Skip navigation
1 14 15 16 17 18 Previous Next

Product Blog

681 posts
dexml

Routing Basics

Posted by dexml Jan 10, 2014

This blog is meant to provide a simple overview of routing in general, for those new to networking, and as an addendum to my other two routing related blogs:

  1. Routing Tools Overview for Network Performance Monitor 10.5
  2. TROUBLESHOOTING WITH ROUTING TOOLS FOR NETWORK PERFORMANCE MONITOR 10.5

 

While network and internet routing can be quite complex, the fundamentals are easy to comprehend.

 

  • If I am at “Location A” and want to get to “Location Z” 
    • I might be able to take a direct route and get there without stopping. 
    • In other cases I might have to use an alternate route, going through “Location B” or “Location X” first along the way.

               01_locations.jpg

Let’s take a look at a simple network topology map and see what a route might look like connecting networks together from across the world.

 

  • Sender 1 - on the left side of the map - is connected to Router 1 (R1) in California.
  • Receiver 2 - on the right side of the map - is connected to Router 4 (R4) in Paris
  • Router 2 (R2)- in the middle of the map - is connected to both Router 1 and Router 4.

     01_routes.jpg

As you can see, if you want to send packets from Sender 1 to Receiver 2 there is only one route to take. Any device connected to Router 1 must go through Router 2 in order to get data to any other device connected to Router 4. In this scenario:

 

  • The “Origin” is Sender 1
  • The “Next Hop” is Router 2
  • And the “Destination” is Receiver 2

 

I am sure you can imagine other possible scenarios where additional Routers could serve as the “Next Hop” similar to Router 2 connecting Router 1 to Router 4. For example there might be a “Next Hop” Router in Miami in addition to New York, in which case you would have multiple pathways (routes) that could make connections between the Origin and Destination.

 

To summarize, there can be multiple routes that packets can take through networks to get to any given destination. With the new Routing tools now provided by SolarWinds NPM, you know have a view of end to end routing for easier troubleshooting of network issues.

 

Protocol Overview


A routing protocol defines how routers communicate with one another. Routers need to communicate with one another to share information that will enable them to select routes between any two network nodes. Routers can only communicate directly with their neighbors but information is passed along, one to another, so that eventually a router can gain and store an entire network topology. There are several different routing protocols in use today for both internal networks and external networks such as the internet. By “Internal” network we really mean an “Autonomous System” or “Autonomous Network” which is defined as a network that is under the domain and control of a single Administrative entity such as a corporate network.  Protocols for internal use are referred to as “interior” protocols while protocols used on the internet are referred to as… you guessed it, “exterior” protocols.

 

The SolarWinds routing resources and tools contained in Network Performance Monitor version 10.5 and above provides support for the following popular network protocols:

 

  • OSPF
  • RIP
  • BGP

 

These are important networking protocols that allow network traffic to traverse vast internal networks and span a wide array of self-contained but interconnected networks such as the internet. The first two, OSPF and RIP, are interior routing protocols otherwise known as “Interior Gateway Protocols” or IGP. IGPs share information within only one routing domain and cannot span across separate autonomous networks, the biggest impact of this limitation is that these protocols cannot be used on the internet. The third in the list is BGP or Border Gateway Protocol which is currently the most commonly used exterior gateway protocol and which allows all manner of autonomous networks to communicate across the internet.

 

To sum it up internal networks can use OSPF, RIP (or other IGP protocols) and if any of these internal networks need to communicate with other networks they can and most likely will use BGP to send packets across the internet.

Note: There are a few other protocols in use today such as EIGRP and we are working on integrating these into NPM for a future release. 

 

Now if only I could find a way to insert myself into a network packet, I could have lunch in Paris and be back to work in Austin for my 1pm meeting!



Storage Manager 5.7 Beta 1

 

The Storage Manager Team is hard at work on STM 5.7. We’ve just arrived at that crucial stage of development, Beta 1, and would love your participation. Fill out this short survey to participate in the STM 5.7 Beta! Without further ado, let’s jump into what is available in Beta 1.

 

Sign-Up Button.png

 

Improved Performance Charts

 

Users of Storage Manager have been pushing for a while to get more out the performance data in the product. Before I get into the solutions, let me outline some concerns voiced by you, the end user, about the current way performance data is displayed. Concerns with the current graphs have focused around several areas:

ConcernOld Chart
  1. The graphs provided were simple PNG image files and are not interactive. This prevents simple actions like hover-over context to get insight into exact data point values and labels.
  2. The general Look & Feel of the old charts was dated.
  3. The charts didn't have a way to easily zoom in or out on the Time x-axis. To get more data in the chart, you had to refresh the whole page by selecting a new time range.
  4. When looking at several data series simultaneously, there was no way to remove a single or multiple data series from the chart. One example where this is important is when trying to look at Top 5 LUN Performance, but one LUN is massively busier than the other 4. Removing this one LUN allows the chart to re-scale to view the relative performance of the other LUNs.
Old STM Charts.png

 

Unrelated to the charting package itself, but still valid concerns were:

  1. There were restrictions that in the product around displaying “Raw” or “Roll-Up Summary” data. Basically, in an effort to keep the product snappy and stable, STM automatically defaulted to Hourly, Daily, or Weekly Roll-up data depending time range selected. This was problematic when looking for peaks in performance data, as those peaks ended up being averaged out when looking at longer time ranges.
  2. The time selector only allowed you to see data from now with a defined “look-back” period of Last Hour, 6 Hours, 24 Hours, etc. If you wanted to look at a specific 6 hour period yesterday, you had to go to the Reporter tool, or you could look at the data from the last week, but were forced into problem #1 above and could only view roll-up data.

 

So with all that said, let’s take a look at the new and improved Storage Manager performance charts.

 

We’ve adopted the same charting package used by the SolarWinds Orion products. While some of the back-end software magic is different this enables several major improvements including:

 

New BenefitNew Chart
  1. Hover-over to inspect individual data points.
  2. Significantly improved Look & Feel
  3. Embedded horizontal zoom – This functionality is tied to our new “Between” time range selector. So as you drag the horizontal zoom bar, it keeps the Between calendar range in perfect sync, so you know exactly what timeframe you are examining.
  4. Data selectors – You can now remove charted data series with ease! With the new charts, the y-axis will automatically adjust zoom to show remaining data series.
New Charts.png

 

To address the other concerns, we also added:

New BenefitNew Chart
  1. A force “Raw” checkbox. By selecting this, you will force the product to load Raw, not summary roll-up, data for your chart. WARNING – This can load extremely large datasets depending upon the timerange being viewed. It is an Advanced feature and misuse may cause slow loading or product instability. We are working on providing warning dialogues in the product to provide guidance to this effect, but it is not yet in the Beta.
  2. As mentioned with the horizontal zoom feature in the new charts, we have also included a “Between” time range selector to view custom time ranges.
New Charts 2.png
For those of you playing along at home, you may have noticed one other UX improvement – contextual text highlighting! No more are you forced to guess what report you landed on!Contextual highlighting.png

 

We made some other minor changes to the product that aren’t really super-exciting to test from an end-user perspective, but they are changes in product behavior so we’d definitely appreciate any feedback.

 

Change to Default Collection Frequencies

 

For STM 5.7, the default data collection frequencies have changed for SMI-S devices and VMware. Note that this will NOT affect upgrades, only fresh installs. If you’ve fine-tuned your collection frequencies for your environment, STM will respect that and maintain your settings upon upgrade. So why make the change? The main reason is stability of collection and matching that stability to how customers scale their systems over time. These changes were made to ensure a seamless first time user experience and allow new customers to fine tune these settings later as they better understand their monitoring needs and the product architecture. If you'd like to get a good primer on STM Deployment, this topic is discussed at length in this ThwackCamp session.

