Product Blog

3 Posts authored by: jblankjblank Employee

The Orion® Platform is designed to consolidate monitoring into a single source of truth, taking massive amounts of data and making it easier to identify issues in complex environments. A key component to this is the organization of data. As an example, if I were to present you with the dashboard below, you can see it’s aggregating a ton of information and highlighting issues from multiple modules like Network Performance Monitor (NPM), Server & Application Monitor (SAM), Virtualization Manager (VMAN), and Storage Resource Monitor (SRM). Single pane of glass, right?  However, it’s not interesting, not even a little bit, and most importantly, it’s not easily interpreted. This dashboard doesn't really help me understand the problem or where to focus.

 

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Simplifying how data is interpreted through better visualizations can provide drastic improvements for understanding problems. Now, if I present you with this view, can you tell me where the problem areas are?

 

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The Orion Maps team believes visualization of your data can be a powerful tool when put together in a meaningful way. Ensuring critical data is available but presenting it in a clear and concise manner allows you to quickly see the problem and its potential impact. Visualizations help tell the story, and can help members of your organization, or clients, understand the breadth and complexity of what you manage on a day-to-day basis. For those of you unfamiliar with the Orion Maps project to date, you may want to review the following posts. These should help paint the picture, no pun intended, on what we’ve delivered with the previous releases.

 

Orion Platform 2018.2 Improvements - Chapter Two - Intelligent Mapping

Orion Platform 2018.4 Improvements - Intelligent Mapping Enhancements

 

With the release of 2019.2, we’ve incorporated some new enhancements designed to extend the flexibility of the platform and provide some amazing new options for representing your environment and critical services.

 

 

ORION MAPS MENU & MANAGEMENT PAGE

 

As a new entry point to maps, an "Orion Maps" menu is now available under My Dashboards and Home.Selecting this option will transport you to the Map Management page.  This will be blank initially, prompting you to create a map.

 

 

It’s important to note here that any user can create a map. If you have access to this menu, you can create maps. However, each of you will only be able to see the maps you created yourself in the list view. The current features on this page will allow you to sort your list by Map Name, Last Updated, and Created Date. There’s also a search bar allowing you to search for maps by name.

 

 

Any Orion Administrator will have an additional function when they access this view. A very helpful tool is available in the upper-right corner allowing you to toggle the view to include all user maps vs. just your own. The main components to this page provide the capabilities to create a new map, edit existing maps, delete maps, or view a map by selecting its name.

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MAP EDITOR

Let’s begin by creating a new map via the Map Editor. Selecting New Map will open the basic editor for building maps from scratch. You’ll be greeted by an entity library on the left side, which defaults to a paginated list of your nodes. You can click the drop-down to choose from any entity type in Orion Maps. As always, a search bar is also available. The empty canvas will take up most of the view, and a few controls will be noticeable in the bottom-right corner, along with a Save button and More menu in the upper-right side. Building a map from the basic editor is for those of you who know exactly what you want in the map. For now, this is single drag-and-drop functionality, and any relationships or connections identified will automatically be drawn.

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Like any design tool, built-in functions allow you to manipulate the map. Holding the space bar will allow you to pan the map. Selecting entities will allow you to move objects, and holding the Shift key when moving objects will perform a snap to grid function. Using arrow keys will gently nudge the entity in a desired direction. Holding Shift while using arrows will move the object in larger increments. Holding the Control key or using the + or - buttons will allow you to zoom in or out while working with your map. Probably one of my favorite tools is the Center key in the bottom right. This will not only center your map, but perform a zoom to fit, ensuring the entire map is placed in the viewable area. This is an excellent tool as you expand or condense maps of different scales. Any entity can be removed from a map by selecting it and hitting the Delete key on your keyboard.

 

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Once we have our map situated how we want it, you’ll notice any change in the canvas enables the "Save" button in the upper-right corner.  Clicking save will generate a dialogue, which will allow you to add a unique name. This will warn you in the event you attempt to name your map with a previously used name.

