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With the official release of WPM 2.0.1 the WPM team is working hard to build several new and exciting features including:
We shipped v10 mid year, added mobile access for your iOS devices and last month we added support for Android OS based devices. We're now working on the next release.
Here is a list of what we're working on:
PLEASE NOTE: We are working on these items based on this priority order, but this is NOT a commitment that all of these enhancements will make the next release. We are working on a number of other smaller features in parallel. If you have comments or questions on any of these items (e.g. how would it work?) or would like to be included in a preview demo, please let us know!
SolarWinds recently acquired a set of products that provide a self-hosted solution for securely transferring files both within and outside the the corporate firewall. These products provide a secure alternative to cloud-based solutions like Dropbox. "But Dropbox is so convenient and easy to use," you say. Read on.
Dropbox has had its fair share of issues over the past couple of years, shining a big, ugly spotlight on security vulnerabilities with respect to sensitive customer data. First of all, the exposure to potential security risks and service disruption from Dropbox is enormous. According to a recent survey of 1300 business users, one in five are using Dropbox to transfer corporate files, effectively circumventing any safeguards their IT departments have put in place with respect to file transfers. In August of last year, usernames and passwords of Dropbox accounts were compromised that resulted in a spamming campaign to a number of Dropbox users. Unfortunately for Dropbox, this isn't the first time something like this has happened. Another breach occurred in June of 2011 that was the result of a breakdown in the service's authentication software, exposing accounts without requiring proper authentication for a period of time. If the security issues aren't scary enough, the service was completely unavailable for a period of time in January of this year.
These breaches beg a fundamental question to be answered when assessing a cloud-based versus a self-hosted solution for securely transferring files: is the cloud secure enough for the needs of my business? The cloud certainly provides a valuable level of convenience and simplicity that's just fine for most individual consumer users, but it's evident that this convenience has a cost in terms of security. Businesses, both large and small, often have stricter security requirements around file transfers and the users participating in those transfers that a cloud-based solution won't be able to provide. When it comes to sensitive and confidential files, convenience is nice, but security is a must-have.
FTP Voyager is a free FTP client that supports a number of different protocols for secure file transfer. Serv-U MFT Server is a managed file transfer server that provides a secure alternative to the cloud-based solutions for transferring files inside and outside the enterprise. Let's take a look at some of the security based features and protocols that these products provide.
In addition to FTP, FTP Voyager supports both the FTPS and SFTP protocols. This includes strong authentication with both X.509 client certifications and public key authentication. FTP Voyager uses cryptography that has been FIPS 140-2 validated by NIST, and Voyager has been granted the Certificate of Networthiness by the US Army.
Like FTP Voyager, Serv-U MFT Server supports the FTPS and SFTP protocols. It also supports secure file transfers through a web browser or from a mobile device (iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire) via HTTPS. Serv-U MFT Server also provides a number of different user management options, including the ability to authenticate against Active Directory.
Serv-U also provides a number of encryption options for transferring files. Individual ciphers and MACs can be enabled or disabled based on your specific security requirements. Serv-U also provides the ability to run in FIPS-140-2 mode.
A separate module called the Serv-U Gateway provides reverse proxy capabilities, preventing data from ever being at rest in your DMZ or opening connections directly from the DMZ to your internal network. Using Serv-U MFT Server in conjunction with the Serv-U Gateway provides an architecture that is PCI DSS 2.0 compliant as well as satisfying other high security requirements. See reference architecture below for an example.
You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist or even a security expert to have legitimate concerns about your data in the cloud. Sometimes the nature of the data being transferred warrants consideration of a level of security that cloud-based solutions simply can't provide. While Dropbox has made managed file transfer more accessible, it can introduce unnecessary risks to your organization. FTP Voyager and Serv-U MFT Server provide secure alternatives to cloud-based solutions, giving you the best of both worlds. For more information on Serv-U you can check out some of our videos here. You can also find a number of security-focused knowledge base articles here.
Over the years we've heard a great deal of feedback from our customers on how we can improve our licensing system. Let me clarify what I mean by licensing system. Currently, when you buy a license from SolarWinds for any product you are given an activation key in your SolarWinds customer portal. You must then copy this key and paste it into the License Manager application to register your license and activate the product so that it's no longer in evaluation mode. This same process is also required whenever you upgrade to a new major version or renew your maintenance. For long-time SolarWinds customers this process has become old-hat, but there is definitely some room for improvement.
