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Product Blog - Page 2

Product Manager
Product Manager

Status is arguably one of the most important aspects of any monitoring solution. It's a key component for visually notifying you that something is amiss in your environment, as well as being an important aid in the troubleshooting process. When used properly, status is also the engine that powers alerting, making it an absolutely essential ingredient for both proactive and reactive notifications aimed at ensuring your entire IT environment runs smoothly.

Orion® Node Status, in particular, has for an extended period of time been somewhat unique when compared to other entities in the Orion Platform[MJ1] . Most other entities have a fairly simple, straightforward, and easy-to-understand hierarchy of status based upon severity. These include things like Up, Warning, Critical, and Down, but can also include other statuses which denote an absence of a state, such as Unknown, Unmanaged, etc. By comparison, a node managed in the Orion Platform today can have any of twenty-two unique statuses. Some of these statuses can, to the uninitiated, appear at best contradictory, and at worst, just downright confusing.

This is the result of separating information about the node itself from its associated child objects (like interfaces and applications) into multiple colored balls. The larger colored ball representing the reachability of the node, usually via ICMP, while the much smaller colored ball in the bottom right represents the worst state of any of the node's child objects.

Primary Node Status

Nodes With Child Status

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It would be fair to say that this is neither obvious, nor intuitive, so in this release, we've sought to radically improve how Node status is calculated and represented within the Orion Platform.

Node Thresholds

The first thing people usually notice after adding a few nodes to the Orion Platform, is that node thresholds for things like CPU & Memory utilization appear to have no effect on the overall status of the node, and they'd be right. Those thresholds can be used to define your alerts, but node status itself has historically only represented the reachability of the node. That, unfortunately, complicates troubleshooting by obfuscating legitimate issues as well as adds unnecessary confusion. For example, in the image below, I'm often asked why the state of the node is “green” when the CPU Load and Memory utilization are obviously critical? A very fair and legitimate question.

With the release of Orion Platform 2019.2 comes the introduction of Enhanced Node Status. With this new Enhanced Node Status, thresholds defined either globally or on an individual node itself can now impact the overall status of the node. For example, if the memory utilization on a node is at 99% and your “Critical” threshold for that node is “Greater than 90%,” the node status will now reflect the appropriate “Critical” status. This should allow you to spot issues quickly without having to hunt for them in mouse hovers or drilling into Node Details views.

CPU Load

Memory Utilization

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Response Time

Packet Loss

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Sustained Thresholds

Borrowing heavily from Server & Application Monitor, Orion Platform 2019.2 now includes support for sustained node threshold conditions. Being notified of every little thing that goes bump in the night can desensitize you to your alerts, potentially causing you to miss important service impacting events. For alerts to be valuable, they should be actionable. For example, just because a CPU spikes to 100% for a single poll probably doesn't mean you need to jump out of bed in the middle of the night and VPN into the office to fix something. After all, it's not that unusual for a CPU to spike temporarily, or latency to vary from time to time over a transatlantic site-to-site VPN tunnel. 

What you probably want to be notified of instead is if that CPU utilization remains higher than 80% for more than five consecutive polls, or if the latency across that site-to-site VPN tunnel remains greater than 300ms for 8 out of 10 polls. Those are likely more indicative of a legitimate issue occurring in the environment that requires some form of intervention to correct.

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Sustained Thresholds can be applied to any node's existing CPU Load, Memory Usage, Response Time, or Percent Packet Loss thresholds. You can also mix and match “single poll,” “X consecutive polls,” and “X out of Y polls” between warning and critical thresholds for the same metric for even greater flexibility. Sustained Thresholds can even be used in combination with Dynamic Baselines to eliminate nuisance alerts and further reduce alert fatigue, allowing you to focus only on those alerts which truly matter.

Null Thresholds

A point of contention for some users has been the requirement that all Node thresholds must contain some value. Those could be nodes that you still want to monitor, report, and trend upon those performance metrics but not necessarily be alerted on, such as staging environment, machines running in a lab, decommissioned servers, etc.

Historically, there has been no way to say, “I don't care about thresholds on this node”' or “I don't care about this particular metric.” At best, you could set the warning and critical thresholds as high as possible in the hopes of getting close to eliminating alerts for metrics on those nodes you don't necessarily care about. Alternatively, some customers update and maintain their alert definitions to exclude metrics on those nodes they don't want to be alerted on. A fairly messy, but effective, solution—but also one that is no longer necessary.

With the introduction of Enhanced Status in Orion Platform 2019.2, any Node threshold can now be disabled simply by editing the node and unchecking the box next to the warning or critical thresholds of the metric you're not interested in. Don't want a node to ever go into a “Critical” state as a result of high response time to keep the boss off your back, but still want to receive a warning when things are really bad? No worries, just disable the “Critical” threshold, leave the “Warning” threshold enabled and adjust the value to what constitutes “really bad” for your environment.

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If so inclined, you can even disable these individual warning and critical thresholds globally from [Settings > All Settings > Orion Thresholds] for each individual node metric.

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Child Objects

In this new world of Enhanced Status, no longer are there confusing multi-status icons, like “up-down” or “up warning.” Child objects can now influence the overall node status itself by rolling up status in a manner similar to Groups or how Server & Application Monitor rolls-up status of the individual component monitors that make up an Application. This provides a simple, consolidated status for the node and its related child entities. Those child objects can be things such as Interfaces, Hardware Health, and Applications monitored on the node, to name only a few.

Similar to Groups, we wanted to provide users with the ability to control how node status rollup was calculated on an individual, per-node basis for ultimate flexibility. When editing the properties of a single node or multiple nodes, you’ll now find a new option for “Status roll-up mode” where you can select from Best, Mixed, or Worst.

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By altering how node status is calculated, you control how child objects influence the overall status of the node.

BestMixedWorst
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Best status, as one might guess, always reflects the best status across all entities contributing to the calculation. Setting the Node to “Best” status is essentially the equivalent of how status was calculated in previous releases, sans the tiny child status indicator in the bottom right corner of the status icon.

Worst status, you guessed it, represents the status of the object in the worst state. This can be especially useful for servers, where application status may be the single most important thing to represent for that node For example, I'm monitoring my Domain Controller with Server & Application Monitor's new AppInsight for Active Directory. If Active Directory is “Critical,” then I want the node status for that Domain Controller to reflect a “Critical” state.

Mixed-status is essentially a blend of best and worst and is the default node status calculation. The following table provides several examples of how Mixed status is calculated.

Polled Status

Child 1 Status

Child 2 Status

Final Node Status

DOWNANYANYDOWN
UPUPUPUP
UP or WARNINGUPWARNINGWARNING
UP or WARNINGUPCRITICALCRITICAL
UP or WARNINGUPDOWNWARNING
UP or WARNINGUPUNREACHABLEWARNING
UPUPUNKNOWNUP
WARNINGUPUNKNOWNWARNING
UPUPSHUTDOWNUP
UP or WARNINGDOWNWARNINGWARNING
UP or WARNINGDOWNCRITICALCRITICAL
UP or WARNINGDOWNUNKNOWNWARNING
UP or WARNINGDOWNDOWNWARNING
UPUNKNOWNUNKNOWNUP
WARNINGUNKNOWNUNKNOWNWARNING
UNMANAGEDANYANYUNMANAGED
UNREACHABLEANYANYUNREACHABLE
EXTERNALANYANYGroup Status

In case you overlooked it in the table above, yes, External Nodes can now reflect an appropriate status based upon applications monitored on those nodes.

Child Object Contributors

Located under [Settings > All Settings > Node Child Status Participation] you will find you now have even more fine-grained, granular control of up to 27 individual child entity types that can contribute to the overall status of your nodes. Don't want Interfaces contributing to the status of your nodes? No problem! Simply click the slider to the “off” position and Interfaces will no longer influence your nodes status. It's just that easy.

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Show me the Money!

You might be asking yourself, all these knobs, dials, and switches are great, but how exactly are these going to make my life better or simpler? A fair question, and one that no doubt has countless correct answers, but I'll try and point out a few of the most obvious examples.

Maps

One of the first places you're likely to notice Enhanced Status is in Orion Maps. The example below shows the exact same environment. The first image shows what this environment looked like in the previous release using Classic Status. Notice the absence of any obvious visual cues denoting issues in the environment. The next image to the right is of the very same environment taken at the exact same time as the image on the left. The only notable difference is that this image was taken from a system running Orion Platform 2019.2 with Enhance Node Status.

In both examples, there are the exact same issues going on in the environment, but these issues were obfuscated in previous releases. This made the troubleshooting process less intuitive and unnecessarily time-consuming. With Enhance Status, it's now abundantly clear where the issues lie. And with the topology and relationship information from Orion Maps, it's now easier to assess the potential impact those issues are having on the rest of the environment.

Classic Status

Enhanced Status
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Groups

Groups in the Orion Platform are incredibly powerful, but historically in order for them to accurately reflect an appropriate status or calculate availability accurately, you were required to add all relevant objects to that group. This means you not only needed to add the nodes that make up the group, but also all child objects associated with those nodes, such as interfaces, applications, etc.

Even in the smallest of environments, this was an otherwise impossible feat to manage manually. Given the nature of all the various entity types that could be associated with those nodes, even Dynamic Groups were of little assistance in this regard. Enhanced Status not only radically simplifies group management, but it also empowers users to more easily utilize Dynamic Groups to make group management a completely hands-off experience.

The following demonstrates how Enhanced Node Status simplifies overall Group Management in the Orion Platform, reducing the total number of objects you need to manage inside those groups. The screenshot on the left shows a total of eight nodes using Enhanced Status in a group, causing the group to reflect a Critical status. The image to the right shows all the objects that are required to reflect the same status using Classic Status. As you can see, you would need to not only add the same 8 nodes but also their 43 associated child objects for a total of 51 objects in the group. Yikes!

Enhanced Status (8 Objects)

Classic Status (51 Objects)

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By comparison, the following demonstrates what that group would look like with just the eight nodes alone included in the group using both Classic Status and Enhanced Status. Using Classic status, the group reflects a status of “Up,” denoting no issues at all in the group. With Enhanced Status, it's abundantly clear that there are in fact issues, which nodes have issues, and their respective severity. This aids in significantly reducing time to resolution and aids in root cause analysis.

Enhanced Status

Classic Status
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Alerts

Possibly the greatest benefit of Enhanced Status is that far fewer alert definitions are required to be notified of the exact same events. Because node thresholds and child objects now influence the status of the node, you no longer need alert definitions for individual node metrics like “Response Time,” or related child entities like “Interfaces.” In fact, of the alert definitions included out-of-the-box with the Orion Platform, Enhanced Status eliminates the need for at least five, taking you from seven down to a scant two. That's a 71% reduction in the number of alert definitions that need to be managed and maintained.

Out-of-the-box Alerts Using Classic Status - x7

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Out-of-the-box Alerts Using Enhanced Status - x2

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Alert Macros

I'm sure at this point many of you are probably shouting at your screen, "But wait! Don't I still need all those alert definitions if I want to know why the node is in whatever given state that it's in when the alert is sent? I mean, getting an alert notification telling me the node is “Critical” is cool and all, but I sorta need to know why."

We would be totally remiss if in improving Node status we didn't also improve the level of detail we included in alerts for nodes. With the introduction of Enhanced Status comes two new alert macros that can be used in your alert actions, such as email notifications, which lists all items contributing to the status of that node. Those two alert macros are listed below.

The first is intended to be used with simple text-only notification mechanisms, such as SMS, Syslog, or SNMP Traps. The second macro outputs in HTML format with hyperlinks to each child objects respective details page. This macro is ideally suited for email or any other alerting mechanism that can properly interpret HTML.

  • ${N=SwisEntity;M=NodeStatusRootCause}
  • ${N=SwisEntity;M=NodeStatusRootCauseWithLinks}

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The resulting output of the macro provided in the notification includes all relevant information pertaining to the node. This includes any node thresholds that have been crossed as well as a list of all child objects in a degraded state associated with the node, which is all consolidated down into a simple, easily digestible, alert notification that pinpoints exactly where to begin troubleshooting.

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Enabling Enhanced Status

If you're installing any Orion product module for the first time that is running Orion Platform 2019.2 or later, Enhanced Status is already enabled for you by default. No additional steps are required. If you're upgrading from a previous release, however, you will need to enable Enhanced Status manually to appreciate the benefits it provides.

Because status is the primary trigger condition for alerts, we did not want customers who are upgrading to be surprisingly inundated with alert storms because of how they had configured the trigger conditions of their alert definitions. We decided instead to let customers decide for themselves when/if to switch over to Enhanced Status.

