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Server & Application Monitor 6.3 - Beta Now Available

Product Manager

Since the release of Server & Application Monitor (SAM) 6.2, the team has been busily plugging away on a long list of new features and general product enhancements.  Chief among them are improvements to the aesthetics and overall design of the Orion web interface. While not the primary focus of this blog post, it is near impossible to post screenshots for some of what we've been working on without divulging some sneak peeks into the very early stages of this interface design refresh. A follow-up blog post is currently in the works that will go into detail and explain our multi-phased approach for delivering a fresh, clean, and modernized interface for all products that run atop the Orion platform. Suffice it to say, it is our aim to accelerate overall Orion web interface performance, dramatically improve usability for many of the most common tasks, as well as refine and enhance the product's visual appearance as part of this endeavor. Continue watching the Product Blog‌ for more specifics surrounding the Orion UI redesign, as well as opportunities to provide feedback to members of our user experience team regarding these improvements. Your feedback might just earn you some much deserved Thwack points that can be redeemed for some cool SolarWinds SWAG!

With that prologue out of the way, it's time to run through a few notable new features we've been working on that are sure to put a smile on your face. As always, your feedback on features such as these is essential; and the absolute best time to provide that feedback is during betas. So if you're anything like me and would rather try out the new features yourself rather than simply read about them, then short circuit this post entirely and click the big red button below. Otherwise strap in, adorn your reading glasses (if you need them) and soak in the geek goodness below as I walk through some of the new features planned for this release and expose a few glimpses of the web interface redesign.

SAM 6.3 Beta button.png

Active Directory Discovery

One of the many aspects we wanted to focus our attention on improving within this release is how servers are discovered in SAM. Network subnets, IP address ranges, and lists of individual IP addresses might seem like natural options for those of us who come from a network centric background. However, for those possibly unfamiliar with the networks design or IP addressing schema, Active Directory in many instances provides much or all of the information needed about the servers residing on the network.

Active Directory discovery can be added as an additional discovery method to any new or previously existing discovery profile and used in conjunction with the three previously available methods for complete coverage across the environment. 

Similar to the other three methods of discovery, multiple Active Directory domains may be used in the discovery profile. This is especially handy for large organizations that may have multiple domains running in their environment due to mergers and acquisitions, separation of internal business units, or even lab vs. production systems. Also, unlike Active Directory authentication to the Orion web console, there is no requirement for the Orion server to be in the same Active Directory domain as the domain controllers used for discovery.

Discovery 2 - Add Domain Controller.png

Active Directory has the distinct advantage of allowing for more precise and targeted discovery within the environment. Instead of using a very broad discovery technique such as subnets or IP address ranges, you can more surgically discover only those items you wish to monitor, such as servers and/or workstations. This is particularly useful for organizations using class B "/16" (65,534 IP address) or class A "/8" (16,277,214 ip addresses) subnets, where sequential network scanning techniques may take hours or even days to complete successfully. In environments such as these, much of that IP address space is unused, but it still must be swept to determine which IP addresses are in use and are not part of the discovery process. Active Directory however, has a complete database of all hosts on the network which are members of the domain. Leveraging that database allows for a much more rapid scan of servers and workstations running on the network that could be monitored by SAM.

Discovery 3 - Add Domain Controller.png

Discovery 4 - Select OUs.png

Once you've added the Active Directory domain you wish to discover and click "Next" you are shown a complete listing of all Containers and Organizational Units (OUs) in the domain hierarchy. By default all OUs and Containers are selected, including any future Organizational Units that may be created after the discovery profile creation process is complete. Selecting the root level domain object toggles between select/deselect all, and the individual checkboxes on the left allow you to select the specific OUs to include or exclude from this discovery profile. The checkbox to the right of each OU listed designates whether to include any sub-OUs that may be created under that Organizational Unit in the future. For example: you have a root level Organizational Unit named "California" because you have only one office in that region today, located in Los Angeles. Later a new office is brought online in San Francisco. As a result you may decide to create two sub-OUs under California named "LA" and "SF" to manage group policy separately for each of those offices. The "Include Future OUs" option allows for these types of changes to occur within an OU, sub-OU, or domain without the need to update SAM's discovery profiles that are used for recurring nightly scheduled rediscovery of new devices in the environment. If not applicable or desirable in your organization, this option can of course be disabled.

Automatic Monitoring

Another primary area we focused on for this release is reducing or outright eliminating the maintenance overhead required to keep SAM up to date as new systems are brought online. Too many of us have been in similar situations where a new critical business system is brought up in the environment, and the first time there's a reported problem or issue with the system there's immediately an exchange of finger pointing that occurs amongst the responsible parties attempting to assign blame for why the system wasn't being monitored. As a result many organizations have implemented rigid policies and processes surrounding the provisioning of new systems in an attempt to mitigate these blind spots on the network. Unfortunately even the best laid plans aren't immune from human fallacy, even those with the best of intentions.

With that in mind we aimed to provide a mechanism that would ensure that as new systems were brought up in the environment that they would be monitored without relying on someone in the organization to manually add them to SAM for monitoring; or dig through the nightly Network Sonar Discovery Results to select which new items should be monitored. If adding individual devices manually is more your speed, or thumbing through the Network Discovery Results is how you enjoy spending your morning "me" time, those options continue to remain intact and unchanged in this release.

Discovery 5 - Automatic Monitoring.png

When selecting "Automatically Monitor" from the "Monitoring Settings" step of the Network Sonar Discovery Wizard you may continue on by clicking "Next" and accept the recommended defaults (only "Up" interfaces, non-removable media volumes, etc.) or use your own preferences by clicking the "Define Monitoring Settings" button. Clicking this button takes you through a mini-wizard where you are given the ability to define what you'd like automatically monitored should they be found during the Sonar discovery process. These options include, but are not limited to, interface type (trunk, non-trunk) , state (up/down/shutdown/etc.) upon discovery, interface name (contains, does not contain), interface description (contains, does not contain), volume type (Fixed Disk, Mount Points, etc), and AppInsight Applications. Additional steps may appear within the mini-wizard depending upon which Orion modules are also installed alongside SAM.

The next time the Network Sonar Discovery runs, either at the completion of creating the new Discovery Profile or its next scheduled run, any items found meeting the criteria defined within the profile not already monitored in Orion, will be automatically monitored by SAM.

For nodes managed via the optional Agent that was included as part of the SAM 6.2 release, these automatically become managed nodes in Orion by default when they first register with the Orion server or additional polling engine using Agent Initiated mode. Monitoring of these hosts however is limited to status, response time, CPU, and memory, without taking some additional step to select the specific items you'd like monitored on those hosts. The new automatic monitoring option shown here allows you to predefine those items just for agent managed nodes, agentlessly managed nodes, or all nodes in the environment depending upon the settings defined within the discovery profile.

Discovery 6 - Automatic Monitoring - Select Volumes.png

There's still more in store for this release, but we are eager and anxious to get your feedback on some of the features already starting to near completion. Please note that the absolute best time to provide feedback is during the beta, as things are still very fluid and there's plenty of time to fix bugs, make adjustments, and alter the design before release. That's right, betas are intended not only as a mechanism for finding bugs, visual defects, or other things broken in the code, but also to address usability issues and design flaws as well. If you are interested in taking SAM 6.3 for a spin and kicking the tires on some of these (and other) features, simply sign-up here. The only requirement for participation in the beta is that you own an existing license of Server & Application Monitor which is currently under active maintenance.

67 Comments
Level 12

Hi aLTeReGo‌,

I can't get to this for a couple weeks.  How long will this beta be open?  Really excited about the improvements to network discovery.  I really hope we can skip pages of a discovery profile you are editing or you are happy with the defaults in a new profile.

thanks

Level 17

I'm psych'd about this...can't wait to test drive!

Level 9

I also am ready for this interface refresh. I find myself constant looping about within the Orion console right now and hope for good things ahead to improve my workflow.

Thanks and I will be downloading this Beta shortly.

Level 14

That automatic monitoring is awesome.  The only thing that is going to prevent us from using it is the ability to add exceptions based on volume.  (This comment is made based on what is written above not an actual test of the beta.)

Now my only problem is not enough time to play with the APM 6.3 beta while preparing for our other upgrades this quarter

Product Manager
Product Manager

This beta will be open for longer than a few weeks. We like to ensure we allow people enough time to play with things, try them out, find issues, and report their findings.

Level 15

I agree a volume filter just like the interfaces would be great. Alternatively we will likely mute volumes (Custom Property) based on name pattern, or worse case move them into the Discovery Results ignore tables based on name. Either way it will only find them the first time and ignore thereafter and still be automated.

Level 15

I have started using Discovery Profiles for 100% of new servers going into my Orion and I have to say Auto-Import and Add by AD are the missing links. I might still decide to import by IP since we have a subnet not on the same AD but it's great otherwise.

Testing this against server agents rolled into images should be interesting...

This looks extremely promising. Selectable OU's? OMG. Great idea! Can't wait to see moar.

Level 10

Really like the idea of "Automatically Monitor".

Is this something that will be available to use in the API during an "Add Node" call?

We have identified a number of resources as junk and have some scripts we routinely run that go and delete the volumes and interfaces we don't care about, would be awesome to not even monitor them.

Level 15

Oliver,

Based on what I have seen, if you define those volume types and interface types or name patterns in the discovery profile then they don't get added to begin with.

Now if you need to exclude volumes by name then I would make a feature request. Today it looks like it's not in the beta

You likely can still include those in the discovery ignore volumes table then once you delete they will not get added back.

Product Manager
Product Manager

SAM 6.3 does include a new SWIS API called "StartDiscoveryProfile(int profileID)" which now allows you to kick off an existing defined discovery job without needing to wait for its next scheduled run, or manually kicking off a discovery that has no pre-defined schedule. You're welcome bluefunelemental

Level 15

Who should I send chocolates to? You or the Mrs?

Level 13

This is all my hubby and his genius brain at work! 🙂

Product Manager
Product Manager

I wish I could take all, most, or even any of the credit, but alas I cannot. These ideas come from amazing users like bluefunelemental‌, implemented by an all-star cast of developers, and then tested by the hardest working QA team in the business.

Product Manager
Product Manager

Please send directly to "Happy Dude, 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield" 

Level 10

Awesome, sounds like progress. I am excited to give it a go. Thanks aLTeReGo‌ and bluefunelemental

Level 10

I have installed in my lab and most of the time,I am getting the below error:

Unexpected Website Error

The given key was not present in the dictionary.

Product Manager
Product Manager

Did the machine you installed the SAM beta on previously have any Orion based products installed on it? I recommend you start a thread in the Server & Applications Monitor Beta‌ forum where there is a team of people standing by awaiting to assist beta participants with any questions or issues they encounter throughout the beta.

Level 9

Can this beta be installed on window 2012r2 core?

Product Manager
Product Manager

In theory yes, though you will need to download the .NET Framework separately since it's not included as part of the Core Edition of Windows.

.NET Framework Support on Server Core

MVP
MVP

From what I've seen the look and feel is more fluid. One of the main reasons that I initially chose Solarwinds over the competitor that includes the atomic number of 79 was the look and feel - this upgrade takes it up a notch and really is a fresh look.

I love the AD network scan, very helpful when you have as many VLANs as we have here.

Level 9

Is this still the latest beta for SAM 6.3?

Product Manager
Product Manager

Yes, it is as of the time of this posting.

Level 9

Thanks!

Level 8

I can‘t found the download link.  Our license of Server & Application Monitor is under active maintenance.

Product Manager
Product Manager

You should have received an email containing information on where to download the SAM 6.3 beta. If you have not receive that email please let us know.

Level 20

Between the new agents and AD discovery integration SAM is definitely getting some great improvements.  Especially for the NT Server team type guys this is going to make a lot more sense to them is my guess!

Level 11

Yep, eagerly awaiting this release. Especially with the profiles you can assign to auto-monitor specific things when a newly deployed server comes online with the agent installed on it. Certainly reduces a lot of manual effort/scripting.

Level 7

How close is this product to being released for primetime?

Product Manager
Product Manager

Beta 2 should be available sometime next week with lots more goodies.

Level 10

Definitely looking forward to it!

MVP
MVP

The Beta we've been testing is excellent, really looking forward to the next revision. The look is really clean.

Level 7

We would love to test version 6.3 beta 1 or 2 soon. We like the option to integrate with Active Directory and the option to automatically monitor resources. Can someone share with us if you are able to assign templates to a network discovery?

