What Your Mother Never Told You About Mobile IT Administration

Wow, 2013 is flying by. It's already March, which means that SxSW is in full swing here in Austin, TX. The SxSW Interactive conference has grown into quite the major tech event and you can't swing a dead cat around here without hitting a budding entrepreneur trying to get you to download their super-cool new consumer mobile app in order to get into their party with free beer, food, and prizes (tough life, I know). Well, who says that the consumer market gets to have all the fun?!? SolarWinds has one of the best enterprise mobile apps around in Mobile Admin and I'm here to give you the low-down on some nifty features that you might not know about otherwise. (Sorry, no free beer in this article.)

Free Mobile Monitor for NPM or SAM

While I did just say no free beer, that doesn't mean that I would leave you without something fantastic to brag about to your friends. Just over a month ago, we launched Free Mobile Monitor for NPM or SAM which is a slimmed down version of Mobile Admin just for our SolarWinds NPM and SAM customers. The NPM integration and SAM integration with Mobile Admin have been covered in previous Product Blogs, so I won't go into detail here. However, from Mobile Admin, for both NPM and SAM, you can see Top 10 lists, receive and acknowledge alerts, manage and unmanage nodes, and more. This free product has been downloaded thousands of times already and is available in the Customer Portal, so get in on the action! Did I mention it's Free?!?

Mobile Admin Deployment and You

Mobile Admin has a Mobile Client, which you install on your smartphone or tablet, and a Mobile Admin Server, setup behind your firewall or in your network's DMZ so it has access your back-end IT infrastructure. To illustrate the point, here is a basic diagram of how a standard Mobile Admin deployment looks (Note: your deployment may differ, for example, a BlackBerry Enterprise Server is not required):


With this deployment architecture, Mobile Admin allows you to carry your IT infrastructure with you in your pocket, allowing you to resolve problems on-the-go, wherever you may be. Whether you have to reset an Active Directory password for a locked out VP at 3AM or SSH into your Cisco router to troubleshoot from the road (as a passenger!) or much more, Mobile Admin can help. But getting it setup for you and your team is the first step.

Users, Hosts, and Global Folders - Oh My!

Say your the lucky devil who gets to setup and deploy Mobile Admin for the rest of your on-call rotation team. We've given you some tools to help make this easy to setup and deploy as possible. First, you have to know about the three main concepts in Mobile Admin.

  1. Users - The folks on your team. The guys doing the dirty work. The heros of the day, resetting passwords from the mobile phones without batting an eye (or leaving the dinner table).
  2. Hosts - Your servers, routers, switches. Things with an IP address and a power cable.
  3. Global Folders - You guessed it - Folders. But important for helping you to manage items #1 and #2.

Global Folders are very useful as you add users and servers to Mobile Admin. In your IT environment, you have tens, hundreds, or thousands of servers and other nodes in your environment you'd like to manage. Without some way to sort those, a flat list could get unwieldy pretty quickly. Folders not only let you sort your servers and nodes (e.g. Exchange Servers, Oracle DB Servers), but it also lets you assign users to these folders so that other users of Mobile Admin only have access to what they need or are authorized for.

Global Folders can be accessed from the Mobile Admin Configuration page. Once on the Configuration page, just select Global Folders, which will then display a list of all Global Folders you have currently defined on the Mobile Admin Server. As you can see in the screenshot below, I only have one folder, MyGlobalFolder, defined. I can add another folder by clicking on Add Folder, inputting a new folder name and voila!

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Now that my new Global Folder is created, it's simple to add hosts to the folder. Just click "Add Servers," multi-select which servers you'd like to add and your done.

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Now that I have my servers added to my Global Folder, I can select which users I want to have access to that Folder by clicking "Users" (which shows me there are currently no users assigned to this folder) and then "Add User." Select your users, like you did servers above and your done!

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Mobile Admin Database Administration....with cheat codes

"Well, Balki, that's all well and good, but my environment has hundreds of nodes and tens of users, and there is no way I'm walking through that process hundreds of times" I can hear you say. Yep. Totally agree. If you've read this far, congratulations, you're about to get the prize. The Mobile Admin Dev team is all over it and Mobile Admin currently ships with a data import tool for exactly this process. What, you haven't seen it? Well, that's because it's buried in one of your install folders. <Program Files>\SolarWinds\Mobile Admin\bin\MAdbLoad to be exact. With this script you can automate all of the above steps en masse. How does it work, you say? Glad you asked:

Usage: MAdbLoad.exe [-clear] [-servers file] [-si n] [-sharedFolder name] [-users file] [-ui n] [-ubi n] [-uei n] [-udomain domain]

where file is the name of a comma separated file. Each line of the file represents a row of data for one server or user. Each row of data contains one or more comma separated fields, with the server or user name appearing in the same field on each row. If a value contains commas then it must be quoted. The command line specifies which field to get the server or user name from.

Explanation of options:

-clear Clears the current list of servers in mobile admin.  With no -clear specified, then servers are appended.

-servers Specifies a file of server names that will be loaded. If the servers file is a - character then standard input is read. The same CSV rules apply to standard input supplied data. Server names are stripped of all preceding and trailing white space.

-si Specifies the field number of the server name in the csv file with the first field being field 1. Defaults to 1.

-sharedFolder Specifies a name of a shared folder that the servers will assigned to.

    1. If the shared folder does not exist then it is created. Use double quotes if the shared folder name contains a space.

-users Specifies a file of users account names that will be either assigned to the shared folder if a share folder is specified or assigned to the servers in the server file. If a user is not a Mobile Admin user then it is added. If no users file is specified then the default is all users. The user Windows account name must be prepended with domain name that contains the Windows account name or the -udomain option must be used to specify the Windows account name domain.

-udomain Specifies a domain to prepend to all user Windows account names in the users file.

-ui Specifies the field number of the users name in the CSV file with the first field being field 1. Defaults to 1.

-ubi Specifies the number of lines to ignore at the beginning of the users file. Defaults to 0.

-uei Specifies the number of lines to ignore at the of the users file. Defaults to 0.

-v Prints the version. An attempt to log into the database is also performed, useful for checking database credentials.

Here are several examples of using the script to demonstrate:

madbload.exe -clear - Wipes out the current server list.

madbload.exe -servers fileName -clear - Load a list of servers with all users assigned to manage. Useful for a bulk load of servers for all users.

madbload.exe -servers fileName -users fileName - Append a list of servers and assign a list of users to manage those servers. Useful for when a new server is to be added for a list of users.

madbload.exe -servers fileName -sharedFolder someName -clear - Load a list of servers into a shared folder with all users assigned to manage. Useful to wipe out current server list, load new list in a Global Folder and assign all users to the Global Folder.

madbload.exe -servers fileName -sharedFolder someName -users fileName - Append a list of servers into a Global Folder and assign a list of users to manage the Global Folder. Useful if a new user is to be added to Mobile Admin to manage a new Global Folder.

And that's pretty much all folks. Hope that makes your life a bit easier...and a little more mobile.