The most obvious question is, why do we do it this way? I won't go into all of the gory details, but there is a method to our madness. More importantly, we are currently working on updating our licensing system to make this experience much better. Once we've updated the licensing system with these new changes the user experience with activating licenses should improve in the following ways:
Each product will need to adopt the new licensing system to take advantage of these changes. You should see the products start to adopt the new licensing system soon; DameWare will be the first. We'd love to hear your feedback and any other pain points you may have with our licensing system.
In addition to the aforementioned changes, we're also working on the ability to activate your license through an authenticated proxy.
Disclaimer: Comments given in this forum should not be interpreted as a commitment that SolarWinds will deliver any specific feature in any particular time frame. All discussions of future plans or product roadmaps are based on the product teams intentions, but those plans can change at any time.
The release candidate (RC) for Web Performance Monitor 2.0 is officially here. All WPM customers on active maintenance should have the RC waiting for them in their SolarWinds customer portal. We'd love for you to try it out and post any feedback you have on the WPM RC forums here.
The first thing you'll notice is the name change; SEUM is out, Web Performance Monitor is in. Hopefully you'll all agree, this is a much better name and describes what the product actually does in a less esoteric context. Now to the features. Thanks to Mr. aLTeReGo and the WPM dev team, this release is full of exciting new features and functionality that continue to improve the product. Let's dive in.
First, we've added support for Java applications. This means you now have the ability to measure and monitor user experience and availability of your web-based Java applications. You can find more detail on that here from one of aLTeReGo's previous blog posts.
Next, we've added waterfall charts that give you a new level of visibility into the the performance of each of step in a given transaction. These charts provide insight into all the different elements that make up a webpage and the order in which they're rendered in the browser. Screenshot below, and you can find more detail here.
We've also added a new All Locations resource that includes a player load indicator. This indicator will show you current load, and we've added a resource on the Locations Detail view to show you historical load. In addition, you can now create alerts based on player load.
Another extremely useful feature we've added is the ability to edit recordings. This will save you the hassle of having to re-record transactions when small changes or tweaks are needed for a given recording. For example, if a minor change is made in the navigation flow for a given application or page, you now have the ability to edit the existing recording vs. having to create a new one.
Next, we've added the ability to install the WPM player to remote locations directly from the WPM web console. Select 'Install location on my network' when adding a transaction.
Then specify the IP address(es) of the machine(s) where you want to deploy the player.
Last, specify the appropriate credentials. Test to ensure the credentials are correct, then you're ready to deploy the player.
And that's not all. We've also add the following new features and capabilities:
Again, any customers on active maintenance should already have the RC in their customer portals. Go download and check it out; it's fully supported and we'd love to hear your feedback. You can find the WPM 2.0 RC forum on thwack here.
We are very close to releasing the next version of DameWare Mini Remote Control and DameWare Remote Support (formerly NT Utilities). Version 9.0 includes some exciting new features in both products; let's take a look.
First, we've added the ability to connect to Mac and Linux endpoints with MRC. This means you can now use MRC to initiate a remote control session on operating systems other than Windows. If you've been using more than one tool for your Mac and Linux needs, you now have the opportunity to do some consolidation and use MRC for all of the platforms you're responsible for supporting. The Mac and Linux support relies on the VNC server already installed on your Mac or Linux box. As long as the VNC server is enabled on the endpoint, you can use MRC to connect with the appropriate credentials.
Here you can see an active MRC session connected to a Mac!
Next is support for some of the native AMT features on vPro machines. We've added functionality that leverages some of the native AMT functions on a vPro box, namely remote control (or KVM), and the ability to manage power on the machine (think Wake on LAN). You can now use MRC to connect to a vPro AMT machine for a remote control session, and you can use DameWare Remote Support (DRS) to power up or restart a sleeping machine.
Here you can see where the Power and AMT configuration settings have been added in DRS.
Here you can see where we've added the ability to initiate a remote control session on an AMT supported vPro system from MRC.
We've also implemented backwards compatibility for the MRC client agent in 9.0. This should ease the pain of upgrading for existing customers that need to update the client agent on all of their endpoints, or simply want to avoid updating the agent due to change control policies. This means version 9.0 of MRC can now connect to endpoints that are running 7.x and 8.x versions of the client agent without having to upgrade the agent.