 

As always, if you need to modify collection frequencies post-install, you can do so through configuring STM Policies in Settings->Device Management->Policies. Remember that you have to “Push” your policies to your STM Proxy Agents for those new collection frequencies to take effect. For reference, these are new default collection frequencies for STM:

 

SMI-S policy

Frequency type

Original value (prior to 5.7)

Updated value (5.7+)

Asset

12 hours

24 hours

Performance

15 minutes

No Change

Storage

1 hour

6 hours

 

 

VMware policy

Frequency type

Original value (prior to 5.7)

Updated value (5.7+)

Configuration

15 minutes

3 hours

Performance

5 minutes

30 minutes

Storage

1 hour

6 hours

 

Deprecating Generic “Storage Array” Reports


The “Storage Array” report category is a little bit of mystery to outside observers and deserves some historical discussion. While at first glance, the name might imply that this set of reports are what you use to report on your Storage Arrays from a single consolidated place, sadly that implication would be entirely off-target. Storage Manager’s location for all consolidated reports, across heterogeneous arrays, is the “Enterprise” reports. Any report in the “Enterprise” reports are tested by our Product Team to ensure that the data we are presenting is valid across every array we support, even when you report across heterogeneous array types in the same report. Such is not the case with the “Storage Array” reports.

 

So then, you might ask, “What are the purposes of the Storage Array reports?” And it is a fine question, no doubt. These reports are meant for reporting on a “Generic SMI-S Device.” “Well,” you might say, “my arrays support data collection via SMI-S, so those must be for my arrays.” Unfortunately, again, this would be off-target. The “Generic SMI-S Device” was a pie-in-the-sky dream, hatched in the early days of Storage Manager development, when there was thoughts that storage vendors might actually adopt the Storage Networking Industry Association’s (SNIA’s) Storage Management Initiative-Specification (SMI-S) standard as an actual standard. Instead, the vendors went off and implemented all of their array support via SMI-S completely differently (they are not completely at fault, of course, the standard lacked some key points mainly around how to present performance data). Thus, the “Generic SMI-S Device” in Storage Manager never really worked as anticipated and is “unsupported” as an official array type. Unfortunately, we never did as good a job as we should have to outline these restrictions thus leading to our current situation.

 

If the above is TL;DR, here is the nut: A good chunk of data presented in those reports is wrong because of how the vendors differed in their implementation of the SMI spec. If you want “Storage Array” report functionality, you need to use the array specific reports where the STM team has aligned the data provided to the vendor’s implementation of the spec. For example, if you own an EMC VNX, you should use the reports under Storage Array EMC VNX/CLARiiON. The data are correct in these reports.

 

If you are currently using these reports, we recommend you switch to the Storage Array reports for your specific devices. We have salvaged some of the reports and moved them to the “Enterprise” section, as some of the reports only needed minor modifications to report data consistently. These salvaged reports include:

  • Storage – SMI-S Storage Array-LUN Masking
  • Storage – SMI-S Storage Array-LUN Masking Summary (new report)
  • Performance – SMI-S Storage Array-Array Performance
  • Performance – SMI-S Storage Array-Controller Performance
  • Performance – SMI-S Storage Array-Disk Performance
  • Performance – SMI-S Storage Array-LUN Performance

 

Note that we did not remove the reports or their templates, but merely marked them as “Deprecated” in the product. This should give you time to move to the proper reports for your reporting purposes.

 

Deprecated Reports.png

 

That's Not All Folks!

 

Note that this is only Beta 1 for STM 5.7. We have several more features we are cooking up in the lab, so watch here for future Beta announcements!

 

Sign-up for the STM 5.7 Beta today!

Web Help Desk (WHD) is an easy to use, but also flexible tool for your IT team and even-though we are working on many great new features or improving existing like recently added Orion Integration, there are still less-known areas, which I call the hidden gems.


As a technician you want to use formatted text in your tickets, asset notes or emails. Sometimes you might want to highlight certain information in an email, send a clickable link, format a FAQ that it's easy to follow, or maybe highlight crucial information in an asset note, thus your fellow colleague won't forget to notify you when updating your machine. Some forms like ticket notes offer formatting options in a little menu on the top, but these may not be available everywhere or you might want to do more than standard options.

whd_editor.png

Being a web-based tool, HTML could be sometimes tricky to use, so that's why we have simple formatting which resembles HTML, but uses different syntax. Meet BBCode.

 

BBCode

BBCode (Bulletin Board Code) is a lightweight markup for text formatting. It was introduced in message-boards, but widely used in many other types of software nowadays. Tags are usually indicated by square brackets [ and ], enclosing a keyword. There is no formal standard and you can find different implementations and variations in supported tags. WHD also has its own implementation and there is a good reason for it - you can customize it.

 

Here is a simple example of BBCode, which you can use in WHD.

 

[size=20]Title[/size]

[img]http://www.solarwinds.com/favicon.ico[/img]

<p>

Lorem ipsum [b]dolor sit[/b] amet, [url=http://www.webhelpdesk.com]consectetuer adipiscing[/url] elit. Cum sociis natoque [i]penatibus et magnis[/i] dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.

</p>

And now some list:

[list]

[*]Fusce tellus. Proin in tellus sit amet nibh dignissim sagittis.

[*]Sed convallis magna eu sem. Maecenas sollicitudin.

[/list]

[list=A]

[*][color=blue]FAQ link:[/color] [faq id=1]

[*][u]FAQ link:[/u] <faq id=2>

[/list]

 

This text renders to following.

whd_faq_render.png

 

Note that markup is actually mix of BBCode and HTML.

 

Formatting

 

Basic markup follows pretty simple structure:

 

  • Simple tags: [tab]something[/tag]
  • Simple parameterized tags: [tag=value]something[/tag]
  • Complex parameterized tags: [tag value1="xxx" value2="yyy"]something[/tag]

 

WHD supports wide range of tags:

 

  • [code]your code here[/code]
  • [quote]Text[/quote]
  • [quote=Author]Text[/quote]
  • [b]bold[/b]
  • [i]italics[/i]
  • [u]underscored[/u]
  • [list] [*]First item [*] Second Item
  • [img]URL[/img]
  • [email]address[/email]
  • [email=address]Text[/email]
  • [url]address[/url]
  • [url=address]Text[/url]
  • [color=name]Text[/color] (supports HTML color names)
  • [size=number of pixels]Text[/size]
  • [google]key words[/google]
  • [google=key words]Text[/google]
  • [faq id=number]

 

Additionally you can also use selected supported HTML tags, which you can mix with BBCode tags:

b, i, u, a, img, li, ul, ol, font, br, p, pre, center, faq, code, hr, strong.

 

You can use the BBCode in many places in WHD like ticket subject, request details, notes, email templates, FAQ, Messages, Login message, custom field description and so on. However not all fields do support BBCode, so if it's something like secondary email field in your account details, you better check in advance.

 

Special Behavior

Apart from tags, BBCode mechanism also detects bare URLs like http or ftp links, emails or UNC paths and make them clickable. If you put link to Youtube or Vimeo video, WHD will actually embed that video and display it instead of the link. (If you want you can disable this behavior, see below.)

 

whd_embeded_video.png

(Btw. if you have not seen the video you definitely should ).

 

There is also a special tag faq. This tag will provide a link to existing FAQ and has the form of [faq id=NUMBER] or <faq id=NUMBER>.

 

Customization

WHD stores transformation rules for all tags in WebHelpDesk/bin/webapps/helpdesk/WEB-INF/Helpdesk.woa/Contents/Resources/bb_config.xml.

 

EDIT:  Location of bb_config.xml has changed at some point. Since versions 12.x it is located at whd-web.jar\Resources\bb_config.xml.

 

If you want to modify it, you should do the following:

  1. Stop WHD
  2. Back up whd-web.jar
  3. Edit bb_config.xml within the whd-web.jar, (e.g. Total Commander allows user to modify files packed in a jar)
  4. Start WHD

 

Great thing about having own implementation is that you can easily create your own tags. Let say you want to use strikethrough text. Simply add this custom tag definition to bb_config.xml and restart WHD.

