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I have been bursting at the seams to write about this topic. Now that the Server & Application Monitor (SAM) Release Candidate is available, I can tell you all about it. As many of you may know, SAM already has an ability to monitor workloads that are running in the cloud. The Orion® agent and agentless based technology allows SAM the flexibility to monitor all of your workloads on-premises as well as in the public cloud.

 

Now with SAM 6.4 or VMAN 7.1, you can collect configuration and metric data directly from Amazon Web Services® (AWS), and have that data visualized along with the rest of the environment you are already monitoring. All you need are your AWS account credentials.

 

Once you have your account configured in the Orion console, you will then be able to see all of your EC2™ instances and EBS volumes within one summary screen.

cloud_summary.png

 

If you have multiple AWS accounts, no problem. Add each one, so the Orion platform can discover all of the associated cloud instances and know which AWS region they are running in.

cloud_infra.png

 

Just like the detail that is available with existing Orion Nodes, you can drill down and see more information about individual cloud instances, including attached EBS volumes, default CloudWatch™ metrics, and configuration settings like Auto Scaling Group membership.

cloud_details.png

 

Now, if you want to go deeper into monitoring your workloads running in the cloud, beyond what AWS provides, all you have to do is manage the cloud instance as an Orion Node. We even created a handy mechanism for you to do so, directly from the Cloud Instance Details page.

manage_instance.png

 

This will give you the ability to monitor what’s running on the OS, directly from the cloud instances. At that point, all you have to do is switch between the Orion Node Details view and the Cloud Instance Details view to have complete visibility.

node_details1.pngnode_details2.png

 

As an added benefit, you can apply your existing SAM Application Templates and visualize the end to end infrastructure relationships with AppStack™.

app_details.png

 

Our goal with introducing this feature was to ensure that no matter where your workloads are running, you will have the information you need to ensure their health and availability. We know that the landscape of IT is changing, and as increasing public cloud adoption transforms traditional IT environments into hybrid ones, we need to deliver the tools necessary for adapting to this new complexity.

 

But wait, there’s more!

Since you made it to the bottom of this post, I thought I would share something extra with you. If you have read the recent post, Drag & Drop Answers to Your Toughest IT Questions, you will be aware of the new PerfStack feature that is also available. What you may not have known is that the cloud instance data, mentioned above, is also available in PerfStack, allowing hybrid environment comparisons and correlations with on-premises workloads.

perfstack_cloud.png

 

So, what are you waiting for? Log into the Customer Portal and download SAM 6.4. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to post them in the Server & Applications Monitor Release Candidate group as well.

OK, OK, I admit it. My favorite new feature of NPM 12.1 is PerfStackTM which is actually a feature of the Orion® Platform (or “Core”). So my team didn’t actually build it. Darn.  Fortunately, all the products that run on the Orion Platform get it, including NPM.  More importantly, all products can contribute data to it, making it super powerful.

 

The idea is simple. Put all of the data points that Orion has on a single page and make it pleasantly interactive.  Check it out:

 

1.png

 

Search for an entity on the left, browse through all the data we have about that entity, and drag and drop it onto the visualization pane on the right.  Works for all sorts of different entities like nodes, interfaces, and volumes.  Works with all sorts of data types too, like status (think: up/down/warning), time-series (think: bandwidth utilization), and events (think: alerts).

 

What does that look like for networks?  Check it out:

2.png

 

Interface status, transmit utilization and errors, and top egress flows on a single page.  Including NPM and NTA data.  Awesome.  We’ve been wanting to build this into the product for years!  I never would have guessed we would instead build a framework so that YOU can build these views on a whim.

 

Making it this easy and fast to view data points is absolutely a game changer. I was exploring some of the data the other day.  It’s like the scientific method in real time.  Observe some data, come up with a hypothesis, drag on related data to prove or disprove your hypothesis, rinse and repeat.

 

Check this out.  We’ve been experiencing slowness on one of our routers here at SolarWinds.  Bandwidth wasn’t saturated, and slowness didn’t seem to be tied to any specific interface.  I started by seeing the performance the poller gets when contacting the router:

3.png

 

 

That looks good, so why is my transit traffic impacted?  How’s CPU and RAM?  Add those…

4.png

 

RAM is kinda high for a router.  Is that causing any buffer drops?  Yes! Let’s see what size is dropping by pulling in the history for the 5 different sizes.

5.png

 

Ok, so we’ve got high RAM, causing buffer misses, specifically and only for Medium Buffers. I can jump on the router and tell it to be more aggressive about preparing more Medium Buffers to cover spikes of packets of this specific size.

 

This takes literally seconds, which is exactly what you want during an outage.

 

And data is provided by everything that works on Orion Core.  Think about that!  Notice high load time on a web page?  Pull in your WPM chart to see the history.  Correlate to CPU usage.  Correlate that to IIS queues.  To interface stats.  To flow data.

 

PerfStack does several of the things you guys have been asking for, and a few extra things we thought up:

  • Imports new data points as they’re polled in near real-time.  Without reloading the page or even a graph.
  • Hide the metric panel if you want and PerfStack displays the graph full screen.
  • Save your favorite PerfStacks and go back to them whenever you want.
  • Send someone the URL of the PerfStack you’re looking at, and they’ll see the same, even without saving.  Of course if they don’t have permission to see some data, they’ll see only the data they have permission to see.
  • Update the timeframe and all charts will adhere to it.

 

Want to try it out for yourself?  Keep an eye on your inbox.  We’ll be emailing you soon that NPM 12.1 is ready in your customer portal!

 

And what would you do with PerfStack?  We want to hear over at the appropriately titled post: What Would You Do with PerfStack?

