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Now that we have released Network Configuration Manager v7.2 (NCM), it is a good time to take a look at one of its most awaited features: End-of-Life / End-of-Support (EoL/EoS) information management. The purpose of this post is to set expectations on what this feature is/isn't and to provide a few tips for using it in the most efficient way.

 

As I outlined in my previous posts on this topic,

you may try to solve the EoL/EoS problem in different ways ranging from a do-it-yourself, spreadsheet-based approach (cheapest but most difficult) to an automated third-party service (fastest but most expensive and may require access to vendor-specific service APIs like e.g. Cisco CDS opened only to Cisco partners).

 

This new NCM feature, which we have just delivered, enables you to manage the EoL/EoS dates in a much more convenient way than a spreadsheet, because it is connected with other information about the devices that NCM stores.

 

How is This Feature Going to Help?

  • We provide suggestions for Cisco and Juniper devices out of the box. (For other vendors, you can enter your own information.)
  • You do not have to track the end-of-life information in a spreadsheet.
  • You can group, sort, and filter your devices according to node details and custom properties.
  • Once end-of-life data is entered, you can generate a highly customized report. (See the second blog post.)

 

What is the EoL/EoS Feature NOT?

  • A fully automated solution that will report all the end-of-life information automatically.
  • A complete multi-vendor database of different devices and extension cards. Today, this NCM feature handles devices only; not cards and modules, yet.

 

Typical Workflow

  1. Notice the "End of Support" view under the Configs tab. (Note that this feature is only available in the Web console and not in the Win32 client.)
  2. Select the devices you want to define end-of-life information for.
    You can do it in many different ways using e.g. the Group By drop-down box on the left side and/or filtering on column values in the main group. Most probably you will want to define the same EoL/EoS information for a group of devices of the same properties -- e.g. machine type, firmware version etc. You can see the applied filter(s) in the top left corner.

    NCM EOL Summary Page
  3. Select the resulting devices and click on "Assign Dates".

    NCM EOL Summary Assign Dates
  4. Inspect the suggestions and either
    • select one of the suggested pieces of EoL information,
      (We provide external links to vendor pages that help you choose the correct item. You can also enter a comment that will be displayed in the resulting report.)

      NCM EOL Assign Page
    • or, if our database does not provide any suggestions, enter your own data.
      (In addition to the dates and comments, it is advisable to insert link to the source of the information.)

      NCM EOL Summary Assign Page Custom Dates
  5. Click on "Assign".
  6. If interested, create a report. You can filter the columns as you need and also export the result as spreadsheet.

    NCM EOL Report

Vendor Information

If our database does not provide suggestions to choose from, you can look up the end-of-life information yourself. An alternative to search engines are vendor pages. Here are a few of them:

 

We would also like to encourage you to post your EoL/EoS data item on thwack here: http://thwack.solarwinds.com/thread/58861.

Ideally in the following format:

Device Type, System description, end-of-sale date, end-of-support date, Vendor EOL statement URL

 

NCM 7.2 is now available for all customers on active maintenance in the customer portal.  Please check out EoL/EoS and let us know what you think.

 

As a bonus, you can watch this video about EoL/EoS:

Individual User Profiles Release

 


On August 14th, SolarWinds will be offering a subset of our customers the opportunity to create an individual user profile for their customer portal experience. We will continue to roll this feature out across our entire customer base within the next month. You will be automatically prompted to create the individual user profile when your SolarWinds Customer ID (SWID) is included in this rolling release.


During this month-long rollout period, customers will be given the choice to continue using the legacy SWID & Password experience or create their individual user profile. By the end of the month, we will require all customers to enter the customer portal via their individual user account.

 


Frequently Asked Questions About Individual User Profiles:


 

Will I still log in with my SolarWinds Customer ID (SWID)?

Until you create your individual user profile, you will continue to login with your SolarWinds Customer ID (SWID) and password. After we complete the release of individual user accounts and you have created your individual profile, you will no longer be able to log in to the Customer Portal using your SWID.

 

Do I still need my SWID?

Yes, your SWID (SolarWinds Customer ID) is still used to identify your account with SolarWinds. When logged into the portal, you will be able to see your company name and SWID at the top of the page.

 

What is the new individual user profile, and why do I have to create one?

For purposes of logging in, changing/resetting passwords, managing account information, and more, you will now use a login based on your email address instead of a shared SolarWinds Customer ID (SWID). This will make is much simpler for you to manage your account, and more secure for you as well, because you will no longer have to share credentials among multiple team members.

 

Help: I can't create an individual account?

In order to create an individual account, you will need to already have a SolarWinds ID (SWID) and be a SolarWinds customer. You will use your SWID and password to create your user profile. If you do not have a SWID, but are a customer, contact customer service to get this. If you do not know your password, use the SWID password retrieval links on the Customer Portal log in page to retrieve these. You need to be listed as your account's primary contact in order to recover these credentials.

 

What are the different types of individual account? How do I know which one I have?

Currently, there are two types of accounts. Standard Access and Account Administrator. Standard access allows you full access to the customer portal as you know it today. Account Administrators have access to additional account administration functionality within the portal and can modify contact types and roles for other users on the SWID.

 

Are there plans to add more roles?

Yes, we are planning to add additional roles and more granular access levels in the future.


I am the main contact on my account. Can I add other users to the account?

Yes, you can add contacts and users to the account. You will need to do this from the Company Account Settings screen. The only way to access this page is to be listed as an Account Administrator.

 

How do I become an account administrator for my company?

When you create your individual user profile, if you are already listed as the business or billing contact on your account, you will have admin access the next time you log in to the portal. Otherwise, in order to request this role, please submit a support ticket for customer service - http://www.solarwinds.com/support/ticket/serviceticket.aspx.

 

I have access to several different SWIDs. Do I need different user profiles for each SWID's Customer Portal I need to log in to?

You will only have one user profile for your email address. This profile can be linked to access multiple SWIDs.

 

How do I link different SWIDs?

You can link your user profile to additional SWIDs by going to your User Profile Settings page after logging in to the Customer Portal. In order to link to an additional SWID, you will need to the SWID and Password for the account that you wish to link to. Your user profile will be linked to the additional SWIDs. The account must be associated with the same email address you used to setup your user profile. You will use one user profile to log in to multiple accounts using this method.


Can you help me create an individual user profile?

Please refer to the tutorial below on how to create your user profile for the first time. We tried to make the process as simple as possible, but if you do experience issues while creating your account, this tutorial should help.

 

Can I change my password for my user profile?

Yes, you can change your individual user profile password from within the customer portal on your profile page.

 

What if I forget my password?

You can get a temporary password and reset it to a new password using the Forgot Password link on the SolarWinds Customer Portal login page.

 

What if someone else in my organization forgets their password?

The user who has forgotten their password will need to reset the password themselves.

 

Will Customer Service give me my password if I forget it?

No, for your security, SolarWinds Customer Service will not have access to your password. You will need to retrieve and change your user profile password yourself. 


How do I make updates to my company’s information that is on file with SolarWinds?

On the Company Account update page (accessible by the account admin), users can download and submit the Account Information Update form and submit this to customer service via email to be updated.

 

What if I need the password for my shared account in order to create a user profile?

The person who is listed as the primary account contact with SolarWinds can retrieve this information using the Forgot Password dialog and clicking I need to retrieve account information for a SWID. This will allow the primary contact to retrieve the shared credentials that are needed in order to create an individual account.

 

 

 

How to create and features of Individual User Profiles - Version 2


 

When you come to the Customer Portal, you will use your SWID and password as you have in the past if you have not created your user profile. If you have created a user profile already, log in with your email address and the password you selected.

 

cp log in page.png

 

After logging in with the shared credentials, you will be taken to the following page to create an individual user profile. Click get started, and head to the form. If you have already done this, click I'm already set up and log in. If you choose to setup your individual user profile later, click I'll setup later

 

 

Fill out all fields on the form to create your account.