 

     <!-- S -->

     <match name="s">

          <regex>(?s)(?i)\[s\](.*?)\[/s\]</regex>

          <replace>

          <![CDATA[

          <strike>$1</strike>

          ]] >

          </replace>

     </match>


Now you can use [s] and [/s] tags.

 

In bb_config.xml you can also disable embedding video instead of displaying a link. Find all rules with name starting with auto-youtube (or auto-vimeo) and comment them out with <!-- and -->. Don't forget to restart WHD and you will see the link instead of the video. (Which means url BBCode rule was applied.)

 

whd_video_not_embedded.png

 

How about trying something more fancy? Sometimes when working on an incident or writing a FAQ, you refer to other tickets by saying "ticket 544" or maybe you use terms like request, case or problem. Wouldn't it be nice if this could be a link, so you colleague could click on it and open that ticket right away? Let's write a simple rule to do it. (Don't forget to replace the URL with the link to your system.)

 

     <match name="TicketLink" alwaysProcess="true">

          <regex>(?s)(?i)((?:ticket|incident|case|problem|request)\s*)([0-9]+)</regex>

          <replace>

          <![CDATA[

          <a href="http://webhelpdesk.com:8081/helpdesk/WebObjects/Helpdesk.woa/wa/TicketActions/view?ticket=$2">$1$2</a>

          ]]>

          </replace>

     </match>

 

Now you can just type "case 22" and voilà - there is link!

whd_bbcode_new_rule.png

 

As you could see WHD is tremendously flexible, you can use BBCode in various places and also add your new tags. I'm sure there are more areas you would like to learn more about, so please let me know in comments!

 

References:

Last week I provided an overview of the routing tools for Network Performance Monitor 10.5 and this week I will walk you through a troubleshooting scenario using the Interactive Online Demo to help illustrate how you can use these tools to troubleshoot real world issues in your own environment.

 

Obviously, routing is one of the keys to a properly functioning network. IP packets on your network must be routed, not only to their given destinations, but should also arrive in the fastest way possible. The new Routing tools for NPM have combined the Logical and Physical layers to help you get things done.

 

Troubleshooting Walk-Through


Troubleshooting StepsImage
  1. Let’s first take a look at the High Errors and Discards Today resource located about halfway down the page on the NPM Summary Tab in Orion.
    1. Notice the node labeled “Router5.lab.local” has a significant amount of discards.
    2. Click on “Router5.lab.local” (hereafter referred to as “Router 5”) to drill down and see the Node Details Page for that Router.
walkthrough_01.jpg

2. Once on the Node Details page, click on the Network Tab.

 

The Network Sub View is where all of the Routing Resources are located.

walkthrough_02.jpg

3. As it so happens, “Router 5” has some issues transmitting packets.


The "STATUS" column of the Current Percent Utilization of Each Interface resource (middle of the page) shows two “Down” interfaces.

walkthrough_03.jpg

4. Checking the Routing Table, we can see that the Down interfaces ( FastEthernet0/0 - Fa0/0 and FastEthernet0/1 - Fa0/1 ) do not actually appear in the Routing Table.


(hint all of the interfaces in the routing table shown are "1/0" and the two down interfaces are 0/0 and 0/1 respectively).


This is good news in this case, since the Down status of those particular interfaces is not actually affecting routing.

 

The fact that the Routing Table shows all GREEN and the subnets are properly routed to the other interfaces on this device is a quick way to make that determination.

walkthrough_04.jpg

So not only does NPM provide the fundamental set of information needed to define routing – showing protocol, destination, subnet size, next hop and interface information -  it also combines node information allowing visibility into the real availability of nodes and interfaces. Hovering over elements, such as interfaces, activate Pop Ups (image on the right) providing more details and a performance overview.

 

With these resources available at our fingertips, NPM is now doing all the heavy lifting. No longer do we have to manually connect to routers via command line to pull in this data and we do not have to share a router’s credentials with the guy in IT three floors down!

 

Everything is real time and polled frequently, by default every 2 minutes but configurable to meet your particular needs.

walkthrough_05.jpg

5. We have determined our Routing Table is clean, so now let’s take a look at the Routing Neighbors resource which shows you the status of the routers that are directly “next” to the one you are viewing. In this instance we have:

 

  • Router 2 as one of our neighbors using the OSPF protocol.
  • And the second neighbor 74.115.12.1 which is using the BGP Protocol.

 

The fact that the second neighbor, running BGP shows up as IP Address 74.115.12.1 actually tells us that Orion is not monitoring this device as a node. If it were being monitored in NPM we would could drill down and view its Node Details Page as we can with Router2.lab.local.

 

The point here is that if you notice something like this in your own environment you would want to have NPM monitor it so all of that extra information is available to you.

walkthrough_06.jpg

Note: To fully monitor the router 74.115.12.1 - or any other device - you can go to the Admin section of NPM and either:

 

  1. Run a manual discovery via "Add a Node"
  2. Run an automated discovery via Sonar Network Discovery
walkthrough_06b.jpg

6. Now let’s check out the Top 10 Flapping Routes resource.

 

Flapping details are usually something that cannot be obtained directly from the router, and some other kind of analysis tool is needed to get this info. But now with NPM all of this is available in one place.

 

By providing the number of “Flaps” (how many times the path was announced for this particular router) insight can be gained into serious issues that need attention right now or emerging issues which might become more serious down the road.

 

In the image to the right, notice that for Destination Network 10.0.0.0 we can see 8 Flaps to Router2.lab.local.

 

From here, we could drill down into Router 2 for details about the interfaces, the statistics and historical data to find out what is going on to prevent further Flapping from occurring.

walkthrough_07.jpg

7. Finally, we might check the Default Route Change resource to learn if the default route has been added/removed/changed and if so when.

walkthrough_08.jpg


“Wonder Twin Powers… Activate!”

One final thought. Once you find out the source of a given Routing issue the next step you need to make, more often than not, is connecting to one or many routers and make configuration changes to finally resolve the issue.

 

If you have ever had to do this, you know that connecting to routers one by one via command line can be a major pain. So, it is worth pointing out that if you own SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager (NCM) you can fix problems such as duplicate subnet routing or add missing subnets more easily by pushing out new configurations through NCM directly to your routers without having to go through the slow and tedious process of manually connecting to each of your devices as you would have to do without using NCM.

 

These two tools used together, NPM and NCM, can save you a lot of time and frustration while helping you keep your network running smoothly. Oh, and if you were wondering about the “Wonder Twin Powers” reference, it is an old Saturday morning cartoon and

this video explains it quite well.

In my previous blog post I introduced you to several cool new features we've been working on for the next release of SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM). From sustained status conditions that are sure to help squelch nuance alerts, Windows Scheduled Task monitoring, and JSON, SAM 6.1 was already shaping up to be a pretty awesome release.

 

It's now time to take the wraps off SAM 6.1 Beta 2, and just in time for Christmas. If you've been wondering what to get yourself for the holidays, or fear that after all the presents have been unwrapped you'll have amassed a years supply of tube socks, silk ties, and ugly sweaters, you needn't worry. We have just the thing that's sure to put a smile on your face this holiday season.

Sign-up to Download SAM 6.1 Beta 2.png

 

AppInsight for Exchange

 

The overwhelmingly positive feedback we received from the community regarding AppInsight for SQL since its debut in SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor 6.0 has been so phenomenal that we just couldn't stop there. The next obvious choice to get the full AppInsight treatment had to be Microsoft's Exchange. Both SQL and Exchange are complex business applications that are at the very center of most organizations' IT universe. In almost all cases, end users directly (or indirectly) interact with these applications on a continual basis. Be it for basic internal and external communications, data entry, billing, ordering, etc. SQL and Exchange tend to touch so many individuals both inside and outside the organization, that it's imperative that their health, performance, and availability is continuously monitored.