 

 

Under the MORE menu, a number of options will be presented to you. "New" will allow you to start a new map and a blank canvas, much like the name implies. "Save As" is particularly useful if a map has been shared with you, or as an administrator you’re editing a map you didn’t create. Unless you’re the one who created the original map, you won’t be allowed to "Save" but will have to perform a "Save As" and rename the map. "Delete" needs little explanation, but again, if this isn’t your map, then the delete option will be grayed out. I’ll cover the "View" button a bit later in this post in more detail, and the "Help" button of course links to formal documentation for much of the items discussed in this post.

 

 

LEVERAGING CONTEXTUAL MAPS

We have massive plans to improve upon the function of building maps as we understand one of the biggest needs is expediting map creation and limiting the number of touches to maintain them. Feel free to share what you believe would make a difference in the comment section below. In this release, we’re taking advantage of the framework and functionality delivered previously through the contextual sub-views. If or when viewing an automatically generated map from the Node or Group Details sub-views, you’ll now see a new button added to the menu bar, "Open Map in Editor." Essentially, I can use the existing functionality to take a pre-built map, expand it further, and have what was done within the sub-view persisted and sent to the new map editor with the click of a button. The images below should show a basic demonstration of this workflow. This is a great way to build maps quickly and then make final adjustments in the editor before saving.

 

Navigating to Map sub-view from Node Details page

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Expanding the map through automatically discovered relationships

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Open Map in Editor

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Of course, using the built-in tools to move objects around the canvas, snap to grid, and taking advantage of the center/auto-fit tool as you make adjustments can help you properly create a representation that makes the most sense for your organization. Once I’ve saved the map, what do I do now?

 

ORION MAPS WIDGET

As maps are saved, they’ll be accessible as a Map Project from the list view under the Map Management page. You’ll also find a new widget available in the Widget Drawer, allowing you to add any of your custom maps to a dashboard or view. Click the pencil in the upper-left side marked Customize Page, then click Add Widgets, and the resource will be located under the Network Maps section called Orion Map.

 

 

Drag and drop as many of these widgets out to the page as you wish, and click "Edit" or "Choose Map" to specify a map from your list. A dialogue will contain options to customize a title or subtitle and specify the widget height by pixels. A list of maps will be shown, along with a search option for quickly identifying the map you wish to use. Like the Map Management page, admins will also have the option to see all user-created maps by clicking the toggle on the right side.

 

 

Click "save" and your map will now be available. Another one of my favorite features is we managed to build the widget where it‘ll automatically scale the map according to the size you specified. By adjusting the height and the column width, your map will auto-fit the available space, making it fast and easy to get the map exactly where you want on your dashboard, at just the right size.

 

 

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With the ability to incorporate these maps alongside other widgets in the dashboard, you have some amazing new ways in which to roll up critical problems within your environment.  Below is a quick example of what one may look like.

 

 

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ENHANCED NODE STATUS

If you are unaware, or have yet to come across this post, Orion Platform 2019.2 - Enhanced Node Status by aLTeReGo, we’ve included some very significant updates in how we highlight status in the Orion Platform. The desire for improvements in status was a consistent theme we heard during user research with maps as well, and the difference this change makes is awesome. To steal an excerpt from aLTeReGo's post: The example below shows the exact same environment. The first image shows what this environment looked like in the previous release using Classic Status. Notice the absence of any obvious visual cues denoting issues in the environment. The next image to the right is of the very same environment, taken at the exact same time as the image on the left. The only notable difference is this image was taken from a system running Orion Platform 2019.2 with Enhance Node Status.

 

 

In both examples, there are the exact same issues going on in the environment, but these issues were obfuscated in previous releases, making the troubleshooting process less intuitive and unnecessarily time-consuming. With Enhanced Status, it's now abundantly clear where the issues lie, and with the topology and relationship information from Orion Maps, it's now easier to assess the potential impact those issues are having on the rest of the environment.