The good news is that this is just a simple radio button located under [Settings > All Settings > Polling Settings]

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Conversely, if you decided to rebuild your Orion server and have a preference for “Classic” status, you can use this same setting to disable “Enhanced” Status mode on new Orion installations and revert back to “Classic” status.

Cautionary Advice

If you plan to enable “Enhanced” status in an existing environment after upgrading to Orion Platform 2019.2 or later, it’s recommended that you disable alert actions in the Alert Manager before doing so. This should allow you to identify alerts with trigger conditions in their alert definition that may need tweaking without inadvertently causing a flood of alert notifications or other alert actions from firing. Your coworkers will thank you later.

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Feedback

Enhanced status represents a fairly significant, but vitally important, change for the Orion Platform. We sincerely hope you enjoy the additional level of customization and reduced management overhead it provides. As with any new feature, we'd love to get your feedback on these improvements. Will you be switching to Enhanced Status with your next upgrade? If not, why? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

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Product Manager
Product Manager

The Orion® Platform is designed to consolidate monitoring into a single source of truth, taking massive amounts of data and making it easier to identify issues in complex environments. A key component to this is the organization of data. As an example, if I were to present you with the dashboard below, you can see it’s aggregating a ton of information and highlighting issues from multiple modules like Network Performance Monitor (NPM), Server & Application Monitor (SAM), Virtualization Manager (VMAN), and Storage Resource Monitor (SRM). Single pane of glass, right?  However, it’s not interesting, not even a little bit, and most importantly, it’s not easily interpreted. This dashboard doesn't really help me understand the problem or where to focus.

 

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Simplifying how data is interpreted through better visualizations can provide drastic improvements for understanding problems. Now, if I present you with this view, can you tell me where the problem areas are?

 

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The Orion Maps team believes visualization of your data can be a powerful tool when put together in a meaningful way. Ensuring critical data is available but presenting it in a clear and concise manner allows you to quickly see the problem and its potential impact. Visualizations help tell the story, and can help members of your organization, or clients, understand the breadth and complexity of what you manage on a day-to-day basis. For those of you unfamiliar with the Orion Maps project to date, you may want to review the following posts. These should help paint the picture, no pun intended, on what we’ve delivered with the previous releases.

 

Orion Platform 2018.2 Improvements - Chapter Two - Intelligent Mapping

Orion Platform 2018.4 Improvements - Intelligent Mapping Enhancements

 

With the release of 2019.2, we’ve incorporated some new enhancements designed to extend the flexibility of the platform and provide some amazing new options for representing your environment and critical services.

 

 

ORION MAPS MENU & MANAGEMENT PAGE

 

As a new entry point to maps, an "Orion Maps" menu is now available under My Dashboards and Home. Selecting this option will transport you to the Map Management page.  This will be blank initially, prompting you to create a map.
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It’s important to note here that any user can create a map. If you have access to this menu, you can create maps. However, each of you will only be able to see the maps you created yourself in the list view. The current features on this page will allow you to sort your list by Map Name, Last Updated, and Created Date. There’s also a search bar allowing you to search for maps by name.

 

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Any Orion Administrator will have an additional function when they access this view. A very helpful tool is available in the upper-right corner allowing you to toggle the view to include all user maps vs. just your own. The main components to this page provide the capabilities to create a new map, edit existing maps, delete maps, or view a map by selecting its name.

Maps List View.gif

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MAP EDITOR

Let’s begin by creating a new map via the Map Editor. Selecting New Map will open the basic editor for building maps from scratch. You’ll be greeted by an entity library on the left side, which defaults to a paginated list of your nodes. You can click the drop-down to choose from any entity type in Orion Maps. As always, a search bar is also available. The empty canvas will take up most of the view, and a few controls will be noticeable in the bottom-right corner, along with a Save button and More menu in the upper-right side. Building a map from the basic editor is for those of you who know exactly what you want in the map. For now, this is single drag-and-drop functionality, and any relationships or connections identified will automatically be drawn.

Basic Map Editor.gif

Click to Enlarge

 

Like any design tool, built-in functions allow you to manipulate the map. Holding the space bar will allow you to pan the map. Selecting entities will allow you to move objects, and holding the Shift key when moving objects will perform a snap to grid function. Using arrow keys will gently nudge the entity in a desired direction. Holding Shift while using arrows will move the object in larger increments. Holding the Control key or using the + or - buttons will allow you to zoom in or out while working with your map. Probably one of my favorite tools is the Center key in the bottom right. This will not only center your map, but perform a zoom to fit, ensuring the entire map is placed in the viewable area. This is an excellent tool as you expand or condense maps of different scales. Any entity can be removed from a map by selecting it and hitting the Delete key on your keyboard.

 

Basic Map Editor Tools.gif

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Once we have our map situated how we want it, you’ll notice any change in the canvas enables the "Save" button in the upper-right corner.  Clicking save will generate a dialogue, which will allow you to add a unique name. This will warn you in the event you attempt to name your map with a previously used name.

 

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Under the MORE menu, a number of options will be presented to you. "New" will allow you to start a new map and a blank canvas, much like the name implies. "Save As" is particularly useful if a map has been shared with you, or as an administrator you’re editing a map you didn’t create. Unless you’re the one who created the original map, you won’t be allowed to "Save" but will have to perform a "Save As" and rename the map. "Delete" needs little explanation, but again, if this isn’t your map, then the delete option will be grayed out. I’ll cover the "View" button a bit later in this post in more detail, and the "Help" button of course links to formal documentation for much of the items discussed in this post.

 

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LEVERAGING CONTEXTUAL MAPS

We have massive plans to improve upon the function of building maps as we understand one of the biggest needs is expediting map creation and limiting the number of touches to maintain them. Feel free to share what you believe would make a difference in the comment section below. In this release, we’re taking advantage of the framework and functionality delivered previously through the contextual sub-views. If or when viewing an automatically generated map from the Node or Group Details sub-views, you’ll now see a new button added to the menu bar, "Open Map in Editor." Essentially, I can use the existing functionality to take a pre-built map, expand it further, and have what was done within the sub-view persisted and sent to the new map editor with the click of a button. The images below should show a basic demonstration of this workflow. This is a great way to build maps quickly and then make final adjustments in the editor before saving.

 

Navigating to Map sub-view from Node Details page

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Expanding the map through automatically discovered relationships

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Open Map in Editor

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Of course, using the built-in tools to move objects around the canvas, snap to grid, and taking advantage of the center/auto-fit tool as you make adjustments can help you properly create a representation that makes the most sense for your organization. Once I’ve saved the map, what do I do now?

 

ORION MAPS WIDGET

As maps are saved, they’ll be accessible as a Map Project from the list view under the Map Management page. You’ll also find a new widget available in the Widget Drawer, allowing you to add any of your custom maps to a dashboard or view. Click the pencil in the upper-left side marked Customize Page, then click Add Widgets, and the resource will be located under the Network Maps section called Orion Map.

 

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Drag and drop as many of these widgets out to the page as you wish, and click "Edit" or "Choose Map" to specify a map from your list. A dialogue will contain options to customize a title or subtitle and specify the widget height by pixels. A list of maps will be shown, along with a search option for quickly identifying the map you wish to use. Like the Map Management page, admins will also have the option to see all user-created maps by clicking the toggle on the right side.

 

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Click "save" and your map will now be available. Another one of my favorite features is we managed to build the widget where it‘ll automatically scale the map according to the size you specified. By adjusting the height and the column width, your map will auto-fit the available space, making it fast and easy to get the map exactly where you want on your dashboard, at just the right size.

 

 

Auto-Fit Map in Widget 2.gif

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With the ability to incorporate these maps alongside other widgets in the dashboard, you have some amazing new ways in which to roll up critical problems within your environment.  Below is a quick example of what one may look like.

 

 

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ENHANCED NODE STATUS

If you are unaware, or have yet to come across this post, Orion Platform 2019.2 - Enhanced Node Status by aLTeReGo, we’ve included some very significant updates in how we highlight status in the Orion Platform. The desire for improvements in status was a consistent theme we heard during user research with maps as well, and the difference this change makes is awesome. To steal an excerpt from aLTeReGo's post: The example below shows the exact same environment. The first image shows what this environment looked like in the previous release using Classic Status. Notice the absence of any obvious visual cues denoting issues in the environment. The next image to the right is of the very same environment, taken at the exact same time as the image on the left. The only notable difference is this image was taken from a system running Orion Platform 2019.2 with Enhance Node Status.

 

 

In both examples, there are the exact same issues going on in the environment, but these issues were obfuscated in previous releases, making the troubleshooting process less intuitive and unnecessarily time-consuming. With Enhanced Status, it's now abundantly clear where the issues lie, and with the topology and relationship information from Orion Maps, it's now easier to assess the potential impact those issues are having on the rest of the environment.

 

 

Classic Status Enhanced Status
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INTERACTING WITH THE MAP WIDGET AND VIEW MODE

Now that you have an amazing visualization of your environment and the issues are clearly identified, a closer look may be in order. There are a couple of different methods for interacting with your maps. The first method takes advantage of the improvements made to the Orion Hovers and are accessible from the Map Widget.  By hovering over an entity in your map, performance status will be available and should highlight exactly why your entity is in a degraded state. You will also be able to access the Commands menu, which will allow you to Go To Details pages, Edit Node, Mute Alerts, or Unmanage the entity directly from the map!  This behavior will be the same if a group is on a map, or if you have nested maps.  You can see that the commands option for a map includes viewing a map, editing a map, or muting alerts associated to a map!  From here, you can choose to use the command options or simply click on the entity in the map. By doing so it will take you to the details page automatically as pictured below.  The View Mode, which can also be accessed as a button in the top right of the Map Widget, is a full screen depiction of that map and all its entities, allowing you to investigate further utilizing the inspector panel to show related entities, alerts, and recommendations, if viewing virtual entities.

 

Map Widget Interaction.gif

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FEEDBACK

This release marks another significant step for the Orion Maps project and we hope you find these new enhancements valuable and useful in your environment.  I plan to write and attach a couple other posts to this announcement around using Maps in Alerts and Reporting.  Of course with each release, we find your feedback extremely valuable, and much of what has been done to this point centers around your asks.  Please be sure to comment below and SHARE YOUR MAPS and DASHBOARDS!  Stay tuned as we are already hard at work on the next major release and have some very cool stuff in store. 

 

Check out the other posts form serena and aLTeReGo on 2019.2 Platform improvements if you haven't already!

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Install/Upgrade Improvements Part 1

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Install/Upgrade Improvements Part 2

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Enhanced Node Status

Orion Platform 2019.2 - Additional Improvements

Orion Platform 2019.4 - Orion Maps is Now Available

ORION PLATFORM - 2020.2 RELEASE CANDIDATE - AN ORION MAP TO SUCCESS!

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Product Manager
Product Manager

In addition to Node status improvements, the Orion® Platform 2019.2 includes a slew of other great new features and enhancements. There’s a tremendous amount of diversity in these improvements, ranging from deployment flexibility to usability all the way to security. So, no matter what your jam, this release for the Orion Platform is sure to have something for you.

Default Admin Password

If you're installing an Orion Platform product for the first time, perhaps on a lab system or in a staging environment, undoubtedly the first new thing you'll notice the first time you attempt to log in to the Orion web interface is you’re now required to define a password for the default “Admin” user account. No longer will you be able to login with the default “admin” account with no password. If you're upgrading from a previous release, however, this change won’t affect you. It's only applicable to new installs of the Orion Platform. However, if you're still running your Orion instance with no password defined for the “Admin” account, let this post serve as a reminder to check that off the to-do list.

Admin Password Change PromptError Returned When no Password is Entered
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Azure SQL DB Support

In the earlier Orion Platform 2018.2 release, we added support for using Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) as a cloud-based alternative to more traditional on-premises Microsoft SQL database servers. This allowed those customers who were deploying Orion instances into the cloud using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) as their infrastructure as a service solution, to lower costs and reduce management overhead further by using Amazon's database-as-a-service offering. As more organizations lift and shift workloads into the cloud, it's natural for their monitoring solution to be one of them.

Since that release, however, we've received numerous requests to provide similar support for Azure SQL DB, Microsoft's equivalent alternative service offering to Amazon's RDS… and in the Orion Platform 2019.4, we’ve delivered. By adding support for Azure SQL DB to all product modules running atop Orion Platform 2019.2, you’re now afforded greater deployment flexibility and choice than ever before, without the worry of being locked in to a single cloud vendor. Best of all, using Azure SQL DB as the SQL database repository for your Orion install is just as easy as using a local on-prem MSSQL database server instance.