 

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 2.21.13 PM.png

 

After filling out this form, click Create Account and you will immediately be logged into the customer portal. After your initial log in, you will receive an email to the account provided with a link to confirm your account. You are required to click on the link before your next log in to the customer portal. If you do not confirm your account, you will not be able to log in.

 

confirm account modal.png

 

If you return to the portal and re-enter your shared SWID credentials, you will be prompted again to create a user profile. If you have already created an user profile, simply click on the Log In button. We recommend that if you have access to more than one SWID, that you link your user profile to the other SWIDs, so that you only have to remember a single set of credentials. To do this, log in to your account and navigate to the user profile settings page:

 

home page unconfirmed account.png

On this page, you will have the option to link to another account. You will need the SWID and password of that account in order to link it to your user profile.

 

link profile screen.png

If you are the administrator for your account, you can also access the company profile settings screen where you can view users who have access to the Customer Portal for your company, add users, assign roles and contact types and review other information related to your account.

 

company profile settings page.png

 

manage user interface.png

 

If you have any questions regarding your individual user profile, please reach out to customer service

We are pleased to announce the general availability of Network Configuration Manager v7.2.

 

Version 7.2 includes the following enhancements:

  • Continue moving functionality from Win32 client to Web UI
    • Job management (Windows Task Scheduler not used anymore)
    • Config management (edit, delete, set baseline)
    • Possibility to test device login credentials
    • Import config from file
  • Provide End-of-Life information for managed devices.
  • Multiple global connection profiles
    • Define multiple connection profiles (device credentials, protocol, port etc.)
    • NCM will try which of the predefined connection profiles works for a device (configurable per device)
  • The execution of Config Change Templates can be scheduled.
  • Change Approval System enhancements
    • Approved requests to be executed at specified date/time
    • Approved requests to be returned to requestor for execution
    • Requesters can see a history of what they requested and was approved
    • Approvers can see a history of what they approved
  • SNMPv3 -- Support of AES-256 encryption
  • Inventory for Brocade devices
  • More devices supported natively (Palo Alto)
  • Config Change Template Extensions: 'delay' command, string <-> number conversion
  • Make downloaded configurations searchable for IP addresses with FTS enabled.
  • Security enhancements of the Web UI
  • Support for database encryption using MS SQL TDE.

 

NCM v7.2 is available for download in your customer portal for those customers under current SolarWinds NCM maintenance.

 

You can view the full set of release notes, including problems fixed here.

 

Enjoy NCM 7.2!

It is with great pleasure I introduce Virtualization Manager 6.0, fulfillment of the dream of deep integration with SAM (Server & Application Monitor) and NPM (Network Performance Monitor). This isn't simply embedding a view or two, but real contextual integration into Orion views and resources allowing you to navigate seamlessly from App to VM to Host to Datastore/CSV without ever leaving the familiar interface of SAM and NPM.  Is it perfect? - well no (at least, not yet), but it is a huge step forward and has been your most requested features on our Thwack ideation forum. But enough with the pleasantries, lets get down to business!

 

 

 

What's New In 6.0?

This release is a smörgåsbord of goodness, including large features and small enhancements, plus numerous bug fixes as well.  We will cover the most important and asked for features in this blog post.

 

Integration with SAM and NPM

The goal of integration was to expand the breadth of virtualization data in SAM & NPM, but maintain a seamless experience in the Orion GUI, with contextual linkages to Virtualization Manager when needed.  The focus for the data was around storage (datastores, local volumes, cluster shared volumes) and how it relates to other nodes - mainly hosts, VM's and applications.  Here is a quick video showing the kinds of issues you can solve with the integration:

 

 

To cover these new capabilities, let's list the different integration points (Views, Resources & Links) and their benefits:

 

New Views:

Let's start out with the 6 new views added to SAM and NPM that appear after you install/upgrade and turn on the integration. Under the virtualization tab, you will see the 5 new links (click on the image to brief video).  The datastore view is available via links from other views.

VMan6Login2.gif

 

 

ViewDescriptionUse Cases and BenefitsImage
Storage

High level summary of storage capacity, usage and performance of all the storage in your virtual environment in a single view.  Resources Include:

  • Virtualization Storage Summary
  • Top 10 Datastores by Low Free Space
  • Predicted Datastore Space Depletion
  • Top 10  VMs by Storage Consumed
  • Predicted VM Disk Depletion
  • Top Datastore I/O Latency
  • Top Datastore IOPS
  • Top VM Latency
  • Top VM IOPS

From this view, you can see capacity and performance across the entire virtual environment, generally emphasizing where you have issues:

  • Identify the busiest Datastores, drill down to identify which VM and Application is causing the load.
  • Identify the busiest VM's, drill to the datastore and see what other VM's are affected.
  • Identify which Datastores and VM's are low on storage and which ones will run out first.
  • The Storage Summary (aka "the bragging screen") lets you know how big your virtual storage environment really is.
VMan60ViewStorage.png
Datastore

Wait - there's no "datastore" link in the Virtualization Tab!  Correct - you link to this view from other virtualization nodes (VC, DC, Cluster, Host, VM).  We use the name "datastore" to represent any storage managed by the host - i.e. datastores for VMware and local storage and cluster shared volumes (CSV) for Hyper-V.

The datastore view unifies three different areas:

  • Datastore capacity, usage and growth.
  • Datastore relationships with both applications and virtualization nodes (VC, DC, Cluster, Host, VM)
  • Datastore performance (IOPS and Latency) overlaid with the busiest VM's

Resources on this view include:

  • Virtualization Manager Tools - Links directly to Virtualization Manager features (see more below)
  • Virtualization Manager Alerts (see more below)
  • Datastore Info
  • Datastore Usage
  • Related Nodes - related clusters, hosts and VM's
  • Applications on this Datastore - which applications are running on this datastore, more info on this one later.
  • Top 10 VMs by Used Space
  • Top 10 VMs by Allocated Space
  • Top 10 VMs by Low Storage Space
  • Datastore IOPS and Latency Gauge
  • IOPS: This Datastore and its Top VMs
  • Latency: This Datastore and its Top VMs

This view combines all the key data onto one screen to show you contention between VM's at the datastore level, allowing you quickly identify which VM's are the source of the issue and what other VM's and applications are affected.

  • Identify contention on a datastore, drill down to the VM causing the load, investigate applications and services on that VM.
  • Identify over allocation from thin provisioning.
  • Find which VM's are using the most storage or about to run out of storage.
  • Quickly see what Applications and VM's are using this datastore, with status and drill down.
  • Visually map relationships between the datastore and other nodes, ranked by current status.
  • See additional alerts (from Virtualization Manager) indicating configuration and performance problems, drill down to see suggestive corrective actions.
VMan60ViewDatastores.png
Sprawl

Summary of actions you could take in your environment to optimize resource utilization, including removing VM's, decreasing resources assigned to under utilized VM's, and increasing resources to busy VM's. Resources include:

  • Top 10 VMs by Underallocated CPU
  • Top 10 VMs by Overallocated CPU
  • Top 10 VMs by Under allocated Memory
  • Top 10 VMs by Over allocated Memory
  • Top 10 VMs by Snapshot Disk Usage
  • VMs Idle for the Last Week
  • VMs Powered Off for More than 30 Days
  • Rightsizing: Once over and under allocation problems are shown, drill down to the VM and see what applications and loads are on the VM and then decide to increase or decrease resources to that VM.
  • Reclamation: Reclaim resources by decommissioning and removing idle VMs, removing VMs that are not running, and deleting old snapshots.
VMan60ViewSprawl.png
MapShows the Virtualization Manager Map within the SAM/NPM website.  The Map shows the relationship of virtualization objects and is ranked by object status.  Bonus: When you click on an object in the Map (Cluster, Host, Datastore or VM) it opens up the corresponding node in SAM or NPM.  .
  • Visually understand relationships in your virtual infrastructure and where issues are currently occurring.
  • Focus on an issue by altering the context on the Map to any node.
  • Quickly drill down to the SAM/NPM node view to diagnose application, OS and network issues.
VMan60ViewMap.png
ReportingShows the Virtualization Manager reports in the SAM/NPM website.Allows you to run reports and see the results in a single pane of glass.VMan60ViewReports.png
DashboardsShows the Virtualization Manager dashboards in the SAM/NPM website.  You are able to switch to any dashboard while staying within the Orion website. Most links in the dashboard drill down to the corresponding SAM or NPM node.

