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All New AppStack Environment View and an Opportunity to Earn $100.00 Plus 2000 Thwack Points

Product Manager

If you frequent the various product and geek speak blogs here on Thwack, you've likely at one time or another stumbled upon some reference, and possibly sneak peek glimpses, into what has affectionately been referred to as the "AppStack". The Application Stack, or "AppStack" for short, is a term used to describe all the various moving parts that make up today's complex application delivery infrastructure. This begins at the bottom with the backend storage arrays where data is housed, through the various different virtualization layers, up to the server that hosts the application, until finally we reach the application itself. The AppStack Environment View shown below accompanies the SAM 6.2, VMAN 6.2, and SRM 6.0 beta releases.

SAM Button.pngVMAN Button.pngSRM Button.png

The image below isn't the latest incarnation of the Candy Crush sensation, but rather a visual representation of all the various infrastructure components that make up my lab environment. Historically, all of this status goodness was tucked away under each respective categories product tab. Correlation and association of these various objects was a mental exercise based on a working knowledge of the infrastructures initial deployment, or legacy information that has been passed down from systems administrator  to systems administrator before them. To make matters worse, todays infrastructure is dynamic and ever changing, so what you thought you knew about the organizational layout of your supporting infrastructure may have changed dozens, or even hundreds of times since it was initially deployed.


The AppStack Environment provides a 10,000 foot overview of your entire environment. At first, this may seem a bit overwhelming as there's a lot of status information contained within a single view. To that end, our UX research team toiled tirelessly to ensure that the AppStack provides as much useful information possible, while reducing or completely eliminating any extraneous noise that could distract from identifying problems in the environment and their likely cause. Perhaps most unnerving to most when first presented with the AppStack Environment View is the lack of object names displayed. Well fret not my dear friend because our UX masterminds thought of everything!

In most cases, when trying to get a high level overview into the health status of the environment, you're trying to get as much information represented in as little real estate as possible. If the status is good (green) then likely it's not of any concern. For those objects that are in distress however, you may want to glean additional information into what they are before digging deeper. As with most things in Orion, mouse hovers are available extensively throughout the AppStack Environment view to expose information, such as the objects name and other important details. However, if you're trying to determine the object names for a multiple of objects in distress, a mouse hover is a fairly inefficient means for determining what those objects represent. To address this need you will find a "Show Names" link in the top left of the AppStack. Clicking on this link will expose the name of any object currently in distress. Object names for items that are up (green) remain hidden from view to reduce visual clutter, so it's easier to focus on the items currently in distress.

Show Names.png

The AppStack Environment functions as a status overview page that is valuable when visually attempting to identify issues occurring within the environment, such as in the case of a NOC view, or perhaps the view you keep on your monitor while you go about your usual daily routine.  Any changes in status are updated in real-time for all objects represented in the AppStack. No browser refresh necessary. What you see in the AppStack Environment view is a real-time representation of the status of your environment.

Leveraging application topology information gathered across various different products, from Server & Application Monitor (SAM), Virtualization Manager (VMAN), and the all new Storage Resource Monitor (SRM), Orion is now capable of automatically compiling relationships and displaying them in a meaningful fashion between all the various infrastructure components that make up the application stack. Object associations are updated and maintained in real-time, and automatically, as the environment changes. This is important in todays dynamic environments where VMs are vMotioned between hosts, and storage is so easily reprovisioned, reallocated, and presented to servers. If someone had to maintain these relationships manually, it would likely be a full time job that could drive a person insane!

Clicking on any object within the AppStack selects that item and displays all relevant relationships the object has to any other object represented within the AppStack Environment. In the case below, I've selected an Application that's currently in a "Critical" state. I can see in the selection bar that this is a Microsoft SQL Server; one I've been having a bit of trouble with lately, so I'm not at all surprised to see it in a critical state. From here I can see which server SQL is running on, the fact that it's obviously virtualized because I can also see the host, virtual custer, datacenter, and data store the VM resides upon as well. None of those appear to be my issue however, as their status is "green". Moving further down the AppStack I can see the volumes that the VM is using, the LUN where the Data Store this VM resides upon, and the Storage Pool itself. So far, so good. Wait a minute, what's that I see? The backend array this VM is running on appears to be having some trouble.