Regardless if you're installing the Orion Platform for the first time or migrating your Orion instance to the cloud, the magic begins in the Configuration Wizard. Simply enter in the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the SQL Server instance as shown in your Azure Portal and your credentials. With the introduction of Azure SQL DB, the Orion Platform now also supports the use of Azure Active Directory credentials for authenticating to the Azure SQL DB instance should you prefer not to use SQL authentication.

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If this is a new Orion Platform installation, you can create an empty database from within your Azure Portal for your Orion instance to use, or the Configuration Wizard can automatically create one for you, no differently than if you were to deploy the Orion Platform on-prem. By default, the Configuration Wizard will create an S3 tier database, the absolute lowest Azure SQL DB tier supported by the Orion Platform and its associated product modules.

My favorite thing about Azure SQL DB is how incredibly fast and easy it is to scale your database tier up or down from within the Azure portal as your needs (or budget) dictates.

If for any reason you forget which Azure SQL database tier the Orion Platform is using, you can remind yourself from within the comfort of the Orion web interface simply by going to [Settings > All Settings > Database Details].

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Orion Agent Rediscovery

Rediscovering things like newly added volumes, AppInsight applications, and interfaces on Agents has historically been a fairly binary operation. Your options were either to run a rediscovery against every Agent-managed node associated with a given Polling Engine, or none. There wasn’t really a way to specify additional criteria to narrow your rediscovery job to a subset of Agent-managed nodes. This was obviously fairly limiting if you wanted to handle some Agent-managed nodes differently than others, such as production vs. staging/lab machines or by office/region. If you wanted these handled differently, your only recourse was to divvy those Agents up across polling engines based on their role or location.

Since this was hardly an ideal solution for some customers, or even an option for others, we knew we could do better. In Orion Platform 2019.2, you can now specify rediscovery parameters for Agent-managed nodes based on node properties, such as IP addressing, node caption naming conventions, and even custom properties. These properties can even be combined to target a subset of Agents you want to be rediscovered, either one time or on a recurring basis. You'll even find a convenient “Preview” button so you can validate the rediscovery parameters you've specified to return the expected Agent-managed nodes. Coupled with automatic import, these Agent rediscovery options provide the Ronco Rotisserie equivalent of IT management, allowing you to simply set it and forget it.

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Linux Agent Metrics

More than a few keen-eyed observers have noticed a slight discrepancy when monitoring Linux nodes using the Agent when compared to those same nodes being monitored via SNMP. Namely, the absence of specific volume types, such as Swap Space, Shared Memory, Memory Buffers, and more. Fortunately, in this release, we've corrected this injustice and now provide visibility into the same volume types with the Linux Orion Agent as are available when polling via SNMP. No longer will you need to make difficult compromises or tradeoffs when deciding to switch your node polling method from SNMP to the Linux Agent.

Orion Platform 2018.4Orion Platform 2019.2
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Orion Agent SDK

Since the initial first release of the Orion Agent, it's been possible to use the Orion SDK to script the push deployment of new agents to remote machines no differently than you can through the Orion web interface. While this has been great, those systems have to be accessible via RPC and WMI for Windows or SSH for Linux for the agent to be deployed. Additionally, those machines where the Agent is deployed must be able to communicate back to the Orion server or one of its associated polling engines. For those customers who would prefer to pre-deploy the Agent in a passive mode (server initiated), either using Chef, Puppet, SCCM, or even SolarWinds Patch Manager, there hasn’t really been any good way to script or automate managing those systems. Instead, users have had to add those passive agents to the Orion Platform manually, one by one. Which is perhaps fine if you have the occasional one or two, but not so much fun when you have dozens or even hundreds of newly deployed Agents to manage in your Orion instance.

With Orion Platform 2019.2, this is now a problem of the past. You can now fully script and automate adding passive agents to your Orion instance using the Orion SDK. Simply pass all the same parameters you would normally be prompted to enter when adding a passive agent through the Orion web interface as part of your script. For example, the IP address of the machine where the passive agent is already deployed. Within seconds of executing your script, you should see your passive agent appear under [Settings > All Settings > Manage Agents] of the Orion web interface.

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Manually Provision Agent Plugins

Some organizations have offices in very remote regions of the world where latency is very high and bandwidth is a sparse, precious commodity. While the Orion Agent is extremely lightweight to deploy and bandwidth-efficient during normal operation, when the Agent is initially provisioned, it downloads any and all dependencies necessary to perform whatever function it has been asked to do, such as functioning as a QoE sensor, NetPath probe, or becoming a managed node, to name only a few uses for the Agent.

Depending on which functions are being used, the age of the operating system, and how up-to-date the machine is with Windows Updates, the Agent plugin dependencies can reach up to a couple of hundred megabytes in size. If you need to provision dozens of Agents in one of these remote regions with high latency connections and very little bandwidth, it can take a very long time before all those Agents finish downloading all necessary plugins and dependencies (if they don't give up before then). Worse yet, if you're doing this deployment during working hours, the download of plugins and dependencies for all those Agents can significantly impede other people's ability to function in the office, as all available bandwidth could be consumed by those Agents attempting to download their plugins and plugin dependencies.

After upgrading to Orion Platform 2019.2, you’ll be able to pre-provision all Agent plugins and their related dependencies, thus eliminating the need for them to be downloaded from their associated polling engine as well as the potential to impact end users working in that remote office during the Agent provisioning process.

To get started, simply copy the contents of the “C:\Program Files (x86)\SolarWinds\Orion\AgentManagement\Plugins”' directory on the main Orion server to the “C:\ProgramData\SolarWinds\Agent\Plugins” directory of the Windows machine where you want to deploy the Agent. How you get those files to their intended destination is entirely up to you. You can use a CD, DVD, USB drive, even a local file share (or can I plug the tried-and-true Serv-U® MFT file transfer solution).

Once the agent plugins and their related dependencies have been copied to the appropriate directory on the remote machine where the Agent will be installed, install and configure the Agent as you normally would. The Agent should now use the local plugin repository rather than downloading those plugins across the wire from the polling engine with which it's associated. If you're pre-provisioning Linux or AIX Agents, you can follow the same steps. The only difference is the directory where the agent plugins are stored. For Linux or AIX Agents, be sure to copy them to the “/opt/SolarWinds/Agent/bin/Plugins” directory.

This same method can be used when upgrading Agents using a package management or software distribution solution like SolarWinds Patch Manager or Microsoft SCCM. Simply deploy the contents of the “C:\Program Files (x86)\SolarWinds\Orion\AgentManagement\Plugins” directory from the main Orion server to the appropriate directory listed above on the machine where the Agent is installed. Then execute the unattended Agent upgrade process as you normally would.

PerfStack Links

Continuing on the momentum of the previous release, Orion Platform 2019.2 adds even more direct links to PerfStack, where you can cross-correlate metrics across a variety of different entities and entity types to quickly identify the root cause of issues in your environment. Now, simply click on the numeric value or linear gauge in any of the 30 updated resources and you’ll be launched directly into PerfStack, where metrics are automatically plotted for you over time, ready for you to begin your analysis.

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The following table lists all 30 Orion resources updated in this release to link their respective metrics directly to PerfStack.

New Resources Supporting Direct Links to PerfStack
Top 10 Avg. Disk sec/TransferTop 25 Avg. Disk sec/TransferTop XX Avg. Disk sec/Transfer
Top 10 Nodes by Average Response TimeTop 25 Nodes by Average Response TimeTop XX Nodes by Average Response Time
Top 10 Nodes by Average CPU LoadTop 25 Nodes by Average CPU LoadTop XX Nodes by Average CPU Load
Top 10 Disk Queue LengthTop 25 Disk Queue LengthTop XX Disk Queue Length
Top 10 Volumes by Disk Space UsedTop 25 Volumes by Disk Space UsedTop XX Volumes by Disk Space Used
Top 10 Nodes by Percent Memory UsedTop 25 Nodes by Percent Memory UsedTop XX Nodes by Percent Memory Used

Top 10 Nodes by Percent Packet Loss

Top 25 Nodes by Percent Packet LossTop XX Nodes by Percent Packet Loss
Top 10 Nodes by Current Response TimeTop 25 Nodes by Current Response TimeTop XX Nodes by Current Response Time
Top 10 Total IOPSTop 25 Total IOPSTop XX Total IOPS
Nodes with High Average CPU LoadVolumes with High Percent UsageNodes with High Memory Utilization

Automatic Removal of Unknown Volumes

In today's highly virtualized word, volumes are no longer the physical, heavy-metal rectangle components of the server seldom, if ever, removed or added from the machine. Instead, volumes are simply additional storage capacity easily added or removed on a whim with just a few mouse clicks or keystrokes. As such, it's not uncommon these days for new volumes to be added or removed as storage capacity needs change over the course of a server's lifecycle. This, however, results in some additional overhead to keep the monitoring server up-to-date with these changes in the environment. While scheduled recurring discoveries with automatic import helps address automating the monitoring of new volumes as they're added to servers in the environment, removed volumes remain managed in the Orion Platform until they're manually deleted by someone with Node Management rights. Hunting down all these “unknown” volumes can also be a tedious process, which is why it's seldom done. The result is wasted volume licenses and bogged down polling engines wasting polling cycles by trying to monitor volumes that will never return.

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In our never-ending quest to reduce management overhead, we’ve now added the ability to automatically remove these “unknown” volumes after a predetermined period of time, which is, of course, user-configurable.

Under [Settings > All Settings > Orion Polling Settings], you’ll find a new option intuitively entitled “Automatically Remove Unknown Volumes,” which, as the name suggests, will remove any volumes from being managed by the Orion Platform if they’ve been “unknown” for longer than the number of days defined in “Remove Unknown Volumes After” field. To ensure we’re not inadvertently removing “unknown” volumes you may not want to be deleted immediately upon upgrading to Orion Platform 2019.2,, we’ve disabled this option by default. We do, however, recommend enabling this option and removing “unknown” volumes after a reasonable number of days as part of good monitoring hygiene.

Secure Syslog Alerts

For several years it's been possible to send SNMP Traps securely using SNMPv3 as an alert action. There has, however, not been any equivalent for sending Syslog messages as part of an alert trigger action in a similarly secure fashion… until now.

With the release of Orion Platform 2019.2, you’ll now find a new option to send Syslog messages via TCP, not just UDP, as in previous releases. There’s also an option for sending those Syslog messages via TCP using TLS encryption, providing secure communications and data privacy for data in motion. With these new capabilities, you can now safely and securely send alerts via Syslog to other Syslog receivers like Kiwi Syslog® or another Orion instance running Log Analyzer via TCP for improved reliability of message delivery and TLS encryption to comply with your latest security policies and regulatory mandates.

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HSRP Addresses

Odd as it may seem, IP addresses configured on Cisco routers for use with HSRP are not expressed using the traditional industry standard MIB2 ipAdEntAddrhttp://oid-info.com/get/1.3.6.1.2.1.4.20.1.1 OID. This information is instead tucked away in Cisco's private cisco-hsrp-mib, out of reach from the Orion Platform's normal mechanisms for gathering IP addresses assigned to a node. This meant it wasn’t possible to search for a node via the “Search for Nodes” resource using any HSRP IP address configured on a device. It also meant any Orion product module attempting to associate information to a given Node via its HSRP address, like NetPath, was unable to because the Orion Platform was unaware of the node's HSRP addresses.

Fortunately for you, this is now a thing of the past. With Orion Platform 2019.2, it will now collect all HSRP addresses assigned to a given node, allowing you to quickly find nodes by their HSRP addresses and properly associating disparate information from Orion product modules to its associated node.

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FortiGate CPU & Memory

Those of you running FortiGate firewalls in your environment should be pleased to hear Orion Platform 2019.2 now natively supports monitoring of both CPU and memory utilization for these devices out-of-the-box. No longer will you need to fumble with Universal Device Pollers. Best of all, you can even monitor these metrics in real-time via PerfStack Real-Time Polling.

If you're already monitoring your FortiGate firewalls with your Orion instance via SNMP, there's nothing additional you need to do. Simply upgrade your Orion product module to the latest version that includes Orion Platform 2019.2, and these metrics will begin being collected. If you were previously using Universal Device Pollers to monitor the CPU and memory utilization on your FortiGate firewalls, you may want to consider removing those pollers after upgrading to reduce polling overhead.