Allows you to leverage all the default and custom dashboards from Virtualization Manager without leaving the Orion website, but with the ability to drill down to nodes in SAM/NPM.

  • Identify overloaded nodes, drill down to the corresponding SAM/NPM node and review application, OS and networking data..
VMan60ViewDashboards.png

If this is enough to convince you, jump to the download and install instructions. But if you want to know more, read on.

 

New Sub-Views

Sub-Views appear in tabs on the left of the node you are viewing.  When you turn on the integration, a new "Storage" sub-view will appear for all Virtualization Nodes, including the Virtual Center, DataCenter, Cluster, Hosts and VM's.  In general, the Storage sub-view has the same resources as the Storage view detailed above but for just that slice of the virtual environment - i.e. if you drill down to a cluster, then click the Storage sub-view, you will see storage, datastores, hosts and VM's that belong to that cluster.

 

Sub-ViewDescriptionUse Cases and BenefitsImage

Storage Sub-View

for:

  • Virtual Center
  • Data Center
  • Cluster
  • Host


Same view and resources as the Storage view, but data is filtered for the appropriate node (Virtual Center, Data Center, Cluster and Host).  Resources included:

For all virtualization Nodes:

  • Virtualization Storage Summary
  • Top 10 Datastores by Low Free Space
  • Predicted Datastore Space Depletion
  • Top 10  VMs by Storage Consumed
  • Predicted VM Disk Depletion
  • Top Datastore I/O Latency
  • Top Datastore IOPS
  • Top VM Latency
  • Top VM IOPS

The cluster and host add these Resources:

  • Virtualization Manager Tools
  • Virtualization Manager Alerts

This Host also adds this Resource:

  • Related Nodes

The Storage sub-view slices up your resources according to your virtual environment configuration, allowing you to focus your attention on the data in each area.

  • Identify the busiest Datastores, drill down to identify which VM and Application is causing the load.
  • Identify the busiest VM's, drill to the datastore and see what other VM's are affected.
  • Identify which Datastores and VM's are low on storage and which ones will run out first.
  • Cluster, Host & VM: Visually map relationships between the datastore and other nodes, ranked by current status.
  • Cluster, Host & VM: See additional alerts (from Virtualization Manager) indicating configuration and performance problems, drill down to see suggestive corrective actions
VM60vCenterStorageView2.png

Storage Sub-View for:

  • VM

The Storage sub-view for the VM is different than the others, as it focuses on a single node.  Resources include:

  • Virtualization Manager Tools
  • Virtualization Manager Alerts
  • Storage Summary
  • Related Nodes
  • Component Volumes
  • Virtual Machine IOPS and Latency (gauges)
  • Virtual Machine IOPS - compared to Datastore
  • Virtual Machine Latency - compared to Datastore

For VM's, the Storage sub-view shows how this VM is running and compares that to the overall load of the datastore.

  • Identifies if the VM is loading the datastore or if the datastore is overloaded by other VM's.
  • Visually map relationships between the datastore and other nodes, ranked by current status.
  • See additional alerts (from Virtualization Manager) indicating configuration and performance problems, drill down to see suggestive corrective actions
  • Quickly see if there have been configuration changes to your VM's or if your VM has migrated to another Host
VM60VmStorageView.png

 

Much of the virtualization data is presented in native resources of SAM/NPM (one of the main goals of the integration), linking to the data of native nodes and applications. However, not all of the data available is shown via the integration. In some places, there are contextual links into Virtualization Manager features (Performance Analyzer, Maps, Alerts, etc.), allowing you to launch a feature while maintaining the context from SAM/NPM.  This allows you to smoothly diagnose issues while traversing from SAM/NPM to Virtualization Manager (and back again).

 

Resource or LinkDescriptionUse Cases and BenefitsVideo (No Sound)
Resource: Applications on this Datastore

When you are in the datastore view, it shows the applications related to this datastore, along with their status and their associated nodes.

Appears for Datastores.

If you are having a problem with a datastore in your virtual environment, you can instantly see what applications could be affected.  You can then drill down to the application .

Link: View Performance

Allows you to contextually launch Performance Analyzer in Virtualization Manager and then pick any metric and chart, all within the SAM/NPM website.

Appears for Clusters, Hosts, and VM's.

Contextually drill down to any metric in Virtualization Manager, not just the ones shown in Orion, allowing you further diagnose performance issues.VMan6ViewPerf.gif

Link: Show in Maps

Allows you to contextually launch Maps in Virtualization Manager and see all related nodes and their status.

See a visual representation of all the nodes related to the current node, ranked by their status.  Easily drill down to any node to go to the SAM/NPM view.VMan6Map.proj.gif

Link: Diff Recent Config Changes

Allows you to contextually launch the "Virtual DNA" feature for hosts and VM's in Virtualization Manager to view configuration or environmental changes of that node over the past week. 

Appears for Hosts and VM's.

Quickly see if there have been configuration changes to your VM's or if your VM has migrated to another Host.VMan6VirtualDNA.gif
Resource: Virtualization Manager AlertsShows you the current alerts for that node with the ability to drill down to the alert in Virtualization Manager.

Appears for Clusters, Hosts, Datastores, and VM's.

See in-depth virtualization alerts not available in SAM or NPM, drill down to get more details and suggestions.VMan6Alerts.gif
Link: Datastore to Storage Manager TargetIf you have Storage Manager and turn on the integration with Virtualization Manager, the link from Datastore to the Target View (LUN/Share) will also be propagated to SAM and NPM.When diagnosing a problem with your application, after drilling down to storage level in the virtualization layer, you can drill down to the Array level, jumping directly to the LUN your application is running.VMan6STMLink.gif

 

Hyper-V Storage (Yes, Cluster Shared Volumes!)

VMan6CSV.pngWe've improved our Hyper-V coverage by going deep on storage, making local and CSV (cluster shared volumes) equivalent to a datastore object in Virtualization Manager... what does that mean?  It means everything that works in Virtualization Manager on datastores (trends, capacity planning, search, alerts, link to Storage Manager, etc.) now works on Hyper-V local storage and CSVs!  Yes, including the integration detailed above.

 

Hyper-V storage data includes:

  • Storage capacity, usage and growth
  • Relationships to Clusters, Hosts and VMs
  • Performance including IOPS, Latency and More
  • Snapshots
  • LUN information

 

Note: We've kept the "datastore" nomenclature to represent all storage presented to hosts (at least for now).

 

GUI and Speed Improvements

As this post gets longer, I get slower, but Virtualization Manager 6.0 would still be going strong.  We made numerous improvements to increase the speed of data collection, dashboards, maps and capacity planning - "snappier" is what one of our RC testers called it.  Also, we completed many long requested GUI improvements... here are a few:

 

FeatureDescriptionUse Cases and BenefitsVideo (No Sound)
Resize WidgetsResize widgets to 1x1, 1x2, 2x1, and 2x2.  Dashboards automatically adjust to make the widgets fill up the page properly.

Users can customize dashboards to fit their environment.

  • Enlarge the Map widget to see more of the environment
  • Enlarge key performance metrics to see more detail in charts.
VManResize.gif

Improved Charting

Change the size of the legend, easier to select time ranges, improved selection of a time range on the chart, and made the time slider work more like SAM/NPM.

Easier to use charting - bonus, it works more like SAM/NPM.VMan6Chart.gif

Appliance Health and Status

Quickly see the health and status and link to the appliance login.

