HIDDEN GEMS IN ORION NETWORK ATLAS

Orion Network Atlas, is a great utility for creating custom network diagrams. The tool is considered “Semi-Automated” Network Mapping Software. It uses the discovered network data in Orion and allows users to design physical and logical topology diagrams by dragging and dropping of nodes in to the design canvas. It automatically builds connections between nodes, using the Connect Now functionality and has the ability to bring up the designed map onto the Orion Web Console.


While Orion Network Atlas has been around for some years now, there are some areas in the product which you may not know existed. This blog aims to expose those features, and help you in creating informative network diagrams and at the same time help you with better presentation.

VARIABLES OBJECT DISPLAY - LABELS

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As an Orion Admin, you may want to display added information (like Device type or IP Address) of your important nodes being represented on your Orion Web Console. This helps in faster troubleshooting of an issue, if something goes wrong. With Orion Network Atlas you have the ability to add variables as labels on to your Atlas Maps. These variables parse real values automatically once displayed on your Orion Console.

Custom Properties values can also be represented on the map.

In the side example, I displayed Node name, Machine Type, IP Address for all my objects and for my Dell SonicWall firewalls displayed my Custom Property – Asset ID on the Orion Console. Below, how I achieved it

  • I drag and drop the nodes (interesting) on to the drawing canvas, changed my default Label to the following variables
  • ${caption} – Returns the node name
  • ${machinetype} – Returns the node manufacturer
  • ${ip_address} – Returns the IP Address of the node
  • Asset ID ${Assettag} – This is a custom property field, created in Orion and returns the entered data on the console.                                                                                                                  

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TIP: The best way of replicating the same variables across other node objects, is by copying the assigned variables from one node object label and pasting it to the others. Another way, for applying variables to other nodes is by pasting the copied variables to other label objects Label Properties page (Right-Click – Properties).





UnDP STATISTICS VALUES


Ever wondered how to display UnDP statistics value on your Orion Map console? For example, in the past you may have had performance issues with a particular device and now you want to actively monitor the temperature of this router on your Orion map console.

The first step to achieve this is by defining and creating an UnDP for monitoring temperature for the device. To know how to create a custom UnDP, please follow this video

Once you have created your UnDP (in my case, ciscoEnvMonTemperatureStatusValueFahrenheit), you will see it automatically visible under Custom Node Pollers section of your Node(s). Simply drag this UnDP variable on to your map and change the label to the following macro ${CurrentValue}. The result is illustrated in the screenshot below


P.S: This capability was introduced in NPM version 10.6.


   UnDP3.JPG       UnDP5.JPG

VARIABLES OBJECT DISPLAY - TOOL TIP


For a large map, displaying additional information using labels may not be ideal and could make your maps looks clumsy. For this reason, you may want to display additional information for your map objects as Tool tip. To achieve this, first

  • Log into your Orion Console
  • On your Map resource select "Edit".
  • On the  right side of the page click on "Customize Map Tool tip"
  • Enter appropriate variables (Custom Properties & UnDP variables can also be added) into the laid empty boxes
  • Click submit and hover over your nodes on the map.


TIP: In order to view the available variables you can use in Orion, Check out the Appendix A section of  SolarWinds Orion Network Atlas Admin Guide (Page 49 onwards)



BACKGROUND OVERLAY


Many users bring in network diagrams designed in Microsoft Visio as background images in Orion Network Atlas. The most common way to bring background images into Atlas is by selecting the Home tab in the Toolbar and using the Background Image button.


Atlas Toolbar.JPG

Orion Atlas has another trick in its sleeves to bring in background images. Simply perform a Print Screen of your required image and paste it into your Atlas design canvas. With this flexibility you can bring images on the fly without having to save, search and upload images. Another use-case would be if there is a need to bring in specific vendor device graphics into your design and assigning the imported graphics to your particular Orion Node object. Below steps will help guide you to accomplish this task

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  • Copy the desired graphics to the Clipboard
  • Right-click on your Atlas design canvas and select the paste option
  • Choose "Paste the image from the Clipboard as a new object"
  • Give this new object a unique name
  • Right-Click this new object and select Properties option
  • Under the Status tab, drag and drop your desired Orion node object (in this case, I drag Orion node 172.25.113.250 and dropped it into assignment field)
  • You now have Orion node 172.25.113.250, assigned to the imported object.