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Dynamic External Nodes

For years now, the Orion Platform has had the notion of External Nodes, which essentially represents a node that typically isn’t owned or managed by you and doesn’t respond to ICMP, SNMP, or WMI. The primary purpose of external nodes is for assigning application templates from Server & Application Monitor. Those application templates are commonly HTTP/HTTPS User Experience Monitors or TCP Port Monitors for monitoring external websites and SaaS applications, but there are many more uses for External Nodes. These are simply two examples.

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The trouble with external nodes historically has been since they don't poll any information, they also don't update their IP address—you must edit the properties of an External Node and select “Dynamic IP.” In previous Orion releases, you couldn't have external nodes with dynamic IP addresses. So, if you’d assigned an application template to an external node and its IP address ever changed, it would report a “down” status even if the application being monitored was really “up.” The Orion Platform was still polling the application using the original IP address of the node prior to it changing. Your only recourse for correcting this issue was to delete the node, re-add it to your Orion instance, and reassign any application templates you had assigned while losing any historical data for the applications monitored on the node.

With the release of Orion Platform 2019.2, we have addressed this glaring limitation of external nodes. Now, when the “Dynamic IP Address” box is checked on an “External” node, a reverse lookup against the hostname or fully qualified domain name (FQDN) for the node is done every two minutes by default, automatically updating the IP address. The frequency in which this query is done can be adjusted simply by updating the “Node Status Polling” interval for the node.

Newly Added SysObjectIDs

Every release of the Orion Platform includes support for identifying new makes, models, and manufacturers of devices. This comes in large part from customers just like you who help identify these new devices in the wild and report them to us in the Tell Us Your Unknown Devices v2.0 thread.

The following is a list of all new devices that will now be properly identified by Orion Platform 2019.2. If you're running the latest release of the Orion Platform and the “Machine Type” for any of your devices is reported as “Unknown,” simply post its SysObjectID to the Tell Us Your Unknown Devices v2.0 thread along with its make, model, and manufacturer, and we’ll ensure it's properly identified as such in the next release of the Orion Platform.

Cisco 800M with 8-Port LAN Integrated Services RouterCisco C1111-8PLTELAWH Router
DELL S5000Cisco C1111-8PLTELAWF Router
DELL S4810-ONCisco C1111-8PWE Router with WLAN E domain
DELL S6000-ONCisco Aironet 1815
DELL S4048-ONCisco Aironet 1540
DELL S3048-ONCisco Catalyst 2960L-24TQ-LL Switch
DELL S3148PCisco Catalyst 2960L-48TQ-LL Switch
DELL S3124PCisco Catalyst 2960L-24PQ-LL Switch
DELL S3124FCisco Catalyst 2960L-48PQ-LL Switch
DELL S3124Cisco Catalyst 9407R Switch
DELL S6100Cisco Catalyst 94010R Switch
DELL S6010Cisco C1111-4P Router
DELL S4048TCisco C1111-4PLTEEA Router with Multimode Europe and North America Advanced LTE
DELL S3148Cisco C1111-4PLTELA Router with Latin America Multimode and Asia Pacific Advanced LTE
DELL Z9500Cisco C1111-4PWE Router with WLAN E domain
DELL Z9100Cisco C1111-4PWB Router with WLAN B domain
DELL S4148FCisco C1111-4PWA Router with WLAN A domain
DELL S4148TCisco C1111-4PWZ Router with WLAN Z domain
HP 2930F-24G-PoE+-4SFP (JL261A)Cisco C1111-4PWN Router with WLAN N domain
1920S 24G 2SFP PoE+ (JL385A)Cisco C1111-4PWQ Router with WLAN Q domain
ForeScout CounterACT ApplienceCisco C1111-4PWH Router with WLAN C domain
Corvil CNE ApplianceCisco C1111-4PWR Router with WLAN R domain
Corvil CNE ApplianceCisco C1111-4PWF Router with WLAN K domain
FortiWeb 1000DCisco C1111-4PWD Router with WLAN D domain
Fortinet Fortigate 280D-POECisco C1116-4P Router with VDSL/ADSL
FortiGate 500DCisco C1116-4PLTEEA Router with Multimode Europe and North America Advanced LTE
FortiGate 600DCisco C1117-4P Router with VDSL/ADSL
FortiWeb 4000DCisco C1116-4PWE Router with WLAN E domain
Pulse Secure IC4000Cisco C1117-4PLTEEA Router
Pulse Secure MAG-2600Cisco C1117-4PLTELA Router
Pulse Secure PSA-3000Cisco C1117-4PWE Router with WLAN E domain
Pulse Secure PSA-5000Cisco C1117-4PWA Router with WLAN A domain
Pulse Secure PSA-7000cCisco C1117-4PWZ Router with WLAN Z domain
Pulse Secure PSA-7000fCisco C1117-4PM Router with VDSL/ADSL
9982P2ETCisco C1117-4PMLTEEA Router
IAP-325Cisco C1117-4PMWE Router with WLAN E domain
IAP-315Cisco C1112-8P Router
ClearPass Policy Manager CP-HW-5KCisco C1112-8PLTEEA Router with Multimode Europe and North America
6548 SwitchCisco C1113-8P Router
Internal Management Module SwitchCisco C1113-8PM Router with VDSL/ADSL
AnnuncicomCisco C1113-8PLTEEA Router
InstreamerCisco C1113-8PLTELA Router
DataDomain 9300Cisco C1113-8PMLTEEA Router
S6720-54C-EI-48S-ACCisco C1113-8PWE Router with WLAN E domain
Lantronix EDS4100Cisco C1113-8PWA Router with WLAN A domain
Xerox DocuColor 242Cisco C1113-8PWZ Router with WLAN Z domain
ColorQube 9301Cisco C1113-8PMWE Router with WLAN E domain
D110Cisco C1113-8PLTEEAWE Router
Palo Alto PA-5200Cisco C1113-8PLTELAWE Router
Palo Alto PA-5200Cisco C1113-8PLTELAWZ Router
Palo Alto PA-220Cisco C1114-8P Router
H3C S5560-54C-EICisco C1114-8PLTEEA Router with Multimode Europe and North America
H3C S12504X-AFCisco C1115-8P Router
H3C S6520-48S-EICisco C1115-8PLTEEA Router with Multimode Europe and North America Advanced LTE
LP-1030Cisco C1115-8PM Router with VDSL/ADSL
TSM-24-DPSCisco C1115-8PMLTEEA Router
VMR-HD4D30Cisco C1118-8P Router(ciscoC11188P)
NPS-8-ATSCisco C1116-4PLTEEAWE Router
vMXCisco C1117-4PLTEEAWE Router
Juniper Virtual Route Reflector (vRR)Cisco C1117-4PLTEEAWA Router
Juniper ACX2200Cisco C1117-4PLTELAWZ Router
Juniper ACX5048Cisco C1117-4PMLTEEAWE Router
Juniper ACX5096Cisco 807 Industrial Integrated Services Routers
Juniper vSRXCisco 807 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service Router
Juniper SRX345Cisco 807 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service Routers with multi-mode  Global (Europe & Australia) LTE/HSPA+
Juniper ACX2100Cisco 807 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service Router
Juniper ACX1100Cisco 807 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service Routers with multi-mode  AT&T and Canada  LTE/HSPA+
Juniper EX3400-24TCisco Catalyst 9500 series with 32 Ports of 100G/32 Ports of 40G
Juniper QFX10002-72QCisco Catalyst 9500 series with 32 Ports of 40G/16 Ports of 100G
Juniper QFX10008Cisco Catalyst 9500 series with 48 Ports of 1G/10G/25G + 4 Ports of 40G/100G
WIB 8000Cisco Catalyst 9500 Router with 24 Ports of 1G/10G/25G + 4 Ports of 40G/100G
Meraki DashboardCisco Catalyst 9500 Series Switch
Xerox ApeosPort-IV C3375C9500-16X
Xerox ApeosPort-V C6675 T2IR829M-LTE-LA-ZK9
DCS-7060CX2-32SCisco C1109-2PLTEGB 2 ports GE LAN M2M Router with Multimode LTE WWAN Global
SX6036Cisco C1109-2PLTEUS 2 ports GE LAN M2M Router with Multimode LTE WWAN US
SX6036Cisco C1109-2PLTEVZ 2 ports GE LAN M2M Router with Multimode LTE WWAN Verizon
MSB7800-ES2FCisco C1109-2PLTEAU 2 ports GE LAN M2M Router with Multimode LTE WWAN Australia and New Zealand
F5 BIG-IP 10350vCisco C1109-2PLTEIN 2 ports GE LAN M2M Router with Multimode LTE WWAN India
BIG-IP i2800Cisco C1101-4P 4 Ports GE LAN Router
F5 Networks BIG-IP i4600Cisco C1101-4PLTEP 4 Ports GE LAN Router
Delphix DB EngineCisco C1101-4PLTEPWE 4 Ports GE LAN Router
TSC ME240Cisco C1101-4PLTEPWB 4 Ports GE LAN Router
Dell S4048-ONCisco C1101-4PLTEPWD 4 Ports GE LAN Router
Dell S6000-ONCisco C1101-4PLTEPWZ 4 Ports GE LAN Router
CX923deCisco C1101-4PLTEPWA 4 Ports GE LAN Router
OmniSwitch 6450-48LCisco C1101-4PLTEPWH 4 Ports GE LAN Router
OmniSwitch 6450-P10Cisco C1101-4PLTEPWQ 4 Ports GE LAN Router
Alcatel OmniSwitch 6450-C48XCisco C1101-4PLTEPWR 4 Ports GE LAN Router
Alcatel OmniSwitch 6450-P48XCisco C1101-4PLTEPWN 4 Ports GE LAN Router
Alcatel OmniSwitch 6450-U24Cisco C1101-4PLTEPWF 4 Ports GE LAN Router
Alcatel OmniSwitch 6350-P48Cisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2P)
OmniSwitch 6860E-U28Cisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWB)
InfoBlox ND-1400Cisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWE )
TelePresence MCU 5320Cisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWD)
Cisco IE 2000-16PTC-G-NX Industrial Ethernet SwitchCisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWZ)
Cisco IE 2000-4S-TS-G-L Industrial Ethernet SwitchCisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWA)
Cisco IE-2000U-4S-G Industrial Ethernet SwitchCisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWH)
Cisco C887VAM Integrated Series RoutersCisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWQ)
Cisco 897 Multi-Mode VDSL2/ADSL2+ POTS Annex M with Multi-Mode 4G LTE RouterCisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(iscoC11094PLte2PWN)
Cisco C899 Secure Gigabit Ethernet with Multi-mode 4G LTE RouterCisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWR)
Aironet 1572EC Outdoor Access PointCisco C1109-4PLTE2P 4 Ports GE LAN M2M Router(ciscoC11094PLte2PWF)
Cisco Catalyst 6824-X-LE-40GCisco C9407R
Cisco Firepower NGFW 4140Cisco 1000V
Cisco NCS 5001Cisco Nexus 3132Q Switch
Cisco NCS 5002Cisco UCS 6332 32-Port Fabric Interconnect
Cisco 897 Multi-mode VDSL2/ADSL2+ POTS with Multi-Mode 4G LTE RouterCisco Nexus 5672UP Switch
Cisco NCS 1002UCS 6332-16UP Fabric Interconnect
Cisco NCS 5508Cisco Nexus 31128PQ Switch
Cisco NCS 5502-SECisco Nexus 3132
Cisco 897VAGLTELAK9-4G LTE Latin America router with 1 Giga Ethernet WANCisco Nexus 3172
Cisco 819 Non-Hardened 4G LTE M2M with Dual Radio 802.11n WiFi RouterCisco Nexus 3172
Cisco 819 Non-Hardened 4G LTE M2M with Dual Radio 802.11n WiFi RouterCisco Nexus Nexus 9236C
Cisco Aironet 1560Cisco Nexus 31108PC-V
C899G-LTE-LA-K9 4G router with 1 Giga Ethernet WAN, 1 SFP (Small Form-factor Pluggable) Giga Ethernet WANCisco 3172
C819G-LTE-LA-K9 Router with 1 Gigabit Ethernet WAN, 4 Fast Ethernet LANCisco 9232C
Cisco 4221 ISRNexus 93180YC-FX
Cisco 4221 Integrated Services RouterNexus 9348GC-FXP
Cisco Catalyst CDB-8U SwitchCisco Nexus 9K C9364C
Cisco Catalyst CDB-8P SwitchCisco 7600 Series Route Switch Processor 720 with 10 Gigabit Ethernet Uplinks
Cisco NCS 5501WS-X45-SUP9-E (Cisco Catalyst 4503-E  Switch Module )
Cisco NCS 5502Cisco 3172
Cisco 829 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service RouterCisco SGE2000 10/100/1000 Ethernet Switch
Cisco 829 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service Routers with multi-mode LTE/HSPA+ with 802.11nSF550X-24
Cisco 829 4G LTE Dual-modem Industrial Integrated Service RouterSF550X-24P
Cisco 829 4G LTE Dual-modem Industrial Integrated Service Routers with multi-mode LTE/HSPA+ with 802.11nSF550X-24MP
Cisco 809 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service RouterSF550X-48
Cisco 809 4G LTE Industrial Integrated Service Routers with multi-mode LTE/HSPA+SF550X-48P
Cisco C1111-8P RouterSF550X-48MP
Cisco C1111-8PLTEEA Router with Multimode Europe and North America Advanced LTESG550X-24
Cisco C1111-8PLTELA Router with Latin America Multimode and Asia Pacific Advanced LTESG550X-24P
Cisco C1111-8PWE Router with WLAN E domainSG550X-24MP
Cisco C1111-8PWB Router with WLAN B domainSG550X-24MPP
Cisco C1111-8PWA Router with WLAN A domainSG550X-48
Cisco C1111-8PWZ Router with WLAN Z domainSG550X-48P
Cisco C1111-8PWN Router with WLAN N domainSG550X-48MP
Cisco C1111-8PWQ Router with WLAN Q domainSG350X-24
Cisco C1111-8PWH Router with WLAN C domainSG350X-24PD 24-Port 2.5G PoE Stackable Managed Switch
Cisco C1111-8PWR Router with WLAN R domainSG350X-24P
Cisco C1111-8PWF Router with WLAN K domainSG350X-24MP
Cisco C1111-8PLTEEAWE RouterSG350X-48
Cisco C1111-8PLTEEAWB RouterSG350X-48P
Cisco C1111-8PLTEEAWA RouterSG350X-48MP
Cisco C1111-8PLTEEAWR RouterSG350X-8PMD 8-Port 2.5G PoE Stackable Managed Switch
Cisco C1111-8PLTELAWZ RouterSG350-8PD 8-Port 2.5G PoE Managed Switch
Cisco C1111-8PLTELAWN RouterPravail NSI
Cisco C1111-8PLTELAWQ Router