Quickly understand if your Virtualization Manager appliance is healthy.VMan6Status.gif

 

How do I turn on the integration?

To see the integration in your environment, you need to install two pieces.

  • First, for Virtualization Manager:
    • If you own Virtualization Manager, download the upgrade ISO from the customer portal and upgrade to 6.0.
    • If you don't own Virtualization Manager, download the appliance from the SolarWinds website and install it in your VMware or Hyper-V environment.
  • Second, you need to update your production SAM or NPM server with the IVIM package included in the zip file you downloaded above (upgrade or fresh install).

Once both servers are installed/upgraded, then you have to "turn on" integration. All downloads of Virtualization Manager installs and upgrades include the update installer for SAM/NPM too.

 

VMan6Setup.pngHere is a brief overview of the steps to install and configure, more detailed steps can be found in the Admin Guide.

  1. Download Virtualization Manager 6.0:
    1. Upgrades: Get the upgrade ISO from the customer portal (the full install is available too).
    2. Try It: If you want to try it, download it from the SolarWinds website.  Installation of the appliance is super easy - watch our video Virtualization Manager Installation on VMware®.
  2. Make a snapshot/backup of your servers.  Always important to have a backup!
  3. Install/Upgrade Virtualization Manager.
  4. If you are using SAM 6.0 or NPM 10.6, there is nothing additional to install on Orion.
    For SAM (5.5) or NPM (10.5), upgrade Orion with the IVIM package included in your zip.  This upgrades the IVIM module to 1.7.
  5. In SAM/NPM, go to Settings > Settings section > Virtualization Settings.
  6. Go to Setup Virtualization Manager integration
  7. Enter the required information, press Submit.
  8. If everything works, you should see a green check mark appear.
  9. Click on the Virtualization tab, you should see 5 new links.  Congrats, you are done!

 

Notes:

 

The End of the Beginning

This is the first step of integrating Virtualization Manager with SAM, NPM and other Orion-based products.  We'd love to hear what you think about the integration and the new features in Virtualization Manager 6.0 - and, of course, what you want in the future.  Check out our What We Are Working On post and the idea forum for Virtualization Manager.

 

Cheers!

In the last release of VNQM we brought the VoIP troubleshooting for your Call Managers. Those of you who maintain VoIP company infrastructure are probably familiar with the VNQM call signaling topology resource:

callDetail_gateway.png

This resource contains devices "1005 & 1041" which are typically gateways. These devices connect your internal VoIP sub-system to the line of your data/voice provider(s). You may typically hear "PRI or PRI Gateway" when talking about inside out or outside in VoIP connectivity. What is PRI? The definition says that PRI (Primary Rate Interface) is a telecommunication standard used in the Integrated Service Digital Networks (ISDN), for carrying multiple DS0 voice and data transmission between two physical locations. More technically, a PRI is a type of VoIP line that provides up to 23 separate 64 Kbps B lines and one data channel like with 64 Kbps in a T1 configuration (typically USA) or 30 B lines and one data line in a E1 configuration (typically Europe).

 

PRI is quite popular today among businesses because of many benefits it has:

  • Scalable technologies that can grow or shrink with your business
  • Low cost
  • Use of existing PBX system technologies
  • Multiple sites can be connected into the same system eliminating maintenance and installation charges across locations
  • Doesn't impact end-users (can dial the number as they were used before)
  • Increased high-tech communications options
  • Can be managed remotely via web-based consoles

And this "PRI Gateway" is something that VNQM 4.1 can now monitor and brings you an another piece of information to solve your VoIP problems. To be very specific, in the case of VNQM 4.1 it's about Cisco devices (MGCP gateways) that have support for PRI.

You, Thwack users, had many dicussions or feature requests (here or here), about how to see utilization of your PRI trunks. You could also read about PRI in a Geek Speek blog post .

VNQM 4.1 RC is ready to be installed on your production and it is fully supported by SolarWinds support. If you are a IPSLA/VNQM active maintenance customer you are more than welcomed to sign-up here for a RC download

 

What Do We Need to Monitor?

A typical monitoring task for the T1/E1 is to monitor a number of active channels/trunks and their utilization. Some of you were also asking for monitoring of "VoIP vs. Data" ratio on the line. VNQM 4.1 can do both now. We don't use SNMP in this case, because Cisco has a bug in their SNMP implementation which results in incorrect trunk call utilization data being reported.

 

Now, how do you see this data in VNQM?

  1. Use a new gateway wizard to add your device to be monitored as the MGCP gateway at VNQM settings page

 

add gateway_cr.pnggateway wizard.png

 

  2.  When you have successfully added, you should see the list of your gateways on the VoIP summary page:

gateway summary.png

3.  Click on the Gateway from the resource above or in the signaling resource that's part of the call details page. This will take you to the brand new Gateway detail page:

Gateway detail page_cr.png

 

How to see data distribution and PRI trunk utilization - are you paying too much to your provider?

Gateway detail page_cr 1.png

Data distribution chart can show you a total usage on your PRI gateway, data & VoIP traffic

distribution and you can also drill down to see each trunk utilization specifically. "Trunk Utilization" resource will give you a good historical overview where you may see spikes or gaps over a time.

In our case, we can see that more than 37% of the capacity

is not used over last three months. So why to pay so much to your voip/data provider?

You can reduce amount of lines you need for the connectivity with the outside world.

The same chart could be also used for a troubleshooting of call connectivity.

In a case you reach maximum PRI utilization, your calls can't be connected

and it's time to figure out who is causing such load (CDRs), ask your provider for more bandwidth, or, at least, set up VoIP precedence policies. Gateway detail page_cr - 2.png

 

 

 

 

Want to see more "per trunk" utilization details? Not a problem:

Gateway detail page_cr_cr - 3.png

 

 

 

 

How to see problems on a gateway?

It's possible to do it via VNQM search page itself. But, you can save some time and see the most important metric - failed calls, and call quality issues directly on each Gateway detail page:

Gateway detail page_cr_cr - 5.pngGateway detail page_cr_cr - 4.png

In order to see call details, phone numbers, etc. simply hit "Search for all failed calls" link at the bottom of the page and VNQM will filter out Gateway relevant calls only."Easy peasy" don't you think?

PRI & trunk utilization monitoring is a major feature of this release. However, VNQM 4.1 also brings a new web-based reports with charts you may read about in this post.


VNQM 4.1 RC is ready to be installed on your production and it is fully supported by SolarWinds support. If you are a IPSLA/VNQM active maintenance customer you are more than welcomed to sign-up here for a RC download

For those of you that have installed the RC of NPM 10.6, you may have noticed some changes to the reports menu. And by changes, we mean the newfound ability to create awesome new reports from the web console. The report writer you have come to know and love is still available, and functions exactly as it always has. Reporting isn't something people generally get worked up about, but we think you'll love the new functionality so much, you'll never go back to the old writer. Without further ado, let's go into some highlights.

 

 

New Canned Reports

 

In addition to all the reports you have come to expect from the previous report writer, we've added a bunch of new reports for NPM (and NTA.) New reports have the ability to contain multiple resources (tables / charts) that can be configured to report on separate (or the same) data sources or time periods. For example:

Highest_Average_Response_Time.png

To make your life easier, you can take these existing reports and customize them to your heart's content.

The new report writer gives you the ability to change the header / footer / logo / etc. Additionally, the resources themselves are drag-and-drop to make it easier to layout the report and get it to your boss' satisfaction.

Report_Layout.png

Custom Reports

 

If you're more of a DIY sort of person, the new report writer gives you the ability to create a useful report from scratch- no SQL required. (Unless you really want to use SQL- it can do that too.)

Feel free to use most any of the existing web resources, or create new resources all your own.

Resource_Selector.png

Creating a custom chart or table is as easy as defining your datasource (which can be dynamic) and then the data you would like to report on.

Select_Report_data.png

Data can be filtered to represent the top X items, or the top X percent of items.