HP1.JPGHP2.JPG


QUICK ACCESS TOOLBAR (QAT)

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Brandon Shopp, has written a great blog on this subject. You can find how to use this tool bar to your advantage here


MAP RESTRICTIONS


As an Orion Admin there might be a need, not to visibly display map objects to all users in your organization. For Security reasons, you may want to restrict the display of objects in your DMZ to your NOC users.To enable and set up these restrictions, follow the below laid out steps

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  • Log into your Orion Console as Admin.
  • Go into the Orion Website Administration page (Top right corner and click on Settings)
  • Click on Manage Accounts under User Accounts resource.
  • Select the User account you want to add map restrictions to
  • Find "Add Limitation" Button and click on it
  • Select the appropriate Limitation type from the available list ( in my case, I choose the Radio button "Group of Nodes")
  • Select the list of nodes you want to limit viewing and hit on submit
  • Next, Launch and Log into Orion Network Atlas
  • Bring up the saved map or the map being designed and right-click the map and select Map Properties
  • Select the radio button "Remove nodes that users do not have permission to View"

I hope you have learned some powerful features Orion Network Atlas brings and that you will try out these functions to help you in creating better network diagrams which suits your environment. We are actively working on improving our software, this is evident with the improvements we are bringing into Network Atlas with NPM 10.7. In case you missed what's coming in with NPM 10.7, check out Rob Hock's blog post

Survey: To bring further improvements into the product, we need to understand how you use Orion Network Atlas in your organization and what are the features you hope to see in future releases. For this reason, we would appreciate your time in taking the survey (Button below) and making a difference.

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Anonymous
  • this has to be most ignored product ever, surverys, thwack posts have lead to nothing... its the b!@#tard child of the suite of the products that we have here emoticons_sad.png

    we have such a great of set maps and would like to delegate the rights to respective people to update (without having node admin). however all we get its a feature request and it goes into the Ether. this has been requested since 2009 on thwack posts, yet nothing.

  • In the early 2000's I had an all-Nortel network, and their Enterprise Switch Manager automatically mapped and displayed every Nortel product on the network with beautiful maps.

    Better still, the product was bundled with other functionality that enabled you to find a VLAN and automatically have every switch and port that VLAN was on highlighted in a different color.  There were Multi-Link Trunk Manager tools, Security compliance tools, etc.  And it all tied in with Nortel's excellent Device Manager GUI, which was robust, fast, intuitive, and fully functioned.

    I'd hoped Cisco would buy these best of breed tools from Nortel and incorporate them into their own internal systems.  Another dream in the dust . . .

    These were good products; I miss them.  And SW has no replacement/competitive applications for them.

  • Dear Scott Dawson,

    I agree with you. I have been making use of logical and physical network mapping software starting with ManageWise NetExplorer in the 1990's.  (Google image search ManageWise NetExplorer Autodiscovery.)    https://goo.gl/c9Q06b​  I own licenses for several SolarWinds products and I have several high level Atlas maps integrated within Orion.  I also have licenses from other vendors which bundle other similar mapping technologies.   The one area where they all fall down is in the amount of labor it takes to keep them updated.    While spending the money on the software is fine (hint to SolarWinds), maintaining the network maps is never the "hot" project.   Enough time is never allocated to maintaining these maps.  As our network rapidly changes, the maps become outdated.

    As one begins to investigate means to enhance automation of location discovery, one inevitably looks at low cost fixed asset GPS tracking.   The problem with this is that GPS signal accuracy drops significantly in most buildings.  If one has ever used Find my Friend, one knows how inaccurate the location can be when someone is in a building.   While GPS repeaters exist, that is a dead end.  In the USA a FCC experimental license is required.  Even with such a device, the triangulation itself doesn't really work.    Ideally, I would be able to affix low cost and secure asset tracking device to a physical piece of inventory such as a switch, router, printer or PC and then I tie that tracker to a device in my database.   The physical location automatically populate in my maps for me; or, in the very least, discovery could give a very close approximate of the location as well as notify me when it thinks the location has changed.      FWIW, I do have thousands of asset trackers in place at this very moment.  Most of these are running Windows embedded and have cellular, GPS, and WIFI.  

    I get my hopes up when I see product offerings such as some of the newer cloud based trackers.   I have yet to find anything which does what I'd like. 

  • adding vendor images - superb, I am so gonna work out that feature

  • Old post appreciated, but lack of support and development render's Network Atlas of very limited value.