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GNS3 to SolarWinds NPM Integration Guide

With a relatively recent update – GNS3’s support of virtual PC’s (and servers) via Oracle’s open-source VirtualBox tool –a whole new class of IT pro has a reason to be really excited: Monitoring engineers who want to test out new software and/or versions can now set up an entire “fake” network and then test out monitoring against that network, which could include servers, routers, switches, and more.

The challenge was that monitoring engineers often were unfamiliar with setting up networks (in GNS3 or otherwise); and GNS3 users were unfamiliar with the conventions of monitoring solutions like SolarWinds NPM.

This document is going to provide step-by-step, command-by-command, show-me-with-pictures instructions for installing GNS3, setting up a network, installing NPM, and adding the GNS3 network devices into NPM for monitoring. We are assuming (almost) nothing about what the reader knows and providing detailed instructions for all of it.


Hey everyone, long time no update! I wanted to let you know that a new version of this guide, which takes advantage of cloud (public or private) technology and all the newest GNS3 goodness, can be found here:

  • Excellent guide. I like when authors don't assume you know everything. Would rather have a clear step-by-step and the ability to by-pass steps I know then be left wondering "how do I do that?"  Thank you!

  • ENTIRELY our pleasure. Look for more of these in 2016!

  • Great stuff, just needs to be combined with a lab license for Solarwinds products () as otherwise you'll be rebuilding your NPM every 30 days......

  • This walk-through is awesome! I have read through a lot of it. Can not wait till I get some time to actually do this. That time can not come soon enough! Great read, ">adatole

  • I wish I could like this about 8 times. I'd love to have a super-limited "free" license of at least like NPM and SAM (or preferably the whole suite) that never expired but you could at least use it to test against less-important hardware and such. They've had a feature request out there forever but it doesn't seem to get SW's attention much.

  • I know this is late, but I have a question about this integration.  Does NPM and GNS3 have to be installed on the same server, or is it possible to integrate NPM and GNS3 while they are on different servers within the same network environment?  I ask because I have a current installation of NPM that we are using and a team has an interest in integrating GNS3 but I do not want to install GNS3 on the same server.

    Thanks in advance for your answers.

  • They have to be installed on the same system. I'm glad you are enjoying playing around with this feature set!

  • I have virtual box up and running with Server 2012 R2 running and GNS3 up with the routers and switch, I keep running into the issue of the switch not being able to communicate with the server. emoticons_sad.png  

  • ..I want to find the emoticon for pushing up your glasses and saying "technically.."emoticons_wink.png

    The difficulty is routing the GNS3 lab environment between the systems without disrupting the network between.

    There are some truly amazing things that can be done with virtual environments, especially when the lines between virtual and production are blurred a bit.

    Although, if I was asked, my answer would be to avoid suggesting any changes that could negatively impact a customer/client, like routing a lab/test environment across a production network.( emoticons_devil.png-advocate)


    I suggest you approach your local network engineering/firewalll team with this question and pose it as a "virtual lab network" that exists on one server; and that you want your solarwinds installation to be able to access the network defined without disrupting your production network.  You will only need certain ports opened depending on how many services outside the lab environment you want access to.

    I should make the disclaimer that step 10 may install software on your GNS3 installation that will not be on your secondary solarwinds location.

  • a hybrid dev/lab environment that includes physical and virtual devices requires ease of routing between these environments and with v2s new collaboration features, I feel it lends itself to this architecture.

    Documented instructions for connecting GNS3 to external environments seem to all leverage NAT but I'm hopeful a routed connection can be established using uBridge.