But Wait, there's more!

The list of improvements above is just a small sampling of everything included in the Orion Platform 2019.2 release. There are still plenty of additional new features and improvements added to this release of the Orion Platform, including Enhanced Node Status, Orion Maps 2.0, and Install/Upgrade Improvements. As always, we appreciate your feedback on all these improvements, so be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Read more
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Product Manager
Product Manager

In our latest release of User Device Tracker (UDT), you'll discover new port discovery and polling support for Cisco Nexus switching equipment. You'll also see UDT make a cameo appearance in our Network Insight™ for Palo Alto firewalls, with new visibility for devices connected to these firewalls. We'll show you where it integrates today into NPM.

Speaking of discovery, we've completely reworked the port discovery process to be very similar to node discovery. We'll show you what it looks like, and how to configure credentials for these new device types.

Finally, we'll talk briefly about some Orion® Platform enhancements, and improvements to the SDK we've recently published for working with ports.

Discovering and Importing Ports

In this release, we're adding some significant granularity in the Discovery and Import process for ports. The experience and the workflow is similar to the NPM node discovery, with granular selection criteria and port-filtering options:

Screen+Shot+2019-04-29+at+2.15.13+PM.png

It's simple to exclude operationally or administratively down ports from the import. This flexibility saves overhead and simplifies licensing by offering better, granular control.

Configuring Access for UDT

For most devices supported by UDT, all that's necessary are the SNMP credentials. For some devices—the Cisco Nexus 5K, 7K, and 9K series switches, or for the Palo Alto Firewall—a set of command-line interface (CLI) credentials are required.

You can configure devices in bulk or individually in the Port Management section of the User Device Tracker settings page.  Select "Manage Ports" to see the list of devices which can be configured:

Screen+Shot+2019-05-05+at+10.03.21+PM.png

Select one or more of these devices, edit their properties, and you'll find a section for configuring SNMP polling:

Screen+Shot+2019-05-05+at+10.07.15+PM.png

You'll also find a section for CLI-based polling:

MicrosoftTeams-image+(2).png

The polling interval is set in its own section of the UDT Settings page, under "Polling Interval." The default polling interval for port information is 30 minutes.

Screen+Shot+2019-04-17+at+9.40.57+AM.png

Once you’ve enabled UDT Layer-3 polling for a CLI-based device, you can expect to see port information populated in the Port Details resource on the Node Details page.

Picture1.png

UDT SDK Updates

This release adds some basic create, read, update, and delete operations for UDT ports into the Orion SDK. Refer to the documentation available in GitHub for examples.

Platform Improvements

Along with all of the other modules in the Orion Platform, UDT can be installed now in Azure, and make use of the native Azure SQL database service to host the Orion database. This adds additional deployment flexibility—we already support deployment in AWS using the RDS service.

How Do I Get This Goodness?

For UDT, you can find the latest release in your Customer Portal.

To see all the features of Network Insight for Palo Alto, you’ll want to have several modules installed and working together.

  • Network Performance Monitor discovers and polls your Palo Alto firewall and retrieves and displays your site-to-site VPN and GlobalProtect client VPN connection information.
  • Network Configuration Manager collects your device configuration and provides a list of your security policies for zone-to-zone communication. This module tracks configuration changes over time and provides context for policies spanning multiple devices.
  • NetFlow Traffic Analyzer collects flow data from the firewall and maps the traffic to policies in the Policy Details page. You can also view traffic through the firewall or through specific interfaces.
  • User Device Tracker collects directly connected devices and provides a history of connections to the ports on the device.

You can demo these products individually or install/upgrade from any installer available in your Customer Portal.

We're looking forward to hearing your feedback and questions on the release in the forum below!

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1 2 1,151
Product Manager
Product Manager

VoIP & Network Quality Manager version 4.6 builds on the SIP trunk monitoring work we introduced in the previous release. In the last release, we introduced SIP trunk health and availability metrics monitored from the Cisco Unified Call Manager element. In this release, VNQM delivers SIP trunk call metrics—with on-demand polling—and SIP trunk utilization from the Cisco Unified Border Element. It's comprehensive visibility throughout the CUCM environment.

Monitoring the CUBE

You'll notice there's a new resource available on the VoIP Summary Page—"VoIP Gateways." These are the border gateway elements where SIP trunks terminate.

In this release, we support the Cisco Unified Border Element, or “CUBE” appliance.

Screen+Shot+2019-05-05+at+6.39.30+PM.png

The Call Manager hosts, visible in the VoIP CallManagers resource, drill down into details pages for each call manager. The VoIP Gateways expand directly into a list of SIP trunks.

Picture1.png

At this level, you can see a quick status for each trunk. Drilling into one of the trunks provides this view.

Picture1.png

The SIP Trunk Details view provides resources for monitoring status over time, metrics for inbound and outbound call activity, and SIP trunk utilization. Each of these metrics can be individually opened in a new PerfStack™ project, or the collection of status and call metrics for this trunk can be opened from the summary resource. In PerfStack, the "Performance Analyzer" view looks like this.

Picture1.png

Pulling these metrics into PerfStack gives you visibility on the same timescale for other related metrics—resources on the CUBE device, for example.

Picture1.png

Or, perhaps the active inbound and outbound calls for several trunks.

Picture1.png

The PerfStack dashboard gives you the flexibility to compose views that you can save and use for monitoring or troubleshooting in the future.

Immediate Real-Time Polling

Note that the Inbound and Outbound call metrics from the CUBE have the "rocket ship" icon next to them to denote real-time polling is available. This means we can enable continuous polling and presentation of these metrics from the CUBE when we're troubleshooting issues, and we need to see the current call metrics from the perspective of the CUBE. This is a valuable insight into the key utilization metrics for each SIP trunk.

PerfStack.gif

SIP Trunk Utilization

Tracking SIP trunk utilization is complex; there are several different factors to calculate utilization. Utilization depends upon the mix of typical calls, the codecs used in the environment, and the number of active calls. In this release, we're using maximum concurrent calls as the primary indicator of utilization, and calculating and presenting a percentage value useful for capacity planning. You should work with your SIP provider to estimate the number of concurrent calls your trunks can support and configure your thresholds accordingly.

To configure the maximum concurrent calls we'll use in the utilization calculation, you'll need to visit global settings for "VoIP & Network Quality Manager (VNQM) Settings," and select "Edit VoIP & Network Quality Manager Settings" to see these global values for "Gateway" settings.

Picture1.png

In addition to the "Maximum Concurrent Calls," you can also set thresholds, polling intervals, and retention period for these metrics here.

CLI credentials are configured at the CUBE level by selecting "Manage Gateways" and providing credentials for one or all gateway devices.

Picture1.png

You can also override the maximum concurrent call value in the CUBE properties.

Picture1.png

The default out of the box value is 100 concurrent calls. You'll want to confirm this for your environment with your SIP trunk provider.

Platform Improvements

Along with all the other modules in the Orion® Platform, VNQM can be installed now in Azure, and make use of the native Azure SQL database service to host the Orion database. This adds additional deployment flexibility; we already support deployment in AWS using the RDS service.

We're excited to provide comprehensive health, availability, and utilization monitoring for SIP trunks in the Cisco CUCM environment. Visit your Customer Portal to review the Release Notes, verify the System Requirements, and download this release.

We're looking forward to your experiences and questions in the forum below.

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2 3 1,550
Product Manager
Product Manager

In our latest release of NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA), we’re focusing on features that deliver expanded visibility, and flexible evaluation and deployment options. For the first time, NTA is providing a significant contribution to our Network Insight™ feature for Palo Alto firewalls.

Also, in this release, we’re adding support for IPv6 flow records, and enhancing our filtering to display IPv4 only, IPv6, or both types of traffic.

For evaluation customers—and for current customers upgrading—we’ll automatically configure a local source of NetFlow data on the local server. This will provide an immediate source of data for evaluation installations and a comprehensive source of information for traffic sourced or destined to the primary poller.

Finally, we’re fully supporting the deployment of NTA into Azure, using the native Azure SQL Database service to host the flow database. This builds upon our existing support for deployment in AWS, using the native RDS service.

We’ll explain an important upcoming change in the upgrade process, and how to plan for it.

Traffic Visibility by Policy

In this release, NTA is contributing to our latest Network Insight through an integration with Network Configuration Manager (NCM). Users of SolarWinds NCM with Palo Alto firewalls will see top traffic conversations by security policy on the NCM Policy Details page. Examining traffic by policy helps answer the question, "Who might be affected as I make changes to my security policies?"

Let's look at how we find this view.  We'll start at the Node Details page for this firewall:Screen Shot 2019-05-05 at 11.46.15 AM.png

We'll use the slide-out menu in this view to select "Policies." This will take us to a list view of all the policies configured for zones on this device.

Screen Shot 2019-05-05 at 11.51.32 AM.png

Selecting a policy from this list brings us to the Policy Details page:

Screen Shot 2019-05-05 at 11.16.08 AM.png

Policies define security controls between zones configured on the firewall. For a Palo Alto firewall, a zone can include one or more interfaces. So, in this view, we're looking at all the conversations based on applications defined in the policy.

It's a very different way of looking at conversations; this isn't a view of all traffic through a node or an interface. Rather, it's a view that relates to the policy definition, so the endpoints in these conversations are running over the applications on which your security rules are based.

The mechanism here is filtering; we’re looking at application traffic that references the application IDs in your security policy. So, the endpoints in those conversations may be from any zone where you’re using this policy.

For an administrator considering changes at the policy level, this is a valuable tool to understand how those rules apply immediately to production services and what kinds of impacts changes to them will have.

For this feature, you'll need both NCM and NTA. NTA, of course, requires Network Performance Monitor (NPM). NCM provides us the configuration information that includes the policy definition and the applications definitions. NTA reads application IDs from the flow records we receive from the Palo Alto firewall, and correlates those with the policy configuration to generate this view. With NTA, you can also easily navigate to more conventional node or interface views of the traffic traversing the firewall, and we integrate traffic information seamlessly into the Node Details page in NPM as well.

