Server & Application Monitor (SAM) 2020.2 is Now Generally Available

Server & Application Monitor (SAM) 2020.2 is now available and can be downloaded from your Customer Portal and solarwinds.com. In prior releases, SAM 2019.4.x brought hardware health for Nutanix clusters, and an initial version of the API poller. Version 2020.2 is the next release following SAM 2019.4.1 and is compatible with Orion Platform 2020.2.

What's New in SAM 2020.2

SAM 2020.2 release notes & system requirements 

Orion Platform 2020.2 release notes & system requirements 

API Poller

In SAM 2019.4, API pollers were accessible from each node details page, from the management widget. 

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In SAM 2020.2, the entry point for API pollers has not changed, but there are more exciting options. 

Out-of-the-box API Poller templates

From the node management widget you have the ability to 'assign' an out-of-the-box API Poller template.

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Clicking 'Assign' will allow you to access 23 new templates (including updated versions of our Microsoft Azure Application Monitor Templates). See our Application Poller Template guide for a deep dive into the metrics available with these templates. The existing classic Azure application monitor templates are still supported, but consider these new Azure API poller templates an API friendly supplement that handles your credentials more securely, with an easier path to update for the metrics that you'd like to see. 

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API Poller improvements

2020.2 API poller improvements include new authentication support for OAuth 2.0, API key, and Bearer Token. Orion proxy setting support, skipping the ssl certification verification, multiple requests per API poller and node macro support are also welcome additions for this release. 

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With the ability to utilize OAuth 2.0 combined with the out-of-the-box Azure templates, you now have several items in this release that will aid in monitoring the full Azure stack.   Configure your custom API poller to monitor against any of the Azure endpoints with an OAuth 2.0 credential by following these steps.  

1. Create a API poller from scratch or use one of the existing Azure out-of-the-box API poller templates.

2. Click 'Configure' in the upper right hand corner of the screen

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3. Select OAuth 2.0 Authorization

4. Click 'New credential'

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Similarly, if you wanted to monitor against the rich Microsoft REST ecosystem (e.g. to extend your O365 monitoring), simply configure your API poller to monitor Microsoft Graph endpoints, using the relevant access token URL and scope. 

The out-of-the-box SolarWinds AppOptics Monitored Services API poller template is a great example of how to use the node macros support for the 2020.2 API poller and also showcases how you would configure multiple requests per API poller. 

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Each of the requests in this API poller follow a similar format to read data from the AppOptics API.  

https://api.appoptics.com/v1/measurements/trace.service.response_time?resolution=120&duration=200&tags%5Bservice%5D=${API_AppOpticsServiceName}

If you simply configured your Basic Authentication for the template, you would not see data until you configured the macro in the request url. In this example, that macro is: ${API_AppOpticsServiceName} in others like the VMware vCenter Inventory template the macro would be ${IPAddress}. Macros such as ${IPAddress} are standard for the node, but where would you expect to set up something like ${API_AppOpticsServiceName} or your own custom macro? The answer is the custom property editor. 

Before I jump over to the custom property editor, let me take a look at the monitored services that AppOptics is configured to monitor. 

On the home page, there's a quick list of monitored services. A likely candidate for me to pull into SAM for additional monitoring, alerting and visualization would be the "web-tier" service. 

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Now that I've identified the service, let's jump over to Settings -> All Settings -> Manage Custom Properties

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Ensure that you're adding a custom property based on selected object type Node

 

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Ensure that you're configured for the right authentication, and that's it! your AppOptics monitored service data is now integrated into SAM and available for alerting and for exciting visualizations of that data. Without changing the template, and how it's constructed, you can specify different web services for different nodes using the same API poller template. 

Visualize your API polled results in the AppStack, Orion Maps and the new Dashboard Framework. 

Polling is one thing, but you'll also have access to visualize your new API polled applications and infrastructure in the new dashboard framework, AppStack and of course in the stunning release of Orion Maps. 

Let's take a look first at the classic AppStackTm visualization and see what you can anticipate. 

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For those of you who aren't familiar with AppStack, take a look at this product blog post  Revisiting AppStack.  

Once you click on Environment and scroll down, you can see a new category of API Pollers appears. 

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This will give you a quick visualization of status across your configured API pollers, and will also allow you to spotlight issues across the application stack.  

In Orion Maps, since 2019.4, API pollers have been an entity that you can visualize in relationship to your infrastructure. However, with the new Orion maps, this functionality is even more valuable with the addition of static backgrounds and other features. I highly recommend reading through the Orion Platform 2020.2 Orion Maps deep dive to see the full scope of what's available.

As an example, here we are monitoring Office 365 using a combination of our classic Office 365 Application Monitor templates, paired with the API poller template for Microsoft Azure Active Directory, and of course covering the on-premises Active Directory with AppInsight for Active Directory. Additionally, we're also using a community sourced Azure AD Connect Monitor template created by one of our amazing THWACK MVPs to have additional coverage on the AD connect sync status from the viewpoint of the domain controller.  Bringing in NetPathTm for network path analysis, transaction checks for Office 365 logins, monitoring of the virtual infrastructure and underlying storage utilizes the power of the full stack visibility that SolarWinds provides. The full picture of the Office 365 service and all factors that feed into the availability of that service is fully on display using one of our very best visualization tools on the Orion platform. 

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Lastly, a new exciting option for visualizing your API poller is available in the new Orion Dashboards. 

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Each of these widgets are highly configurable and utilizes the power of our SWQL to allow you to put anything you want into the dashboard of your dreams.
 