 

Custom_Chart.png

Sorting? Check. Grouping? Check. Summarization? Sure. Aggregation? You bet.

The new report writer allows you to get as simple, or detailed report as you like. Reporting can often be a challenge, particularly when you are creating a detailed custom report.

In NPM 10.6, we made it easy. If you're a current SolarWinds customer, NPM 10.6 RC is available now in your customer portal.

Please take it for a spin and let us know what you think.

The engineering effort on Kiwi Syslog Server (KSS) v9.4 Release Candidate has been completed. RC is the last step before general availability and is a chance for existing customers to get the newest functionality before it is available to everyone else.

You will find the latest version on your customer portal in the Release Candidate section.

 

Here is the content of this RC version:

  • Moving to a new web server
    This change brings a lot of new functionality "for free". Examples:
  • Active Directory authentication for web access
  • Alerting for Message Queue Monitor
    Be notified when the number of messages in the message queue crosses certain threshold. This indicates there might be performance problems and gives you chance to take an action before messages get dropped.
  • Bug Fixes / resolved cases:

 

408596

AD support for Kiwi web access

416692

3 questions regarding Kiwi Syslog Web Access

396596

AD support for Kiwi web access

327093

Kiwi Syslog accounts - AD tie in?

312151

active directory authentication

299645

AD/LDAP Support for Web Console

491536

Kiwi Syslog Web User authentication via AD/LDAP

439899

Broken Support link

450187

Utra Dev Cassini Web Server Service

376801

After web access installation, Cassini Web service stops

380290

Feature Request - Support Newer UltiDev Cassini Server

317512

WebAdmin: HTTPS for Web Front End

159947

SSL for Web Access

491537

https for Kiwi web interface

435117

Alerting for Message Que Monitor

451568

Availability of Buffer statistics for alerting and reporting

447733

Milliseconds in Syslog in Descending Order!

459792

Feature Request - Email Summarization

465803

Database maintenance settings in Kiwi Syslog Webaccess doesn´t work

412290

Reducing number of syslogs on web access

412867

Question

416258

Radio button missing text on Archive Schedule Destination tab

416169

Wrong version displayed when cancelling licensing

334330

sounds not playing on alert

272984

"play a sound once" does not work

342995

Service crash after ORACLE ODBC configuration

427158

Status on 9.3.4

373025

Problem Creating Table for Oracle 11g Release 11.2.0.3.0

493671

Ability to see full list of devices

 

RC builds are made available to existing customers prior to the formal release. These are used to get customer feedback in production environments and are fully supported.

New Engineer's Toolset 10.9.1 has just arrived. The upgrade is available for free for all Toolset customers under active maintenance and can be downloaded from the SolarWinds customer portal.

 

The 10.9.1 comes with following list of improvements:

 

•  TraceRoute tool Changes.

    • Added SNMP Support
      • Additional columns can be displayed for devices which support SNMP
      • User can enable/disable SNMP Discovery
      • SNMP credentials are provided by common Credential Managment
    • Context menus over columns were enhanced
      • Right-click over IP Address column allows user to run some tools.
      • Right-click over other columns allows user to choose displayed columns
    • 0.0.0.0 addresses are not displayed in results

• WorkSpace Studio

    • Export is now possible from IP Network Browser (WSS)

• Neighbor Map

    • Export Neighbor Map to Visio

• Proxy Ping

    • Deprecated the old version and implemented a new one.
    • New version adds support for IPv6
    • Supports Cisco, Juniper, Mikrotik and Extreme Networks

• SCP Server changes

    • Existing files of the same name are renamed during an upload
    • Is now FIPS supported
    • Support for DSA Keys

• Licensing upgraded to GEN3

 

Notable Bug Fixes in 10.9.1

 

• Issues with Neighbor Map (250173, 186932)

• Port Mapper - In correct VLAN ID displayed (156029)

• Port Scanner - Maxes out on 65,000 port scan (218038)

• Port Scanner - Crashes (222332, 218038)

• Bandwidth Gauge –Historical Statistics issue fixed (175923)

• Config Viewer –  SNMP community first character cut off (184082)

• Compare config Tool error out when logged in as a standard user (240296)

• Subnet Calculator – Resulting in wrong subnets (243226, 228460, 222771)

• Switch Port Mapper -  Does not work with Cisco Nexus 5000 (197087)

• Switch Port Mapper -  Does not show MAC Addresses  (204097)

• Switch Port Mapper -  Incorrectly displays MAC Addresses  (233180)

• Switch Port Mapper -  Fails to export to CSV format (250453)

• Workspace Studio - Crashes (236890, 236888)

• TraceRoute - Crashes when hostname is not resolved (233322)

• Cannot add nodes to Bandwidth Gauges, with Non Admin user rights (234987)

• WorkSpace Studio -  Interface Chart % Utlization Rx+Tx faulty logic (245706)

• SNMP Real Time Graph - Displaying duplicate column names (250074)

• Watch It - Gives a Run-Time error after exiting the application when log in as a standard user (241675)

• Advanced CPU Load - Not showing Call Manager 7 data  (184082)

• Netflow Real Time - Fails to launch when toolset is installed into a user defined custom folder (251815)

• After upgrade toolset takes ages to load (193803)

 


So, what are you waiting for ? go ahead and download the General Availability 10.9.1 bits from your customer portal today !

I believe Bronx summed it up perfectly when referring to this release as SAM 6.OMG; because that's precisely the kind of reaction and enthusiasm we receive anytime we have an opportunity to show it off. Those lucky few who've had an opportunity to play with some of the early betas first hand have been champing at the bit in eager anticipation for the opportunity to upgrade their production installations of SAM to version 6.0. Well that time has finally arrived.So without further ado I would like to extend a personal invitation to all Server & Application Monitor customers under active maintenance to sign-up here to download the SAM 6.0 Release Candidate.

 

Please note that Release Candidates are provided as early availability access to the latest release. They are treated no differently than GA releases, in that Release Candidates are fully supported in your production environment, and the SolarWinds technical support team is available to aid and assist with any problems you might encounter.

 

If you haven't been following the SAM beta blog postings here in the Product Blog, I'll give you a brief rundown of some of the exciting new features included in the SAM 6.0 Release Candidate.

 

Real-Time Event Log Viewer

 


The Real-Time Event Log Viewer, as the name suggests, is a web based version of Windows own Event Viewer. This tool allows you to troubleshoot and diagnose application and server related issues occurring on the remotely monitored host in real-time, without the need to remotely connect to the server, log-in, and launch the Windows Event Viewer. Once you've isolated and identified the cause of the issue, you can then easily create a Windows Event Log Monitor from within the Real-Time Event Log Viewer so you can be alerted if this issue occurs again in the future. Simply select the event(s) you'd like SAM to continuously monitor, click Start Monitoring, and the wizard begins. It's just that easy.

 


Asset Inventory

 


In this 6.0 release we extend SAMs hardware health monitoring, introduced in v5.0, to include a much broader array of additional server asset inventory information. This allows SAM to collect all relevant information necessary for asset depreciation, insurance, and support. However, this feature also provides a wealth of additional information you'll likely find useful in your everyday tasks. Some such examples include reporting on software installed for license tracking, or what operating system updates have been applied to the server; by whom, and when they were applied.

 

Information from SAMs Asset Inventory collection can even be programmatically synchronized with other CMDBs using the Orion SDK. If you don't already have a dedicated CMDB, the inverse is equally true. SAM 6.0 allows you to either manually or programmatically populate and report upon non-pollable information in the Orion database, such as the original purchase price, purchase date, rack location, etc. Need to track and report upon other asset information? No problem. Add additional fields to track whatever information you need, such as "in service date",  who the server was originally purchased from, or anything else for that matter.