IPv6 Traffic Visibility

This release offers comprehensive visibility in mixed IPv4 and IPv6 environments, and the flexibility to isolate TopN views in each of these protocols. While deployment of IPv6 has not been aggressive as some originally predicted, it's gaining some significant traction in the public sector, large-scale distribution operations, universities, and companies working with IoT infrastructures. Our latest release consumes NetFlow v9 and IPFIX flow templates for IPv6 traffic and stores those records along with the IPv4 flow records we support today. Let's see what the NTA summary page looks like.

Screen Shot 2019-05-05 at 11.58.04 AM.png

You'll notice some IPv6 conversations, and some IPv6 endpoints in the TopN views. This view gives you complete visibility into the traffic driving your utilization in a mixed IPv4 and IPv6 environment. We've also added new filters, both on the dashboard and in the flow navigator.

Screen Shot 2019-05-05 at 12.02.09 PM.png

These filters give you the flexibility to examine how traffic running over each version drives utilization, and which conversations are dependent on different configurations within the infrastructure.

The Orion® Platform—and NTA—already support installation on dual-stack IPv4 and IPv6 servers. You can receive these flow records on either an IPv4 or IPv6 interface, depending on how your server is connected.

IPv6 changes how we think about the security model. This visibility gives us a perspective on how our security polices act on IPv4 and IPv6 traffic to permit or deny conversations. In that sense, it's a valuable tool to confirm your traffic is compliant with your security policies.

Local Source of NetFlow

This release will automatically add a new source of NetFlow data to your NTA main poller. This new source is a composite of physical network interfaces on your Orion main poller represented as a special type of virtual interface: Local NetFlow Source. This new source of flow information gives you unprecedented visibility into the traffic that originates on or arrives to the Orion server. You can use this to answer questions about your network and system management traffic trends. "How much SNMP traffic does my monitoring generate? What volumes and frequencies of flow traffic do I receive, and from where? How much DNS traffic does my management platform drive, and to where?"

Let's see what this looks like.

Screen Shot 2019-05-05 at 12.24.16 PM.png

Selecting the "Local NetFlow Source" interface and drilling into it, here's the view.

Screen Shot 2019-05-05 at 12.27.40 PM.png

You can manage this source of traffic the same way you manage any other source of flow data: by selecting the "Manage Sources" link in the NetFlow Sources resource.

Screen Shot 2019-05-05 at 12.31.29 PM.png

You can enable or disable the Local NetFlow Source here to include or exclude traffic from this source.

For brand-new installations of NTA, this new source will be created and enabled by default. If you’re working with an evaluation copy of the NTA application, this will give you immediate live data in the product that's personal to your network. It's a great way to introduce your colleagues to new versions or evaluate new releases without having to reconfigure your network devices to send flow records to this instance.

If you’re upgrading NTA, this source will be created but will not be enabled by default. We'll respect your existing configuration and give you the flexibility to make the choice about whether you'd like to include this traffic in your current view. Disabling this source completely shuts down capture of traffic on the local interfaces.

Creating this interface consumes a single node license for both NPM and NTA. If you would prefer not to use a node license for local NetFlow source, you can completely delete this interface to release the license. You cannot, however, add this interface back later.

Azure Deployment

Finally, we've been working to ensure users deploying into Azure can make use of the native Azure SQL Database service for both the common Orion database and the SQL NTA database. You'll be able to specify Azure SQL Database to build both of these databases during installation, in much the same way as you build in existing SQL instances today. We're supporting additional choices to help lower operational costs and expand your deployment flexibility.

To take advantage of this option, you’ll enter the connection string for your Azure SQL Database instance much the same way you enter any other connection string in the Configuration Wizard.

AzureCW.png

Changes in the Upgrade Process Are Coming

If you’re upgrading to NTA 4.6 from an older version of the product, you’ll once again see a familiar option to defer your NTA upgrade and remain on a version that doesn’t require SQL 2016 or later for the flow database.

In the past three releases of NTA (4.4, 4.5, and 4.6), we’ve included a pre-flight check in the upgrade dialog to allow customers to defer the upgrade and retain (or upgrade to) NTA version 4.2.3, the latest version that supports flow storage in the FastBit database. This in turn allowed updates to the Orion Core and other product modules without requiring an NTA upgrade. 

In the next release of NTA, this option will no longer be available. An upgrade to the next release of NTA after 4.6 will require a SQL 2016 or later database (or appropriate AWS RDS or Azure SQL option) to complete the upgrade.

A modern version of SQL supports columnstore technology, which provides significant performance and scale benefits for NTA. We’re building on this technology in every new release to drive better performance and a better user experience.

You should plan now for your next upgrade to deploy a SQL 2016 or later instance for flow storage. Refer to the NTA System Requirements documentation for supported options.

How Do I Get This Goodness?

For NTA, you can find the latest release in your Customer Portal. Remember, we also have a terrific complementary set of free NetFlow tools in the Flow Tool Bundle, including Flow Replicator, Flow Generator, and Flow Configurator.

To see all the features of Network Insight for Palo Alto, you’ll want to have several modules installed and working together.

  • Network Performance Monitor discovers and polls your Palo Alto firewall and retrieves and displays your site-to-site VPN and GlobalProtect client VPN connection information.
  • Network Configuration Manager collects your device configuration and provides a list of your security policies for zone-to-zone communication. This module tracks configuration changes over time and provides context for policies spanning multiple devices.
  • NetFlow Traffic Analyzer collects flow data from the firewall and maps the traffic to policies in the Policy Details page. You can also view traffic through the firewall or through specific interfaces.
  • User Device Tracker collects directly connected devices and provides a history of connections to the ports on the device.

You can demo these products individually or install/upgrade from any installer available in your Customer Portal.

Post your questions and experiences in theNetFlow Traffic Analyzer community forum!

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0 4 1,500
Level 12

It gives me great pleasure to introduce the newest version of Network Configuration Manager (NCM), v8.0, as generally available!

I’m pretty excited about this release, as it’s jam-packed full of great features. Per popular request, Network Insight includes awesome capabilities from NCM, Network Performance Monitor (NPM), NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA), and User Device Tracker (UDT). This very special Network Insight for Palo Alto firewalls provides users with insights into their policies, traffic conversations across policies, and VPNs. We have a great detailed write-up about all the great value we stuffed into the feature here.

In addition to Network Insight, NCM is now easier to use when executing config change diffs, adds two new vendors to the Firmware Upgrade feature, and is more performant when executing config backups.

Updated Config Diff

In an effort to reduce the amount of time committed to spotting changes in a config diff (all those lines…), a simpler and easier-to-use Config Diff has been implemented in this version. By focusing the view around the context of the diff, the changes, you’ll now see the changes highlighted plus five lines above and below the changes. All unchanged lines beyond the five-line limit are collapsed to remove the endless scroll. This gives you the context of the change and makes it easier to discern what steps need to be taken next.

Config Diff.png

Additional Vendor Support for Firmware Upgrade

For some time now, you’ve all been asking for additional vendors to be added to Firmware Upgrade, and I’m pleased to say we’ve delivered. Take advantage of the automation to apply firmware to Juniper and Lenovo switches to patch vulnerabilities or ensure your network devices are on the latest. Have a different switch model? Just use the framework from the out-of-the-box templates to make it work for you.

Firmware Upgrade Page.png

Go check out the release notes for the full details or review the admin guide. We’ve been working hard to bring these wonderful new features to you, so be sure to visit your Customer Portal to download this version.

If there’s anything you think we should consider in a future release, please be sure to go create a new feature request to let me know about the additional functionality you would like to see.

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2 4 1,332
Level 12

We’re excited to introduce our Network Insight™ for Palo Alto firewalls! This is the fourth Network Insight feature, and we’re building these in direct response to your feedback about the most popularly deployed devices and the most common operational tasks you manage.

Network Insight features are designed to give you tools specific to the more complex and expensive special-purpose devices in your network infrastructure. While the bulk of your network consists of routing and switching devices, the more specialized equipment at the edge requires monitoring and visibility beyond the standard SNMP modeled metrics we’re all familiar with.

So, what kinds of visibility are we talking about for Palo Alto firewalls?

The Palo Alto firewall is zone-based, with security policies that describe the allowed or denied connectivity between zones. So, we’ll show you how we capture and present those security policies. We’ll show you how we can help you visualize application traffic conversations between zones, to help you understand how policy changes can affect your clients. Another critical feature of the Palo Alto firewall is to secure communications between sites, and to provide secure remote access to clients. We’ll show you how to see your site-to-site VPN tunnels, and to manage GlobalProtect client connections.

Managing Security Policies

Palo Alto firewalls live and die on the effectiveness of their security policies to control how they handle network traffic. Policies ensure business processes remain unaffected and perform optimally, but unintentional or poorly implemented policies can cause widespread network disruption. It’s critical for administrators to monitor not only the performance of the firewall, but the effect and accuracy of the policy configuration as well. As these policies are living entities, continually being modified and adjusted as network needs evolve, the impact and context of a change may be missed and difficult to recover. This is why in Network Insight for Palo Alto, Network Configuration Manager (NCM) brings some powerful features to overcome these pitfalls.

  • Comprehensive list view of security policies
  • Detailed view into each policy and its change history
  • Usage of a policy across other Palo Alto nodes managed by NCM
  • Policy configuration snippets
  • Interface configuration snippets
  • Information on applications, addresses, and services

Once the Palo Alto config is downloaded and parsed, the policy information will populate the Policies List View page. This page is intended to make it easier to search through and identify the right security policy from a potentially long list, using configurable filtering and searching. The list view provides each policy’s name, action, zones, and last change. Once the correct policy is identified, users can drill down into each one to see the composition and performance of each policy.

Node Details Policies.png

The policy details page summarizes the most critical information and simplifies the workflow to understand if a policy is configured and working as intended. You can review the basic policy details, as well as the policy configuration snippet and review the object groups composed into the policy. Admins will be able to quickly analyze if additional action is required to resolve an issue or optimize the given policy.

Policies Details.pngPolicy Config Snippet.png

Some policies are meant to extend across multiple firewalls and without a view to see this, it’s easy to lose context about the effectiveness of your policy. Network insight for Palo Alto analyzes the configuration of each firewall to identify common security policies and display their status. As an administrator, this lets you confirm if your policies are being correctly applied across the network and to take action if they’re not. If there’s a desire to provide more continuous monitoring of a policy standard, you can also leverage a policy configuration snippet as a baseline for all Palo Alto nodes.

Other Firewalls Using.png

With any configuration monitoring and management, it’s critically important to be able to provide some proof of compliance for your firewall’s configuration. With Network Insight, you can track and see the history of changes to a policy and provide tangible evidence of events that have occurred. Of course, this also supports the ability to immediately run a diff of the configs where this change took place, by simply clicking the “View diff” button.

Policy Changes.png

VPN Tunnel Monitoring, Finally

How do you monitor your VPN tunnels today? We asked you guys this question a lot as we started to design this feature. The most common response was you’d ping something on the other end of the tunnel. That approach has a number of challenges. The device terminating the VPN tunnel rarely has an IP address included in the VPN tunnel’s interesting traffic that you can ping. You have to ping something past the VPN tunnel device, usually some server. Sometimes the company at the other end of the tunnel intentionally has strict security and doesn’t allow ping. If they do allow ping, you have to ask them to tell you what to ping. If that thing goes down, monitoring says the tunnel is down, but the device might be down, not the tunnel. All this adds work. It’s all manual, and companies can have hundreds, thousands, or more VPN tunnels. Worst of all, it doesn’t work very well. It’s just up/down status. When a tunnel is down, why is it down? How do you troubleshoot it? When a tunnel is up, how much traffic is it using? When’s the last time it went well?

This is a tough position to be in. VPN tunnels may be virtual, but today they’re used constantly as infrastructure connections and may be more important than some of your physical WAN connections. They’re commonly used to connect branch offices to each other, to HQ, or to data centers. They’re the most popular way to connect one company to another, or from your company to an IaaS provider like Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure. VPN tunnels are critical and deserve better monitoring.

Once you enable Network Insight for Palo Alto, Network Performance Monitor (NPM) will automatically and continually discover VPN tunnels. A site-to-site VPN subview provides details on every tunnel.

Site to Site VPN.png

There are a couple things going on here that may not be immediately obvious but are interesting—at least for network nerds like me.

All tunnels display the source and destination IP. If the destination IP is on a device we’re monitoring, like another Palo Alto firewall or an ASA, we’ll link that IP to that node in NPM. That’s why 192.168.100.10 is a blue hyperlink in the screenshot. If you’ve given the tunnel a name on the Palo Alto firewall, we’ll use that name as the primary way we identify the tunnel in the UI.