 

If you're not at all familiar with AppInsight for SQL, or the AppInsight concept, below is an excerpt from one of my previous blog posts in which I attempt to explain it.

 

AppInsight provides a whole new level of application monitoring detail that was previously very difficult, if not impossible to achieve using Application Templates. AppInsight is not a direct replacement for Applications Templates but rather an entirely new monitoring concept within SAM. Application Templates remain the primary method for quickly monitoring virtually any commercial, open source, or home grown application imaginable. In contrast, AppInsight is more akin to an entirely new product deeply embedded within SAM; designed from the top down to solve common, yet complex problems for a specific application, rather than merely a new feature.

 

Discover


As with AppInsight for SQL, monitoring your Exchange Mailbox Servers with SAM is a fairly simple, straightforward affair. For existing nodes currently managed via WMI simply click List Resources from the Node Details view and select Microsoft Exchange Server directly beneath AppInsight Applications. The same is also true for any new Exchange servers added individually to SAM and managed via WMI using the Add Node Wizard.

 

Exchange Servers can be added both individually using the methods above, or en masse using the Network Sonar Discovery Wizard. Both one-time and scheduled re-occurring discovery of Exchange servers in the environment using Network Sonar are fully supported. Either method will allow you to begin monitoring your entire Exchange environment in record time.

 

Please note that AppInsight for Exchange has been designed exclusively for Microsoft® Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 Mailbox Role servers. This option will not appear for nodes running previous versions of Exchange or servers running other Exchange roles, such as the Client Access role.

AppInsight for Exchange List Resources.png
Network Sonar AppInsight for Exchange.png
Network Sonar Scheduled Discovery Results - AppInisght for Exchange.png

Configure

 

AppInsight for Exchange uses PowerShell to collect virtually all information from the Exchange server. As such, PowerShell 2.0 must be installed on the local Orion server or Additional Poller that the node is assigned to. PowerShell 2.0 must also be installed on the Exchange Server being monitored. Windows 2008 R2 includes PowerShell 2.0 by default. If you're already running Orion on Windows 2008 R2 or greater and plan to monitor Exchange running on a Windows 2008 R2 server, you needn't worry about the PowerShell 2.0 requirement. Microsoft has taken care of that for you.

 

Beyond simply having PowerShell installed, Windows Remote Management (WinRM) must also be configured. Both locally on the Orion server, and on the remotely monitored Exchange Server. Fear not though; we've made this process incredibly simple and completely painless.

 

After discovering the Exchange mailbox servers running in your environment and choosing to monitor them, you may find them listed in the All Applications tree resource on the SAM Summary view in an "Unknown" state. This is likely due to WinRM having not been configured on either the local Orion server or the remotely monitored Exchange mailbox server. Clicking on the AppInsight for Exchange application that is in an "Unknown" state from the All Applications resource launches the AppInsight for Exchange configuration wizard.

Zero Config Basic.png

The AppInsight for Exchange configuration wizard will prompt you for credentials to configure and monitor the remote host. By default, credentials used to manage the node via WMI are selected. However, under some circumstances, such as using the local administrator account to manage the node, these permissions may not be adequate for monitoring Exchange. If that is the case, you can select from the list of credentials available from your Credential Library, or enter new credentials for AppInsight for Exchange to use. The account used for AppInsight for Exchange should have Exchange Admin Role permissions.

 

Once you've selected existing, or defined new credentials for AppInsight for Exchange to use, simply click "Configure Server". The configuration wizard will do the rest. It should only take a minute or two and you'll be up and monitoring your Exchange mailbox server. Easy peasy, and no agent required.

 

So what exactly is this magic "Configure Server" button doing anyway? Well nothing that couldn't be done manually with a bit of effort. Quite simply the "Configure Server" button pushes a self signed certificate to the Exchange Server and configures WinRM to function in a secure encrypted fashion between the two hosts. Steps for manually configuring your Exchange Server, as well as creating a least privilege user account for monitoring your Exchange mailbox servers using AppInsight for Exchange will be available in the SAM Administrators Guide once SAM 6.1 is officially released.

 

Monitor

 

An Exchange environment is typically comprised of multiple Mailbox Databases. Much like SQL databases, each mailbox database has its own independent status that tells the administrator how that database is currently being used (or not used in the case of databases that are "Dismounted"), as well as the health of that database. In the Mailbox Database Status resource, located on the Application Details view we see all of the databases running on this Exchange server. All but one is in a "mounted" state, but the SAMDB03 database does not appear to be running on its "preferred" server, as designated by its Activation Preference. For smaller environments where two or more Exchange Servers running in a DAG (Database Availability Group) are sitting next to each other, this might not be an issue. For larger distributed environments, losing track of where your mailbox databases are running can lead to end users complaining about email performance problems or worse. For example, If your office was headquartered in Boston, but have a DR facility in your satellite office in Shanghai, the last thing you want is all the traffic from the users in the Boston office traversing the WAN to access their mailboxes from the Shanghai server.

Mailbox Database Status.png
As obvious as that sounds, this can and does occur for simple, sometimes seemingly stupid reasons. For example, applying Windows Updates to the Exchange server in Boston, but failing to move those mailbox databases back over from Shanghai after the reboot. It's important to know which server in the DAG your mailbox databases are mounted, and be notified when they're not mounted on the appropriate server.
Replication Status Checks.png

The Replication Status Checks resource, also on the Application Details view, checks all aspects of replication and replay status to provide a complete overview of the mailbox server in the Database Availability Group (DAG). This allows you to proactively monitor continuous replication, the availability of the Active Manager, and the health and status of the underlying cluster service, quorum and network components, to name a few.

 

In the event of a replication status check failure you will be notified both visually through the UI, as well as through your normal alerting mechanisms. Clicking on the "More" link for any failed Replication Status Check displays the full details of that failure.

Each mailbox database on your Exchange server is a time bomb ticking down until ultimately it runs out of space. Be it from mailbox database limits imposed by the Standard Edition of Exchange, NTFS file size limitations, or simply running out of free space on the volume where the mailbox database is stored, it's only a matter of time before the mailbox database hits the wall. When that time comes, it's certain to negatively impact any and all users whose mailboxes reside on that mailbox server.

 

To stay ahead of the game it's imperative that you have a good understanding of how your mailbox database size relates to these limitations. This will allow you to be proactive in your approach to managing your mailbox databases, and the individual mailboxes that reside within.

Mailbox Database Size and Space Use.png

Alerting

 

This is precisely the kind of information that the Mailbox  Database Size and Space Use resource provides. Not only does this resource list all mailbox databases managed by the mailbox server, their current size on disk, and the amount of white space remaining within the database, but the linear gauge also shows the percentage of the mailbox databases usage as it relates to such things as remaining free space on the volume, and file size limits imposed by Exchange edition/version or the NTFS file system. This information is then available for reporting, trending, and of course, out of the box alerts so you can be notified proactively and avoid such crisis altogether.

 

This was just a tiny glimpse into a few of the powerful new capabilities included with AppInsight for Exchange. If you'd like to try it out for yourself, don't hesitate! Sign-up here to download SAM 6.1 Beta 2 today. You need only own an existing license of SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, and be under active maintenance to participate.

 

Your feedback (both positive or negative) is what we thrive upon. It serves either as confirmation that we're on the right track, or that adjustments and improvements need to be made. Either way, it's what helps us to build great software.

AppInsight for Exchange Out of the Box Alerts.png

Ever wonder how the ancient merchants like Marco Polo figured out the best routes to travel around the world? Well, I don’t. But I do wonder how to get my data across the globe in the quickest way possible, and the routing tools in Network Performance Monitor (NPM) can help you do that.

 

There are five resources found in NPM 10.5 and later, that can help you troubleshoot routing issues to get your network back on track and optimized for maximum performance.

