent to the device
  {
    configure terminal
    no access-list 112
    access-list 112 remark This is a test
    access-list 112 permit tcp @myip 0.0.0.31 host 123.234.123.234 eq 445      
include the IP with asset tag info in the access list
  }
}

 

For exhaustive information on config change templates, please see Orion Network Configuration Manager Administrator Guide.

Or everything you always wanted to know about Orion reports but were afraid to ask.

This post is meant for everyone who would like to create his/her own Orion report but is not sure how to start. We have collected a few useful resources that can help you start creating basic reports and also provide technical reference for future enhancements.

 

The Big Picture

 

A predefined set of reports is available in the Orion Web Console (HOME -> Reports).

Web-Console-Reports.PNG

Although the predefined reports are useful and easily accessible, you may sometimes find yourself in need of customization. In that case, there is the Orion Report Writer application that can be found on your Orion server under Start -> All Programs -> SolarWinds Orion -> Alerting, Reporting, and Mapping -> Report Writer.

Report-Writer.PNG

Using the Report Writer, you can easily create your own Orion reports either from scratch or by editing an existing report. If you want, you can even directly enter the SQL commands implementing the desired report functionality.

And there is more. You can use the Orion Report Scheduler (Start -> All Programs -> SolarWinds Orion -> Alerting, Reporting, and Mapping -> Orion Report Scheduler) to schedule report-related actions. For example, you could create a job that would automatically e-mail you a report every Monday morning that included any significant network events that occurred over the weekend.

Report-Scheduler.PNG

 

Do You Have a Tutorial?

 

Yes!

 

As a quick start guide, you can use Video Tutorial: Using Report Writer within Orion NPM.

Outline:

  • Report Writer overview
  • Report creation and customization
  • Exporting reports

 

Advanced topics on reports from SolarWinds’ NPM network monitor are included in Video Tutorial: Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) v10 Customer Training - Level II.

Outline:

  • Orion reporting overview
  • Reporting architecture
  • Report types and customization
  • Report delivery options
  • A lot of hands-on examples

 

An exhaustive source of information is Customer Training: NPM Level 2 - Reporting - A Webcast from SolarWinds.

Outline:

  • Introductions and Housekeeping
  • Top Report Features
  • Working with Existing Reports
  • Examining the Resulting SQL Queries
  • Filtering and Date Formats
  • A bit About SQL
  • Report Scheduler
  • Including Charts

 

I Want to Know More!

 

Then please refer to SolarWinds Technical Reference: Understanding Orion Report Writer.

 

Other Useful Links

 

Reports on Orion NPM thwack Content Exchange – what you need may already exist here

Video Tutorial: Managing Custom Properties in Orion NPM.

Orion Administrator's Guide

SolarWinds Knowledge Base

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