Server Warranty Expiration.png

 

Custom Asset Information.png

In my previous blog post regarding server asset inventory collection, cwestwater suggested that it would be helpful if SAM was able to automatically track and maintain the servers warranty status and warranty expiration dates. And we agreed. So in addition to gathering all kinds of useful asset inventory information about the physical and virtual machines SAM 6.0 is monitoring, SAM will also monitor the warranty status of your physical servers. Provided your Orion server has access to the internet, this is all done automagically by periodically checking the status of each servers warranty against Dell, HP, and IBM's online warranty validation servers. This allows SAM to alert you when your servers warranty is due to expire. You'll also find a new Server Warranty Summary resource (pictured above) that provides at-a-glance warranty status information for servers where the warranty has expired, is due to expire soon, and those next closest to expire.

AppInsight forSQL


Much of the buzz surrounding the SAM 6.0 release is associated with a radical new concept we've dubbed "AppInsight". Beginning with Microsoft SQL Server, AppInsight's focus is to provide unparalleled monitoring depth and visibility around a given application, while simplifying discovery and reducing overhead associated with continuous monitoring.

 

It is our belief that SAM can provide a truly multi-vendor "best of breed" application and server monitoring experience, previously only possible by deploying numerous dedicated point products. Unlike these "point products" however, AppInsight is a tightly integrated solution built into SAM to provide a single pane of glass view into the health and status of all your servers, and the applications that run on them.

 

For example, AppInsight for SQL provides visibility into who's connected to the SQL Server, how long they've been connected, and from where (host name or IP address) they're connected. Need to know who's actively using the SQL server, not just who's connected, before taking it out of service for maintenance? No problem. Within that very same resource you will discover exactly how long each of user has been idle.

 

AppInsight for SQL gives a unique view into your database's storage usage, allowing users to easily understand the size of each database file, the percentage of white space in the file, as well as calculating in the free space remaining on the volume if auto-grow is enabled. This allows AppInsight to alert you before your database runs out of space, regardless if it's a fixed database size running out of white space, a database file that's configured to auto-grow to a configured limit, or even if the database is configured to auto-grow until it runs out of space on the drive. No matter how your database's are configured, AppInsight for SQL has you covered.

 

Whether you're new to SQL, or a seasoned veteran DBA, the SQL error log is one of the first places you're likely to turn your attention to identify common issues with Microsoft SQL. The SQL Error log contains important troubleshooting information such as, client connectivity issues, backup failures, end of recovery after a restart, DBCC Events, reconfiguration of server or database options, non-yielding schedulers, stack dumps, autogrowth failures, delayed IO events, etc. With AppInsight for SQL this information is right at your fingertips, located conveniently on the Application Details view of each monitored SQL instance.

Top 10 Databases By Active User Connections.png
File By Size.pngSQL Errors.png

Speaking of backups, and other regularly scheduled reoccurring tasks like database shrinks, AppInsight for SQL also includes SQL Agent Job Monitoring. Never again be caught blindsided because a scheduled SQL Agent Job failed to run properly. Better still, understand when, and for how long, SQL Agent Jobs are running to minimize their impact during business hours. These are just a few of the features included with AppInsight for SQL in SAM 6.0.

 

So how is AppInsight for SQL licensed anyway? What does it cost? Is it another module? An add-on?

 

AppInsight for SQL is built-in to SAM 6.0 and does not require the purchase of any additional modules or add-ons. Despite monitoring well over 100 unique SQL Server instance metrics, and more than two dozen key performance indicators for each database, AppInsight for SQL consumes a mere 50 component monitor licenses per-SQL Server instance. Now that's news everyone can be excited about!

SQL Agent Job Status.png

Processes and Services.png

Threshold Baseline Calculator


Believe it or not, there's still plenty of additional new features included in the SAM 6.0 RC I still haven't covered yet. One of these features is the all new Threshold Baseline Calculator. For a several years now we've pre-populated warning and critical thresholds within the application templates included in SAM. These thresholds have been based upon the individual vendors best practices for the given application. There are however many circumstances where this "one size fits all" approach to thresholding simply isn't appropriate, or accurate. The most typical reason why "one size fits all" thresholds doesn't always "fit all" is due to size and scale of an organization and their application deployment.

 

Let's take the example of Message Queue Length in Microsoft's Exchange for an organization with 10,000 or more employees. It might not be unusual for an organization of this size to see the number of messages queued for submission rise above 100 or more on occasion. However, if a small business of  25 or fewer employees saw the same Message Queue Length, at or around 100 messages queued for submission, it would be likely be an indication of a serious issue with the transport service failing to deliver messages properly. That's because for an organization of 10,000 or more employees, having 100 messages simultaneously sent or received within a given time frame isn't too terribly difficult to fathom. On the other hand, for an organization of only 25 employees, that same feat would be extremely unusual. This is just one example of how thresholds for performance metrics don't always "fit all".


For this reason (and countless more examples just like it) the Threshold Baseline Calculator in SAM 6.0 was born. Located from within the Application Editor, directly next to any threshold field you will find two new options. The first, "Use Latest Baseline Thresholds" calculates and applies recommended warning and critical thresholds for the selected metric based upon the last seven days of statistics collection (the baseline). Some might consider this a "blind faith" approach to thresholding that more closely resembles a random number generator, but fret not. There's a science behind where those numbers came from; and for all that detail and more you need only click the "Latest Baseline Details" link that lies just beneath the "User Latest baseline Thresholds" button.

 

http://thwack.solarwinds.com/servlet/JiveServlet/showImage/2-207334-11847/Threshold+Basline+Calcuator.png

 

Upon clicking the "Latest Baseline Details" link (pictured above) you will see a chart which displays the occurrences of statistic values returned by the selected component. This is a visual representation that allows you to easily digest all of the values collected during the baseline period to gain an understanding of what is considered "normal" for this metric in your environment. You have the option of selecting/deselecting typical business hours (8am-6pm Monday-Friday) as well as nights and weekends, or view the cumulative total for entire time period. Overlaid on the chart are the color coded red and yellow banding that represent how the recommended warning and critical thresholds relate to the baseline data. This provides a quick and easy way of determining the number of times you would have been alerted during the baseline period depending how your thresholds were defined.

 

Latest Baseline Details.pngIf embracing your inner statistician isn't your thing, you can also choose the more familiar "Metric over time" from the top most tabs, which displays the typical historical chart view with visual warning and critical thresholds included.

 

Thresholds are calculated using standard deviation, as represented by the sigma "σ" symbol in the table header above. By default 2 standard deviations are used for warning, and 3 standard deviations are used for critical thresholds above or below the mean/average depending upon which operator is selected (greater than/less than). Clicking on any number in the table provides you the option of setting the selected value as either the warning or critical threshold. This also dynamically updates the visual yellow and red banding representing warning and critical thresholds in the chart above the table. At any time you may click the "Reset to Recommended Thresholds" link to return values selected in the table, and represented in the chart above to those recommended by the Threshold Baseline Calculator. You may also click the "Cancel" button to revert any changes made and return to the Application Editor.


Armed with a better understanding provided by the Threshold Baseline Calculator of what is typical/average for a given metric you can make educated, informed decisions as to how warning and critical thresholds should best be defined for your environment.

 

We think you'll agree that this has shaped up to be an outstanding release of Server & Application Monitor. If you've been one of the many patiently waiting for this moment to come, we'd like to welcome you to sign-up here to download the SAM 6.0 Release Candidate now.

 

Please note that the SAM Release Candidates is available exclusively to those running previous versions of SAM or APM under active maintenance.

I'm very happy to share with you that we have officially reached Release Candidate (RC) status for Serv-U FTP Server and MFT Server v15.  The contents of this release contain exciting new features and improvements, namely,

 

  • File sharing in Serv-U MFT Server
  • New web client user interface
  • Rebranding of the user interface
  • FTP Voyager no longer requires an activation key

 

You can download the RC in the Release Candidate section of your Customer Portal. If you have any questions I encourage you to leverage the Serv-U Release Candidate RC group on thwack. RC is the last step before general availability and is a chance for existing customers to get the newest functionality before it is available to everyone else.


