cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Create Post

Drag & Drop Answers to Your Toughest IT Questions

Product Manager

We've all been there at some point or another. For some of us it's a daily ritual, for others, it's what haunts our dreams at night.

I'm speaking, of course, about troubleshooting complex multi-faceted IT issues which can (and often do) transcend functional silos within the overarching IT organization. Cloud, virtualization, hybrid IT, storage area networks, converged infrastructure etc., have all fundamentally transformed IT. Tasks which historically may have taken hours or even days, now take minutes, and some just seconds to complete. These historically, time consuming tasks have become so easy, in fact, that in some organizations they're fully or at least partially automated.

The story doesn't end at the infrastructure either. Instead of monolithic, single purpose, do everything, application servers; distributed application architectures, elasticity, and containerization have increasingly becoming the norm. While all these abstraction layers have helped address application scalability and availability, they have also made it significantly more difficult for those monitoring the health and performance of everything which contributes to the delivery of the services those applications provide.

The troubleshooting process itself is more entangled than ever before, often times requiring collaboration amongst many different functional silos within the organization. From the storage administrator, DBA, Virtualization admin, cloud architect, application designer, network engineer, DevOps, systems administrators, etc., the finger pointing begins right away. But where to begin? The Orion® Platform and its related product modules such as Network Performance Monitor, Server & Application Monitor, etc., can collect millions of different metrics from across the entirety of the IT environment. That's an overwhelming amount of data to parse through as the clock is ticking; the pressure mounts, and your SLA is hanging in the balance.

Many Orion administrators have created elaborate, purpose-built, custom summary dashboards, comprising many various chart resources to help consolidate relevant information related to specific business critical services and to aid in troubleshooting scenarios. The issues with this approach are varied. First, depending upon the complexity and elaborateness of the custom dashboard, the creation process can be both tedious and time consuming. Second, only those with Orion View Management rights have the necessary permissions required to build or modify these custom summary dashboards, placing a tremendous burden on the Orion administrator and making them the bottleneck for efficient troubleshooting. Third, there's the issue of maintaining these custom summary dashboards. Some larger organizations may have dozens or even hundreds of these for various business services, and if not properly maintained to reflect changes made throughout the organization, these dashboards become less and less useful for their intended purpose.

pastedImage_1.png

From the end-user's perspective, these dashboards help eliminate the need to navigate through a various multitude of views and dashboards in search of data needed to isolate the root cause. Provided, of course, the issue they're investigating occurred within the default time period shown within the chart resources. If it didn't, then the end-user must click on each chart resource individually to be taken to the Custom Chart View, where they can adjust the timeframe shown to the timeframe desired for that specific chart. This then defeats the entire purpose of the custom summary dashboard as a means to visually correlate data more easily for the specific time period when the issue occurred.

Enter PerfStack

With the release of Network Performance Monitor 12.1 RC1, and the impending release of Server & Application Monitor 6.4 RC1 comes a completely new method for visualizing and correlating data within the Orion web interface. We affectionately refer to this as 'PerfStack'. In part, the name represents the newfound performance analysis and correlation capabilities this feature brings to the Orion® Platform, enriched with relationship data which powers AppStack. The culmination of time series and relationship data is what sets PerfStack apart, allowing you to quickly sift through the massive amounts of data Orion products collect, eliminating noise, and allowing you to focus on what's truly relevant to the issue at hand.

Immediately upon upgrading to any of our latest release candidates you will notice a new option available under the 'Home' menu, entitled 'Performance Analysis', which will take you to the new PerfStack dashboard. By default, you will begin with a new analysis project, whereby you will need to start by adding at least one entity. In the throes of an active investigation into an ongoing issue,   the entity selected would typically be the one exhibiting the symptom. This could be the switch, router, virtual machine, host, (AKA: node), or something more specific like the application, LUN, array, or web transaction, to name only a few of the possibilities. Choose whatever the most logical starting point is in your investigation and note that you can add as many entities as you wish to your analysis project.

Performance Analysis Menu OptionAdd Entities
Performance Analysis.pngAdd Entities.png

Select Entities
pastedImage_25.png

Once you’ve added your entity/s to PerfStack, hovering your mouse over any of those entities in the list, you will notice two icons that appear to the right of the entity name. When clicked, the first icon brings in all other entities related to that object. This leverages existing AppStack relationship data, as well as additional relationship information not currently expressed within AppStack. This includes items such as Hardware Health sensors, network Interfaces, IIS™ Sites, application pools, etc. Relationship information within PerfStack allows you to dramatically accelerate the troubleshooting process and focus exclusively on what's likely related to the issue at hand. This prevents you from fumbling about, wasting time manually trying to figure out how things are related on your own.