Finally, as I mentioned earlier in the post, we've changed the name of NT Utilities to DameWare Remote Support, or DRS for those of you who prefer acronyms. If you already own NT Utilities, you'll notice this name change in the License Management section of your SolarWinds Customer Portal. Don't worry! Nothing has changed about the licensing; it's just a name change.
Look for an announcement very, very soon for version 9.0. We're looking forward to hearing your feedback on the new features, and hope you'll give 9.0 a test drive!
A few months back we acquired a new product that is going to change the way you manage your IT infrastructure. For years SolarWinds customers have asked for a mobile solution for monitoring and managing your infrastructure, something better than our attempt at a 'mobile view.' Given the line of work you're in, how much time and heartache could you have saved if you had just been able to resolve a certain issue from your Android phone or iPad? How many times have you upset your wife or disappointed your kiddos because you had to promptly leave dinner or the t-ball game to reset a password for an executive who had somehow managed to lock himself out of his laptop? Those days are now a thing of the past; hello Mobile Admin! Mobile Admin does so much, there's simply no way I could cover its benefits in a single blog post (it supports over 40 IT management and monitoring tools, and you can find a complete list of features here). Instead I'll briefly discuss some of the more common use cases it supports, as well as a brief overview of the architecture and how it works. Let's start with SolarWinds NPM (clearly my selection is objective and free of any bias).
For those of you who don't spend the majority of your day staring at the Orion web console waiting for lights to turn red, you probably rely pretty heavily on alerts. An issue occurs, you're alerted on it via the rules you've configured, you log into the Orion web console to see what the issue is, then you try to fix it or escalate to the group that can. Now you can do all of that on your smart phone or tablet from anywhere using Mobile Admin. I can hear the sighs of disbelief already, but I promise you, it's true, and I'll show you how.
From this screen you can drill down on things like Active Alerts, or Nodes With Problems. Let's look at the alerts...
From here you can drill down to the details of the alert and the node that generated it...
This view will give you all of the information you're accustomed to seeing on a Node Details view in the Orion web console. So far Mobile Admin has told us there is a problem on a managed node in Orion, now what? Mobile Admin actually gives you a number of tools at your disposal to troubleshoot and even correct the problem, all from your mobile device. You simply open the node in Mobile Admin which will scan the node through a number of different APIs and expose certain troubleshooting features based on the results of the scan.
Here you can see a sample of the tools available. For this particular problem you may need to run a batch file or execute a script from the command prompt, both of which are possible on your mobile device through Mobile Admin.
So, how does it work? Mobile Admin functions through a client/server architecture. The client runs on your mobile device (e.g. iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, Blackberry), and it talks to a Mobile Admin server that typically sits behind your firewall along with the rest of your IT infrastructure. You simply add the components of your infrastructure you want to monitor or manage as a 'service' in Mobile Admin, all of which can be done from the mobile client once you've got the Mobile Admin server up and running. Resetting passwords in Active Directory, bouncing virtual machines connected to a vCenter, and moving Exchange mailboxes are all possible through Mobile Admin. All of the mobile clients are free; you can download the server here and evaluate it for free for 14 days.
In the next blog post I'll cover how to reset passwords through Active Directory. Until then, download Mobile Admin and check it out for yourselves (you may need it over the long Labor Day weekend)! Also, enter a chance to win a $250 iTunes gift card by taking our survey here.
Please join us for a webinar later today covering how you can fix almost any IT problem with the device you always have in your hand.
In this 60 minute webcast we will cover:
• How Mobile Admin can save you time and improve on-the-job flexibility.
• How to manage over 40 key IT technologies including SolarWinds Orion, Exchange, Active Directory, Windows Server, and more from your mobile device.
• Get details about how simple it is to deploy Mobile Admin across the company for all end-user devices: iPhone, Android, iPad, Blackberry.
• Learn about Mobile Admin’s sophisticated security features.
• Ask questions about your specific requirements!
I look forward to seeing you there!
Please join us for a webinar later today covering some useful tips and tricks for remote support using DameWare 8.0. This webinar will offer you a demonstration of the two new features in Version 8.0 – CHAT and SCREENSHOT – as well as a series of small “how-to” demos that will cover the following:
Thursday August 16 11:00am – 12:00pm CDT
Register here: Remote Support Tips & Tricks with DameWare Version 8.0
I look forward to seeing you there!