 

 

Classic StatusEnhanced Status

 

 

INTERACTING WITH THE MAP WIDGET AND VIEW MODE

Now that you have an amazing visualization of your environment and the issues are clearly identified, a closer look may be in order. There are a couple of different methods for interacting with your maps. The first method takes advantage of the improvements made to the Orion Hovers and are accessible from the Map Widget.  By hovering over an entity in your map, performance status will be available and should highlight exactly why your entity is in a degraded state. You will also be able to access the Commands menu, which will allow you to Go To Details pages, Edit Node, Mute Alerts, or Unmanage the entity directly from the map!  This behavior will be the same if a group is on a map, or if you have nested maps.  You can see that the commands option for a map includes viewing a map, editing a map, or muting alerts associated to a map!  From here, you can choose to use the command options or simply click on the entity in the map. By doing so it will take you to the details page automatically as pictured below.  The View Mode, which can also be accessed as a button in the top right of the Map Widget, is a full screen depiction of that map and all its entities, allowing you to investigate further utilizing the inspector panel to show related entities, alerts, and recommendations, if viewing virtual entities.

 

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FEEDBACK

This release marks another significant step for the Orion Maps project and we hope you find these new enhancements valuable and useful in your environment.  I plan to write and attach a couple other posts to this announcement around using Maps in Alerts and Reporting.  Of course with each release, we find your feedback extremely valuable, and much of what has been done to this point centers around your asks.  Please be sure to comment below and SHARE YOUR MAPS and DASHBOARDS!  Stay tuned as we are already hard at work on the next major release and have some very cool stuff in store. 

 

Check out the other posts form serena and aLTeReGo on 2019.2 Platform improvements if you haven't already!

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Install/Upgrade Improvements Part 1

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Install/Upgrade Improvements Part 2

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Enhanced Node Status

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Additional Improvements

ORION PLATFORM 2019.4 - ORION MAPS RC (NPM Forum)

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For those of you familiar with the Enterprise Operations Console, you may be familiar bshopp previously written, similarly titled article , which explains the function and purpose of EOC.  That article was a big hit among users so I have decided to write up something similar for our latest release of EOC 2.0 which is now available.

 

When discussing the Orion Suite of products with customers, we often get the question, “how does Orion scale?”  Customers these days may have very different reasons for asking this question or different ideas of what scale means to them.

 

The answer is that SolarWinds provides multiple methods available for customers to choose from:

  1. Scaling horizontally or scaling up - If customers are scaling the number of elements within a single instance of Orion, SolarWinds provides the use of Additional Polling Engines to quickly expand the overall capacity.
  2. Scaling out - Whether it is the way in which the client runs their business such as a MSP, a customer has acquired additional instances of SolarWinds due to mergers or acquisitions, or any other number of reasons, customers may have what we refer to as a distributed model of deployment.  This means the clients environments consist of multiple separate Orion Instances running throughout their infrastructure.  The Enterprise Operations Console is the perfect tool to roll up data from each distributed instance.

In this post, we are going to discuss the Enterprise Operations Console 2.0 or EOC for short.  Take the below first graphic, you have a worldwide network with teams responsible for managing their respective region, so an Orion installation resides in each; North America, EMEA and APAC. EOC’s main functionality is to aggregate data from multiple Orion server installations and display that data in a similar fashion as the Orion Web Console. As an example, the global NOC/ Management Team may require a comprehensive view of all entities into a single dashboard for a representation of status, current alerts, and need the ability to run reports across the worldwide environment.  The Enterprise Operations Console provides this visibility for you. Administrators even have the ability to create customized accounts and restrict what data each Orion EOC user is permitted to see. These restrictions can be set on an individual basis by customizing user settings and on a group basis by defining roles.Now, the EOC 2.0 web console has changed slightly from the prior version as you can see in the screenshots below.  The previous version of EOC is on the left, and the latest version of EOC is depicted below on the right.

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Below is a quick touch on some of the new features and improvements.  Stay tuned for more posts with additional details around these features.