Add Related EntitiesAvailable Metrics
pastedImage_3.pngpastedImage_9.png

Clicking on any entity name itself populates a list of all available metrics associated with that entity in the adjacent column. These metrics are categorized into collapsed groupings based on their type, any of which can be expanded to reveal individual metric tiles. These tiles can then be dragged onto the chart area on the right where the metric data is plotted.

pastedImage_2.png

Add as many metrics to the chart area as you desire. You can add multiple metrics to the same chart, as well as stack multiple charts on top of each other. PerfStack is also capable of combining data from disparate data sources into the same chart. For example, combine Storage Resource Monitor's LUN IOPS data with Network Performance Monitor's network latency and bandwidth data into the same chart to troubleshoot iSCSI performance issues. A feat never before possible within the Orion® Platform family of products.

Correlate Metrics Across Different Orion Product Modules
Multi-Product Chart.png

PerfStack also allows you to combine integer-based metrics with percentage-based metrics while maintaining the appropriate scale. This is accomplished by maintaining two separate x-axes when metrics of dissimilar types are combined within the same chart.

Combine Metrics of Dissimilar Units Within The Same Chart
Integer Pecent.png

Data for all metrics displayed within the chart area are automatically aligned across the same time period. Hovering your mouse over any chart area adds a vertical marker which tracks with your mouse movement to visually align all data points across the series. It also displays the date and time that datapoint was collected. As you move your mouse horizontally across the time period of the chart area, the values within the legend update to reflect the values aligned to the vertical marker.

pastedImage_18.png

The viewable time period can be adjusted globally, maintaining sync across all charts in PerfStack. Both relative and custom timeframes are available, allowing you to view things such as the last seven days of history, or focus on a particular event that occurred between 8am - 6pm last Tuesday, for example.

Adjust Time RangeSave your Masterpiece
pastedImage_9.pngpastedImage_0.png

Once you've completed your masterpiece, you can optionally save it for future reference. Charted metrics, the entities they're derived from, and the custom or relative time frame are all included as part of your saved project. Saved PerfStack projects can be loaded just as easily as they were saved with a top five most recently used PerfStack list making juggling between projects a snap. You can also save a copy of a project using Save As, or delete PerfStack projects you no longer need from within the More menu.

Load Saved PerfStack MRUDelete & Save As
pastedImage_11.pngpastedImage_12.png

Each individual Orion user can create, save, load, update, and delete their own works of art within PerfStack. Also, users aren't required to have Orion 'Admin' or 'View Management' rights to do so, either. Any Orion user can create as many PerfStack dashboards as they wish and manage them independently without assistance from the Orion Admin; something I'm sure is music to the ears of every Orion administrator.

Sharing is Caring

The most powerful PerfStack feature of all is the ability to collaborate with others within your IT organization; breaking down the silo walls and allowing teams to triage and troubleshoot problems across functional areas. Anything built in PerfStack is sharable. The only requirement is that the individual you're sharing with has the ability to login to the Orion web interface. Sharing is as simple as copying the URL in your browser and pasting it into email, IM, or even a helpdesk ticket.

pastedImage_2.png

When received, the URL provided allows others to instantly see exactly what you've found. They, in turn, can work from that URL, add their own metrics, and send it back without ever affecting your project. Similar behavior is also true if you wish to share a saved PerfStack. Sharing saved PerfStack projects with others allows the recipient access to view your saved PerfStack dashboard and any updates you may make to it in the future. Other users cannot modify your saved PerfStack project, but they can save their own copy, update it as needed, and share back their results.

Orion account limitations are fully respected by PerfStack, so there's no need to worry about users gaining access to information they shouldn't. If for any reason, a user should receive a link to a PerfStack project containing objects not permitted by their account restrictions, then any/all metrics related to those restricted objects would be automatically hidden from that user's perspective of the PerfStack project.

Coming Soon to a Theater (Monitor) Near You

PerfStack is a feature provided with all upcoming Orion product releases which are built atop Orion Platform v2017.1 or later. The list of supported modules include (but not limited to)...