 

  • Routing Table
  • Top 10 Flapping Routes
  • Routing Neighbors
  • Default Route Changes
  • Routing Details

Routing_Network_Tab.jpg

Note: The easiest way to see all of the Routing Resources together by default, is to click the "Network" sub-view on a Router’s Node Details page.

 

The table below describes each of the aforementioned routing resources, providing a basic understanding of the feature set.

 

Resource Description

Routing Table  

routing_table.jpg       

Each Router has its own Routing Table and each Routing Table is potentially different for any given router in your network. As you can see the Routing Table information is displayed across 6 columns:

 

Destination Network - a list of networks you can reach from the Router you are on.


CIDR - The Classless Inter-Domain Routing for the given Destination Network.

 

Next Hop – The next router, or “next hop”, you need to go through to get to the given Destination Network.

 

Interface – The actual interface on the Next Hop router that the packets are sent through.

 

Metric – Routing Tables only keeps the best routes available and each protocol has its own of set metrics used to determine what the best route is. In general the lower the number the faster the route.

 

Source – The Source column shows the protocol being used.

Top 10 Flapping Routes

flapping-routes.jpg

The term “flapping” refers to a condition where a Router advertises a destination network via a particular route and then quickly sends another advertisement for a different route. When interfaces on a router go up and down unexpectedly or more frequently than they should, this causes a recalculation of routes in your Routing Tables. This actually slows down routing, and the slow network speed may result in outages or other connectivity issues.

 

The Top 10 Flapping Routes resource shares some columns in common with the Routing Table, so we will just focus on what is different and unique here:

 

  • Flaps – Shows you the number of Flaps that have occurred in the last selected time period (7 Days in the image shown). Notice that Yellow is a warning state whereas Red indicates a more severe issue.

 

  • Last Change – This gives you an indication of when a change was made.

 

  • Protocol - Shows the routing protocol used.

Routing Neighbors

routing-neighbors.jpg

The Routing Neighbors resource shows you which routers are directly connected to the router you are currently viewing and it provides status on this relationship. This table can be useful in the case where neighboring routers might be down or display other issues that might hinder the ability to route packets through your network.

 

The Routing Neighbors resources shows several more columns of information useful for troubleshooting:

 

  • Node Name - This is a clickable link that will take you directly to the Node shown, which makes it is to getting further information about a specific node.

 

  • Status - Give you information about a given router's status, helping with communication issues.

Default Route Changes

default-route_changes.jpg

The Default Route Changes resource provides a quick view of any changes made to default routes and help you narrow down when changes have occurred and help you correlate with other known data to help with your troubleshooting. You can set the view from the last 24 hours, the last 3 days, last 7 days, last 14 days and the last month.

Routing Details

routing-details.jpg

The Routing Details resource provides you a quick glance at when Protocols were last polled so you will know how fresh your routing data is. Special note, the row which says “Routing Table poller” is just showing you when the routing table was last polled by NPM for this device.

 

Summary

Customer feedback for the new Routing Tools in Network Performance Monitor has been overwhelmingly positive and the tools are doing a great job at what they are designed to do, speed up troubleshooting of routing issues and make your work life much easier!


Up Next

In my upcoming blog post we will walk through some troubleshooting scenarios using the Interactive Online Demo to give you a better sense of how to actually use the routing tools.

We used to have an OS/SQL compatibility matrix for all product consolidated in this blog, but many of you have requested that we track this more formally, so here it is in a KB - Knowledge Base - article

We are going to update this matrix as thoroughly as possible.

 

Feel free to continue to post your comments and questions about the matrix in this thwack blog post.

 

FYI, the latest and greatest versions for each products, are here

We have reached the Release Candidate (RC) phase for our next release, Web Help Desk 12.1. RC is the last step before general availability and is a chance for existing customers on active maintenance to get the newest functionality before it is available to everyone else. You can find the RC binaries for download in the SolarWinds customer portal.

 

If you have any questions I encourage you to leverage the WHD RC group on thwack:

 

http://thwack.solarwinds.com/groups/solarwinds-web-help-desk.

 

This release contains the following product improvements and new features:


 

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

 

Ability to de-escalate a ticket

 

You can find a brand new buttons to escalate and de-escalate a ticket in ticket details section.

escalation.png

Process of escalating or de-escalating of ticket is following settings of Tech groups levels. After escalating or de-escalating a ticket, information icon will inform you about details how was the escalation performed.

escalation_info.png

 

Improved help accessibility

 

Apart from continuously improving documentation our goal was also make it more accessible and easier to find and use.

help_buttons_whd_12_1.png

 

We added a new help button to main menu, so you can open WHD help easier from any page. We also added help buttons to particular sections of setup. These lead to chapters of help discussing particular WHD setup section, again make it easier for you to find help for the relevant part of setup.

 

Casper 9 support

 

We introduced new way how to integrate with Casper 9 and instead of connecting to database as with in previous versions, we utilize Casper API and thus there is no need for database name field anymore. Also instead of database user, you should use Casper user. Please check the tooltips in the UI of Connection Basics configuration.

 

[EDIT: Added new section about Casper 9 to highlight the change in method of integration.]

 

Casper9settings.png

 

If you have a question about whether a case you've filed was resolved in this release or a certain feature request implemented, feel free to ping back on this post or in the RC forum and let me know - I'll be sure to look into it.

In this exciting age of virtualization, cloud, SDN, and other hardware abstractions, we often take for granted the most important technological advances of the 19th century – electricity. While some of us are just able to spin up another EC2 instance from the ether, most of us still worry about physical capacity, even if it’s going to our own internal virtual infrastructure. So that means at the end of the day, in order to add capacity, some poor soul somewhere is going to have to heft 60 pounds of metal into a rack and plug it in.

In its most basic form, this moment of truth is a non-event. The server comes with a couple cables, the PDUs are already mounted in the rack by the last person, just plug in each end and move on. Easy enough. But what if you had to order more of those cables? What the heck is the difference between a C14 and a C19? What if you had to order a new PDU and UPS to build out a new closet or rack? What if you’re standing in the server room right now talking to that kindly gentleman wearing overalls trying to figure out just what sort of socket needs to go on that wall? These are the sort of low-tech questions we’re going to answer here, because the day will come when you’ll be asked to “just” plug something in.

 

Let’s start with the common power cable. Excepting proprietary oddities from a few manufacturers and regional regulations, you will mostly encounter the same 4 types of cables:

 

IEC C13-C14:

IEC_C13-C14_(2).png

IEC C14-C20:

 

IEC_C14-C20.png

 

IEC C19-C20:

IEC_C19-C20.png

 

NEMA 5-15P-C13 (mostly North America):

 

NEMA_5-15P-C13.png

So now that we can identify these cables, where do we plug them in? The most common AC output voltages from UPSs will be 120v and 208v. For the remainder of this post, I will refer to 208v as it is most prevalent in North America, but it could be anywhere from 208v-240v internationally. Most modern datacenter gear will accommodate voltages from 120v-240v AC, however it is always advised you actually check the power supply of the gear to verify there isn’t an old-school voltage selection switch before plugging it in. Unless you like the sweet smell of fried PCB in the morning.

 

This also applies when you’re spec’ing out UPS and PDU gear for a new rack build-out. The first order of business is to make sure all of the gear going into the rack will support the output voltage of the UPS. (Or for that matter, that the PDU does as well.) 208v is more efficient than 120v, so if you have a choice in the matter, go with 208v. Secondarily, choose a PDU (or UPS) with a sufficient number of the desired type of sockets. The choice in output socket is primarily driven by your voltage selection and device amperage requirements, so if you’re going with 120v in North America, NEMA 5-15 is most common. Higher draw devices (read bigger) will likely call for C19 sockets as they can handle ~60% more juice than C13. C13’s also have proclivity to not fit as snug and secure as one might hope, so it may be a worthy investment to find PDUs / cables with locking latches (APC has some decent ones) to prevent accidental downtime.