  • Improved Data Collection: Live on-demand polling and immediate display of data from distributed Orion Instances. (Discussed more below)
  • Improved & Updated UI:  EOC 2.0 is now built on the same framework as other members of the Orion product suite.  This provides:
    • An improved UI, with familiar navigation, icons, and controls.
    • Access to Orion features such as High Availability including multi-subnet deployments (WAN/DR), and the ability to implement Additional Web Servers with EOC.
  • New Status Rollup: View status of any Orion entity from distributed Orion sites with the unique Enterprise Summary Tiles.
  • Improved Search Functions: Utilize Search integrated into the Navigation or utilize the Asset Explorer for pre-filtered searches within Enterprise Summary Tiles.
  • New Alert Options: Input notes and acknowledge alerts from EOC.
  • Global Reporting: Create and customize global reports with easy selection of desired sites.
  • New Map Options: Import Maps from Orion Instances to display status in EOC NOC view.  Use the WorldMap resource to display consolidated view across the distributed environment.
  • PerfStack™ in EOC: Perform advanced analysis of issues by pulling entity data from multiple sites into a single PerfStack™! 

Note:  There is no upgrade path from EOC 1.6.x to EOC 2.0.  You may run both these versions in tandem if desired, however EOC 2.0 will require a fresh install on a new server and a new database.These changes were done based on feedback from you, our users, who were looking for an update to the UI, more flexibility with the tool, and something up to the standards the rest of the Orion Platform has executed upon with recent enhancements. One of the common misconceptions about EOC is that it pulls all the data from each of your Orion servers into the EOC database.  In actuality, EOC pulls high-level information such as current status, alerts, events, and more.  Investigating further or drilling into elements within the EOC web console would then seamlessly redirect users behind the scenes to the local Orion instance that entity is actually being monitored from. Let's walk through an example.  Below you can see that I have a number of issues in my lab environment, and I will select a node entity that is in warning.  This will populate the asset explorer with a pre-filtered list, and drilling into the device will actually take me to the device details page on the local instance where that node is being monitored from:I can now continue further investigation or go right back to my EOC global view.Now that we have gone through a high-level of what EOC is, let's dig deeper into how it works.  In versions of the Enterprise Operations Console prior to 2.0, EOC contacted remote Orion instances at regular polling intervals in which it collected all current statistics based on the most recent polls.  So by default, every 5 minutes, large subsets of data were retrieved from the remote sites and stored into the EOC database.  The overview of the previous version can be reviewed here:  What is the Enterprise Operations Console (EOC) & how does it work?The problem was that even with decreasing the polling intervals, we were never able to achieve real-time polling or real-time display of that data within EOC.  Very often, the data presented was well behind what was actually being detected at the local instance/site.Delays in status and alert notification presented a serious problem for EOC users, therefore resolving this issue was extremely critical.  EOC 2.0 now leverages a function called SWIS federation which executes only the queries necessary determined by the content of the page being viewed.  In essence, Federated SWIS allows us to pull only the data we need, when we need it. Depicted below is a more technical breakout of this first image.  Each instance may contain different products, may be different sizes, and may be geographically dispersed. With EOC 2.0, remote Orion SWIS services register themselves with EOC's federated SWIS service, thereby exposing their data through a single SWIS interface.  When a user/client accesses the website and performs a function, a SWQL query is sent to SWIS on EOC.  Here it is analyzed to determine what servers can satisfy the query.  SWIS will then exclude any servers that are not necessary, forward the query to the appropriate Orion SWIS instances, combine the results from each, and send the aggregated results back to the client. This process is completely transparent to the user and is able to run much more efficiently over constantly pulling copies of data, from each instance, into a database, and then running additional queries to provide the results.  Federated SWIS performs all the heavy lifting, aggregating the data, and allows us to display that data exponentially faster than we were able to before. EOC 2.0 will be able to highlight Alerts, Events, and Status from any of the following entities:

  • Applications
  • Components
  • Groups
  • Interfaces
  • IP SLA Operations
  • LUNs
  • NAS Volumes
  • Nodes
  • WPM Player locations
  • Pools
  • Ports
  • Providers
  • Storage Arrays
  • Transactions
  • Virtual Clusters
  • Virtual Datacenters
  • Virtual Hosts
  • Virtual Machines
  • VCenter Servers
  • Volumes
  • And more...

 

Stay tuned for more posts highlighting the new feature/ functionality and enhancements made to EOC in the Enterprise Operations Console  forum. 

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