  • Network Performance Monitor 12.1
  • Server & Application Monitor 6.4
  • NetFlow Traffic Analyzer 4.2.2
  • Virtualization Manager 7.x
  • Storage Resource Monitor 6.4
  • Web Performance Monitor 2.2.1

SolarWinds PerfStack Analysis Dashboard was engineered to allow Orion users to troubleshoot, isolate, and identify IT problems in ways never before possible. As our IT environments evolve, so too must the tools we use to monitor them. Cross silo collaboration is an essential ingredient to any successful IT organization, now and for the foreseeable future. PerfStack, like NetPath before it, are just tiny glimpses into what we have in store for the future of Orion, and we sincerely hope you like what you see.

56 Comments

mikesky​, it looks like we are finally able to build Joe Coughlan his customized dashboard! Oh! Wait...

On a related note, I really like where this feature is going...

Level 15

IMG_0756.JPG

This seems to point to a logical future destiny of Orion products and their evolution to include The Cloud.  And I like it!

Of course, I've not investigated the pricing structure, and I'd love to be able to provide cloud monitoring via my already-paid-for Orion suite components.  Wouldn't it be great to pay $5 and be able to tie some downloadable plug-in right into NPM and get the above functionality, with license/node limitations equal your current NPM license?

When I see $5 monitoring solutions for the Cloud, I begin to wonder how that price will grow to include all our cloud elements.  Will it be easy to afford, or a challenge?

MVP
MVP

I'm not totally sure I explained things properly here, , but this new greatness added to the core functionality, is pretty much EXACTLY how my brain was wanting me to describe it as... While I probably missed the mark on my explanation, SolarWinds appears to have hit another home run here... I will definitely be installing this tomorrow!

MVP
MVP

BRILLIANT!!!!!!

Was lucky to have seen a sneak peek at this before announcement. It's gonna be great.

MVP
MVP

Nice new features. I've been playing with some of them in the SAM Beta (I really like trying out the Betas - on a non-production machine of course) It whets my taste to upgrade production.

MVP
MVP

Yeah... the worst part about it is when you find some super cool tool, but you already know you are not going to be able to upgrade for a while... all you can do is sit there and be depressed until upgrade day... lol

aLTeReGo​ "PerfStack, like NetPath before it, are just tiny glimpses into what we have in store for the future of Orion, and we sincerely hope you like what you see."

If these are a sign of things to come the future is bright.

MVP
MVP

Save early, and save often... I was so excited about this, while I was building a bunch of cool things on a new PerfStack project... and totally forgot to click the save button. +1 vote for an auto save feature... lol

Also, aLTeReGo​, is there, or will there be, a way to automatically add, in bulk, or otherwise, entities based on custom properties into already configured metric graphs? While building some very useful views in a new project, I found myself having to manually add the same things over and over again, for the various devices. So, I am wondering, using the Peak CPU Load metric as an example, if we will be able to select multiple entities, and then apply them all to the same metrics graph in bulk? Or, will we be able to use custom properties to automatically have things added to existing graphs, or even create new graphs? Just something to help build the graphs more quickly, as I have a feeling I will be building out a bunch of these soon, and I would love to be able to automate it.

This new PerfStack stuff is my new favorite part of the Orion platform. Thank you all for giving us such a cool, and very useful, new tool!

Thank you,

-Will

Level 16

I want this yesterday Going to make some people at my organization very happy! I was asking for some of this additional functionality for the 'Groups' feature but this goes way above and beyond.

Product Manager
Product Manager

Adding metrics in bulk or dynamically within PerfStack is not something you can do today in v1.0, but it's definitely something we're considering for a possible future release.

Level 20

Wow Perfstack!  Sounds good aLTeReGo​  It looks like with this you'll be able to cement your #1 rank fairly easily!

Level 20

Happens all the time to me Will!

Level 13

It looks awesome and promises great feature. I love it

Product Manager
Product Manager

You can also follow the PerfStack action on Twitter using the hashtag #PerfStack

MVP
MVP

Looks to be interesting at the very least.

MVP
MVP

Agreed. Looking forward to installing the RCs!

MVP
MVP

Does wluther​ need to make a feature request for this aLTeReGo​ ? Because what he mentions is exactly what came to my mind with perfstack at the moment. Pick metric, pick target (or a group or whatever), drop in and done.

Product Manager
Product Manager

We are already tracking this internally under case PS-75, but you are welcome to post this to the thwack feature requests to solicit additional support from the rest of the community.