We've all been there at some point or another. For some of us it's a daily ritual, for others, it's what haunts our dreams at night.

 

I'm speaking, of course, about troubleshooting complex multi-faceted IT issues which can (and often do) transcend functional silos within the overarching IT organization. Cloud, virtualization, hybrid IT, storage area networks, converged infrastructure etc., have all fundamentally transformed IT. Tasks which historically may have taken hours or even days, now take minutes, and some just seconds to complete. These historically, time consuming tasks have become so easy, in fact, that in some organizations they're fully or at least partially automated.

 

The story doesn't end at the infrastructure either. Instead of monolithic, single purpose, do everything, application servers; distributed application architectures, elasticity, and containerization have increasingly becoming the norm. While all these abstraction layers have helped address application scalability and availability, they have also made it significantly more difficult for those monitoring the health and performance of everything which contributes to the delivery of the services those applications provide.

 

The troubleshooting process itself is more entangled than ever before, often times requiring collaboration amongst many different functional silos within the organization. From the storage administrator, DBA, Virtualization admin, cloud architect, application designer, network engineer, DevOps, systems administrators, etc., the finger pointing begins right away. But where to begin? The Orion® Platform and its related product modules such as Network Performance Monitor, Server & Application Monitor, etc., can collect millions of different metrics from across the entirety of the IT environment. That's an overwhelming amount of data to parse through as the clock is ticking; the pressure mounts, and your SLA is hanging in the balance.

 

Many Orion administrators have created elaborate, purpose-built, custom summary dashboards, comprising many various chart resources to help consolidate relevant information related to specific business critical services and to aid in troubleshooting scenarios. The issues with this approach are varied. First, depending upon the complexity and elaborateness of the custom dashboard, the creation process can be both tedious and time consuming. Second, only those with Orion View Management rights have the necessary permissions required to build or modify these custom summary dashboards, placing a tremendous burden on the Orion administrator and making them the bottleneck for efficient troubleshooting. Third, there's the issue of maintaining these custom summary dashboards. Some larger organizations may have dozens or even hundreds of these for various business services, and if not properly maintained to reflect changes made throughout the organization, these dashboards become less and less useful for their intended purpose.

 

From the end-user's perspective, these dashboards help eliminate the need to navigate through a various multitude of views and dashboards in search of data needed to isolate the root cause. Provided, of course, the issue they're investigating occurred within the default time period shown within the chart resources. If it didn't, then the end-user must click on each chart resource individually to be taken to the Custom Chart View, where they can adjust the timeframe shown to the timeframe desired for that specific chart. This then defeats the entire purpose of the custom summary dashboard as a means to visually correlate data more easily for the specific time period when the issue occurred.

 

Enter PerfStack

 

With the release of Network Performance Monitor 12.1 RC1, and the impending release of Server & Application Monitor 6.4 RC1 comes a completely new method for visualizing and correlating data within the Orion web interface. We affectionately refer to this as 'PerfStack'. In part, the name represents the newfound performance analysis and correlation capabilities this feature brings to the Orion® Platform, enriched with relationship data which powers AppStack. The culmination of time series and relationship data is what sets PerfStack apart, allowing you to quickly sift through the massive amounts of data Orion products collect, eliminating noise, and allowing you to focus on what's truly relevant to the issue at hand.

 

Immediately upon upgrading to any of our latest release candidates you will notice a new option available under the 'Home' menu, entitled 'Performance Analysis', which will take you to the new PerfStack dashboard. By default, you will begin with a new analysis project, whereby you will need to start by adding at least one entity. In the throes of an active investigation into an ongoing issue,   the entity selected would typically be the one exhibiting the symptom. This could be the switch, router, virtual machine, host, (AKA: node), or something more specific like the application, LUN, array, or web transaction, to name only a few of the possibilities. Choose whatever the most logical starting point is in your investigation and note that you can add as many entities as you wish to your analysis project.

 

Performance Analysis Menu OptionAdd Entities
Performance Analysis.pngAdd Entities.png

 

Select Entities

 

 

Once you’ve added your entity/s to PerfStack, hovering your mouse over any of those entities in the list, you will notice two icons that appear to the right of the entity name. When clicked, the first icon brings in all other entities related to that object. This leverages existing AppStack relationship data, as well as additional relationship information not currently expressed within AppStack. This includes items such as Hardware Health sensors, network Interfaces, IIS™ Sites, application pools, etc. Relationship information within PerfStack allows you to dramatically accelerate the troubleshooting process and focus exclusively on what's likely related to the issue at hand. This prevents you from fumbling about, wasting time manually trying to figure out how things are related on your own.

 

Add Related EntitiesAvailable Metrics

 

Clicking on any entity name itself populates a list of all available metrics associated with that entity in the adjacent column. These metrics are categorized into collapsed groupings based on their type, any of which can be expanded to reveal individual metric tiles. These tiles can then be dragged onto the chart area on the right where the metric data is plotted.

 

 

 

Add as many metrics to the chart area as you desire. You can add multiple metrics to the same chart, as well as stack multiple charts on top of each other. PerfStack is also capable of combining data from disparate data sources into the same chart. For example, combine Storage Resource Monitor's LUN IOPS data with Network Performance Monitor's network latency and bandwidth data into the same chart to troubleshoot iSCSI performance issues. A feat never before possible within the Orion® Platform family of products.

 

Correlate Metrics Across Different Orion Product Modules
Multi-Product Chart.png

 

PerfStack also allows you to combine integer-based metrics with percentage-based metrics while maintaining the appropriate scale. This is accomplished by maintaining two separate x-axes when metrics of dissimilar types are combined within the same chart.