For those of you who haven’t heard, Solarwinds now has a powerful set of remote control and Windows administration tools called Dameware. The Dameware Mini Remote Control (MRC) lets you remotely connect to Windows machines for remote support and administration. Dameware NT Utilities provides you with a rich set of Windows administration tools (like AD and Exchange), as well as easy access to native Windows systems tools. NT Utilities also includes MRC. Let’s say you are responsible for supporting desktops or servers and you frequently require the need to remote into those machines to perform certain support-related or administrative tasks. RDP has worked in the past, but has some serious limitations in terms of interactivity, and doesn’t provide any functionality around screen sharing, chat, screenshots, or file transfer. NT Utilities and MRC are your answer. NT Utilities gives you a wealth of real-time system information on the machine you’re connecting to, as well as direct access to native Windows and AD administration tools all from the same console. MRC gives you the ability to quickly and easily connect to a desktop or server to initiate an interactive screen sharing session, almost as if you were standing over the shoulder of the user on that machine.
If you’d like to learn more, we are hosting a webinar on Tuesday (details below). Please join us to learn more about the Dameware products and how they can make your life easier.
When Native Windows Admin Tools are Not Enough - A Look at the Options
Windows comes with its own management utilities. But what if you need more? Are there options available that will save you time, hassle, and effort? In this webinar, we take a look at some of the most common tasks sys admins face on a daily basis, and look how you can save time with some tips, tricks, and tools.
We will overview:
Register to attend this live event:
WHEN: Tuesday, April 10, 2012
TIME: 11:00am (US Central Time)
In case you haven’t heard, Solarwinds recently acquired a company called Eminentware that provided a set of products for patch management. Prior to the acquisition, Eminentware sold three extension packs for Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), and 3rd Party Updates. Now that Eminentware is a proud new member of the Solarwinds family, we’ve combined all three extension packs into a single product called Patch Manager. This means that you can now buy a single Solarwinds product for patching in your WSUS environment, SCCM, or Windows-based 3rd party applications like Adobe or Java.
The real value of Patch Manager is the ability to streamline the arduous process of ensuring the applications in your environment are up to date with the latest patches. This is particularly important from a security perspective, as many hacks out in the wild exploit known security vulnerabilities in older versions of software. Making sure your environment is up to date with the latest patches and security updates ensures your environment is less susceptible to attacks and exploits from hackers. Patch Manager not only streamlines the process of deploying the latest patches, but it also gives you a great deal of visibility into that status of your environment in terms of which machines need to be patched, and which machines are at greatest risk.
You’re going to ask, if I already have WSUS or SCCM, why do I need Patch Manager? Patch Manager was purposefully built on top of these existing solutions to provide much greater control and flexibility in terms of how patches are deployed and where critical updates are needed in your environment. While WSUS or SCCM will tell you which patches are available, they’re not going to give any visibility into where those patches need to be deployed in your environment. Patch Manager gives you the ability to build complex, multi-step workflows around how patches are deployed, including the ability to schedule patches around maintenance windows or times that won’t impact end users of the systems being patched.
Patch Manager also gives you the ability to patch Windows-based 3rd party applications like Adobe Reader, Flash, and Java. Given the variance of these applications in terms of how they’re deployed, what the prerequisites are, and the frequency in which updates are released, ensuring they’re up to date can be prohibitively time consuming without the proper tools. Patch Manager’s Package Boot technology makes this much easier and greatly simplifies the process of building and deploying patches for 3rd party applications.
Check out the video below for a quick tour of the product. You can also read more about how Patch Manager works with WSUS, SCCM, and its ability to patch 3rd party updates. Pricing starts at $1195 for 100 nodes; get a quote for your environment here. As usual, you can try before you buy. Download a trial version here and let us know what you think.
Several weeks ago I posted What We're Working On for APM with a list of some of things we’re working for APM. I’d like to provide a little more detail on some of these features because we’re working on some pretty cool stuff!
Better Nagios and Scripting Support
Best Practices on What to Monitor for a Given Application
Data Transforms on APM Component Monitors
As we make progress I’ll have some screenshots to share in a future blog post; we’d love to hear your feedback!
We have some new Exchange templates posted to the Content Exchange on thwack that should be an improvement to your Exchange monitoring. These templates are the first of many that we will be updating over the next few months. We’ve received a great deal of feedback on how we could improve these, specifically on how we can provide better guidance on what you should monitor. Anyone familiar with Exchange knows there are many, many things you can monitor, and it’s easy to get lost in terms of knowing what’s important to monitor and what’s not. These new templates are an attempt at solving that problem. These new templates are an improvement over the existing templates that currently ship with APM 4.0 for two reasons. First, they include component monitors for things you should monitor versus things you could monitor. Second, they include recommendations for when to use which template, AND recommendations for thresholds for specific performance counters.