File Sharing

 

All of us need to occasionally share a file with a partner, colleague or a customer (we call them Guests in File Sharing, or someone who does not have an account in Serv-U). File Sharing is a great new feature of Serv-U MFT Server which helps you to share small or large files without email limitations, temporary accounts or any administrative hassles. It allows you to have your own on premise file sharing service. File Sharing is meant as a temporary storage for simple web-based file sharing. Guests will simply receive an email with the link allowing them to download or upload files. If you wish you can also send links via IM, social networks or by other means.

 

First you need to enable File Sharing in the Serv-U Management Console. You can configure settings on the global level in the Server Limits and Settings section or per domain in Domain Limits and Settings.

 

On the screenshot below you can see the simple configuration settings for File Sharing. You can define a URL for the File Sharing, you set a folder where all shares will be stored and you can also define how long expired shares should last before Serv-U deletes them permanently. If you wish you can also define a template for emails received by Guest users, enable or disable usage of SSL and most importantly enable/disable the entire File Sharing feature.

 

Managmenet_Console_marked.jpeg

 

After you enable File Sharing you can find the link to the File Sharing UI in the bottom of the management console next to the FTP Voyager JV and Web Client links.

 

File-Sharing_link_from_MC_marked.jpeg

 

As a regular user you can choose the File Sharing UI during login or click on the upper menu in the new Web Client UI.

 

File-Sharing_link_from_WC_marked.jpeg

 

In the home page of File Sharing you can see the last 5 shares for requested files and sent files with some basic information about each share like date share was created, name of the share, email address(es) of Guest(s), status of share, expiration date and so on.

 

FS_homepage.png

 

If you wish to start with sharing files simply click on "Request Files" or "Send files" in the menu to create a share. Let's first send some files to a Guest. After clicking on Send Files, you are presented with a form with basic settings for the share. You need to define one or more email addresses. You can change the default Subject line of the email which will be sent by Serv-U.

 

Then you can briefly describe what data you are sending and change your email address if it's different from the default. Since a share is only a temporary storage, you have to define the expiration time which is up to 90 days. This is to prevent filling up your storage with shares.

 

You can also ask Serv-U to send you notification when the file is downloaded by a Guest so you know immediately and can follow-up. Additionally you can also protect shares with passwords. When you are done click "Next".

 

Send_File_Form.png

 

In the next step you simply choose files to upload, click Upload button and you are done. The share is created, notification email is sent to the Guest user(s) and you can close the confirmation screen by clicking on the Done button.

 

You can request files for upload in the same way by clicking on Request Files in the menu. After that a similar form is displayed as for sending files. You configure your share (when requesting files you can also limit individual size of files uploaded) and this time click on Send Request and your are done.

 

Request_File_Form.png

 

After you create a share, an email is sent and the Guest user can click on the link in the received email. If the share is password protected, then the Guest is asked for a password and after entering it, it's as simple as clicking on the Download All button or choosing files to upload.

password_field_in_Guest_UI.pngGuest_UI_upload.png

 

 

New Web Client UI

 

With the new File Sharing feature, which as you noticed is using a new, cleaner UI, we also redesigned the Web Client UI. It is now cleaner, faster and behaves more like Windows Explorer.

 

WC_UI.png

 

FTP Voyager is now FREE!

 

FTP Voyager is a powerful FTP client with many great features like scheduler. We decided to make it a free product! We removed all references to purchase or any licensing constraints. Go, download FTP Voyager now from the customer portal and enjoy its rich functionality!

 

Download Serv-U v15 RC, which is availble in the Release Candidate section of your Customer Portal.

 

If you have any questions I encourage you to leverage the Serv-U Release Candidate RC group on thwack.

We are pleased to announce the general availability of SolarWinds Web Help Desk 12.0.1. This is a service release, which contains number of improvements and fixes. Namely,

 

  • Installation issues with non-standard installations
  • Friendlier and more informative messages during installation and upgrade
  • Certificate issues on Exchange when running SSL.
  • Upgrade and migration issues.
  • PostgreSQL service does not start on Win2003.
  • E-Mail account type label includes Exchange 2013.
  • Exception when deleting an attachment.
  • Upgrade fails when IP Address is bound in WHD.conf.
  • Unable to create ticket notes using API.
  • Escalate privileges to admin when running WHD scripts in Windows.
  • WHD discovery Engine (WMI) ignores XP machines.
  • Escalate privileges to admin when running WHD installer.
  • Performance issues with SAVE operation on notes.
  • Installer blocks on maintenance expired.
  • Discovery engine not collecting HDD info.
  • Additional logging during migration.
  • Call uninstallation of whd from installer.
  • Update installation script to be HDD independent.
  • Verify previous installation of WHD.
  • Windows installation on different HDD.

 

You can view the full set of release notes here.

 

Download Web Help Desk now and have fun!




We have a new "What We're Working On" post. Click here for the new post.








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:

 

  • Remote control 'over-the-internet' to support remote control scenarios outside the LAN.
  • Centralized Server for both DRS.  This will provide the following benefits:
    • Central console to setup and manage centralized functionality
    • Centralized and easily accessible host lists
    • Drastic simplification of SolarWinds offline license activation and license management
    • Ability to search host lists
  • Native OSX agent
  • Native Web Help Desk integration
  • Ability to reboot a system into safe-mode and connect with MRC
  • More granular connection and client agent security
  • Session recording either ad-hoc or forced to a central location
  • Reverse screen sharing
  • Advanced Centralized Functionality
    • Ability to restrict / grant access to various DRS functions via user profile / policy
    • Ability to push MRC agents and agent updates
    • Ability to push DRS consoles
    • Leverage Active Directory/LDAP for authentication as well as access control based on groups
    • Centralized MRC agent configuration management
    • Centralized access logs for auditing



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!

We have been keeping an eye on the discussions here asking for improvement in terms of network traffic analysis, beyond what MIB 2 (Interface traffic) and Flow technology (NetFlow, sFlow, jFlow...) have to offer.

And we recently saw that NBAR support was voted #1 enhancement request for NTA - the Network Traffic Analyzer (see more about SolarWinds Network Traffic Analyzer here)
As we were thinking about this, we wondered whether the requirement was basically for NBAR - period - or if this was the sign of a larger requirement for better tools to ananalyze your traffic.
For example, we did a Traffic Analysis survey, asking if you used DPI-type solutions and we discovered that a large proportion was using Wireshark (not really a surprise, but was a good confirmation) or any other form of DPI product
DPI solutions used by SolarWinds customers.PNG
Also, I recently talked to some of you and confirmed that a significant proportion (actually higher than what the above chart suggests) either had a Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) solution in place (Riverbed Cascade/Opnet, LanCope, ...) or had this in their budget for this year.
So all this fueled a lot of thoughts and raised some questions on our side, on which we'd really appreciate your comments and answers:
  • Does Wireshark meet most of your needs?
  • Do you need Advanced Traffic Analysis for environments other than Cisco, where solutions like NBAR may not be available? In other words, do you need a vendor-agnostic solution?
  • All of you who own a DPI-type solution, mentioned their (prohibitive) cost as an issue. We are convinced that you don't need to be an Enterprise, able to spend $200K or more on these solutions, to really need them. Small and medium-size businesses also encounter challenges with their traffic which require deep analysis.
    Is it time for SolarWinds to commoditize that market and offer 80% of those features for 20% of the cost?

Before I'll let you go and express your thoughts and describe your experience, here is a bit more on how we think about this problem.

What are the needs for Advanced Traffic Analysis?