 

Combine Metrics of Dissimilar Units Within The Same Chart
Integer Pecent.png

 

Data for all metrics displayed within the chart area are automatically aligned across the same time period. Hovering your mouse over any chart area adds a vertical marker which tracks with your mouse movement to visually align all data points across the series. It also displays the date and time that datapoint was collected. As you move your mouse horizontally across the time period of the chart area, the values within the legend update to reflect the values aligned to the vertical marker.

 

 

The viewable time period can be adjusted globally, maintaining sync across all charts in PerfStack. Both relative and custom timeframes are available, allowing you to view things such as the last seven days of history, or focus on a particular event that occurred between 8am - 6pm last Tuesday, for example.

 

Adjust Time RangeSave your Masterpiece

 

Once you've completed your masterpiece, you can optionally save it for future reference. Charted metrics, the entities they're derived from, and the custom or relative time frame are all included as part of your saved project. Saved PerfStack projects can be loaded just as easily as they were saved with a top five most recently used PerfStack list making juggling between projects a snap. You can also save a copy of a project using Save As, or delete PerfStack projects you no longer need from within the More menu.

 

Load Saved PerfStack MRUDelete & Save As

 

Each individual Orion user can create, save, load, update, and delete their own works of art within PerfStack. Also, users aren't required to have Orion 'Admin' or 'View Management' rights to do so, either. Any Orion user can create as many PerfStack dashboards as they wish and manage them independently without assistance from the Orion Admin; something I'm sure is music to the ears of every Orion administrator.

 

Sharing is Caring

 

The most powerful PerfStack feature of all is the ability to collaborate with others within your IT organization; breaking down the silo walls and allowing teams to triage and troubleshoot problems across functional areas. Anything built in PerfStack is sharable. The only requirement is that the individual you're sharing with has the ability to login to the Orion web interface. Sharing is as simple as copying the URL in your browser and pasting it into email, IM, or even a helpdesk ticket.

 

 

When received, the URL provided allows others to instantly see exactly what you've found. They, in turn, can work from that URL, add their own metrics, and send it back without ever affecting your project. Similar behavior is also true if you wish to share a saved PerfStack. Sharing saved PerfStack projects with others allows the recipient access to view your saved PerfStack dashboard and any updates you may make to it in the future. Other users cannot modify your saved PerfStack project, but they can save their own copy, update it as needed, and share back their results.

 

Orion account limitations are fully respected by PerfStack, so there's no need to worry about users gaining access to information they shouldn't. If for any reason, a user should receive a link to a PerfStack project containing objects not permitted by their account restrictions, then any/all metrics related to those restricted objects would be automatically hidden from that user's perspective of the PerfStack project.

 

Coming Soon to a Theater (Monitor) Near You

 

PerfStack is a feature provided with all upcoming Orion product releases which are built atop Orion Platform v2017.1 or later. The list of supported modules include (but not limited to)...

 

  • Network Performance Monitor 12.1
  • Server & Application Monitor 6.4
  • NetFlow Traffic Analyzer 4.2.2
  • Virtualization Manager 7.x
  • Storage Resource Monitor 6.4
  • Web Performance Monitor 2.2.1

 

SolarWinds PerfStack Analysis Dashboard was engineered to allow Orion users to troubleshoot, isolate, and identify IT problems in ways never before possible. As our IT environments evolve, so too must the tools we use to monitor them. Cross silo collaboration is an essential ingredient to any successful IT organization, now and for the foreseeable future. PerfStack, like NetPath before it, are just tiny glimpses into what we have in store for the future of Orion, and we sincerely hope you like what you see.

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the End of Life of SolarWinds Alert Central. Alert Central was an attempt to build on something that you, our users and customers, knew us well for, free tools. The idea was to expand on the free tools concept and build something much bigger, an entirely free product.

 

When we were building Alert Central, cloud based applications were still few and far between, more marketing than reality. So we built Alert Central as a virtual appliance. This was great if you were familiar with that technology or worked closely with your virtual administrator. The experience was very similar to what you would get with SaaS; no need to worry about dependencies or install failures, just start it up and go. Obviously there has been a lot of change in this market over the last 3-5 years. Both in the underlying cloud services available to build applications, but also general acceptance from the market on cloud based applications.

 

If we were building this product today, we wouldn’t be asking your thoughts on virtual appliances as a deployment mechanism, we would be asking you about cloud or on-prem. We believe this use case is best fulfilled by a cloud based solution. This is a large factor in our decision to both stop development of Alert Central and also where the silver lining is. When we surveyed the market and worked with our IT Operations team, we quickly realized that there was company that stood above the rest, OpsGenie.

So I’m pleased to announce, SolarWinds and OpsGenie are partnering!

 

OpsGenie is a cloud based alert and incident management solutions for dev and operations teams. We believe OpsGenie has done a great job at solving these problems. In fact, they’ve done such a great job that our internal IT Ops team has already moved to them. Our free product was good and had a lot of fans, but we want to make sure our customers have the right long term solution, and that’s OpsGenie.

 

If you are using Alert Central today, what does this all mean for you? Well, for starters, nobody is going to come in and take away Alert Central from you. Since it’s a free product, there is no licensing or code that will turn off or stop working. However, OpsGenie has gone to great lengths to make sure that existing Alert Central customers will be taken care of, so we recommend switching sooner rather than later. They are aware that many of our customers are using a free product today so don’t necessarily have budget to buy a replacement solution. To that end, they have agreed to offer a special free tier for existing SolarWinds Alert Central users.