AppStack Selected.pngDouble clicking on the Array object, or selecting the array and clicking on the object name from within the selection bar (for those of you rocking a tablet or other touch enabled device) takes me to the Array Details view. There I can see the I/O on this array is exceptionally high. I should probably vMotion a few VMs off the hosts that are utilizing this array, or provision more storage to those hosts from different arrays and balance the VMs across them.

Selection Bar.png

In this example, the AppStack Environment view was able to cut through the all the various information Orion is capable of collecting across multiple products to expose a problem, provide context to that problem, and identify the root cause. This can be done across the entire environment, or custom AppStack Environment views can be created to focus on a specific areas of responsibility. Perhaps you're the Exchange Administrator, and all you care about is the Exchange environment. No problem! Creating a custom AppStack environment view is simple. You can filter the AppStack by virtually any property available in Orion, such as Application Name, or Custom Property by adding filter properties.

Narrow your Envionment.pngSave as New Layout.pngSave as new Layout Dialog.png

Once you've filtered the AppStack to your liking and saved it as new layout, you can reference it at any time from layout selector in the top right of the AppStack Environment view. These custom AppStacks can also be used in rotating NOC views for heads up displays, or added to any existing summary view.

In addition to this new AppStack Environment View, you will also find a contextual AppStack resource on the Details view of every object type that participates within the AppStack. This includes, but is not limited to...

  • Node Details (For Servers)
  • Application Details
  • Array Details
  • Group Details
  • Storage Pool Details
  • LUN Details
  • Storage Pool Details
  • Hyper-V Host Details
  • ESX Host Details
  • Cluster Details
  • Virtual Center Details
  • Datastore Details
  • Volume Details
  • vServer Details
New Layout - Microsoft Exchange.png

AppStack MiniStack.png

The AppStack Environment resource provides relevant contextual status information specific to the object details being viewed. The image on the right, taken from the Node Details view of the same SQL server shown in the example above, displays the relationships of all other monitored objects to this node. This context aware application mapping dramatically reduces time to resolution by consolidating all related status information to the object being viewed into a single, easily digestible resource.

Relationships aren't limited exclusively to the automatic physical associations understood by Orion however. These relationships can also be extended using manual dependencies to relate logical objects that are associated in other ways, such as SharePoint's dependency on the backend SQL server. This capability further extends the AppStack to represent all objects as they relate to the business service, and significantly aids in root-cause analysis of today's complex distributed application architectures.

Earn $100.00 & 2000 Thwack Points!

SAM 6.2, VMAN 6.2, and SRM 6.0 beta participants have been given a special opportunity to earn $100.00 and 2000 Thwack points simply for taking part in these betas and providing feedback. To participate you will need to sign-up to participate and install at least two beta products that integrate within the new AppStack Environment view.

If you already own Virtualization Manager, you can sign-up here to participate in the Virtualization Manager 6.2 beta, get it installed and integrated with SAM or SRM and you're well on your way to earning $100.00 and 2000 Thwack points. Please note though, that you MUST already own Virtualization Manager and be under active maintenance to participate in the Virtualization Manager 6.2 beta.

If you currently own Storage Manager, and are under active maintenance, you can sign-up here to participate in the SRM 6.0 beta. Install SRM alongside SAM or VMAN to earn yourself some quick holiday cash!

If you're not yet participating in the Server & Application Monitor 6.2 beta, then what are you waiting for? All SAM product owners under active maintenance are welcome and strongly encouraged to join. Simply sign-up here. If you also happen to own Virtualization Manager or Storage Manager, then now is a great time to try out these awesome combined beta releases, and earn a little cash in the process.

Space is limited, so please reply to this post letting us know that you're interested in participating. You'll not only fatten your wallet in the process, but you'll also be helping us to build better products! Here’s how it’s going down.

When:What you’ll do:What you receive:
When you receive the beta bits for 2 or more productsHave a 15 minute phone call with our UX team to review what to expect and tell us about your job and technical environmentMy eternal gratitude!
2 to 4 days after installing two or more participating beta productsSend us a 1 to 2 minute video telling us about your initial experiences with AppStack. You can make the video with whatever is easiest for you; most people use their phone.$50 Amazon gift card
7 to 10 days after installing two or more participating beta productsSend us another 1 to 2 minute video telling us about how you've used AppStack. What are your favorite things? What drives you crazy?$50 Amazon gift card
12- 14 days after installing 2 or more participating beta productsSpend one hour with us showing us how you use AppStack.  We’ll  meet using GoToMeeting so that you can share your screen and walk us through some typical use cases.2,000 thwack points
Level 11

So tell me, how useful will this function be if you don't own all three components (SAM, VMAN, & SRM)? I have NPM, SAM, IPAM, NTM, and WPM. What should my expectations be for how useful this will be?


Level 14

Right now Orion based products do a really good job of navigating from the node to the app to the VM, etc..  And, with the latest release of WPM you can link the web transaction to the underlying apps and nodes.  This new view will provide admins with an immediate view into how infrastructure and application components are impacting one another and provides for better context with regard to identifying the urgency of fixing a problem.  If a server is yellow or red, you can click on the server and view what VMs and apps are supported by that server.  If you have a slow transaction, you can click on that transaction to see the related status of the VM, host or application elements (Web servers, databases, etc.).  This capability automatically maps the dependencies between apps/vms/servers so it is easier to see the relationships and group/filter on business services.

If you were to add VMAN and SRM then you would get contextual insights into how the shared storage resources are impacting your application.  A lot of other vendors make you purchase a BSM type product for this consolidated view of performance across domains (user experience/app/server/VM/storage).  SolarWinds is providing this capability as a feature in certain products that are Orion based in order to make the single pane of glass experience better for isolating problems.

Level 9

If you're still interested in getting $100 worth of Amazon gift cards and 2000 thwack points for feedback on the AppStack Environment, we want to talk to you!

You don’t have to send us videos if you don’t have time. Check in with us by email, phone, or whatever works for you. We just want to know how AppStack is working for you.

We’ll still schedule a one hour session to walk through AppStack in your environment. Email if you’re interested in participating.

Level 11


Thanks for the reply, but pardon my boldness when I say this doesn't truly address the question I asked. I understand that if i were to add VMAN and SRM I would have better insight, but the original question is how useful this function will be without owning those. If the answer is unknown that is okay, but if not having these makes this function useless then I just need to know.


Product Manager
Product Manager

As you're likely already aware, each respective product monitors certain aspects of the infrastructure within the environment. As such, those respective categories are represented within the AppStack. If you own only Storage Manager and participate in the SRM beta, the AppStack Environment view allows you to visualize the storage relationships and correlate their associated statuses such as..

  • Storage Arrays
  • vServers
  • Storage Pools
  • NAS Volumes
  • LUNs

The AppStack appears and functions just the same, but is limited to storage related information when only SRM is installed. Similarly, Virtualization Manager also includes the AppStack Environment view. When installed without any other Orion modules this view allows you to understand relationships and perform impact assessment for your virtual environment. This includes items such as..

  • ESX/Hyper-V Hosts
  • Virtual Machines
  • Clusters
  • Datacenters
  • vCenters
  • Data Stores

Similarly, when SAM is installed standalone, the AppStack Environment view correlates application associations to their respective server(s) and allows you to perform root cause analysis into what is impacting those applications performance or availability. This includes, but is not limited to the following categories within the Application Stack.

  • Groups
  • Applications
  • Servers
  • ESX/Hyper-v Hosts
  • Volumes

As you can imagine, the AppStack Environment View provides tangible benefits respective to each product that you own. However, you can extend those capabilities in a modular fashion with additional Orion modules to provide full end-to-end mapping that significantly aids in troubleshooting performance, health, and availability issues within the environment. 

Level 11

Thanks for the reply, this makes the most sense and is pretty much what I figured it would be. I knew there would be limited functionality unless all tools were owned and in use.

So, on a related note but different track, it seems that this is very Windows/VMWare/HV focused. A large portion of our critical infrastructure is UNIX Solaris Containers. Does this now, or will this in the future be able to work with Solaris Containers in the same or similar way as it does with VMWare? I find that the industry in general has done much to address Solaris Containers (and that includes SUN and their lack of decent tools).

Product Manager
Product Manager

Excellent suggestion. You can vote for this idea in the feature request forum at the link below. I also included the link for IBM LPAR/PowerVM in case others had similar requests for AIX.

Level 17

is it accurate you are not able to install this (sam beta 6.2 b3 specifically) over NPM 12 b4?

Product Manager
Product Manager

That is correct. NPM beta 4 is on an older version of Orion Core than SAM 6.2 Beta 3, VMAN 6.2 Beta 1, and SRM 6.0 Beta 2. All these of those can be installed together without issue.

Level 13

Sorted it all out the other day.