We see mainly 4:

Breakdown my traffic by application and user, like Netflow does ... but better

As convenient as Netflow technology is, it actually does a pretty average job at identifying your applications (unless you deploy Flexible Netflow):
    • Limited to static ports. Any app using dynamic ports will be invisible to (Net)flow technology
    • Ignores that many application use port 80 to go through firewalls and are actually NOT HTTP / Web applications
    • Is unable to identify reliably true Web applications: either because (Net)flow does not inspect the HTTP header and does not do URL extraction. Also, content networks such as YouTube.com (owned by Google) are identified by the Content Distribution Network they use as opposed to the Web site they really have (e.g. 1e100.net for YouTube.com...).
      See this typical question we have, pointing to this great post explaining why (Net)flow is really not the ultimate weapon and why Flexible Netflow is not the panacea either.

 

I need an aggregated view of the Quality of Experience rendered by my applications to my users

In a perfect world, users experiencing slowness in their application will open a ticket or send an email, and IT will know about it. But the world is not perfect and how many IT engineers discovered the hard way, as they were thrown under the bus by an email from a user to the CIO, that the QoE offered by IT is actually not that great, despite what they thought?

Of course there are solutions to simulate users connecting across the network (E.g. SolarWinds VNQM, based on Cisco's Ip SLA technology) as well as simulate the details of their transactions on their mission critical applications (e.g. SolarWinds WPM), but those are based on simulations and do not reflect the true experience of users.

Wouldn't it be great to have a dashboard looking at the traffic of all your users connecting to their applications and calculate the latency they REALLY experience and reporting this in near real-time, or on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly basis?

 

I need help troubleshooting slow access to applications

Your users are complaining about slowness when accessing some application? (or a QoE dashboard, as presented above, is keeping you informed about that)

The first things people do is use the basic tools they have, to try to troubleshoot:

    • Look at saturated interfaces that can explain slowness. Then go to  (Net)flow information to understand the nature of this traffic and see what non mission-critical traffic could be removed to avoid the saturation moving forward. The problem with this, is that a) it's not always easy to identify all interfaces on the path from the impacted user(s) to the application and b) excess of traffic is not always the cause of the slowness
    • Look at the devices along the path - from the switch the user(s) is(are) connected to, up to the server this application resides one, via all WAN routers - and see if any experience poor health explaining the slowness (CPU, memory, IO...)

Decent start, but what if this does not answer the question?

What if it's a mis-configuration? What if it's one particular transaction of this application, out of dozen, that is slow, how do you figure which one? What if the slow application is actually spread across multiple-tiers (application server, database, storage...) and what you thought was a "simple" analysis of the path between the user and the application server, happens to be more complicated and involve several back-end servers?

All these more complex but unfortunately real-life examples, are almost impossible to troubleshoot with the basic tools.

 

Security is key for us and I need to know exactly what peole do on my network

Who is accessing internal file shares? From the outside of my network, really?

How about browser-based file shares (e.g. dropbox)? Is last amount of internal material being copied over to those?

Are your users downloading copyrighted content from P2P media and storing it on company-owned asset, e.g. their workstation?

Do you have unusual traffic from unexpected countries? What is this traffic about?

You already have an Advanced Traffic Analysis (e.g. DPI-based solution)? Tell us what you think about it...

  • What use case(s) does it meet for you (from list above or other)?
  • Do you consider it cost effective?
  • How important is it to have these products integrated to platform such as an NMS / IT infrastructure management platform such as Orion?
  • Would you consider a solution integrated to Orion that would address your most important need at a fraction of the cost? Or do you need the full power of those expensive solutions? Tell us what the minimum bar is!

 

How does encrypted traffic impact the effectiveness of your Advanced Traffic Analysis (e.g. DPI-based solution)?

 

If you currently run some form of Advanced Traffic Analysis product (e.g. DPI-based solution), how does encrypted traffic impacts it.

Did encrypted traffic dictated where you deployed your packet capture probes? Are there areas of your network that carry encrypted traffic that you are blind on due to that?

 

Sniffing traffic, ok, but which one?


Let us know about your most important traffic types, on which to perform Advanced Traffic Analysis:

  • A) LAN traffic on corporate / Data Center (internal)
  • B) LAN traffic on remote site
  • C) WAN traffic (general)
  • D) WAN optimized traffic (e.g. Cisco WAAS, Riverbed, Bluecoat)
  • E) VM to VM traffic
  • F) Load balanced traffic (e,g, Cisco ACE, F5)
  • G) Virtualized traffic (e.g. analyse traffic in/out of an application hosted by a Cloud SP)
  • H) DMZ traffic

 

Sniffing traffic, ok, but how?

 

Agents, span or Tap or RITE?

  • The agent-based technique is about running agents on the OS - virtual or not - that hosts your mission critical applications. If your focus is the traffic that goes to your applications (as opposed to look at all traffic including the fully meshed opne that goes across all your sites sites), then agents are a good solution because they make the 3 techiques below unnecessary, but they require an invasive action on your OS by adding a component to it: what CPU/memory do they consume on the OS? Are they really only looking at the traffic? How do we upgrade 100's of them that are deployed on yuour server farm...
  • The Port Spanning / Mirroring technique is basically about high-jacking one port from your switch and dedicate it for mirroring all or part of the entire traffic of the switch. Then the management product listens to packets from this port and performs analysis, storage...

Pretty simple, because most switches support this now, just a commend top issue and a cable to connect and you can start drinking from the fire hose; but may have an impact on the switch and can't guarantee 100% packet captured on very heavily loaded switches.
Note that spanning a port is possible on a HW switch but also on a vSwitch within a virtual environment

  • Network Taps are basically pieces of hardware that you buy to replace the switch for this function (capturing packets). They are placed inline and have no influence on the switch and pretty much capture 100% of the traffic.
  • RITE - Router IP Traffic Export, is a Cisco technology like spanning a port on a switch, except that it's done on a router. Again, easy to deploy since it leverages an existing device, but it impacts it and won't work great at high speed. See this nice and short blog post

 

Tell us about your experience, your preferences, what's allowed and not allowed on your networks, as far as capturing packets for Advanced Traffic Analysis.

 

 

 

We have officially reached Release Candidate (RC) status for Network Configuration Manager 7.2. RC is the last step before general availability and is a chance for existing customers to get the newest functionality before it is available to everyone else.

 

Here is the content of this RC version:

  • Continue moving functionality from Win32 client to Web UI
    • Job management (Windows Task Scheduler not used anymore)
    • Config management (edit, delete, set baseline)
    • Possibility to test device login credentials
    • Import config from file
  • Provide End-of-Life information for managed devices.
  • Multiple global connection profiles
    • Define multiple connection profiles (device credentials, protocol, port etc.)
    • NCM will try which of the predefined connection profiles works for a device (configurable per device)
  • The execution of Config Change Templates can be scheduled.
  • Change Approval System enhancements
    • Approved requests to be executed at specified date/time
    • Approved requests to be returned to requestor for execution
    • Requesters can see a history of what they requested and was approved
    • Approvers can see a history of what they approved
  • SNMPv3 -- Support of AES-256 encryption
  • Inventory for Brocade devices
  • More devices supported natively (Palo Alto)
  • Config Change Template Extensions: 'delay' command, string <-> number conversion
  • Make downloaded configurations searchable for IP addresses with FTS enabled.

More details and screenshots can be found in the NCM 7.2 Beta blog post and in Manage End-of-Life Information for Your Devices with NCM!

 

RC builds are made available to existing customers prior to the formal release. These are used to get customer feedback in production environments and are fully supported. If you have any questions, I encourage you to leverage the NCM RC forum.


You will find the latest version on your customer portal in the Release Candidate section.

SolarWinds has prepared a new on-line sessions for all of you who are interested what's coming in our product series. This sessions will be presented by Product Managers and we believe that it will give you an interesting look into product's future.

If you would like to attend, simply make your registration at GoTo meeting web site: New Series: PM-Hosted Monthly Product Roadmap Updates

 

The upcoming Wednesday 17th July's session will be focused at Network Performance Monitor 10.5 and beyond. In this episode, we will review the new features in SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor v10.5 and additionally, we will discuss what we are working on for the future. Feel free to bring your comments and questions.

 

See you there.

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