 

SolarWinds Lite Plan (Free)

  • Up to five (5) users
  • Email and SolarWinds NPM integrations
  • Email, mobile push notifications
  • 10 SMS notifications per user per month
  • Heartbeat monitoring

 

There will certainly be some customers that are larger shops or see the value in the advanced functionality that comes with the full OpsGenie platform. For those users, OpsGenie has created special pricing as well.

 

SolarWinds Pro Plan ($120/user/year or $12/user/month)

  • Email, SolarWinds NPM and chat integrations
  • On-call schedules, teams and escalations
  • Email, mobile push notifications
  • 100 SMS and phone notifications per user per month (U.S. only)
  • 25 SMS and phone notifications per user per month (International)

 

I’m guessing you can see why we were so happy to partner with OpsGenie. Not only do they have a great product, a product that our internal team loves, but they also understand what it means to take care of our customers.

 

We will be hosting a webinar on January 18, 2017 at 2:00pm EST where our Director of IT Operations will show you how our internal team migrated from Alert Central to OpsGenie. We will show you how things were done in Alert Central, and how you will do them with OpsGenie. We will also be providing documentation that should help with this transition at  https://www.opsgenie.com/solarwinds-alert-central

 

Saying goodbye is always hard so we hope saying hello at the same time will make it easier. Ultimately, we believe you will be much happier and more productive with this solution so let us know how we can help with this transition.

Register for webinar here: http://opsgenie.com/webinars/solarwinds-alert-central-transition-to-opsgenie

Jogging is my exercise. I use it to tune out noise, focus on a problem at hand, avoid interruptions, and stay healthy. Recently, I was cruising at a comfortable nine-minute pace when I was passed by four elite runners, and it was like I was standing still. It got me thinking along the lines of health versus performance and how they are related. I came to the conclusion that they are related, but more like distant cousins than siblings.

 

I can provide you data that indicates health status: blood pressure, resting heart rate, BMI, percentage of body fat, current illnesses, etc. Given all that, tell me. Can I run a four-minute mile? That question can’t be answered with the data I provided. That’s because I’m now talking about performance versus health.

 

As it relates to databases, we can look at health metrics: CPU utilization, I/O stats, memory pressure, et al. However, those also can’t answer the question of how your databases and queries are performing. I’d argue that both health AND performance monitoring and analysis are important and can impact each other, but they really do answer different questions.

 

Health is a very mature topic and pretty much all database monitoring solutions offer this visibility. Performance is another story. I love this definition of performance from Craig Mullins as it relates to databases – the optimization of resource use to increase throughput and minimize contention, enabling the largest possible workload to be processed.” Interestingly, I believe this definition would be widely accepted, yet approaches to achieving this with monitoring tools varies widely. While I agree with this definition, I’d add “in the shortest possible time” to the end of the definition. If you agree that a time component needs to be considered with regards to database performance, now we’re talking about wait-time analysis. Here’s a white paper that goes into much more detail on this approach and why it is the correct way to think about performance.

 

Stop chasing red herrings and stop resolving symptoms. Get to the root cause of database performance issues using the right approach.

 

 

 

For more on this topic, check out my webcast recording- Database Performance on Tap. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts, questions, or ideas for my next webcast!

Christmas has come early, and Santa has brought everyone a present. No, its not a football.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_7fjPQ0A-4kI/TQUvQmNs7zI/AAAAAAAADFo/ngtuhHHOWW0/s1600/a-christmas-story-ralphie-santa.jpg

 

Actually, the SAM Engineering team is responsible for this holiday joy. I will not spoil the surprise but you can get a hint of what's inside the beta by checking out the What We're Working On Beyond SAM 6.4 (Updated March 17, 2017) post. What are you waiting for?! Click the button below to sign up and download.

 

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Must be under active maintenance for SAM

 

And as an added bonus, anyone who participates in the beta and provides feedback, will be awarded 3000 THWACK points!

gminks

What is SolarWinds SAM?

Posted by gminks Dec 12, 2016

Hi y’all! I’m the new product marketing manager for SolarWinds SAM – Server and Application Monitor. For the last few years, the products I’ve worked on have been focused on storage infrastructure and backups. Now that I’m part of the SolarWinds team I’ll be concentrating on monitoring infrastructures; the hardware and maybe even more importantly the applications that run on that hardware.

 

I’ve been at SolarWinds for three months, and I’m just starting to dig into the actual technology of SAM. I thought I’d work out loud, and blog my way through learning about my new product.

 

What is SolarWinds SAM?

SAM is an application monitoring product. It monitors servers and applications, gathering and pushing info by using native tools (SNMP or Windows® WMI, PowerShell®, etc.) or a lightweight agent to gather important host information. (I’ll cover why you’d want to use an agent vs going agentless in a future blog post). Information can also be gathered using templates -  specialized scripts that go directly to a server to gather specific information. There are out-of-the box templates for over 200 enterprise applications (including Exchange®, SharePoint®, etc.). You can also pull in scripts you have written, or design your own templates to gather information on applications that have been developed in-house.

 

Of course you can monitor Windows and Linux® servers, whether they are on-premises or in the cloud with SAM. Once it’s set up, SAM will alert you in real time about the health of the elements in your environment. But that’s just the beginning. Once SAM is installed, it automatically discovers your applications and maps out all of that app’s dependencies. It makes real-time, logical connections between hosts, networks, and applications with the information it gathers, allowing you to zero in on the real problem if you start getting tickets that SharePoint is slow. Is it SharePoint? IIS? A problem with a LUN? Is it really the network? You’re going to be able to identify performance problems in your environment, and can even remediate some of them directly from the SAM dashboard.