There’s different information for VPN tunnels that are up and VPN tunnels that are down. If the tunnel is down, you’ll see the date and time it went down. You’ll also, in most cases, see whether the VPN tunnel failed negotiation in phase 1 or phase 2. This is the first piece of data you need to start isolating the problem, and it’s displayed right in monitoring. If the tunnel is up, you’ll see the date and time it came up and the algorithms protecting your traffic, including privacy/encryption and hashing/authenticity.

The thing I’m most excited about is in the last two columns. BANDWIDTH! Since VPN tunnel traffic is all encrypted, getting bandwidth usage is a pain. Using a flow tool like NTA, you can find the bandwidth if you know both peer IPs and are exporting flow post encryption. It takes some manual work, and you can only see traffic quantities because of the encryption. You can’t tell what endpoints or applications are talking. If you export flow prior to encryption, you can see what endpoints are talking, but you have to construct a big filter to match interesting traffic, and then you have no guarantee that traffic makes it through the VPN tunnel. The traffic has the additional overhead of encapsulation added, so pre-encryption isn’t a good way to understand bandwidth usage on the WAN either. The worst part is that VPN tunnels transit your WAN—one of the most expensive monthly bills IT shops have.

Network Insight for Palo Alto monitors bandwidth of each tunnel. All the data is normalized, so you can report on it for capacity, alert on it to react quickly when a tunnel goes down, and inspect it in all the advanced visualization tools of the Orion® Platform–including the PerfStack™ dashboard.

Perf Stack VPN.png

GlobalProtect Client VPN Monitoring

Why does it always have to be the CEO or some other executive who has problems with the VPN client on their laptop? When I was a network engineer, I hated troubleshooting client VPN. You have so little data available to you. It’s very easy to look utterly incompetent when someone comes to you and tells you their VPN service isn’t working, and when it’s the CEO, that’s not good. Network Insight for Palo Alto monitors GlobalProtect client VPN and keeps a record of every user session.

Global Protect VPN.png

This makes it easy to spot the most common problems. If you see the same user failing to connect over and over, but other users are successful, you know it’s something on that client’s end and would probably check if login credentials are right. “No, I’m sure you didn’t forget your password. Sometimes the system forgets. Let’s reset your password because that often fixes it.” If lots of people can’t connect, you may check for problems on the Palo Alto firewall and the connection to the authentication resource.

Traffic Visibility by Policy

In this release, NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA) is contributing to our latest Network Insight through an integration with Network Configuration Manager. NCM users who manage Palo Alto firewalls will see top traffic conversations by security policy on the NCM Policy Details page. Examining traffic by policy helps answer the question, "Who might be affected as I make changes to my security policies?"

Let's look at how we find this view. We'll start at the Node Details page for this firewall.

Node Details.png

We'll use the slide-out menu in this view to select "Policies." This will take us to a list view of all the policies configured for zones on this device.

Policies List View.png

Selecting a policy from this list brings us to the Policy Details page.

Policy Details View.png

Policies define security controls between zones configured on the firewall. For a Palo Alto firewall, a zone can include one or more interfaces. In this view, we're looking at all the conversations based on applications defined in the policy. It's a very different way of looking at conversations; this isn't a view of all traffic through a node or interface. Rather, it's a view related to the policy definition—so the endpoints in these conversations are running over the applications your security rules are based on. The mechanism here is filtering; we’re looking at application traffic that references the application IDs in your security policy. The endpoints in those conversations may be from any zone where you’re using this policy.

For an administrator considering changes at the policy level, this is a valuable tool to understand how those rules apply immediately to production services and what kinds of impacts changes to them will have. For this feature, you'll need both NCM and NTA. NTA, of course, requires NPM. NCM provides the configuration information, including the policy definition and the applications definitions. NTA reads application IDs from the flow records we receive from the Palo Alto Firewall, and correlates those with the policy configuration to generate this view. With NTA, of course, you can also easily navigate to more conventional node or interface views of the traffic traversing the firewall, and we integrate traffic information seamlessly into the Node Details page in NPM as well.

User Device Tracker’s Cameo

For most devices supported by User Device Tracker (UDT), all that's necessary are the SNMP credentials. We’ll pick up information about devices attached to ports from the information modeled in SNMP. But for some devices—the Cisco Nexus 5K, 7K, and 9K series switches, or the Palo Alto firewall—a set of command-line interface (CLI) credentials are required. We’ll log in to the box periodically to pick up the attached devices.

To support device tracking on these devices, you’ll need to supply a command line login. You can configure devices in bulk or individually in the Port Management section of the User Device Tracker settings page. Select "Manage Ports" to see the list of what devices can be configured.

Port Management View.png

Select one or more of these devices, edit their properties, and you'll find a section for configuring SNMP polling.

Polling Method.png

You’ll also find a section for configuring command-line polling. For devices requiring CLI access for device tracking—currently the Nexus switches and the Palo Alto firewall—you should enable CLI polling, and configure and test credentials here.

CLI Polling Settings.png

Be sure to enable Layer 3 polling for this device in the UDT Node Properties section as well.

UDT Node Properties.png

You’ll see attached devices for these ports in the Node Details page, in the Port Details resource.

Attached Devices.png

How Do I Get This Goodness?

To see all the features of Network Insight for Palo Alto, you’ll want to have several modules installed and working together.

  • Network Performance Monitor discovers and polls your Palo Alto firewall and retrieves and displays your site-to-site VPN and GlobalProtect client VPN connection information.
  • Network Configuration Manager collects your device configuration and provides a list of your security policies for zone-to-zone communication. This module tracks configuration changes over time and provides the context for policies spanning multiple devices.
  • NetFlow Traffic Analyzer collects flow data from the firewall and maps the traffic to policies in the Policy Details page. You can also view traffic through the firewall, or through specific interfaces.
  • User Device Tracker collects directly connected devices and provides a history of connections to the ports on the device.

You can demo these products individually, or install or upgrade from any installer available in your Customer Portal.

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0 17 6,954
Level 9

I’m excited to announce the general availability of SolarWinds® Service Desk, the newest member in the SolarWinds product family, following the acquisition of Samanage.

Read more...

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7 26 6,340
Product Manager
Product Manager

Security Event Manager (SEM) 6.7 is now available on your Customer Portal​. You're probably wondering what exactly Security Event Manager is? It's the product formally known as Log and Event Manager (LEM). LEM has always been so much more than a tool for basic log collection and analysis. It offered so much more in terms of detecting and responding to cyberattacks as well as easing the burden of compliance reporting. SEM helps organizations across the globe to improve their security posture, and we believe the new name better reflects the capabilities of the tool.

FLASH - THE BEGINNING OF THE END

Moving away from Flash has been the top priority for SEM for some time. I'm excited to say that this release introduces a brand-new HTML5 user interface as the default interface for SEM. You can now perform most of your day-to-day tasks within this new interface, including searching, filtering and exporting logs, as well as configuring and managing correlation rules and nodes. The feedback on the new UI has been hugely positive thus far, with many users describing it as clean, modern and incredibly responsive. The Flash interface is still accessible and is required for tasks such as Group/User Management, E-Mail Templates and the Ops Center. However, we're by no means finished with the new user interface and will continue to make improvements and transition away from Flash.

Screenshot 2019-05-13 at 10.58.00.png

CORRELATION RULES

Correlation is one of the key components of any effective SIEM tool. As vast amounts of data are fed into Security Event Manager, the correlation engine identifies, alerts on, and responds to

potential security weaknesses or cyberattacks by comparing sequences of activity against a set of rules. This release includes a brand new Rule Builder which enables you to easily build new rules and adjust existing rules. We've made some improvements including drop down menus (as well as the traditional drag-and-drop) to create rules, auto-enablement of the rule after saving, easier association of Event Names and Active Response actions and the removal of the Activate Rules button

Screenshot 2019-05-20 at 09.18.59.png

Screenshot 2019-05-20 at 09.20.15.png

FILE INTEGRITY MONITORING

FIM was originally introduced way back in LEM 6.0 and has provided users with great insight into access and modifications to files, directories and registry keys ever since. With users constantly creating, accessing and modifying files, a huge amount of log data is generated which is often associated with excessive noise. In order to better enable you to split the signal from the noise, we've introduced File Exclusions within our redesigned FIM interface. If a particular machine is generating excessive noise based on a particular file types (I'm looking at you tmp files), you can now easily exclude file types at the node level.

Screenshot 2019-05-20 at 09.47.52.png

LOG EXPORT

When investigating a potential cyberattack or security incident, you'll often need to share share important log data with other teams, external vendors or attach the logs to a ticket/incident report. Exporting results to a CSV is now possible directly from the Events Console.

Screenshot 2019-05-20 at 10.09.02.png

AWS DEPLOYMENT

As organizations shift workloads to the cloud to lower costs and reduce management overhead, they require the flexibility to deploy tools in the cloud. In additional to the Azure deployment support included in LEM 6.5, this release adds support for AWS Deployment. Deployment is done via a private Amazon Machine Image and therefore you need to contacts SolarWinds Sales (for evaluation users) or Technical Support (for existing users) in order to gain access to the AMI. Please note that your AWS Account ID will be required in order to grant access.

I really hope you like the direction we're going with Security Event Manager, especially the new user interface. We're already hard at work on the next version of SEM, as you can see in the What We're Working On post. As always, your feedback and ideas are always greatly appreciated so please continue to do so in the Feature Requests area.

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9 15 5,373
Product Manager
Product Manager

SolarWinds® Access Rights Manager (ARM) 9.2 is available on the customer portalPlease refer to the release notes for a broad overview of this release.

Most of you are using cloud services in your IT environments today, living in and managing a hybrid world.

With the release of ARM 9.1 we already have taken this into consideration by complementing the existing access rights permission visibility into Active Directory, Exchange, and file servers by Microsoft® OneDrive and Microsoft® SharePoint Online.

Now with ARM 9.2 we round off our function set by introducing the ability to collect events from Microsoft® OneDrive and SharePoint Online allowing you to gain also visibility in activities within these platforms.

In addition to the functionality above, a lot of work was done under the hood to lay the foundation for coming features we will make available in the next releases.

What’s New in Access Rights Manager 9.2?

  • Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint Online monitoring - Administrators need to be aware about certain events in their OneDrive and SharePoint Online infrastructure. ARM now enables the Administrator to retrieve events from the O365 environment and analyze them in reports.
  • UI - Design and layout optimizations to complete the SolarWinds look and feel.
  • Defect fixes - as with any release, we addressed product defects.

The SolarWinds product team is excited to make these features available to you.  We hope you enjoy them. 

Of course, please be sure to create new feature requests for any additional functionality you would like to see with ARM in general.

To help get you going quickly with this new version, below is a quick walk-through of the new monitoring capabilities for Microsoft® OneDrive and Microsoft® SharePoint Online.

Identify ACCESS to shared directories and files on OneDrive

OneDrive is an easy tool to let your employees share resources with each other and/or external users. ARM makes it easy for you to check which files an employee has shared internally or externally, and who actually accessed these.

Now let’s take a look how we can use OneDrive monitoring to answer the question “with whom outside the company do we share documents and files?” ARM allows you to easily generate a report for this.

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1. Navigate to the Start screen in the ARM rich client and click on “OneDrive Logga Report” in the Security Monitoring section.

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The configuration for the “OneDrive Logga Report“ opens.

2. Provide a title and comment that will be shown at the beginning of the report (optional). Select the time period analyzed for this report.

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3. Click into “OneDrive Resources”

4. Select the target resources on the right side for this report by double clicking.

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5. Click into “Operations”

6. As we are interested in who has shared the resources when and also if/what external users have accessed it we select the “AnonymousLinkCreated” and “AnonymousLinkUsed” operations on the right side for this report by double clicking.

7. Click on “Start” to create this report manually.

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8. Click on “Show report” to view the report.

In the report created you get the information of who has invited external users when to access internal resources and if any external users have accessed these from what IP address.

Note: You can schedule this report to be sent periodically to your mailbox to stay on top what’s happening.

In the same way you can generate reports about the more than 180 other events available in SharePoint Online and OneDrive. Just follow the outlined steps and adapt in step 6 the operations to the ones you are interested in.

Other interesting events you might want to have a look at are file and folder related operations like FileDeleted/FolderDeleted or FileMoved/FolderMoved helping you with one of the classic use cases if employees complain about their disappearing files and folders.

On a side note, file/folder events on file servers are also captured in our monitoring and are available through the file server reports.

