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My Name is Will Luther & This Is Why I’m Attending THWACKcamp 2018

My name is Will, and I hide in the shadows of the NOC. I’ve worked for an ISP/Telco for the past several years (13?) and spent nearly all that time in the NOC. I’m tasked with finding ways to keep our folks informed of the various events occurring throughout our environment.

When I started working in our NOC, this is what they had been running:

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While I'm not 100% on my timeline, I'm pretty sure I took over our SolarWinds® environment somewhere around version 9 or version 10 of NPM. Previous management had gotten rid of it, having replaced it with an overly complicated product, which ultimately failed a couple years later. Shortly thereafter, said management was replaced. Afterwards, we were asked what product we wanted, to which we replied, "SOLARWINDS!!!" When asked why, it was a unanimous response. "Because it's easy to use, and is a very flexible product." Since I have been in charge of our SolarWinds environment, starting only with NPM, we have added many additional SolarWinds products, such as NCM, NTA, SAM, DPA, Kiwi Syslog®, Web Help Desk®, a couple of Engineer's Toolsets, a couple of additional polling engines, a couple of additional web servers, and most recently, VMAN.

THWACK® has become part of my everyday routine, though it did not start as such. In the beginning, I mainly had a bunch of complaints, as well as a few specific questions about how to resolve various problems in our network. From there, I found THWACK points, and FREE shirts. As time passed and new issues appeared at work, each requiring a different solution, I started to really get into this community. After asking several questions, and receiving numerous answers, it started to click with my brain. I became more and more interested and curious about the product(s). I thought well, if it can do this, I wonder if it can also do that, and more. Eventually, returning to the here and now, THWACK became an extremely important resource, not only for me to get answers, but also for me to help answer the questions of other THWACK users, as was done for me. It's seems amazing to me, looking back at the how and why of joining and using THWACK, and seeing myself go from one end of the spectrum to the other.

I’m looking forward to this year's THWACKcamp, as I have every year. I have attended THWACKcamp every year it has existed, both virtually, as well as the in-person invites too. The 2017 THWACKcamp was my favorite, as SolarWinds hosted several other THWACK MVPs in person, at their headquarters in Austin, Texas. Getting to meet everyone was great, but getting to talk shop with other folks using SolarWinds products, and seeing solutions through their points of view, was easily the best part.

In regard to the upcoming 2018 THWACKcamp: While there are tons of great sessions, I’m definitely looking forward to the "There's an API for That: Introduction to the SolarWinds Orion® SDK" session the most, which takes place on October 17 at 11 a.m. CT.

One of the best aspects of the SolarWinds products is the flexibility. You can open the box and use the modules as is, likely covering the needs of most. Or, you can customize your environment in countless ways. Maybe just start with a simple SQL query. Then evolve and convert that SQL query into a SWQL query. Well, don't stop there; you can use that SWQL query to automate some (all?) of your daily tasks. Over the past couple of years, I have been doing more and more work with the SDK/API side of the products. Ironically, my adventures into the Orion SDK/API world have some connections to some of the first questions I asked on THWACK. While I wasn't quite ready to take the leap back then, many of the questions I have asked on THWACK can easily be answered using the API to build the solution. Now, when I say "easily", I mean you don't need to be a master programmer coder extraordinaire. You simply need to be willing to take the time to think and ask questions. I think it's one of those "experience is something you get just after you need it" type of things.

Graphs have been a big thing for us for a long time. We need to graph way too many things to be building pages manually. And, while we're at it, we need a better way to manage all of our pages/views. Luckily, we have the Orion SDK/API to help. Each time I revisit these projects, we make a little more progress, and somehow find a way to evolve them to the next level. Here are a few links to some of the different ways we have used the SDK/API to bridge the gap. After THWACKcamp 2018, I'm expecting to have learned even more new ways to improve my projects.

Using PowerShell To Automatically Provision a Series of Graphs Per View

Export All Reports, In Bulk, Via PowerShell and API

Adding Custom Tabs to The Top Level Nav Bar

Custom SWQL Views Manager

Using Your Custom HTML Resource to Build A Better Way to Navigate Your Custom Views

Using Your Custom HTML Resource to Properly Display SWQL Query Results

While I have been working with SolarWinds products for many years now, having accrued a fair amount of experience, I continue to attend new training courses, as well as revisit updated courses as well. (Virtual Classrooms | SolarWinds Customer Portal) I also look for helpful videos (eLearning - SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. Help and Support), SolarWinds Lab sessions (SolarWinds Lab), and especially THWACKcamp 2018, as I know the next great idea I have for my environment will probably come from a comment, idea, or reference of another THWACK user, as it has so many times before.

What’s in your widget? Do you have a cool mod you want to share, or is there a task you need to accomplish but don’t know how? Let us know, and maybe we can find the solution together.

Join me. Register now. Attend October 17-18, 2018.

27 Comments
Level 16

Thanks for the write up! Did you happen to find any Openview floppies or CD's in that junk drawer?

MVP
MVP

bobmarley​ Junk drawer? More like treasure trove... Well, maybe if I were some sort of Digital Archaeologist (is that really the correct spelling?). DVDs, CDs, tapes, floppies... Windows 95, NT, and some SQL stuff, as well as a plethora of other system install disks which we have no physical way of using... But, at least we still have them...

That Bobble-Head-Doll's hat & sunglasses are the bomb!  I wish I'd gotten into costume for my doll!

Level 14

Thanks for writing this! 

Uff da!  I recently ran into some 2003 HP OV installers on hard media.  That product was NOT what the doctor ordered for easy and simple network discovery and management!

Level 16

Yea tell me about it, I live the horror every day.... we are still using it talk about riding a horse to death... 

I successfully used a great implementation of HPOV NNM back in the mid 1990's that was bundled into a 3Com NMS.  All OID's/MIB's and icons were 3Com proprietary.  All tie-ins were perfect.  That version of Open View Network Node Manager was stellar.

However, the generic version was NOT stellar, and was a waste of $30K in licensing and training.  After too many months of fighting it and HP, I bought SolarWinds and was relieved the product did what it claimed right out of the box.

My non-3Com version of HPOV NNM was quite the different experience than the version bundled for 3Com NMS.

Level 16

I will have to admit I am a recovering archivist. I used to hoard every little piece of technology into my work area until one day my co workers sat me down for an intervention.

The hardest thing to toss was my HP Ipaq, with the screen worn in only one place... where the solitaire deck sat. But I gave it all up and now can fit all of my tech toys into my backpack.

MVP
MVP

bobmarley​ I'm sorry for your loss...

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Level 13

Man that takes me back.  No kidding.  That dude was a beast.  We also had Castlerock and Cabletron Spectrum back in the day.  Not even remotely user friendly.

MVP
MVP

bobmarleyrschroederdf112​ So, where are we going to start the "Submit a photo of the oldest media you have" contest? DanielleH

I don't have it anymore, but I used to have a Control Data Corporation removable disk.  The spindle could hold up to 609 million six-bit characters, or 4.156 gigabits.  These things weighed a LOT, and when the read arm crashed it would scrap off magnetic oxide until the disk spun down.  Opening up the top was accompanied with a brown cloud of iron-oxide smoke.

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I still have some Hollerith cards--punched cards from the 1970s' with programs in them. 

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They ended up making good material for holiday craft projects, like wreaths, when spray painted.  Bend down two corners & staple them, staple the other end to a light board in a circular pattern and spray paint the whole thing gold.  Put it up on the front door or over the fireplace at Christmas.

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I used to work with 8" "floppy disks" in Kodak 3510 printers back in the late 1980's.  Pretty cool stuff!  But I don't have any of them anymore.

Level 14

Wow Rick those CDC drive and cards brought back some pleasant and not so pleasant memories of my early days.....

Level 13

I'm still looking for my old Ctron Spectrum and/or HP OV media.  I have the same Solarwinds CD you do, as well as some old Sniffer floppies.  Still digging in the dark corners of the datacenter for even better treasures. sniffer pro circa 98.jpg

Level 13

Solarwinds.net CDsolarwinds .jpg

Level 20

I too was right there with you Will back in the 9.x days of NPM when there were some big bugs and big complaints.  We've come a long way from that now.  Even during the 10.x days there were some hacks you almost needed to do to Orion... many you had to redo every time we upgraded.  It's nice to say we don't really need to do that as much anymore although I know you like to tinker with it some still.  At least we now have the API (thank you tdanner​) and custom resources we can post directly to our Orion as custom widgets.

MVP
MVP

Yeah, ecklerwr1​, that API has saved me too many times to count. I had not realized how much I had been using the API (nothing fancy, just a bunch of the basics) until a few months back, when my boss asked me to pull up some data to show him... followed by, "no, no, no... I mean on the website, where it makes sense to everyone else..." Ah, yes, the website, of course... I knew that...

Level 20

If we're talking old hardware...

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MVP
MVP

Not as old as yours rschroeder , but maybe we get bonus points for having it in mint condition?

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Level 16

I have nothing!!!! Just a clean desk and work area.

MVP
MVP

Hmmm, bobmarley , sounds like you're doing it wrong.

Level 16

Unopened MS DOS, haha! May want to keep that one.

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I still got these bad boys. Certified too! I'm waiting on the days for it to make a comeback and I can cash checks!

MVP
MVP

Cool write up

The team waited until I was on vacation and called in the trash truck. 

It was so sad.

RT

BTW any cool mod I could think of, wluther completed all ready. 

RT

Level 7

WOW!! a lot of good flashbacks. But, don't be too surprised to realize that some of the "NEW COOL" stuffs are still riding on the 'cool old' dinosaurs!! Will, thanks for sharing the MSDOS thing!! The best hands in the business still give kudos to the people with good, basic knowledge of DOS,. Right??