Level 20

I remember thinking about AD when I first finally broke down after years and got the SAM module and realized it wasn't AD aware!  That's huge for any windows administrator... these days everything is segmented by OU in AD.  Geesh we even use AD for our unix/linux auth now with kerberos and ldap from AD.  This should really be awesome and make some things much easier to handle on getting wintel nodes into NPM/SAM.  This could even help with other OS's that use AD.

MVP
MVP

I've installed the new Beta and can't add servers. I get to the page to add SAM applications and get: There was no response from the SAM Service Engine located at "".

Product Manager
Product Manager

Have you previously installed a SAM beta on this same machine? I'm thinking your license may be expired due to the installation of a previous evaluation or beta on this machine.

MVP
MVP

Yes, the earlier Beta was on the machine. The install did say that it would upgrade, but I'm guessing it didn't do so correctly. Will uninstalling all the SolarWinds pieces and then reinstalling fix the matter?

Product Manager
Product Manager

Ideally this would be a virtual machine you could revert to a snapshot taken prior to the installation of any Orion modules. If that's not possible, you will at a minimum need to uninstall all items related to Orion from the machine and start with a new clean database for the beta. You will also need to reply to the beta invite requesting a new license key that should be applied only after following the previous steps and re-installing in a clean configuration.

MVP
MVP

This is exact setup I use for betas and evaluations. I have a few server VMs with .NET and other pre-requisites already installed so I can snapshot back and reinstall if I need to run something up.

Level 7

Hello I try download SAM 6.3 but it not works, is any way how download it? We have SAM uder maintenance with ALX licence.

Regards Roman

Level 20

Roman you have to sign up for the beta of SAM 6.3 above by clicking on the red button first to get access to the beta and the forum for it.  This is only for people under maintenance and since you are you'll be good to go.

Level 12

Any ballpark info you can share on anticipated GA release dates? The Linux agent option is the only thing holding us back from decom of our SCOM environment at this point. Can't get to the linux servers in our protected domains without an agent sort  of monitoring so we are anxiously awaiting the GA release. NIce work BTW

Product Manager
Product Manager

If I was a betting man, I'd say probably sometime in the future. Unless of course you're reading this post after it's already been released. Then I'd say sometime in the past.

MVP
MVP

ALTeReGo for President!!!

Level 10

How long does it take until I receive the download link to the beta? I did the survey yesterday and then I also apply for access to the Beta forum ; is the process automated or do I have to wait for approval?

Product Manager
Product Manager

Beta sign-ups are not yet automated. This is a manual process. It can take anywhere from 24-72 hours before you receive an email containing links to download the beta.

Level 13

Yes, a Volume Filter would be great, as well as adding the ability to bulk-edit volumes in Manage Nodes like you can with Interfaces.  The new per-Volume threshold feature is worthless without bulk-editing ability, so we still use custom properties for Volume Thresholds.  I also want an improved Interface Filter in the Discovery Import.  The fact that each filter you add has to be an AND makes it to where you have to run the import several times with different filters to get the result you want sometimes.  That will negate some of the usefulness of the Automatic Import feature as well.

Still trying to get our SA's & DB's to take the leap.  Silos = BAD

Level 12

Regarding the Discovery filter, Yes I pointed out in the SAM beta 6 months ago that we need to have the ability to have granular criteria in order to take advantage of automatically adding devices in a discovery.  And it didn't make it into the release.  Network discovery, Atlas Maps, UNDP, Web based reporting.  It gets very old to see SolarWinds update some of this core functionality and then take a long time to fix the glaring issues they missed.

Level 14

Just going to leap in here and point out the obvious -- I haven't found a monitoring platform yet that takes as much time and effort to incorporate the feedback of their customers as SolarWinds. Is it a perfect system?  Heck no!  But it is awesome enough that I consistently recommend them and their products to customers -- and even a few random people who I felt just needed my opinion.

So, yeah -- some things continue to suck.  (Virtualization settings -- ugh!) Let's not forgot the level of awesomeness that we see in almost every release, minor and major, and a good chunk of it being community driven.

About the Author
After CIS/MIS contracted for DISA in mid 90’s Worked with Toyota for 3 years Worked for GE for 4 years (Here was where I first found SW products) Did a bunch of various network engineering projects Contracted for GE for 4 more years Currently working with General Dynamics Mission Systems   William Eckler IT Business Operations Services .ılılı..ılılı. GENERAL DYNAMICS Mission Systems