Upgrade to 2020.2

About Me

I first started working and using SolarWinds in 2008. Prior to that I was a Windows Server guy.

In 2008, decided that a career change was in order and wanted to be part of the Network Team. I took my Cisco exams and passed these. My day job was to look after the Network, VoIP, Wireless and countless other Network suppliers. Since NPM is linked to monitor the Network I was also responsible for SolarWinds.

I have had to use SolarWinds whenever a new report was needed or nodes added to Orion. I created a Map with our switches, routers and external devices and had this set up on a screen so that everyone in the office could see. Created alerts which were emailed to teams (which were mainly ignored). I was looking at taking a SolarWinds exam back in 2016 but was taken off SolarWinds to work on a new VoIP project.

Now my full time role is to just look after SolarWinds, create monthly reports, remove old nodes that we no longer use, and basically make sure that everything is ok whilst people can work from home during the pandemic.

Previous Upgrades

I know from experience that updates and upgrades never go according to plan. No matter how much prep work is done before hand. I remember the SolarWinds 11.5 upgrade which didn’t go according to plan. I remember staying in the office till 1am assisting the email SME during an upgrade and trying to get this working before 8am or staying till 3am because our all of our firewalls went down to them not being updated for years. I need to cut down on the time I spend outside my comfort zone which is 9 to 5. I don’t mind staying till late for instance when the comms room got flooded during a storm and we stayed till gone midnight. There are countless times that I have stayed late but if you can avoid it, then do so which I now try and do as much as possible.

Prep work

The prep work for this upgrade was no different, it took time, research, double check the hardware, new change requests, etc etc. whenever an upgrade is needed, whether it is on a firewall, router, VoIP system, switch or whatever REMEMBER to have a get out plan. Have a backup, have a way out to revert to where you were before the upgrade if anything should not go according to plan.

We are lucky as currently we are running the latest Windows servers, our Orion is 2019.4 so it is only one upgrade away.

We are only upgrading three applications –

  • NPM 2019.4 > 2020.2
  • SAM 2019.4 > 2020.2
  • NCM 2019.4 > 2020.2

We visited the customer portal and checked the Solarwinds Product Advisor, researched the release notes, THWACK, Google, user experiences. Double checked that we were running NET 4.8 Framework - anything that we could find before we went ahead. A change window was arranged.

The Upgrade

A snapshot of our SQL database and server were taken. All of our servers are virtualized. We downloaded the updates from the customer portal, and kicked off the update.

Update failed initially because SolarWinds installer didn’t have the permissions to change Program Files. This was resolved and the update started again. This time with no issues. The whole process took less than an hour. I was expecting to finish late and not get home until the early hours of the morning. I was home much earlier than expected.

I have to say that this upgrade was the easiest SolarWinds upgrade that I have ever done if not the easiest upgrade ever. The dev team who worked on this should take a bow.

The New Software

I have yet to fully work on 2020.2 upgrade and the new features but have noticed that it is very fast. Normally I click and wait and it is now almost instant.

In conclusion

The upgrade went well, really well. It took less than an hour. The interface seems much faster and I can’t wait to use it in depth.

If you are waiting to upgrade, remember pre-plan everything, take backups, and do the research. Read as much as you can on THWACK as well as the admin guides.

All the best