 

On the other end of that UPS (or PDU) you will have a whole new set of decision points to determine what you need. Apologies in advance for the focus on North American plug types here. High-res pics of other standard (IEC) types would be very welcome in the comments section below. The common input receptacles you will see (or ask your electrician for) in North America will be:

 

L5-20 (120v/20A)

L5-20.png

 

 

L6-30 (208v/30A)

 

L6-30.png

 

 

 

Less common, and usually seen with big 120V UPSs will be a L5-20. Ever wonder what that horizontal slot was for in commercial building sockets? Now you know. If you’re going 208v, you may also be asked by your electrician if you need a “three-phase” circuit. The short answer is that three phase circuits can handle a heavier load, and that you need a UPS that supports it. The long answer may be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-phase_electric_power

Speaking of UPS- how does one select the appropriate model? Firstly, let’s talk about one of the dark mysteries of the electrical world- kVa and how it differs from kW. We won’t go too far into the weeds on this, but the reason kVA maps so well to kW is that kVA is “apparent” power and kW is “actual” power. Represented mathematically:

 

kW = kVA * pf (power factor)

 

Power factor is basically the efficiency (loss) of the power load. Nearly all modern high-efficiency server power supplies should have a power factor close to 1.0, so kVA tracks very closely to kW. This is what you will use to size the rated output load of the UPS. As far as runtime goes- pardon the obviousness, but the more batteries, the longer the UPS will run for. This varies by vendor and model, but will usually be stated on the product specs under min/max/average load. Make sure the UPS has the appropriate input connectors for the wall plug you chose, and the matching connectors for the PDUs, and you’re in business. Next step is to wait for a few hundred pounds of gear filled with lead-acid batteries to arrive on a pallet and hoist it into the rack.

 

Until the day comes that Tesla’s dream of wireless power distribution becomes a reality, there will always be a need for someone to push a plug into a matching receptacle of appropriate voltage and with sufficient amperage. If that someone is you- I hope you found this post useful.

In the comments below, we would love to hear how you currently manage your power / cooling / environmentals. Do you have them in NPM or are you using something else? How do you model your racks- Visio? Dare to dream of using something better?

We also have a quick 4-minute survey that gives an opportunity for even more feedback on rack diagramming and power / cooling management. We'd love to hear your thoughts: Rack Diagramming Survey

The time has come for yet another Log & Event Manager (LEM) Release Candidate! The RC is already available on the Customer Portal for all LEM customers under maintenance. As a Release Candidate you can deploy it in production and work with our awesome support team if you need any assistance. Here's what you'll see in the RC...

 

Automate Searching and Augment Reporting with Scheduled nDepth Searches

 

Reporting is useful when you want static content with graphs and charts with pages of content, but it's hard to slice and dice the data and it can be tough to get and edit your report criteria just right. Our search interface, lovingly called nDepth, has the ability for you to do more flexible searching, using components like User-Defined Groups and Directory Service Groups, and to piggy back on existing filter criteria to get a jump-start. With this release, you'll be able to take any Saved Search in nDepth (in the normalized data store or the original log message store) and both generate an event from it and/or have the results sent to you in email.

 

nDepthSavedSearch2-MenuSmall.pngnDepthSavedSearch3-Schedule.png

 

Let's say I've got a saved search (or am using a default saved search!) for Logon Failure activity for the last week. With reports, I can schedule, filter, and export to different formats, but I might also want to create my own charts or pass the data off to another team for investigation, which are harder to do with reports. nDepth has a new option in the gear menu on the left side, "Schedule," which will open up a dialog that lets me schedule any saved search on whatever repeating interval I like. By specifying an "End Date," I can also decide how long I want the scheduled search to run, in case there's a short-term issue that doesn't need to be ran indefinitely. If I choose to email the results, up to 10MB (millions and millions of records) will be included in an attached zipped CSV file with all of the original data, similar to a manual export from the Console, except MANY more results.

 

Support Flexible Workstation Environments by Recycling Agent Licenses Automatically


VDI and other flexible temporary workstation initiatives are becoming much more commonplace, but even temporary workstations need to be monitored the same as their semi-permanent counterparts. With LEM Workstation Edition, we've made licensing affordable for workstations, and with this release we've made it possible to automatically recycle licenses from nodes that haven't sent any data in a while.

 

You'll find the license recycling feature (off by default!) in Manage>Appliances>License toward the bottom. With this feature you can:

  • Specify the age of last event before the license is eligible to be recycled (e.g. must have been offline for more than an hour, in case someone is rebooting or temporarily shut down): default 1 hour
  • Specify the schedule frequency to recycle licenses (e.g. every day at 5am, check for old licenses to recycle): default every day at 4am, and
  • Specify the matching parameters for what systems to recycle so that unexpected systems don't get deleted (e.g. only nodes with hostnames or IP addresses that match your VDI network): default all nodes

 

AgentLicenseRecycle-small.pngAgentLicenseRecycle2-UDG-small.png

...But Wait, There's More!

 

Import User-Defined Groups from CSV Files

A commonly requested feature is the ability to import CSV files to automatically populate groups, rather than having to edit data elements by hand, which we've implemented in this RC. From Build>Groups, go to (top right) Gear>Import, change to "All File Types" and choose your CSV file. The format of the file is basically what you see in Build>Groups:

UDG, UDG Name, UDG Description

Element Name, Element Data, Element Description

Element 2 Name, Element 2 Data, Element 2 Description

...


Performance and Platform Improvements

We're investing time in improving things under the hood, too. With this release, we've done some heavy lifting in the correlation engine, updated our agent and appliance Java Runtime Environments, updated Tomcat, and a lot of other somewhat invisible changes. For those of you who want to prevent an agent update from automatically being pushed out after upgrading, make sure to go to Manage>Nodes or Manage>Appliances and turn off Automatic Updates for specific nodes or globally.

 

We've also improved small areas like the performance of nDepth CSV export from the Console (be sure to check out scheduled searches if you still need to export more than 250,000 records), adding more info to our troubleshooting logs to help our support team help you faster, and a ton of other things.


New Connectors and Device Support

We'll provide a more complete list with the release notes, but the most notable addition is that we've included out of the box support for NetApp File Auditing. Most new connectors are released regularly with the connector download, but for NetApp auditing you'll need to upgrade your appliance and agent to the new release first.


Questions, Issues, Comments - Send 'em Our Way


Feel free to use the Log & Event Manager Release Candidate Thwack forum to report and comment on any issues, questions, or comments you have about this release. Our product management, development, and QA teams are keeping an eye out for any possible issues.


If you have a question about whether a case you've filed was resolved in this release or a certain feature request implemented, feel free to ping back on this post or in the RC forum and let me know - I'll be sure to look into it.


Happy Logging!

So here we go again! Time to kick off the next release of SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor with the first official beta, and grab a quick first glimpse into several of the cool new features we've got lined up for SAM 6.1.

 

Not to be confused with SAM 6.0.1, the Service Release containing many important bug fixes for SAM 6.0 and available for download now through the Customer Portal, SAM 6.1 is the next major "feature" installment in the series. If you'd like to participate in the SAM 6.1 beta you can do so by signing up here. Feedback is crucial during the beta phase of development because there's still plenty of time to make important tweaks and adjustments that can make all the difference in the final release. If you've never participated in a SolarWinds beta before, now is a great time to start. Not only do you get to play with all the great new features first, but it's also an excellent way to help shape the future of the product.

 

 

Windows Scheduled Tasks

 

At one time or another, every systems administrator has had to rely (albeit sometimes begrudgingly) on Windows native Task Scheduler to automate some routine process. Be it automating backups, disk defragmentation, antivirus scans, etc., the Windows Task Scheduler has undoubtedly played an important role in ensuring your infrastructure is properly maintained. However, even as the Windows Task Scheduler has improved over the years, real-time visibility into the success or failure of those tasks across the enterprise has remained, for the most part, an enigma.

