In Part I and Part II of this blog series, we looked at a few examples of how functionalities in the Orion Platform collaborate and complement each other to help solve problems in a better-together kind of way, adding layers of insight to help you solve problems quicker. So far, we focused on the network paths, their health and performance, traffic on them, the devices and users of those paths, configuration issues on servers and networks, and—most importantly—how a change in one of these impacts the other and can save time by allowing prior work to be repurposed, as in example 6
Let’s shift gears now and move toward the top of the infrastructure stack, where it’s all happening at the virtualization layer. Whether we're talking VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, or something else, it doesn't really matter—the same challenges apply. Naturally, as we move up the stack, things become more visible to the end users, as the applications are actually running here. The higher we go, the more potential layers/variables we have to blame underneath. Call it finger-pointing, the blame game, whatever—it increases mean time to resolution (MTTR), doesn't help anyone, and happens when there’s blockers and friction between the different pieces of the stack and between the teams or individuals responsible for the different pieces. See how one of our customers in the hospital and healthcare sector who’s a SolarWinds® Virtualization Manager (VMAN) customer articulated it:
“Building a consolidated view of the infrastructure that supports your virtualized environment is hard. App owners blame the OS. The OS admins blame the DBAs. The DBAs always blame storage. Everyone blames the network team. And, when all else fails, they blame virtualization. VMAN stitches together a consolidated view of your environment and lets you do it without investing in additional tools from VMware. Using the SolarWinds Orion® Platform authentication, you can even give non-admin users views and access to your environment through a single interface.”
What I love about this customer’s experience with VMAN is how it helps eradicate the finger-pointing blame game and break down the silos to get to the root cause quicker. A big part of doing this, as they go on to say, is AppStack:
“VMAN and AppStack is a match made in heaven… Adding other modules from the SolarWinds Orion Platform is part of the secret sauce that makes the Orion Platform environment work so well.”
This silo-busting capability helps you make the most of your server virtualization monitoring software, as it provides a visual representation of your entire environment in the form of a custom map, letting you quickly scan for any issues with warning or critical statuses on your VMs. From there, you can use the single-click drill-down feature to dive into node details. Utilizing these tools through VMAN not only increases your visibility but results in a more comprehensive server virtualization management software solution.
9. How can I quickly narrow down the root cause of server or application slowdowns to avoid full-blown outages?
Continuing the theme of the “voice of the customer,” Let’s look at one C-level executive’s review discussing how avoiding costly downtime was top of mind:
“Together, SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM), SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM), and SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer (DPA) make troubleshooting issues simple and straightforward. By using AppStack and PerfStack, you can watch the interactions between the various application and network systems to correlate issues and narrow down the culprit, saving a tremendous amount of troubleshooting time. This allows the systems to be fixed more quickly, enabling your users to continue their functions with minor inconveniences versus full-blown outages.”
What is key here is the ability for disparate teams or specialists to easily share and collaborate
around cross-stack time series performance data with technology such as PerfStack to allow them to rule out server resources—or whatever—as the culprit, this minimizing downtime or severe loss of productivity. I should also mention DPA doesn’t run directly on the SolarWinds Orion Platform at this time, but nonetheless, it benefits from an integration.
In this series, we've touched on multiple aspects of the IT stack—virtualization, server resources, the network, and even the database got a mention. All of this gear across the IT stack is constantly spitting out logs, contributing to the stack—excuse the pun—of logs you need to sift through to find answers. SolarWinds Log Analyzer is designed to give you the capability to quickly visualize log volume, search results, and refine time frames via an interactive chart. Since our log management software is integrated into the Orion Platform, you can seamlessly integrate the log data you’ve monitored and collected with Log Analyzer into the Orion Platform console so you can view it alongside network and systems performance metrics. Unifying your log monitoring data and infrastructure performance can help give you a clearer view of your network’s performance.
We've covered a lot of ground here, but we’ve only barely scratched the surface with the intention of focusing on how these SolarWinds Orion Platform tools interact for maximum effect. You may notice the title has changed from Orion Platform to SolarWinds Platform in Part III. Is this just a renaming of the Orion Platform? The short answer is no—rather, it's an evolution of the Orion Platform and the modules running on it to a new platform we’re calling simply the SolarWinds Platform. This platform, which is coming in summer 2022, will have many new important benefits and capabilities for the next phase of the SolarWinds journey, including IT observability. To get a great breakdown of this evolution and the differences you need to know between the SolarWinds Orion Platform and the SolarWinds Platform, read this blog from SolarWinds product manager Tony Johnson.
If you find yourself saying, “I want all the cross-stack integration and collaboration goodness without having to assemble the solution myself ,” fear not— SolarWinds Hybrid Cloud Observability (HCO) will give you all this and more. You can also read this blog post from SolarWinds Head Geek Thomas LaRock (sqlrockstar) about our journey to providing observability.
Whether you prefer à la carte modules or the all-in observability route, we’d love to hear your examples of how you use the platform capabilities together, as we always learn from each other and get inspired by our customers. Of course, we’d also love to hear any suggestions of ideas you may have for interactions and integrations you’d like to see going forward.