Product Manager
Product Manager

wluther​, this is some excellent feedback. Could you provide some insight into how you're using PerfStack today, or how you plan to use PerfStack in the future in our latest What Would You Do with PerfStack? post? Your ideas may be inspirational to others in the community .

MVP
MVP

Very nice, well detailed description of this tool.

Level 17

If you pretend like your using a ZIP Drive to work off of, you will end up saving twice as often.. print this out and tape it up

ZipDrive_b.jpg

Level 17

This my friend could be the beginning of something incredibly epic!

I specifically like the idea of correlated metrics from the different modules.

MVP
MVP

I remember those - and the Double density floppy and the 8" floppy. Fortunately I never had to do punch cards or the old "flip switch programming"

Image result for toggle switch binary programming

But I do remember the days of having a stack of 50 3.5" floppies to back up a machine and then needing 3 sets just in case one of them failed - ehh, 50 disks, what could go wrong.

I'm one very happy bunny. Look forward to playing more.

perfstack.png

Level 17

DD Floppy's oh the day. They should have added parity bits and made it 60 disks, at least you might be able to repair the bad one rather than complete failure...I think I remember something called a superdrive.. 120mb floppy or whatnot. Though it was dead by the time I could afford one.

Level 12

Is there any tool to cleanup unused dashboards? Any tool to manage them (from the Orion Admin or User perspective)?

Tool sounds great, but one might expect problems with performance when onyone would have hundreds of dashboards (just like drafts/notes on my disk). After a year or two I would expect 80% of dashboards to be outdated and pointing to non-existing objects (which might cause performance problems).

Product Manager
Product Manager

Users have the ability to delete dashboards as easily as they were saved. Each dashboard consumes less than 2k of space regardless of the number of items contained within. You could have hundreds of thousands of saved dashboards with no appreciable impact on performance. 

I can say i like what i see, I don't like the time out that happens in Perfstack when i step away, is there a way to keep it running in a live display, and can we add these to a existing NOC view or Dashboard in future releases?

Product Manager
Product Manager

Both items you reference are things we are considering for a future release.

Well there goes the feature request idea.....   Oh well. 

Level 14

What a superb post.  So clear & explanatory. Many thanks.

Level 7

And vocabulary! Totally like it! Many thanks to aLTeReGo for such a vibrant article!

Level 20

This is why aLTeReGo​ is ranked number 1!

Level 13

O I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!

Level 16

AWESOME!!!!

Level 7

Sweet!

MVP
MVP

O! Just created my first one. Soooooo sleek! Thank you. I also like the sound of "hundreds of thousands"

Level 14

Just showed PerfStack off to a storage engineer.

"Wow, now I can see the pain that spindle is causing to that VM. Let me go & fix the SAN"Result !

Level 10

Image result for ibm 360/65

Yes, I actually worked on one of these.  Not this particular one so the picture isn't mine.  You really only used the switches to cold boot it to the point where the teletype would work, then you typed hex numbers into the keyboard to boot to the point where the card reader would work, then you loaded a HUGE deck of cards to finish the boot.

Level 14

Wonderful (& quite nostalgic) you must be almost as old as me  

button punching to get the initial bootstrap loaded so that the system would then load the OS.

I know knew the button pushes to bring up both a Varian (from paper tape) & a Univac 1100/80 (from disk) by heart. All pretty sad by today's expectations, but essential to bring up the minis and mainframes of the 70s.

And now today I expect my laptop with SSD to be ready within seconds.

     pastedImage_2.png

Level 14

& my 1st mainframe the Univac 1110

Image result for univac 1110 console image

wow. so many button presses to get wrong

Level 13

I've noticed that when you hit refresh button from the browser, the legendary colors are keep reshuffling from the metric charts of the saved project. Is there a way to fix this? Thank you!

Product Manager
Product Manager

Manilyn Ramos, this issue should be resolved in NPM 12.2

Level 13

Thanks aLTeReGo​!

Level 8

Hey guys!

aLTeReGo

The polling that PerStak uses, is the same that We config on Orion, right?

Product Manager
Product Manager

It's similar, but not necessarily identical as it uses the new Cortex service in Orion rather than the Collector service.

Level 8

Heartbeat failures. I've noticed that since turning on the default heartbeat alerts we have received a number of faulty heartbeats. We have noticed that when a virtual machine goes into vmotion in VMM Orion will trigger a heartbeat failure although the system never loses a ping during the vmotion. Has anyone else seen this or have an idea on how to stop the false heartbeats?