 

In SolarWinds never ending pursuit to provide greater levels of visibility into the critical componentry that make up your IT infrastructure, we sought to resolve this visibility gap by introducing the Windows Scheduled Task Monitor as part of the SAM 6.1 beta release.

 

Elegant in it's simplicity, SAM's Windows Scheduled Task Monitor for the first time provides you with at-a-glance access to the state and status of the scheduled tasks configured on your Windows hosts. In addition to simply seeing what tasks have been configured on the host, their current state, and their last run result, SAM 6.1 includes a new pre-configured out-of-the-box alert which will notify you of any task execution failures that occur. You will also find new web based reports that allow you to view all scheduled tasks configured across all servers in your environment, as well as a dedicated Task Failure Report you can view or have emailed to you on a regular basis.

Windows Scheduled Tasks.png

 

When monitored, you will find the Windows Schedule Task resource pictured above on the Node Details view of the monitored server. This is because Windows Scheduled Tasks are not applications in the conventional sense. As such, they are treated somewhat special in SAM and given a prominent resource of its own amongst other host specific information on the Node Details view.

WIndows Scheduled Task Add Node.png

Several options are available to enable SAM's new Windows Scheduled Task monitor. When adding a new, or listing resources on an existing WMI managed node, you will be provided an option to select Windows Scheduled Tasks. The same as you would for volumes or interfaces.

 

If enabling this feature one node at a time isn't your speed, you also have the option of leveraging the Network Sonar Discovery Wizard. The Network Sonar Discovery Wizard allows you to quickly and easily enable the Windows Scheduled Task monitor en masse across all Windows hosts in your environment, or surgically enable this feature only on a select group of nodes.

 

Both one-time discovery, and scheduled reoccurring discovery options are available to enable the Windows Scheduled Task monitor. If using the scheduled discovery option you will have granular level control over which hosts the Windows Scheduled Task Monitor is enabled, as seen in the screenshots below. Hint: If the image is too small, click on it to zoom in and see the full size image.

 

The new Windows Scheduled Task Monitor in SAM 6.1 supports monitoring tasks configured on Windows 2003, 2003R2, 2008, 2008R2, 2012, and 2012R2.

Windows Scheduled Tasks - Scheduled Discovery.pngWIndows Scheduled Task Network Sonar Discovery.png

JSON

 

Web Services APIs such as JSON are the glue that bind modern applications together, usually across different servers, allowing for the exchange of information between them. As end users become reliant upon applications built on these web services, it becomes increasingly more important to monitor those applications to ensure they're functioning as expected. The simplest, and most obvious method for monitoring those applications is to query the back-end server directly, using the same web service API method that the front-end web application would use. From the server's response we can determine the web services availability (up/down), latency (response time), as well as validate the content returned as a result of that query.JSON.png

From within the HTTP/HTTPS Component Monitor settings, you will find three new options (Host Request, Content Type, and Request Body) that allow for the monitoring of restful web service API's, such as JSON and XML. Three new methods (Put, Post, and Delete) are also provided, in addition to the existing "GET" method that has historically been the default and only method available for the HTTP/HTTPS User Experience Monitors prior to SAM 6.1.

 

Sustained Thresholds

 

Last, but certainly not least, 6.1 includes additional improvements to how thresholds are handled in SAM. While tremendous strides were made to how thresholds are calculated in the SAM 6.0 release with the introduction of the Threshold Baseline Calculator, that feature served to provide meaningful context to already collected data. In other words, to answer the proverbial question "What's normal for my environment?" and then suggest recommended warning and critical thresholds based on that information; however, as anyone who's been monitoring IT infrastructure for a while will tell you just because a threshold was crossed once, doesn't mean it's a significant issue that requires immediate attention.  After all, who enjoys being woken from their slumber at 3am to a nuisance alarm telling you that the % Processor time on one of the servers spiked momentarily. If the alert requires no action on your behalf, then more than likely it wasn't worth you waking up for. Alert notifications should be about providing actionable information that requires some level of user intervention to resolve. While some metrics, such as the amount of free space remaining in your SQL database might only get worse over time, thus requiring immediate attention when it dips below a reasonable limit, other metrics can vary wildly from one poll to the next. This is where sampling can play an important role in reducing, or even eliminating the number of nuisance alerts that flood your inbox on a regular basis.

 

In SAM 6.1 you will find new options for defining sample criteria for both warning and critical thresholds associated with each monitored metric of an application. By default, both warning and critical thresholds are evaluated after a single successful poll. This is the exact same behavior as all versions of SAM prior to 6.1. In addition to the single poll evaluation, you will find options for defining criteria for multiple consecutive polls, as well as a method for defining the number of samples that must exceed the threshold for a configured sample size before the condition is met and the status of that component monitor is changed.

 

Sustained Thresholds.png

 

Sustained conditions in SAM 6.1 can be defined independently for both warning and critical thresholds to provide maximum flexibility. Both "X Consecutive Polls" and "X out of Y Polls use a sliding window approach to evaluating thresholds. After each poll, the conditions defined for the threshold are evaluated based on the bounds of the sample size. Put simply, that means that after each poll a new sample is collected and added to the evaluation, while the oldest sample is removed from evaluation. Below, I provide two examples. The first example on the left demonstrates the "X consecutive polls" method. In the left column I show the numerical value collected from the poll (the sample). In the right column I show the status of the component as defined by the sustained condition. The "Sample Size" in this example is "3", meaning that three consecutive polls/samples must exceed the threshold of "80" before the status should change to "Warning".

 

Warning = Greater Than 80 for 3 Consecutive PollsWarning = Greater Than 80 for 3 out of 5 Polls
Polled ValueStatus
65UP/Green
77UP/Green
88UP/Green
85UP/Green
89Warning
83Warning
46UP/Green
81UP/Green
22UP/Green
Polled ValueStatus
65UP/Green
82UP/Green
34UP/Green
95UP/Green
88Warning
90Warning
35Warning
25Warning
15UP/Green

 

The second example demonstrates the "X out of Y polls" method. While the "Sample Size" for evaluation in this example is "5" polls, any three of those 5 polled samples must exceed "80" before the status of this component would change to "Warning". Using the same sliding window approach as the first example, with each successive poll a new sample is collected, while the 6th sample is dropped from evaluation.

 

While somewhat similar functionality has existed within the Advanced Alert Manager for some time now, aiding in reducing the number of nuisance alarms, each individual component monitor that has unique threshold criteria has required its own separate alert definition. Not only is this a tedious and time consuming process to initially setup and configure, but it also necessitates the additional overhead of managing and maintaining what can be an unruly number of alert definitions.

 

Sign-up Now

 

We'd love to get your feedback on these new features. So tell us what you think in the comments section below, or better yet, sign-up here to download the latest SAM 6.1 beta and try them out for yourself!

 

Please note that you must currently own a copy of SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor that is under active maintenance to participate in the SAM 6.1 beta.

 

Announcing Mobile Admin 8.1 Release Candidate

 

It’s my pleasure to announce the Mobile Admin 8.1 Release Candidate. Mobile Admin 8.1 introduces several key improvements to Mobile Admin that were driven from feedback directly by you. If you’d like to participate in the RC, please fill out this short survey. Customers on Active Maintenance through Jan. 1st 2014 are eligible to participate in the RC. Without further ado, let’s dive into the new functions available in Mobile Admin 8.1!

 

 

 

Overhauled RDP - Now Supports Windows 8.x and Windows Server 2012

 

RDP is one of the most used services in Mobile Admin. It makes sense, given the full flexibility to address any issue you may find in your environment through the full desktop experience that RDP provides. Given the importance of this functionality, we are very happy to announce that as of Mobile Admin 8.1, we now support RDP connections to Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 machines.  You may ask why these versions of OS were different from an RDP perspective. Well essentially, Microsoft introduced a new version of the RDP API with Windows Vista and with Server 2012/Windows 8, they deprecated their old API, so our old implementation was unable to connect to those machine types. We also now allow you to connect to machines that have Network Layer Authentication enabled. The RDP Support does not just allow connection to machines with this specific configuration, but has been completely overhauled to allow for better usability and performance. These videos should give you a good overview of what you will see when using the new functionality.