 

Exchange Application Summary.png

 

You won’t be taking on new technical debt, because you can still take advantage of scripts you’ve written, whether they are PowerShell, shell, or for other monitoring platforms such as Nagios® , by importing them into SAM.

 

Oh and bonus….you now have an inventory of all of your hardware and software. Pretty cool huh?

 

What's the Orion Platform?

You’ll see lots of references to Orion® sprinkled throughout content about SAM. The Orion Platform serves as the foundation for many SolarWinds products, including SAM. It provides a common set of services to the products that can plug into the platform:

  • Dashboards (common navigation and user experience across products)
  • Alerts
  • Permissions
  • Data storage

 

Orion Platform.png

 

 

 


The coolest thing about the Orion Platform is that it’s extendable. Once you install SAM, you also have the benefits of the Orion Platform. And if you add other SolarWinds products like VMAN for virtualization monitoring or DPM for database monitoring, you’ll extend the Orion Platform and be able to see deep relationships between an application (SAM) sitting on a VM (VMAN), sitting on a server (SAM), connected to a database (DPM) on a VM (VMAN) on a server (SAM), all using storage from the same array (SRM). All from one pane of glass. For real.

 

Once I blog all about SAM, I’ll dig into how adding other SolarWinds products that use the Orion platform help you take your application monitoring to the next level.

 

How can I learn more?

There are tons of resources to help you learn more about SAM. Here’s what I’m using to get up to speed:

  • Customer Success Center
    Yes, this is our official support site, but you have access to lots of content on this page even before you become a Solarwinds customer. Check out all the resources for SAM!
  • Customer Training
    You must be a customer to access this training, but here’s the amazing thing: all of this training is free for customers. All of the training is free, not just the products for which you’re under active maintenance. This means if you have SAM, but you’re interested in VMAN (our virtualization management product), you can go take the training to see if it will fit your needs!
  • Thwack Community
    The Thwack community of Solarwinds users is very active and vocal! The SAM-specific forum is here. The SAM Product Manager (and soon me!) post product-specific information here. More importantly, customers ask questions, and help each other.  One really interesting feature of this community is that members can upload and share SAM templates. I’ll go into depth about this in a future post as well.
  • Check out an interactive demo.

 

If you want to play along as I write, why not download a free trial and come along for the ride?

 

What I'll be writing about

 

Here is how I’ve plotted out the topics I’m planning to write about. I’ll add links to the posts as I publish them.

  • Overview of SAM – that’s this post
  • Architecture and Planning – How do you prepare for installing SAM?
  • Installation and Discovery – I’ll write about installing and discovering my lab
  • Configuration of application templates – I’ll configure templates that are included with SAM
  • Creating a custom template – I’ll configure a custom template
  • Future ideas: adding other Solarwinds products (SRM, VMAN, NPM); Security!
  • What would you like to see?


No Lines, No Waiting, No Rainchecks - SolarWinds NCM 7.6 Beta 1 is now available!

 

The NCM Engineering team has been busy preparing this exclusive SolarWinds NCM beta ahead of Black Friday!  Packed with some amazing new functionality, this beta can be yours to test over the long holiday weekend.  If you were looking for that perfect reason to avoid the In-Laws, SolarWinds NCM has delivered.  I can't give away all of the details, but this beta includes some of the features listed here; What We Are Working On for NCM after v7.7 (Updated on September 19, 2017).

 

Click the link below to sign up.

button_solarwinds-ncm-7-6-beta-1.png
Must be under active maintenance for NCM to gain access.

 

 

 

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All active beta participates who provide feedback will be awarded 3,000 THWACK points!

Virtualization Manager (VMAN) 7.0 is now available with predictive and alert recommendations. VMAN 7.0 started with the basis to expand on Solarwinds current strengths of Discovery, Alerting, & Reporting and grow our toolset to provide advanced remediation and troubleshooting capabilities to support the *D.A.R.T framework. We tackled this challenge with intelligent actions that remediate existing alerts and predictive recommendations that pro-actively avoid downtime time and performance issue in your virtual infrastructure. Our goal was to stay true to Solarwinds tenants of simplicity and provide a toolset that was designed by systems engineers for systems engineers.  I feel confident that we have done that with VMAN 7.0.

What is included VMAN 7.0:

 

  • Updated UI Look and Feel - This release updated the SolarWinds Orion Web Console’s user interface, navigation, and notifications.

 

  • Predictive Recommendations - Advanced trending analysis is used to identify workload patterns of your virtual infrastructure to provide strategic recommendations. Based on historical data and trending, recommendations are created for Performance Optimization, Maximum Environment Utilization, and Problem Prevention.  Since these recommendations require historical data a minimum of 7 days of data is required.
      • Performance Optimization - Recommendations balance the workload of the virtual infrastructure to ensure the best performance is attained.  Based on historical trending, VMAN will identify the true work-load patterns, and determine where to place VMs. This ensures that all VMs have the necessary resources and that VMs residing on the same host have compatible workloads.
      • Maximum Environment Utilization - The goal of these recommendations is to ensure that the resources in the environment are leveraged to their full capacity with no loss of performance.  Essentially, do more with less!!
      • Problem Prevention  - These recommendations prevent situations where a lack of resources caused by resource depletion would affect the performance of a VM.

 

  • Active/Alert RecommendationsThese are tactical recommendations are that are meant to solve an immediate problem.  Think of these as alert recommendations, where their sole purpose is to resolve virtualization issues (aka put out an immediate fire)  or capacity issues as a result of an alert.  Since VMAN does not use historical data to make real-time recommendation it does not take into account future workloads when making the recommendation. Therefore only 1 hr of polling is required for VMAN to generate any necessary Active Recommendations.  These recommendations can be identified with a NOW icon preceding the recommendation.

Now.png

 

Recommendations Walk-through

 

Header 1Header 2

Once you log into your VMAN integrated Orion Instance  you will immediately notice the updated UI and new Navigation bar.

1. From the My Dashboards drop-down choose Virtualization Summary from the list.

VirtHome.jpg

Once on the Virtual Summary page the new Recommendations resource can be found in the upper right hand corner.  The recommendations resource will provide you an at-a-glance view of clusters and their associated recommendations as well as the severity of the recommendation (Critical, Warning , Low).  This will be your gateway to recommendations.  You can access and view recommendations via 2 methods in the resource.

1. All Recommendations link -   This can be found in the upper right hand corner of the resource and will present all individual recommendations for all clusters.

2. Recommendations by Cluster link - This can be found in the third column next to the associated cluster it represents.  Entering recommendations using this link will pre-filter all recommendations to display only those associated to the host.

 

The severity references the the nature of the problem at hand based on Orion thresholds.

VirtSummary.jpg

The All Recommendations page provides a high-level overview of individual recommendations.  This is broken out based the problem that needs to be solved on the left with the recommendation to remediate the problem on the right.  The ability to filter by Cluster/Host, Recommendation Type (Active/Predictive), and Problem Severity (Critical, Warning, or Low), or Strategy is available on the left-hand side of the screen.  Tabs across the top of the screen allow you to view current recommendations, scheduled, recommendations currently running, and completed/failed recommendations.

 

From this view it is easy to identify Active recommendations with the NOW tag preceding the recommendation.

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By selecting an individual recommendation, related contextual details can be reviewed.  The recommendation details clearly break down the problem and the details of a recommendation to assist the administrator in making a decision to execute or ignore the action. Active recommendations will the associated alert that will be resolved by executing the recommendation. 

 

Additional actions can be found within the Steps To Perform tab such as power on/off the VM prior to performing the action. By default any migration action will not power off the VM unless the admin specifies.  All reconfiguration of Memory & CPU will power off the VM by default unless specified by the admin.

 

 

 

From here you can Apply, Ignore, Export & Schedule the recommendation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By selecting More Actions, an administrator can choose to ignore a recommendation to a later date.  This will remove the recommendation from the list until the specified date and will only return the recommendation if it is still valid.

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The Statistics tab will provide advanced graphical data to provide context as to why a recommendation has been created for your environment.  All graphs will have a Now delimiter line in the graph to identify the expected results on the virtual environment after the proposed recommendation is applied. Metrics associated to counters used for the recommendation will provide a current and predicted value.

 

TIP:  You can zoom in on the graph by selecting a section and sliding your cursor  across the graph.

 

 

 

SImilar to the Steps to Perform tab the recommendation can be applied, ignored or exported.

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To view running recommendations choose the RUNNING tab on the all recommendations page.  Running will provide you the current status of an in-progress recommendation with a progress bar indicator next to the action being run.  To cancel a running recommendation select Cancel & Revert .

RunningRecommendations.png

To view all past recommendations choose the HISTORY tab on the all recommendations page.  This will display both successful and failed recommendation attempts as well as time initiated and time completed.

 

Double click on the completed recommendation to view details such as who executed the action and steps performed in the action.

History.png

 

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In the event that a recommendation is no longer required for an entity select Manage Policies from the All Recommendations Page and select the Policies tab.

 

From here the admin can select the Add Exclusion.  The next screen will provide the option to select the object types you want to exclude (virtual machine, cluster, host, datastore).

 

After selecting the objects to exclude the exclusion policy can saved.

 

This will exclude the object from all future recommendation calculations until the exclusion policy is removed.

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By selecting the Strategies Tab the recommendations can be completely disabled.  The individual strategies can be disabled/enabled from this page.

 

VM Right Sizing

Over-Allocation

Under-Allocation

 

Host Performance & Capacity Assurance - Identifies hosts that will run of CPU or memory resources.

Active recommendations

Predictive recommendations

 

Storage Capacity Assurance

 

Balancing VM Workloads on Hosts

 

Selecting Recalculate Now the recommendation calculations can be manually run.  The default running of the calculations occurs every 12 hrs unless an environment change occurs in which case the recalculation will immediately run.  An environment change includes:

  • add/remove VM
  • add/remove Hosts (including maintenance mode)
  • Add/Remove storage
  • Migration of VMs to another host
  • Migration of VMs to different storage
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Existing customers can find the VMAN 7.0 & VIM 7.0 download files from the customer portal and new customers can find the download links here.  Visit the VMAN 7.0 customer support center to find all information related to VMAN 7.0 install and upgrades.

 

Before upgrading :

  • VMAN 7.0 requires Orion Platform 2016.2, NPM 12.0.1, SAM 6.3, NCM 7.5.1. VIM 7.0 released with VMAN 7.0 includes Orion 2016.2. You must upgrade to Orion Platform 2016.2 products to upgrade to VMAN 7.0.

 

  • For VMAN integrated with the Orion Web Console, you need to upgrade to VIM 7.0. Regardless of your installed Orion product version (such as NPM 12.0.1 or SAM 6.3), you should run the VIM 7.0 upgrade. This upgrade includes additional feature additions and fixed issues.

We are excited to share, that we've reached GA for Web Help Desk (WHD) 12.5.

 

 

This release includes new dashboards delivering a much needed UI and performance boost to WHD. The release also contains user interface improvements aligned to our Unexpected Simplicity theme.  The new features include:

  • Dashboard interface - New and improved dashboard user interface and functionality. The WHD development team did some fantastic work here to produce a new ground-up dashboard using a modern framework.

 

  • Technician interface - Manage ticket approvals from the technician interface. This request was one of the most highly requested features taken from Thwack. This feature empowers WHD technicians with an efficient and simple method to approve tickets.

 

Additional Improvements:

  • New email processing producing more reliability within WHD messaging queue.
  • Fixes for customer issues and security vulnerabilities

 

We encourage all to upgrade to this latest release which is available within your customer portal.

 

Thanks!

Solarwinds Team

We have been working hard to bring another bulk of enhancements to the Storage Resource Monitor (SRM).

SRM 6.4 Beta 2 is available and it contains some of the enhancements listed in the following post: What we are working on for SRM after v6.5 -- Updated on October 6, 2017.

 

To find out more and get access to the beta, you need to be a customer on active maintenance for SRM and sign up here:

 

sign-up-Beta.png

 

As an added incentive, beta users who submit feedback will receive 2,000 Thwack points to buy swag at the Thwack Store.

The VMAN 7.0 RC 2 install bits can now be downloaded from your Customer Portal.  Please note that the Release Candidates are fully tested and supported releases and are suitable to be run in production. 7.0 RC2 can be run as an upgrade from 7.0 RC1, as well as from the 6.3 installs. If you have problems with the RC, you can file a ticket with Support just as you would for any other Generally Available (GA) version.  To familiarize yourself with new features in 7.0 you can use Welcome to the Virtualization Manager 7.0 Beta 1 as a reference.

 

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The VMAN team is excited about this release and can't wait to receive your feedback in the Virtualization Manager Release Candidate forum. Make sure to review all documentation prior to the upgrade which can be found on the VMAN 7.0 Support page.

 

 

New features and improvements

Read this section for descriptions of the new features and improvements VMAN and VIM offer in this release.

 

Recommendations

When VMAN identifies a way to optimize VM resources for active and potential issues, it makes a recommendation for one click optimization. Recommendations display in the Orion Web Console with a description for optimizing your network, and provides a series of steps you can apply immediately with a button click or schedule at a later time.

  • Balance the virtual environment for optimal performance. You can spread load over hosts, which optimizes the performance for all virtual machines.
  • Optimize capacity. Virtualization Manager predicts when you will run out of resources on virtualization entities, so you can plan in advance when you have to assign new resources.
  • Predict possible future performance and capacity issues based on past trends.

 

Web-based License Manager

Easily add, activate, and manage Orion product licenses through the web-based License Manager. Accessing the License Manager on your main polling engine, you can monitor and update full product and evaluation licenses for your main poller, additional pollers, additional web servers, stackable pollers, and high availability pools all through one page. The License Manager also provides automatic online and offline modes for managing licenses. Add and manage evaluations with ease, including HA.

text-document.png Read more about these changes.

 

Other improvements

Various performance improvements and security fixes

How to upgrade

Use the following resources for planning and upgrading:

Fixed issues

Virtualization Manager 7.0 and VIM 7.0 fix the following issues.

 

CASE NUMBER

DESCRIPTION

1037297

NPM not showing CUP and Memory usage for some ESXi servers

1013905

Asset tree is not loading properly

999345

List of Virtual Machines on a host not displaying the OS version for Windows 10

953038

657558

Collector Data Processor keeps crashing

951495

VCenter data is inaccurate

951394

Additional Orion Web Server VM reports do not run

908177

VM to node mapping is not using MAC if integration is enabled

916806

sinpsyesx004.intlsos.com not returning any data - duplicated datastores causing data processing to fail

898072

VCenter status unknown on the Orion Web Console

890835

IVIM schema error on APE SWIS log

885008

Polling Engine Details page shows absolute value of jobs count instead of percent

825684

Issues with vShield Manager and VMs that are natted

820300

Orion Web Server does not display

997655

Unable to start collection jobs

989236

CPU overallocation

1001589

VMAN on-demand report displaying incorrect or old data

966359

Integration issue with Datastore and VMAN

975063

VIM appliance not passing data to the Orion server

978665

SSH Server CBC Mode Ciphers enabled

978638

Vcenter status unable to poll

967710

Invalid depletion data shown on Datastore dashboard for VMAN

968708

Vcenter data not being displayed in the Orion Web Console

945034

SSL certificate changes back to default after upgrade

941086

False alerts regarding VM reboots

934585

VMAN application unable to load because postgres service will not start

918211

VMAN crashes when a secondary collector is used

920658

Host rebooting during configuration collection

913169

Blue screen on host when running the configuration wizard, when collection has started

910234

No data displayed in the "cluster.cpuMHzPeak.day" column

896552

Trend widget does not populate when "multi-trend" mode is enabled

893378

VMAN stops working after upgrade to vSphere 6.0

891270

Query does not return the correct number of VMs when searching past 9 days

884311

Intermittent collection

873270

Mast applicance shows ActiveMQ transport "Usage Manager Memory Limit is full errors"

856868

Fatal error occurred during collection

853303

VMAN stopped polling and displaying data

422089

Virtual Machine not appearing in VMAN list

 

 

Download VMAN from the Release Candidate section of your Customer Portal.

 

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We have reached the Release Candidate (RC) status for Web Help Desk (WHD) 12.5. RC1 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.

 

 

Web Help Desk 12.5 includes the following enhancements:

  • Dashboard interface – New and improved dashboard user interface and functionality

WHD_125_Dashboard.jpg

 

 

  • Technician interface - Manage ticket approvals from the technician interface (Thank you to those who elevated this Feature Request on THWACK!)