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The easiest way to see your API polled data is by saving a PerfStackTm project, because you can utilize that for the time series widget.   

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Coming back to the time series widget you can edit the model to select that saved PerfStack project that contains your API polled data. 

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You now have API polled data on our new dashboard framework. 

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On the other widgets, such as the table widget, these are fueled by SWQL queries, which of course can be used to bring in API polled data. 

 

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In the release candidate, customers were diving into the new capabilities of the API poller and putting these visualizations to the test. One fantastic example can be found with this thread as a customer integrated their SolarWinds Pingdom data into the new dashboard as a widget: How to make a Pingdom widget in the new Orion Modern Dashboards. If you would like to follow in his footsteps, I highly recommend utilizing the Pingdom API poller template that we've provided for transaction check monitoring to get you started. 

There is so much to explore in the new dashboard framework, so I highly recommend taking a look at the available deep dives on the topic to really get a sense of the scope of improvement available to you. 

Increased Scale

I'm excited to announce that for both component and node-based licensed customers, the component limit for your SAM installation is now supported for 550,000 components. 

For node-based licensed customers utilizing the included additional polling engines, those polling engine limits have been improved to support 40,000 components. 

But to really achieve the best scale in monitoring your environment, we have some best practices for you to eke out every last drop of value. 

WinRM monitoring has long been touted as the best way to be doing your WMI monitoring, and our internal tests held true to those claims. We used SAM to monitor a SAM installation and confirmed that utilizing WinRM stabilized usage of compute and memory across the board for predictable monitoring overhead. For those of you who aren't familiar, we've had blog posts as far back as 2015 that are just as relevant to best practices WMI monitoring today. See: What is WinRM & How do you configure it? 

We already require WinRM to be configured for our most powerful templates such as AppInsight for IIS, but we needed to ensure that all of our application templates had consistent support for WinRM. I'm happy to say that in 2020.2 this requested work has been fulfilled. 

While the preferred option by many customers to configure WinRM with group policy, we do provide a free tool to help enable a server. The Remote Execution Enabler for PowerShell is available to download here and also in your customer portal

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Once your target server is configured for WinRM, you can then ensure that all application templates applied to that monitored node are using WinRM as the preferred transport method. As this might be a process that you haven't rolled out immediately across all nodes, we've taken that into account by ensuring there's a fallback mechanism to preserve monitoring continuity. If using the WinRM transport for WMI queries fails, the backup will utilize DCOM/RPC calls. Feel free to enable your nodes for WinRM while editing a nodes properties, and keep an eye out for any triggered alerts that will warn you if this fallback is occurring for any nodes. 

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Additionally our component monitors have been updated for configuration to use WinRM, so you can set this up for specific templates. 

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In a rush? Set up your SAM installation globally to use WinRM for all nodes in the Advanced Configuration settings page.  

 

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By utilizing these improvements paired with our updated scale guidelines, we're happy to say you're able to monitor more of your critical infrastructure than ever. 

Application Monitor Template Updates

With this release we have additional updates to our existing Application Monitor templates. 

Click to the Manage Application Monitor Template page to see the 'New in 2020.2' additions. The SAM release notes walks through these templates in detail, as well as some updates to our JMX monitoring to help support those that were needing support for the latest WildFly and JBoss versions. 

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Updated templates are also being uploaded to THWACK. Keep an eye out for ongoing updates like: 

https://thwack.solarwinds.com/t5/SAM-Documents/Orion-Server-2020-2-templates/ta-p/594548

Nutanix Ready Certified

In SAM 2019.4, we provided Nutanix Hardware Health along with the Virtualization Manager (VMAN) technical preview of basic Nutanix monitoring. Since that time, VMAN's official Nutanix monitoring is generally available in 2020.2 and SAM has been Nutanix Ready Certified. This badge indicates that SAM can run on the Nutanix AHV hypervisor, and also utilizes the Nutanix REST APIs to work with AHV. This is functionality is validated for how we monitor Nutanix hardware health, and also through our ability to monitor Nutanix through our Application Monitor templates, and through the improvements in the API poller. 

 

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Upgrade Now for Your Fastest Upgrade Yet

Are you ready to upgrade? 

Do you have a gigantic globally distributed environment? 

Are you stuck on the last version of SAM that supported Windows 2012 R2 & SQL 2012? 

I have wonderful news for you. This is going to be your best upgrade to date. 

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Click into My Orion Deployment and start your upgrade from the Updates & Evaluations tab. 

 

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This release allows those customers who have had globally distributed environments to pre-stage their upgrades. By clicking the 'Pre-Stage Files' button, you'll be able to prepare for that change window in advance. Additionally, there are speed improvements overall in the upgrade process. See the Orion platform deep dive for more details on the many improvements that went into the upgrade process for this release. 

Those of you who are still on the 2012 compatible releases? The even better news for you is that the Orion 2020.2 release of all products will support your upgrade without you needing to update your underlying infrastructure. That's right, we support Windows 2012 R2 and SQL 2012, so don't hesitate and upgrade now. 

Amazon Marketplace

If you're not convinced that you want to upgrade and your company is on a path to cloud, this bit of news is for you. 

SAM 2020.2 and other products are now in the Amazon Marketplace. Similar to our Azure Marketplace offering, with a few clicks you'll have a SAM 2020.2 instance running in no time flat. 

 

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What's Next

Looking for what we'll be working on next? Take a look at our What We're Working On For SAM roadmap. Don't see something you really need? Advocate for the features you want in SAM Feature Requests

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