 

Click to Play Video - New RDP OverviewClick to Play Video - New RDP Help
RDP-10-14.gifRDP-10-14-Help_Play.gif

 

 


iOS 7 Support

 

iOS 7 was the first major overhaul of Apple’s mobile operating system since the very first version was introduced. (For some comic relief, you might check out the Jony Ive Designs Things Tumblr) This overhaul introduced some major changes that we’ve addressed and released already on the App Store. With the official release of Mobile Admin 8.1, we will release another version update that addresses some minor lingering issues with the new OS. For the most part, users have related little or no issues using the new iOS client currently available on the App Store.  Happy Apping!

 

 

Improved SolarWinds Orion Integration

 

When SolarWinds acquired Mobile Admin, one of the most exciting opportunities for the product was to build a first class mobile experience for SolarWinds Orion inside of Mobile Admin. While I’ll be the first to admit that what we have isn’t perfect, I am excited to talk about a few additions to this integration in 8.1 that should significantly improve the value to those of you using Orion and Mobile Admin together.

 

Support for Orion Events

 

First, we added support for Orion Events inside of Mobile Admin. Although we supported Orion Alerts out of the gate with Mobile Admin, feedback from customers strongly suggested that Orion Events provided “the true state” of the system because it showed all of the state changes of the system in the recent past. You should see Orion Events from the main SolarWinds Service screen and once you drill into an event, you can navigate to the Node, Component, or Application associated with that Event to get more information.

 

OrionEvents_Play.gif

 

 

Second, on Node Details pages inside of Mobile Admin, we’ve always included an “escape hatch” URL to the Orion Web Console Mobile Views. This link would allow you view any information we didn’t provide natively inside of the Mobile Admin integration. However, if you had configured a custom URL for your Orion Web console that link wouldn’t be properly formed. In MA 8.1, we now support modifying the URL that Mobile Admin uses to build that link, including whether or not to use the port in case you’ve configured Orion to use port 80 instead of 8787. An improved usability feature is this link is now an actual hypertext link instead of just text with that odd chain icon that was there before.

 

CustomURL_Play.gif

 

Support for Filtering Orion Alerts and Creating Custom Real-Time Alert Feeds

 

Finally, I’m very excited to announce Alert Filtering for SolarWinds Orion. One of the most powerful features of Mobile Admin is the Real-Time Notifications Dashboard. Mobile Admin can take alerts from your heterogeneous monitoring systems in your environment, like SolarWinds Orion, and you can setup those alerts as “feeds” inside of Mobile Admin. Once you’ve setup the Mobile Admin Server to send Push Notifications to your phone, Mobile Admin becomes a real time alerting system that’s with you wherever you go and allows you to get critical alerts about your environment, whether or not you’re connected to network. One problem with the current alerting is that for an environment of any size, you may receive hundreds or thousands of alerts out of your Orion installation every day. With Alert Filtering for Orion, you can now filter alerts and create custom Mobile Admin Notification feeds based upon filters we’ve built into the product. The filters work the same as the Orion Message Center filters and are all implicitly “OR”d so you can filter on a particular host/IP OR vendor name  or whatever else you might be interested in. Only want alerts when Nodes go down? Now you can, so you only get notified when something is important to you. With Mobile Admin, you can even setup multiple custom feeds from Orion to build more complex alerting setups.

 

AlertFiltering_Play.gif

 

Direct Connect Services - Optional Credential Saving

 

Mobile Admin’s “Direct Connect” services include SSH, Telnet, RDP, and VNC (Android only). These services don’t require the use of the Mobile Admin Server to connect to an endpoint and can be accessed directly from the homescreen of Mobile Admin’s mobile clients. We had some strong feedback from customers over the last year expressing concerns that there was no option to not save credentials for these connections. Customers viewed this as a potential security risk, as these services can be accessed without first logging in to the MA Server. As of Mobile Admin 8.1, for these Direct Connect services, password saving is now optional via a checkbox when you create a new connection.

 

DCPwdSaving_Play.gif

 

FIPS 140-2 Compatibility

 

Some customers run MA in a secure environment where their Windows Servers are run in “FIPS Mode” which enforces use of FIPS compatible encryption algorithms. Prior to 8.1, the MA server would fail to work in these environments. The MA Server should now be able to run on a Windows Server where FIPS Compatibility mode is enabled.

 

Updates to other Supported Services – Exchange 2013, BackupExec 2012, and SCOM 2012 - Oh My!

 

As of version 8.1, Mobile Admin will now support Exchange 2013, BackupExec 2012 and SCOM 2012. All of these services were supported by Mobile Admin for earlier versions. You can read more about what you can do with these features on Mobile Admin’s features pages for each of these services.

 

Regarding Exchange, Mobile Admin now supports remote Exchange management. Now the Exchange Management tools can be installed locally on the Mobile Admin server machine (pre-8.1 behavior) or on the Exchange Server itself and controlled via remote PowerShell (8.1 and beyond). This aligns with the same way that customers manage Exchange today with SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor and has the added benefit that the MA Server no longer needs to be in the same domain as the Exchange Server you are managing. Mobile Admin will attempt to auto-detect where the tools are installed based upon the Exchange Server information provided. Besides enabling remote PowerShell on the Exchange Server, you will also need to add the Mobile Admin Server as a Trusted Host on the Exchange Server. To summarize Mobile Admin’s Exchange Support, I’ve included the table below:

 

10-15-2013 11-58-21 AM.png

 

We Want Your Feedback!

 

Be sure to check out the Mobile Admin Release Candidate Group here on Thwack. Use this forum to get your questions answered about the RC or report issues you want to bring to the attention of the larger community. The Product Team will be actively monitoring your posts and engage with you about any feedback you have. Remember Release Candidates are fully supported, so you can also file a Support ticket for any issues you encounter.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Fill out the survey and get started on 8.1 today!

Please join us for a monthly product update from the SolarWinds Product Management team.

 

This month, we’ll delve into “What We Are Working On” for a number of our tools. We’ll discuss the “What We Are Working On” thwack posts live with our product managers. Featured  products include Engineers Toolset, Network Topology Mapper, and DameWare Remote Support. Our PMs will also be able to answer any of your questions about our other recent releases. It’s an action-packed hour. We hope to see you there.

 

If you have any requests for topics or products to be included in this series, please let us know at customervoice@solarwinds.com.

 

Register here.

After release of Web Help Desk v12, we are now busily working on some great new features and enhancements to the product. Here is a preview:

 

  • Asset API to provide more flexibility and ability of automation
  • More robust reporting with options including
    • reporting on new objects like assets, parts or models
    • easier custom reports for common KPIs
    • redesign of custom report writer
  • DameWare integration
    • Some options are chat, screenshot capability or easier configuration for remote connections
  • Revamp of setup section
    • Make settings easier to find when returning to configuration options
  • Propagating information to child tickets
    • Pass various information from parent ticket to child tickets
  • More comprehensive documentation for different areas of Web Help Desk
    • Possible candidates for detailed documentation are SSO, Database migration, sizing and so on
  • Settings export for easier migration
  • Casper 9 support
  • Java 7 support

 

PLEASE NOTE:  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!

To receive updates on the Serv-U FTP Voyager roadmap, JOIN thwack and BOOKMARK this page

 

The Serv-U product team is working hard to build several new and exciting features. Some of these changes include:

 

  • Improvements in LDAP support & usability
  • Enhanced security with support for stronger cryptography
  • Adoption of SolarWinds licensing framework
  • Scheduler Enhancement and Capabilities

 

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!

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: