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We are proud to announce that Web Help Desk (WHD) 12.5 Beta 1 is now available!!!!

Sign-up.png

 

 

The team has been working hard at producing the next release for WHD. The Beta is open to WHD customers currently on active maintenance. Your feedback on the beta is key to our development. As an added incentive, beta users who submit feedback will receive 3,000 Thwack points to buy swag at the Thwack Store.

We encourage you to sign up and run the beta through its paces, then tell us what you think by providing your feedback in the Web Help Desk Beta forum!!

Time flies when you were having fun, so I must be having a blast because Database Performance Analyzer 10.2  has arrived in a blink of an eye (just 6 months since 10.1).  If you are ready, you can download it from the customer portal and for free evaluation from the SolarWinds Website. Be prepared to save hours every day as we take analysis of blocking and deadlocks to a whole new level.

 

New Features in 10.2

  • Identify Root Blockers causing the greatest impact
  • Find the last activity of an Idle Blocker
  • Monitor Deadlocks
  • Use MySQL as a DPA repository
  • Support for the latest databases - SQL 2016 and MySQL 5.7
  • AD/LDAP Configuration Wizard
  • Tomcat 8 and Java 1.8
  • Lots of minor fixes - see the Release Notes.

A major theme in this release is blocking and locking analysis.  Blocking occurs when the database locks an object to perform a transaction and another request for this same object is received.  The database blocks the second transaction until the original transaction is complete and the lock is released. Locking is a good and necessary thing for a database to function properly, but excessive blocking causes programs and clients to wait, and is very difficult to diagnose.  DPA 10.2 is focused on solving difficult blocking and lock problems with just a few clicks.

 

Identify Root Blockers causing the greatest impact

Blocking can involve more than just two transactions, as transaction A blocks transaction B, B blocks C, and so on, piling up the time applications are waiting quite quickly.  DPA 10.2 not only identifies the root blockers, but also aggregates the wait time in the correlation tab to show which queries are causing the most overall wait.  If one query is the root blocker for other queries, say from your online website store, customers may be waiting - which can impact your bottom line.

This new blocking summary information appears as a correlation tab under the wait time chart and tracks with your choices of dimension and time slice (from 30 days to 1 sec)... even the colors of the queries in the bar chart matches.

Bonus 1: You can toggle on the idle blockers (gray bar), to see if they are causing a lot of wait.

Bonus 2: We also have a Top Waiters view, so you can quickly find which queries are most impacted by blocking as well.

 

Find the last activity of an Idle Blocker

Imagine a construction crew blocks the road you're on, and while waiting for them to complete their work, you notice they stop jack hammering and walk away.  You are being blocked, and your blocker is idle - they're doing something (maybe eating lunch), but they sure aren't working on the road.  This is analogous to an idle blocker, where a program or user locks an object in the database, but then performs work outside of the database before completing the transaction.   From the database's perspective, the blocker is "idle" because its not doing database work, and there is no association with database activity.

So when you try to diagnose an idle blocker, you have no starting place, nothing to pass on to the developer other than "it's idle".  Often times, the DBA would have to spend hours sifting through queries to identify the last activity before the lock went idle, so that the problem could be found and fixed. Well, you don't have to do that manual work anymore - with a couple of clicks, DPA will take you back to the last known activity of an idle blocker, and let you easily annotate it too.

To find the last activity, drill down to an hour and click the Blockers tab. On the left of the table, root blockers are shown, and you can expand the tree to see all the waitiers.  For Idle blockers, there is a new link called Find Last Activity on the right.

When you click Find Last Activity (ex SPID 79), a popup appears with a couple of choices - Annotate and View Activity, or just View Activity.

If you choose "Annotate and View Activity", DPA will search the past 48 hours for last activity for that session related to the blocker (Session 79).  We've now found the last activity before the block went idle.

And we annotated it, so its much easier to find in the future!

Now you have something you can share with your team and quickly identify and fix the problem!

 

Monitor Deadlocks

A deadlock happens when two or more transactions block each other by holding locks on resources that each of the transactions also need.

DPA uses a modified Extended Event session in order to capture deadlock details for SQL Server, and will use the default system health session for SQL Server on Amazon RDS. Users are able to configure a non-default session using the Advanced Properties page. When deadlocks are detected, they are displayed at the bottom of the Trends tab:  DPA also shows a metric named Victim Impact, which is a measure of time the victim's transaction was running and consuming resources.

Deadlock analysis is contained in the correlation tab with two options - Deadlock List and Deadlock chart.  The deadlock list contains a list of all the deadlocks for the current timeslice.

Clicking on a deadlock link takes you to a deadlock details page which has three parts.

1. Deadlock Summary, which shows the Total Victim Impact.
Bonus:  Open the deadlock XML in SQL Server Management Studio and see the visualization of the deadlock or email the deadlock information with a click of the button!

 

2. Victims and Survivors: Shows you details of the queries that were victims and thus rolled back, as well as the survivor which completed.

3. Deadlocked Resources - Bonus: All those links have popups with definitions and expert advice.

The Deadlock chart simply counts the number of deadlocks occurring in the same dimension and time slice you are viewing, helping you identify trends.

For a deeper dive on the nature of deadlocks and how to analyze them with DPA, check out our deadlock analysis KB article.

 

MySQL as a DPA Repository

When we released monitoring for MySQL in DPA 10.0 less than a year ago, our customers were excited to finally be able to monitor MySQL with the same wait time analysis methodology as used for SQL and Oracle.  However, there were lots of folks who wanted DPA to use MySQL as a data repository too.  I am happy to say you have the option to use DPA as a data repository!  If you want to change from SQL or Oracle, we don't migrate old data when changing repository types.

 

New way to get to Historical Charts

A new trick that's easy to miss is the addition of a link to the historical charts wherever you open the query popup.  There is a new button in the bottom left that allows you to jump to historical charts from almost anywhere. Its a small but welcomed change.

 

But Wait, There's More

Every release has some minor features too, and 10.2 is no exception.

  • Support for the latest databases - SQL 2016 and MySQL 5.7
  • AD/LDAP wizard now makes it much easier to connect to your directory.  Current configurations are supported and you can modify them via the Wizard.
  • Tomcat 8 and Java 1.8 moves DPA to the latest versions with security updates.
  • Lots of minor fixes - see the Release Notes.

 

Sign up to get on the next beta!

The dust hasn't settled on 10.2, but our dedicated team of database nerds and code jockeys are already hard at work on the next awesome DPA release - check out the What We Are Working On for DPA (Updated April 7, 2017) post.  If you don't see everything you've been wishing for there, you add it to our Database Performance Analyzer Feature Requests

 

If you want to get your hands dirty as soon as our next beta is ready, get on the list for the next beta by filling out this survey.

We have reached the Release Candidate (RC) status for Log & Event Manager (LEM) 6.3. RC is the last step before general availability and is a chance for existing customers to get the newest functionality before it is available to everyone else.

 

The RC contains the following enhancements:

  • Single sign-on (SSO)/smart card integration.
  • Update to Java 8
  • SNMP v3 Monitoring of LEM virtual appliance
  • New configurable alerts for disk utilization
  • Fixes for security vulnerabilities and multiple supportability enhancements

 

Single Sign-On / Smart Card Integration

 

LEM now supports SSO to log in to the LEM console. This means you can leverage your existing single sign-on infrastructure to authenticate and authorize activity in the LEM web console. We are developing a comprehensive document to configure SSO, but below are a few quick tips for configuring Kerberos based SSO for MS LDAP.

  1. Ensure an A record exist in DNS with the FQDN for your LEM server.
  2. You need to setup a Service Principal Name (SPN), a service account for Kerberos authentication. If this account expires, you will need to re-create a new one so make sure to keep an eye on that. Generate a keytab file based on that SPN.
  3. Create AD groups for each of the LEM groups. See the below table.

    

Header 1Header 2
ROLE_LEM_ADMINISTRATORSadmin_role
ROLE_LEM_ALERTS_ONLYalerts_only
ROLE_LEM_AUDITORaudit_role
ROLE_LEM_GUESTSguest
ROLE_LEM_CONTACTSnotify_only
ROLE_LEM_REPORTSreports_only

 

4. Ensure browser security settings trust the LEM appliance's address. In IE, the simple way to configure is to add it to the Trusted Sites. If you configure IE security settings they will flow through to other browsers such as Netscape (just kidding), Firefox and Chrome.

5. SSH to the CMC and import the keytab generated in step 2. Type 'import' from the main CMC screen.

6. Before you can configure SSO, you must have at least one LDAP account configured.

 

Update to Java 8

Since the LEM appliance is a secured hardened virtual appliance, it's difficult to practically exploit many of the vulnerabilities in the packages we use. Every time we ship a new version, we update those packages to include the most current and secure versions. When new exploits are announced, we evaluate the severity of the exploit and whether that exploit can be used against the LEM appliance. Sometimes the exploit requires root access which isn't really relevant because if you already have root access, you can do whatever you want, so we make sure to focus on the critical issues like remote exploits.

 

SNMP v3 Monitoring of LEM virtual appliance

You can now monitor the LEM appliance just like any other node in your network. You need to configure the SNMP service in the CMC. From the main CMC prompt, type 'service' then 'snmp'. The CMC will prompt you through the next steps. Make sure you record this information as you will need it when you configure your monitoring server, hopefully SolarWinds NPM! This will provide you base metrics such as CPU, Memory, and Disk utilization.

 

New configurable alerts for disk utilization

While previous versions of LEM contained a system audit event when a disk partition reached 90% utilization, many customers needed more granular control for regulatory reasons. You can now configure percent utilization or absolute availability in the CMC. From the appliance menu type 'diskusage' to see current utilization then 'diskusageconfig' to define the limits you need. When a threshold is met or exceeded, you will see it in the Monitor UI on the web console. You can also configure alerts and other actions based on these events.

 

If you are an existing customer on active maintenance the RC should be available in your portal now! After you upgrade, post below and let us know how it went and what you think of the updates!

We are pleased to announce the general availability of Netflow Traffic Analyzer 4.2.

 

This version includes the following enhancements:

 

Netflow Traffic Analyzer 4.2 is available for download in your customer portal for those customers under active Netflow Traffic Analyzer maintenance. 

 

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

We are pleased to announce the general availability of Network Configuration Manager 7.5.

 

This version includes the following enhancements:

 

Network Configuration Manager 7.5 is available for download in your customer portal for those customers under active Network Configuration Manager maintenance. 

 

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

We are pleased to announce the general availability of Storage Resource Monitor 6.3.

 

This version includes the following enhancements:

  • Support for EMC XtremIO arrays
  • Support for Pure Storage arrays

 

Storage Resource Monitor 6.3 is available for download in your customer portal for those customers under active Storage Resource Monitor maintenance.

 

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

You can find further details about the improvements here: Storage Resource Monitor v6.3 Release Candidate is Avaiable!

We are pleased to announce the general availability of Kiwi CatTools 3.11.

 

This version includes the following enhancements:

  • IPv6 support
  • SSL/TLS email support
  • Variations for HP.Switch.2500, RedHat Linux, Checkpoint VPN & Huawei General
  • HP Procurve software updates
  • ARP report support for Checkpoint firewalls.

 

Kiwi CatTools 3.11 is available for download in your customer portal for those customers under active Kiwi CatTools maintenance.

 

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

veroa

Reducing the Upgrade Blues

Posted by veroa Employee May 24, 2016

We’ve been talking with many of you over the years and from some of those conversations we know that upgrade days, or rather, nights and weekends, aren’t really your favorite part of your job. Also, we’ve learned that SolarWinds Orion product upgrades haven’t been as easy as they could be.

 

With the upcoming release of NPM 12 we decided to focus on improving the Orion upgrade experience. Check out some of the initiatives we’ve worked on and why, and learn how you can help us as we continue to look for ways to improve your upgrade experience with SolarWinds Orion products.

 

UNDERSTANDING THE PAIN POINTS

Our initial objective for the upgrade project was to baseline the upgrade process in the real world. We interviewed dozens of Orion users who had recently upgraded and asked questions such as, “How/where do you find out there is a new version of your SolarWinds product?”; “When you find out there is a new version, where do you go to find out more and what do you do next?”

 

You told us there were three top pain points when upgrading: planning, execution, and cleanup. For planning, we learned that information wasn’t centrally located; most of you use Release Notes at some point, but there were gaps in the data they provided, and that it wasn’t always easy to answer the question “is upgrading worthwhile?” A big theme for the execution and cleanup phases was that upgrading generally isn’t so much difficult as it’s tedious, time-consuming, and manual. For large customers, dealing with multiple products and additional polling engines only compounds the issue.