NPM/NCM on one screen and SRM/SAM/VMan on the other showing the AppStack = awesome wall board for management

Level 15

Been playing with the environment view in some form of other for some time now and am already considering ripping out all the maps we never update

But can we get a summary of what view limitations might be honored by the resource? I understand the root level environment resource is everything and node details is just that node etc.

-What about on a group summary page or a page with another page view limitation applied - can it honor the page view limitation?

-Edit resource with SWQL limitation field?

-Ability to provide environment view filtering in URL parameters so I can link to the full environment page from a group page with the group name in the URL and filter- ie${containername}

Level 13

Yes indeed one of the things I was needing to write up about bluefunelemental.

We used a custom property to define devices groups, however even though they are defined within the device properties of SAM, AppStack Environment is showing me _everything_ related and not filtered by the CP

Obviously that part needs to be carried over - though B5 was officially released 5hrs ago - I'm waiting for my virtualisation guys to spin up a new VM so I can start my installs again.

[SRM/SAM + VMan intergrated]

Any advice aLTeReGo?

Product Manager
Product Manager

The AppStack Environment resource can be added to any Summary View. Once done, you can customize the layout settings for that resource by referencing it under the "Layout Settings" on the "Environment" view. Filter the layout, choose your settings, then save the changes to that layout. When you return to the view where that resource was added it should reflect the changes you made and saved under the "Environment" view. Each new AppStack Environment Resource you add to a summary page creates a new "layout" in the manner, so you can have as many as you like, each customized to your specific preferences.

Level 17

I've been trying to get this with the latest betas of NPM, SAM, and SRM, but after the install and configuration I've had no success.  I can get the website to login, but the page afterwards is blank.  The auto-launch for the website does not work, and the business layer is filled with errors regarding various modules timing out while attempting to start.

Product Manager
Product Manager

Each beta contains a different build of Orion Core that is not universally compatible with all beta releases. We did perform a coordinated beta release a month ago in which all products that participate in the AppStack were released with the same version of Orion Core. SInce that time however the release cadence for each product has been their own. They will not all sync back up again until we hit RC.

Level 14

You should also include F5 virtual IP addresses, pools etc to the appstack. Lot of application on our enviroment depends on F5 right now.

Level 10

This is one of the most (potentially) useful things I've seen SolarWinds do to date with Orion. Adding in the end user experience on top of a component view has been a goal of our for a long time. We've built similar maps like this before, manually, but this appears more automated? The challenge with any of these "map" type views of an app or service is keeping them current. So can it operate on groups based on dynamic queries? So in other words auto-populate the categories based on say hostname patterns etc? If yes then this could be a worthy competitor to a certain other BSM suite from a company with the letters H and P in their name.

Level 15

Oh yes it can.

As some background, a year ago I asked Solarwinds to help me out as I was building NetAtlas maps for my dynamic query groups, manually adding and deleting them on the map which negated the whole automated approach of dynamic queries. My only request was dynamic mapping to add/delete objects as they were created or deleted such as groups. The "response", though I am sure unrelated to my request was AppStack and it resolved my request and so much more. The fact that I can visualize my environment now with a tool that others can filter themselves and save off as a new view is amazing. And while I ended up replacing the group maps I used to do with the Worldmap, which in the latest version supports maps, I ended up replacing all our custom application maps with filtered Appstack views.

Just made one yesterday for the database team and while I usually filter by the node custom property that builds the groups in this case it's as easy as filtering on Application name and then picking the MSSQLSERVER and SQL choices. Done, saved off to the SQLSERVER summary page and now no matter how many AppInsight for SQL monitors they add or delete that map will show them the database environment.

Can't wait to see what else AppStack can do next.

This is good info--I only wish I could leverage it. The silos in my organization keep my Network team out of servers, out of data bases, out of VM management, and out of SAN.


Well, it's been quite a few months since this thread started.  Are you interested in sharing the highlights and low points of the results of the program?  I think many of us would enjoy seeing the learning curve and the suggestions that experienced customers have provided.

Level 15

I have an appstack which includes our network gear. Ping me if you want the secret method to include them.

Consider yourself pinged.  Do tell!

Level 12

It would be great to integrate AppStack somehow with NPM/NTA. Let's consider case when problem is caused by saturation of some router rather than array I/O....

About the Author
Seasoned IT professional since 1996. Been a customer and consultant so I've seen both sides of the coin. Particular interest in system monitoring and incident management