 

WHD_125_Tech_Approval.jpg

 

 

  • Bulk action capabilities – Use bulk actions to link parent tickets
  • Fixes for customer issues and security vulnerabilities

Other Recent Improvements:

Recently added in Web Help Desk Service Release version 12.4.2 includes functionality that allows multiple FAQs to be added to a request type. For those who helped vote this feature into existence, we thank you. You can also find this feature included in the latest version of this product.

 

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Download Web Help Desk 12.5 in the Release Candidate section of your Customer Portal.

RC builds are provided as a special privilege to customers on active maintenance in advance of 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 engage the Web Help Desk RC forum on THWACK.

Something we hear quite often is "how can I build custom SLA report in Orion". Everybody who is a bit familiar with Orion knows our web-reporting tools which is the right place to start, however sometimes it requires more than a click & point tweak in reporting.

(we've made this article official: SLA Reports )

 

I'll use this SLA request example: WAN SLA availability by time zone & 7x24 in order to demonstrate one of the ways how to get there.

 

What you'd need to accomplish this?

  1. NPM (or any other SolarWinds product)
  2. Orion SDK - Orion SDK Information
  3. At least one hour data history for the devices which should appear in your SLA report. In my case, Nodes and business hours.
  4. 30 minutes of your time

 

What will be the result:

Our goal is to create daily custom SLA report for Node availability (in %) which shows the device availability only for our business hours - in our case 7AM - 6PM

The result may look like this:

Node             SLA Availability          SLA Hours         

New York      92.33                         7am-6pm   

 

Let's get started:

First problem we need to solve is how to "tell" system what are our report business hours. This seems to be a best fit for Orion custom properties. Let's create two custom properties: 1) time_from 2)time_to and assign the values to all nodes.

 

Go "All Settings" -> "Manage Custom Properties" -> "Add Custom Property" -> Select Nodes and click "next" -> specify property name "time_from" and apply on "reports" -> Select all nodes to assign a property.

 

Now we need to assign the start rush our time in a bulk operation to all nodes. Select "view/edit values" and set "7" to the field:

 

 

Ok, now go and repeat all steps above for "time_to" and value "18" (6PM).

 

Ready? Good. We have data ready and now it's time to data-mining. For that purpose we're going to use SolarWidns proprietary business logic and data layer represented by SolarWinds Information Service - SWIS. Which has simimar syntax to SQL but gives you much more power to get properties via "." operator (no need to know entire database table structures). In order to tune the final query we will use SWQL Studio tool which is part of SDK you already installed into ProgramFolder (x86)\Orion SDK\

 

Run the studio and enter the FDQN name of your Orion server (or IP Address), Administrator credentials and from drop-down select "Orion (v3)" which defines version 3 of SWIS.

If the connect is successful you'll see the SWIS database structure on the left hand side:

And again, this is not equal to your SQL server structure, this is the database structure Orion primarily use for viewing data and it's strongly recommended to use over direct SQL access because it provides data consistency, performance optimization and it will guarantee your reports to be working even if database structure is changed during product updates.

 

Prepare the SWQL query

Not the fun begins and we need to define SWQL query for our data set.

 

Here is the one I use to get the data for my SLA report:

 

select n.Caption, sub_query.sla_day, sub_query.sla_availability, n.CustomProperties.time_from, n.CustomProperties.time_to FROM

(

   SELECT avg(Availability) as sla_availability, datetrunc('day',datetime) as sla_day, r.NodeID

   FROM Orion.ResponseTime r

   where hour(datetime) >= r.Node.customproperties.time_from and hour(datetime)<= r.Node.customproperties.time_to

    group by datetrunc('day',datetime), r.NodeID

) as sub_query

 

inner join Orion.Nodes n ON n.NodeID=sub_query.NodeID

 

For those who are bit familiar with any SQL type of language it should look familiar. Here is what I've done

 

First I need to compute average data from Orion.ResponseTime table and I need to apply rush hour limitation defined by custom properties from above. This represents inner query. "Datetrunc" function is able to take a day, hour or month from entire date. I need a day so I can guarantee avaliability for each node is computed for only a given day and then for rush hours time interval. It's easy compare condition.

 

Second I need to return the results of average node availability for time-segment and apply a table formatting so I will see "Node Caption", day/date, availability and time_from and time_to defining SLA business rush hours.

 

And the result?

Great, so we can tune our query and add/remove columns or apply additional sorting.

 

Publish and view in Orion reporting.

Time to take our work and make it available for all Orion users. To do so, go to Orion web console -> reports -> manger reports -> create new report. And we will create new CustomTable based report.

Follow the steps below to accomplish your task where we enter our SWQL query, select the columns for report and apply sorting by date:

 

1)

2)

3)

4)

5)

6)

7)

8) voila - here comes the final report

 

We're done. Till now our new report "Node SLA report - business hours" will be available in the list of reports in Orion and you can also schedule the report on daily/weekly basis as you need.

Please be aware our maintenance rolls-off the finest detailed data each month (30 days) and if you run the report after that period you won't be able to see full granular details beyond 30 days time border.

 

I hope you find this useful and it inspires you to experiment more with SWQL and SWQL studio in order to build the reports you're looking for. SWQL studio will also help you to browse our data structures so you can learn by walking and master your custom report skills in Orion.

We are pleased to announce the general availability of Server & Application Monitor 6.3.

 

This version includes the following new features and enhancements:

 

You can view the full set of release notes, including problems that were resolved here.

 

Server & Application Monitor 6.3 is available for download in your customer portal for those customers under active Server & Application Monitor maintenance.

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