 

DESIGNING A BETTER EXPERIENCE

We ran surveys with hundreds of users and validated that the pain points were true for most. Then, we were off to problem-solving land!  We created multiple versions of new content, tested it with users, made changes, and started the process all over again until we were confident that we were providing content that really addressed the pain points. We also worked with individual users to review current installations “in the wild” to look for opportunities to reduce time to upgrade and automate where we could.

 

WHAT'S NEW IN YOUR ORION UPGRADE EXPERIENCE?

To help you with the planning phase of your upgrade experience, we worked on enhancing the release notes by highlighting key features and gotchas, providing an upgrade guide/checklist, including new feature technical overviews, as well as version comparison content and training videos on new features.

release-notes.jpg

Enhanced Release Notes

 

 

When you’re actually doing the upgrading, you’ll be able to take advantage of over 100 automatic system checks and compatibility checks that let you know prior to installation when certain things might be blockers. If we find a potential problem, we even tell you what to do to fix it. For example: if you’re running antivirus, we check for that and recommend you turn it off on your Orion main poller.

 

We also took a hard look at the performance of installs—literally, how long it takes users to install the bits for an upgrade (or for that matter, a new install). Our intrepid dev team has done some behind-the-scenes tuning, so you should experience faster performance during the actual installation.

 

Take a look at what's new and how to upgrade to NPM 12.

 

 

Below are some comments from users who have seen all of these changes:

 

"I wish we had this when we were upgrading from 10.5"

 

" . . . this really covers everything I need to know about upgrading. Everything is in once place. It used to be I had a list of features, then I had to go somewhere else for upgrade instruction, somewhere else for gotchas, somewhere else for troubleshooting. This has everything in one page and I like that."

 

I’ll be sending these links to my boss and coworkers.

 

"I like (the new Release Notes); the layout is nice and clean, I like the pictures on it, keep up the good work!"

 

 

And of course, so much more is in the works! As always (you all should know what’s coming by now), we never solve every problem, and we never will make perfect software or perfect experiences… but we always strive to do better! Which is where YOU come in.  If you haven’t already, use the big button below to sign up for UX feedback sessions. You’ll get a chance to provide feedback and influence product, feature, and customer experiences that are in the works. If you’ve already upgraded or gone through RC, check in here and let us know what your experience was like. Your feedback is very valuable to us!

 

button.png?t=Sign+up+to+participate+in+UX+feedback+sessions&f=Calibri&ts=20&tc=fff&tshs=0&tshc=000&hp=20&vp=8&c=9&bgt=unicolored&bgc=3d85c6&bs=1&bc=fff

Last year, we wrote a post about the Orion User Interface (UI) Refresh in which we shared with you some changes to the look and feel of Orion you could expect to see in upcoming releases, such as reducing the visual noise and clutter to better help you focus on ‘the big red things’ that should draw your attention.

 

As part of that effort, we in the SolarWinds User Experience (UX) team have relied heavily on input from you, our users, to help us identify where we were on track, and where we needed to course-correct. Come take a tour with us and learn about some of the changes that were made based on feedback from hundreds of users like you over the past year and a half!

 

Baselining the old UI

A basic tenet of our process is to really understand what’s working for users and what isn’t before we make any changes. We knew the UI was tired and dated, and we knew there were many underlying problems to solve, but we wanted to better understand what problems we should solve for and what use cases we should support. We interviewed users and took tours of real environments ‘in the wild’, ran focus groups over the phone, and met with key internal stakeholders like sales engineers, support and others who engage with users every day to ask for their input on what we should focus on. Out of that came this:

orion1.png

Solving the problems

Once we had our marching orders, we began investigating solutions. Visual design ideas had been percolating in our heads for a while, so we tackled that problem first. We mocked up a few key pages into an interactive prototype and asked users to take a look, and then take a survey to let us know their thoughts. Initial feedback let us know we were on the right track, but that we had some readability and contrast issues to solve. More changes were made, and more surveys went out until we felt confident that the new design would reduce visual noise, still allow good information density, and ensure easy readability.

 

Navigation took longer to solve for. We did card sorting activities where we asked users to group pages and name each group. We came up with four fully-coded navigation prototypes and watched users do tasks on each one. Then, we compared the time it took users to complete tasks on each one, and we collected comments on preference on each as well. We updated each navigation prototype and ran the same activity again. Lastly (or so we thought), we ran internal focus groups with sales, support, and other key audiences to fine-tune the chosen navigation scheme so we could finalize it.

 

Ta-da! (or not?)

orion2.png

 

Our new visual design and navigation scheme (above) addressed many of the problems we set out to solve. The visual design frees up space and allows the design to breathe, making it less intimidating for new or evaluation users, while preserving good data density for existing users.

 

In all activities with users, the most common word we heard to describe the new visual design was “sleek.” We successfully reduced the space that the navigation bar took, made navigation task-based and not product-based (notice Alerts, Reports, and Settings are right there in the top level navigation!), and got rid of that annoying problem of having second level navigation targets disappear when users scrolled off the appropriate first-level navigation. Users can still find everything they used to find under product tabs by clicking the My Dashboards menu (see screenshot below).

orion3.png

Were we done?—As it turns out, no. Late feature walkthroughs of the whole enchilada (navigation and design) exposed a problem. We had focused navigation efforts on targeting the far more prevalent use case of users with 3 or fewer Orion-based products. But users who had more than 3 products felt overwhelmed by what one called “the wall of black” that they saw when mousing over My Dashboards.

 

The solution? –Give users a choice of menu style. For users with 4 or fewer tabs in their primary navigation in Orion Platform version 2015.1.2 or earlier, the My Dashboards navigation defaults to show all menu items expanded (like the image above). For users with more than 4 tabs, we default to show each menu item individually expanded when moused over (like the screenshot below). Users can switch to whatever version they prefer, by selecting Expand or Collapse in the blue link at the bottom of My Dashboards.

orion4.png

 

Moving forward

We’ve done lots of work with users to validate the changes we made, but we know there is always room for improvement.  And, we have big plans moving forward!  When you get a chance to experience the new changes in any of the Orion products in June 2016, feel free to let us know what you think.  And if you’d like to take part in feedback sessions where you too can help shape the future of Orion products, sign up below!

 

button.png?t=Sign+up+to+participate+in+UX+feedback+sessions&f=Calibri&ts=20&tc=fff&tshs=0&tshc=000&hp=20&vp=8&c=9&bgt=unicolored&bgc=3d85c6&bs=1&bc=fff

We have reached the Release Candidate (RC) status for Storage Resource Monitor (SRM) 6.3. RC is the last step before general availability and is a chance for existing customers to get the newest functionality before it is available to everyone else.

 

This RC contains the following enhancements:

  • Support for EMC XtremIO arrays
  • Support for Pure Storage arrays (Purity 4.6 or above required)
  • Refreshed user interface

 

New Metrics with All-Flash Arrays (AFA's)

The use of very fast flash memory instead of spinning disks is not the only benefit that comes with all-flash arrays. Many (but not all) models provide the user with interesting advanced features such as data de-duplication, compression, and thin provisioning. In order to monitor and report relevant information about the flash array, we extended and/or modified some of the reported statistics, alerts, etc.

The below information applies to both EMC XtremIO and Pure Storage arrays.

 

Capacity Reporting

XtremIO-Capacity.png

 

Let's take a look at storage array capacity summary resources. Because of the nature of disk space management, Raw Capacity and Total Used Capacity will always be the same for AFA's. They represent sum of physical sizes of all memory modules (e.g. SSD's).

 

Usable Capacity Summary is more interesting: Total Usable Capacity means sum of user data space on all memory modules (disks).

  • Data Reduction is the ratio of actually used volume capacity to used physical capacity in the cluster. In the picture below, the reduction is 3:1, which means that e.g. 300 GB of user data only occupies 100 GB physical capacity after deduplication. It's one of the most important parameters for capacity planning.
  • Total Reduction also takes compression and thin provisioning into account, but its interpretation is not so straightforward.

 

Further details are reported on storage pool level:

XtremIO-Pool.png

  • Total Usable Capacity -- Total user data space on all memory modules (SSDs)
  • Total Subscribed -- Capacity of all LUNs after the data reduction (SUM(Lun.CapacityTotal) / Data Reduction))
  • Provisioned -- Amount of user data space in use
  • Over-Subscribed -- Total Subscribed minus Total Usable Capacity

 

Monitor Your EMC XtremIO Arrays

XtremIO-Summary.png

 

The latencies with AFA's are much lower that for disk-based arrays.

XtremIO-Latencies.png

 

Monitor Your Pure Storage Arrays

Pure-Summary.png

 

Enjoy the New UI Design

If you kept reading up to this point, you have probably noticed that the user interface looks a little different than in the past. SRM is not the only module that benefits from this improvement shipped by the Orion Platfrom (Core). We wish you a pleasant experience.

 

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

 

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

UPDATE: NPM 12 has landed! 

 

It took longer than usual to build this release but I can honestly say this is our biggest release in yearsNPM 12 is almost ready.

 

NetPath

NetPath started as something we were fiddling with in the lab.  We came up with some really cool tech tidbits like:

  • Discovering the entire, complex path that connects users to services far, far away on the Internet.  Often dozens and sometimes hundreds of routers, links, and servers.
  • Quantifying the performance of every node and every link.
  • Correlating hop by hop performance on a node or link that is used for a portion of the traffic to the end-to-end performance experienced by users.
  • Determining what portion of latency is healthy and what portion is unhealthy.  That way, we can correctly mark a link between two routers in the same building as unhealthy when it takes 7ms and mark a transcontinental link that takes 30ms as healthy.
  • Reliably mimicking application traffic so we are allowed through firewalls and treated with QOS just like application traffic is.
Early NetPath.png

At the end of the day, tools should make problems easier to understand and solve.  As Network Engineers, we know there will never be a troubleshooting easy button, but our tools should always be aspiring to achieve that goal.Today, NetPath is our very best first attempt to reach toward that goal.  Today, NetPath looks like this:

NetPath Today.png

As NetPath strives to make network problems faster and easier to solve, we're super excited to see how it impacts your view of the network and how you solve network problems.

 

 

Network Insight for F5 BIG IP

Network Insight for F5 BIG IP provides deep, relationship aware monitoring of your F5 LTMs and GTMs (BIG-IP DNS). We get new metrics like concurrent connections by pool member and health monitor status. Most importantly, we are able to relate a single component to all of the dependent components. Or enumerate all of the components that must be working for a single service to work. www.solarwinds.com is pretty important to us. We want to know fast if there is a problem, and what it is!

 

Network Insight for F5 Load Balancers - Mini Stack.png

 

UI Refresh

The UI for NPM and all other Orion based products has been refreshed. This includes two key changes.

 

First, we've rebuilt the top menu bar to minimize the space it uses, make navigation easier, and surface important features that are shared across several products, for example alerts and reports.

Menu Bar - Highlight.png

 

Second, we've reskinned the rest of the pages. This means colors and styles have been changed, but the function of the page is the same. Your cheese hasn't moved, it's just a different color! (hopefully that's good)

New UI Skin.png

The goal here is a clean UI that makes it easy to focus on things that really need your attention. This overhaul also provides a path to our truly next generation UI, the first of which can be seen in NetPath.

 

Improved Cisco Switch Stack Monitoring

Cisco switch stacks have a layer of technology beyond a simple fixed switch that allows the stack to act as a single logical entity. This release makes it easy to understand, monitor, alert, and troubleshoot on that layer of technology. NPM can:

  • List the member switches, and alert you upon membership changes.
  • Identify the master and backup master switches.
  • Discover CPU, RAM, and hardware health for each individual member.
  • Visualize the stack ring and identify partial failures.

 

Switch Stack - Highlight.png

 

And More!

ServiceNow integration, stackable poller scalability improvements, installation optimization, install pre-flight checks, built in upgrade path advisor, AD integration for discovery, auto-import from discoveries, and so much more. We can't wait to show you the rest! In the mean time, what looks most interesting to you?

 

Check out all the goodies in the Release Notes and get upgradedAnd be sure to check out the video at the NPM 12 microsite!

I'm happy to share with you, that we reached GA milestone for Web Help Desk (WHD) 12.4. Focus of this release was mainly security and stability of the application. Namely

 

Security improvements

  • Improved security across the application for FIPS-mode SSL connections, namely
    • HTTP over SSL connections
    • Microsoft® Exchange, IMAP, POP3, and SMTP over SSL
    • WMI and other asset discovery connections over SSL
    • LDAP over SSL
    • SolarWinds® Network Performance Monitor (NPM), Systems and Applications Monitor (SAM), and Network Configuration Monitor (NCM) integration over SSL
  • User password hashes, integration password hashes, and other static data such as database custom fields and stored credentials
  • Detection and indication of system cryptography status
  • Automatic migration of all stored passwords for stronger and more secure cryptography

 

Support for FIPS 140-2 compatible cryptography

For environments where high security standards are required, you can install and configure FIPS 140-2 compatible cryptography to achieve your required level of regulation compliance. The user interface includes a password migration tool to help you migrate techs and clients to FIPS-secure passwords.

 

Additional improvements

  • Smarter backup rotations in the Virtual Appliance
  • Oracle® Java™ 8 support
  • Over 100 bug fixes that hugely improve the stability of the application

 

Now go and download web help desk from your customer portal or webhelpdesk.com.

 

PS. If you want to get excited about what is coming next (we are already busily working on new stuff) sign up for upcoming Beta here.

I am excited to announce that Database Performance analyzer 10.1 with support for Oracle 12c multitenant is now available in the customer portal and for free evaluation from the SolarWinds Website. What's so special about DPA 10.1?  Let's take a look!

 

New Features in 10.1

  • Support for Oracle 12c Multitenant
    • Monitor Oracle Pluggable Databses (PDBs)
    • Automatic Grouping of PDBs
    • Summary View, showing usage per PDB
    • Detect and alert when PDBs are added, remove or moved.
    • Mass registrion for PDBs, just like other
    • PDBs should up in the Orion integration
    • Using a PDB as an DPA repository
  • Improved Mass Registration
  • Offline License Deactivation
  • Lots of minor fixes - see the Release Notes.

 

What is a PDB?

What's a PDB you ask?   Officially, a Pluggable Database is "user-created set of schemas, objects, and related structures that appears logically to an application as a separate database". Basically, its everything that makes up the database.  Why is this important?  Previously, Oracle didn't have a good way to have multiple databases on one Oracle instance. You had a couple of options, table spaces and multiple instances per server, but they had their drawbacks.  Multitenant support is kind of like virtualization, where you can quickly "plug" in multiple databases into one Oracle "container" (aka CDB) and let them share resources and be managed as a whole, improving resource utilization and reducing management time.

 

Monitoring Oracle Multitenant and PDB changes

Adding individual PDBs now works just like Oracle single tenant or the classic Oracle databases.  Just choose Oracle, enter the needed information and go!  Same thing with mass registration.  DPA will only allow you to register PDBs, not CDBs (Container Databases).  If you try to add the CDB, DPA will politely ask you to register the PDBs instead.

 

Once you have registered two Oracle PDBs in the same CDB (Container Database), they will auto group in the home screen.  If you register just one PDB from a CDB, is will still show up as an individual database.

CDB View - Summarizing PDB Load

As a bonus, you can click on the CDB and get summary data across the PDB instances, allowing you to quickly see which PDB has more wait time, what kinds of waits they are experiencing,

 

Which PDB is waiting the most in the CDB?  Quickly see the balance between the PDBs.

If you are seeing unusual wait times at the PDB level, you can drill up and review the PDB.  Here we see a major increase "direct path read" and "read by other session".

Finally, if you want to look across all your PDBs and find the query with the most wait time, use the Top SQL tab.  You can click on the link to see the query.

 

PDB Annotations and Alerts

The data collected from a PDB is the same data we've always collected for Oracle.  However, we do annotate all PDB changes - when they are added, removed or moved.

For example, you will see annotations on the 30-day trend when

  • You plug in a PDB
  • You move a PDB from one CDB to another (see sample below)
  • You unplug a PDB

PDB Odds and Ends

  • If you have a dozens or hundreds of PDBs, mass registration allows you to quickly add them via a spreadsheet upload.
  • If you want to use a PDB as a repository for DPA, no problem - it works out of the box.
  • PDBs will show up in the Orion integration and support all current features, so they will map to your Orion nodes and application just like traditional databases.

 

 

But Wait, There's More

Every release has some minor features too, and 10.1 is no exception.

  • The mass registration file can now be uploaded directly to DPA via the GUI, rather than moving the file to the DPA server.  This simplifies mass registration and makes it a more secure process.
  • You can now deactivate licenses without involving support or customer service - even if you are offline.
  • Lots of minor fixes - see the Release Notes.

 

What's next?

Our dedicated team of database nerds and code jockies are hard at work on the next awesome DPA release - check out the What We Are Working On for DPA (Updated April 7, 2017) post.  If you don't see everything you've been wishing for there, you add it to our Database Performance Analyzer Feature Requests

 

If the above features get you excited, get on the list for the next beta by filling out this survey.

Not all virtual environments are alike, the default out-of-the-box configuration of the virtual appliance is not necessarily best suited to environments of all sizes, and those particularly large environments may want to consider adjusting some of those default settings for optimal performance.  To take advantage of the features that have been added to VMAN over the last several releases requires Orion integration, which makes correctly configuring VMAN extremely important for performance and scalability. The VMAN Sizing Guide was created to assist with the preliminary setup and configuration of both the Virtualization Manager appliance and the integrated Orion server. 

 

To access the guide click here.

 

The the following items are addressed based on the number of VMs to be polled.

 

·       Memory, CPU, and storage considerations for the VMAN appliance

·       Memory, CPU, and storage considerations for the Orion server when integration is enabled

·       Identify when federated pollers are needed

·       Identify when to deploy Orion APEs to distribute the workload when integration is enabled

·       Advanced fine tuning of the VMAN appliance for Optimal performance

·       Necessary hotfix install version to solve integration issues

·       Fixes for database size issues

 

 

The guide is organized into small, medium, and large deployment recommendations to help you determine the starting configuration size for your VMAN and Orion deployment. Not all possible scenarios are included in this document, so consider the recommendations in this document as guidelines.  This is not an exhaustive list of all the fine tuning and performance tweaks that can be made, if you are still having performance issues than please reach out to your sales engineer or support contact.  They should be able to walk you through some advance tuning recommendations that would be specific to your virtual environment. 

 

Click the following  button for the VMAN Sizing Guide.

VMAN Sizing Guide.png

Recently, Cisco® added a collection of Smart Services reports to Smart Net Total Care™.  The new Smart Net Total Care reports rely on current information about your network devices and how they are configured and used.  To get these reports, you must send information about your network to Cisco. One way to do this is to use SolarWinds® Network Configuration Manager (NCM). NCM utilizes a variety of network discovery methods to identify the network devices it manages. Therefore, NCM knows a great deal about your network devices and how they are configured and used. Using a special connector, NCM is able to send this information to Cisco.

 

What follows is a quick overview of the reports included with a Smart Net Total Care subscription that are now available using NCM and the NCM Cisco connector.  

Service Coverage

The service coverage reports, also known as Know the Network (KTN), show devices and components not covered under a valid service contract. If service coverage exists, the report includes details about the service agreement, including coverage start and end times. Use this report to identify hardware and software that may not be covered under a service agreement, and identify devices that are covered but are no longer in service.

 

EoxHW

The Hardware EoX report shows you which devices you have in your network that are approaching critical lifecycle milestones. In addition to providing important dates associated with End-of-Life (EoL), this report provides recommendations for hardware you might consider migrating to. It also provides links to published bulletins that are full of information about planning budgets, preparing for eventual replacement, and ways to avoid problems when devices require service.

 

EoxSW

The Software EoX report is similar to the EoxHW report, except that it shows the software running on your devices that are approaching critical lifecycle milestones. This report provides important EoL dates associated with iOS® versions, recommends which iOS versions to upgrade to, and includes links to published bulletins. This information can help you identify which devices require iOS updates.

 

PSIRT

The PSIRT report identifies security vulnerabilities associated with devices on your network as determined by the Cisco Product Security and Incident Response Team. Use this report to identify and investigate potential security problems.

 

Field Notice

The Field Notice report summarizes all product defects found in devices on your network. It specifies affected devices and provides a URL where you can access a published Field Notice advisory. The advisory provides details on how a product can be replaced or fixed with an upgrade. Use this report to identify hardware and software that may be defective, and receive instructions on how to remedy any defects.

 

IPv6 Profile

The IPv6 Profile report evaluates your network and tells you what actions you need to take to support IPv6-based network services. Use this report to see which devices are capable of supporting IPv6, which devices are capable of supporting IPv6 with recommended hardware and software upgrades, and which devices are not capable of supporting IPv6.

 

Medianet Profile

The Medianet™ pre-deploy assessment report helps you determine which network devices are capable of supporting multimedia services. Use this report to see which devices are capable of supporting multimedia, which devices are capable of supporting multimedia with recommended hardware and software upgrades, and which devices are not capable of supporting multimedia.

 

To use the connector, you must install the most current version of NCM (v7.4).  Then you can access these reports in two ways. First, the NCM connector will download a CSV version of these reports locally for you to use. Second, you can view these reports in your Cisco Smart Net Total care portal.

 

To download or to learn more about NCM and Cisco connector, visit this Web page. If you already own NCM, you can download the free connector from your customer portal.

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