You can find the new templates in a .zip file on the Content Exchange Updated Exchange Templates. In the .zip you’ll find the new templates, as well as a .pdf that provides detailed documentation on each template and recommendations for thresholds on performance counters. To use the templates, simply extract them from the .zip, then import them to APM.
You can do this by going to the ‘Manage Templates’ page, then click Import.
Select the template you want to import, then click SUBMIT. Once imported you’re ready to go!
We’d love to hear your feedback on these new templates. Feel free to email me directly at email@example.com, post a comment here, or start a thread on thwack.
One of my colleagues wrote a blog User Feedback for New Products a few weeks back addressing some new products we’re working on, one of which is a product that will allow you to monitor synthetic transactions. I’d like to provide a little more detail on this product and why we decided to build it.
With IP SLA Manager you can set up a test to determine if a web server is actually reachable, but it won’t tell you if the website is up or displaying the correct page. Once you reach the webiste, APM has a couple of very useful monitors that will allow you to simulate a form login on a web page and determine if that login was successful, or monitor if a web page is up and search for a specific string as part of that validation. Although these monitors are great for letting you know if a web page is up or if users can log into it, they don’t really give you any visibility past the first page or login screen.
Many of our customers have requested the ability to monitor more complex transactions within a website or web application. These customers want to monitor things like:
Given requirements like these, we are currently working on a product that will allow our customers to monitor multi-step transactions with a website. The product will allow users to record a series of steps that a typical user would take in interacting with a website or web application, then play that recording back at regular intervals which can be monitored. This type of monitoring will give users the ability to proactively address any issues that an end user may experience when clicking through or performing certain actions on a website or in a web-based application.
Here is a sneak peek of what we’re working on. Please note this is a mock-up; which resources are displayed and what they’re called may change, but this should give you a general idea of the functionality we’re going after.
Why am I telling you about this now if it’s not ready yet? First, in true Solarwinds fashion we want to be transparent and let you know what we’re working on. Second, and more selfishly, I could use your help! I’m looking for early alpha and beta testers to try it out and let us know what you think. If you think a product like this would be useful and you’re interested in getting an early look, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can schedule a web meeting.
APM 4.0 is currently in the RC phase, and GA is right around the corner. In addition to the Virtual Infrastructure Monitoring we released with NPM 10.1, APM 4.0 will also include a new VMware component monitor. Where the Virtual Infrastructure Monitoring in NPM 10.1 gives you basic performance statistics about your virtual infrastructure, the new APM VMware component monitor will allow you to monitor almost any statistic that’s available via the VMware API. Because APM is exposing statistics directly available via the VMware API, this new component monitor will give you tremendous breadth in terms of what you need to monitor in your VMware virtual infrastructure. Let’s take a look.
For those of you familiar with building your own templates using the Process Browser in APM, you’ll find a new component monitor type available for selection. Select VMware Performance Counter Monitor and click Next.
Next, you’ll select a target machine which APM will use to browse the VMware API. The target machine should be a vCenter server or an ESX host. APM will know which one you’ve selected, and expose the appropriate performance counters on the next screen. Select a vCenter or ESX host then click Next.
Next you’ll select whether you want to apply this monitor to a single machine or multiple machines. This selection is necessary to determine which performance counters are available for the monitor. Selecting ‘Multiple Systems’ will expose generic counters that are available on any VMware system; selecting ‘A single system’ will expose counters for a specific virtual machine, host, or vCenter. In this example I’ve selected Multiple systems, which will give me a generic list of counters from which to choose. On this page you’ll also select the VMware Entity type (e.g. VM, ESX host, resource pool, etc.).
Last you’ll select the Performance Object you’d like to monitor. In this example I’ve selected Memory, which exposes the counters in the screenshot above. Select the counters you want to monitor and click Next.
In the next set of steps you’ll confirm the components that will be monitored, and decide if you want to create a new monitor or template, or add these components to an existing monitor or template. Last, you’ll assign the monitor to the appropriate nodes in APM.
For those of you participating in the APM 4.0 RC, the latest build that includes this new component monitor is in your customer portal if you haven’t already downloaded it. Check it out; we’d love to hear your feedback.