Conclusion

I hope that this quick summary gives you a good understanding of the new features in ARM and how you can utilize ARM to get better visibility and control over your hybrid IT environment. 

If you are reading this and not already using SolarWinds Access Rights Manager, we encourage you to check out the free download.  It’s free. It’s easy.  Give it a shot.

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0 5 1,423
Product Manager
Product Manager

We are happy to announce the release of SolarWinds® Access Rights Auditor, a free tool, designed to scan your Active Directory and file system and evaluate possible security risks due to existing user access rights.

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Ever hear of risks and threats due to unresolved SIDs, globally accessible directories, directories with direct access, or groups in recursion –  and wondered if you were affected?

Access Rights Auditor helps you answer this question by identifying use cases such as these and allows you to export the overall risk summary in an easy-to-understand PDF report to be shared.

Don’t know where to start?

Let’s walk through a typical use case assuming we want to check the permissions and risks associated with a sensitive folder from the Finance department.

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We type the phrase “invoices” in the search box and press enter (1).

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The “Search Results” view displays the search history and all hits of your current search in the different categories available like folders, users, and groups.

We select the folder we are interested in by clicking on “Invoices” (2).

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Now we’re redirected to the “Folder Details” view and immediately get all “Folder Risks” displayed – in this example, three occurrences of “Unresolvable SIDs” and “Changed Access Permissions.”

But it doesn’t end here, because some risks are inherited by directories. For example, from inactive user accounts with continued access. These hidden risks are also listed here in the “Account Risks” section.

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Now we validate who has access in the “User and groups” section below and realize that in our example the “System” account and the “Domain Admins” group have “full control” access on the folder.

To select members of the “Domain Admins” group, simply click on the group and you’ll be redirected to the “Group details” view.

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Access Rights Auditor improves your visibility into permissions and risks with just a few clicks.

Can’t believe it’s free? Go ahead and give it a try.

For more detailed information, check the Quick Reference guide here on THWACK® at https://thwack.solarwinds.com/docs/DOC-204485.

Download SolarWinds Access Rights Auditor at https://www.solarwinds.com/free-tools/access-rights-auditor.

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2 1 1,058
Product Manager
Product Manager

For those of you who didn’t know, Storage Resource Monitor 6.8 is currently available for download! This release continues our momentum of supporting new arrays that you all requested on THWACK® as well as deepening our already existing support for the most popular arrays.

Why don’t we go over some of what’s new in SRM with the 6.8 release?

NEW ARRAY SUPPORT - KAMINARIO®

We’re all really excited here about our newest supported array vendor: Kaminario®. With Kaminario® being an enterprise storage vendor that has a lot of exciting progress going on, we’re really excited to say that we now support their arrays, starting with K2 and K2.N devices. And we think that you will be to, if the voting in THWACK has anything to say about it.

Best of all, out of the box, this new support includes all the standard features you know and love: capacity utilization and forecasting, performance monitoring, end-to-end mapping in AppStack™, integrated performance troubleshooting in PerfStack™, and Hardware Health.

And, as always, we’re excited to share some screenshots.

Summary View

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Hardware Health View

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NEW HARDWARE HEALTH SUPPORT - DELL® COMPELLENT AND HPE 3PAR

Whether you’re a new customer to SRM or you’ve been a customer for a while, you know that there is a lot to be had when we extend support for an array to hardware health. With SRM 6.8, we focused on adding hardware health support to those arrays most popular with our customers. And so, we’re excited to announce hardware health support for Dell® Compellent and HPE 3PAR arrays. So now, starting in SRM 6.8, digging into these array types allows you to see details on fans, power supplies, batteries, and more.

A screenshot? Of course.

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WHAT’S NEXT

Add in some bug fixes and smaller changes and you have SRM 6.8. We’re excited for you all to check it out.

If there are any other features that didn’t make it into SRM 6.8 but that you would like to see, make sure to add it to our Storage Manager (Storage Profiler) Feature Requests forum. But before you do, head over to the What We’re Working On page to see what the storage team already has in the works for upcoming releases.

And as always, comments welcome below.

- the SRM Team

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Level 11

I’m happy to announce the General Availability of Database Performance Analyzer (DPA) 12.1. This release focuses on deeper performance analysis and management of DPA through these cool new features:

  • Anomaly Detection Powered by Machine Learning
  • Management API
  • Upgraded Java
  • New Options Page
  • Alerting Improvements

Anomaly Detection Powered by Machine Learning

Users tend to log help desk tickets when things are running slower than normal, i.e., an anomaly. Those tickets often find their way to the database team’s inbox to check the database. DPA can be used to find issues when you have time to drill into the wait time data, but often, time is of the essence. Everyone wants answers immediately.

Tired of comparing the trends chart with previous days to decide what “normal” looks like? DPA 12.1 now does the work for you, using a machine learning algorithm to identify which hours are abnormal, and displays the information contextually on the trends page. Bonus! If DPA detects an anomaly in the last 60 minutes, it changes the wait time status on the home page, letting you quickly identify the database instances your users are waiting on.

The DPA wait meter on the home page is now powered by anomaly detection, and new correlation charts appear as you drill into an instance. For example, you may be reviewing the home page and suddenly see the wait meter turn red.

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This is an indication the instance is having higher than normal wait times and may be having issues. Clicking on the wait meter takes you to a view of the last 24 hours, and the status of the last bar will match the wait meter.

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Drilling into the last bar, we can start to unravel the root cause of the anomaly. In this example, we see heavy wait times on RESOURCE_SEMAPHORE_QUERY_COMPILE, usually an indication that one or more queries require more memory than is currently available. In our case, many queries were waiting on this wait type, indicating a potential memory shortfall on the database server, which is what we found to be the case. Without the anomaly detection feature, we may not have known about this problem.

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For more about this story and others, see this feature post in the DPA Customer Success Center: DPA 12.1 feature: Anomaly detection - SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. Help and Support .

Management API

DPA has many customers automating tasks within their database environments, and many of you have scripts that can deploy/destroy a database environment in minutes. The new REST API in DPA 12.1 can be used to further that automation to management of DPA itself as well as monitored instances. It can safely connect to DPA and issue calls to:

  • Add and remove instances
  • List, allocate, and deallocate licenses
  • Stop, start, and update passwords for monitors
  • Add, retrieve, and delete annotations
  • And more

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DPA customers are already using the API to:

  • Create annotations when a new build of an application is installed
  • Add monitoring to a newly created database instance and allocate proper licenses
  • Stop and restart monitors before and after O/S patches

If you are using the DPA API to do cool things, reply to this post and let us know about it.

For more information about DPA’s Rest API, including an interface to try them out before building code around them, use the new Options page and the Management API Documentation link. Here’s a list of other useful pages when you are ready to put the API into action:

What Did You Find?

Our QA team uses DPA to help make sure our code performs well. The anomaly detection feature has helped them be more efficient when problems crop up. DPA pings them using anomaly detection alerts rather than a person being required to drill into every instance to find issues. They can then use the anomaly detection charts to quickly understand the issues. If you find interesting stories in your environment, let us know by leaving comments on this blog post.

We would love to hear feedback about the following:

  • Does anomaly detection improve your workflow for finding wait time issues?
  • Are there issues in your databases that DPA did not find, or flagged incorrectly?
  • Are you using the REST API? How much time does it save you? What processes are you automating?

What’s Next?

To learn more about the exciting DPA 12.1 new features, see the DPA Documentation library and visit your SolarWinds Customer Portal to get the new software.

If you don't see the features you've been wanting in this release, check out the What We Are Working On for DPA post for what our dedicated team of database nerds are already looking at. If you don't see everything you've been wishing for there, add it to the Database Performance Analyzer Feature Requests.

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3 2 2,120
Product Manager
Product Manager

I'm very excited to announce that SolarWinds Server Configuration Monitor (SCM)​ 1.1 is now available for download! This release expands on SCM 1.0 capabilities, both giving more detail for each change detected, and adding a new data source that can be analyzed for changes:

  • Detect “Who made the change” for files and registry
  • Detect changes in near real-time
  • Deploy PowerShell scripts and track changes in the output (with links to additional example scripts)
  • Set baselines for multiple nodes at once

Who made the change? In near real-time

SCM 1.0 is good at detecting changes in your Windows files and registry, but it didn't tell you who made the change, leaving you to do some additional investigative work. SCM 1.1 adds "who made the change" by leveraging our File Integrity Monitoring (FIM) technology, which also detects changes in near real-time -- a double benefit. Near real-time allows us to catch changes almost as they happen, and gives us a separate record for each change, even if changes are happening in rapid succession.

Turning on "Who made the change"

After you install or upgrade to SCM 1.1, you can easily turn on the "Who Made the Change" feature for the servers you want to monitor via a wizard:

  • From the "Server Configuration Summary -> What's New Resource," click the Set Up "Who Made the Change" Detection button
  • From the "All Settings -> Server Configuration Monitor Settings -> Polling Settings Tab," click the Set Up Who Detection button

Either way, it starts the "Who Made the Change" wizard.

The first step tells you about what happens when you turn on "Who Made the Change" detection:

The second step allows you to define the server exclusion list and turn on the feature:

Once you press Enable Who Detection, SCM will push out FIM driver to the agent(s) and turn it on, so file and registry changes will be monitored in near real-time rather than polled once a minute as in SCM 1.0. You can always come back and change the exclusion list or turn off "Who Made the Change" later.

Where to see "Who made the change"

You can see who made the change (user and domain) in a number of places, represented by the person icon.

  • SCM Summary: Recent Configuration Changes resource
  • Node Summary: Configuration Details and Recent Configuration Changes resources
  • Node: Content comparison, note the time I added to the file matches the time SCM shows the file changed.

Alerting

When building an alert, you can filter on "Who made the change" and add it to the text of your alert.

Reporting

The out-of-the-box SCM report includes "Who made the change" data.

Deploy and monitor the output of PowerShell scripts

Everyone's environment is different, and SCM could never monitor everything you want to "out-of-the-box." So, we added the ability to deploy and execute PowerShell scripts and compare the output over time. Now, configuration monitoring is only limited by your imagination and scripting super powers.

Adding a new script

I created a new Profile for this test, but you can add scripts to your current Profiles too.

First, create a new Profile and click Add to add a new element.

To add a PowerShell script configuration element:

  1. Choose PowerShell script as your Element type.
  2. Paste your script into the box.
  3. Click Add to add the element to the profile, then add again to save the profile.

Deploy and enjoy!

Once your new (or modified Profile) is ready, you can deploy it to one or more agents. From Server Configuration Monitor Settings > Manage Profiles, select the profile and click assign, then pick the servers you want, and walk through the wizard. SCM will deploy the scripts and start executing them on schedule.

Comparing the output

Comparing the output of the script over time works like any other source (file, registry, asset info) in SCM. You can set baselines and see changes in the content comparison. As you can see, the entire output of the script is captured and stored.

Mix and match elements in profiles

Don't forget -- one of the great things about SCM is you can mix and match elements in a single profile. Mix and match registry setting, multiple files, and PowerShell scripts into a single profile to monitor interesting aspects of your configurations.

Check Out Some Cool PowerShell Examples by Kevin

SolarWinds' own Technical Community Manager KMSigma put together some awesome examples of what SCM can do: Manage and Monitor PowerShell Scripts

Keep a lookout in our SCM forums for more PowerShell script examples in the future, and feel free to post your scripts too.

Set/Reset baselines for multiple nodes at once

Our early customers in large environments were limited to setting/resetting baselines one node at time, which was very painful when the dozens or hundreds of servers were updated (like a Windows update), so we addressed it quickly in this release. Now from the Server Configuration Monitor Settings screen, you can pick multiple servers, see a quick summary of the number of baselines you'll be updating, and then reset the baselines to the current output -- easy as 1-2-3.

What's next?

Don't forget to read the SCM 1.1 Release Notes to see all the goodness now available.

If you don't see the features you've been waiting for, check out the What We're Working on for SCM post for a list of features our dedicated team of configuration nerds and code jockeys are already researching. If you don't see everything you've been wishing for, add it to the Server Configuration Monitor (SCM) Feature Requests.

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1 3 1,072
Product Manager
Product Manager

I’m pleased to announce the General Availability of Log Analyzer (LA) 2.0 on the Customer Portal.  You may be wondering what Log Analyzer is. The artist formally known as Log Manager for Orion has undergone a transformation. It has evolved past its former life as a 1.0 product and become Log Analyzer 2.0. Log Analyzer was selected after extensive research to better understand what our users would call a product that solves the problems our tool solves based on our feature set. I hope you like the new name!

This release includes Windows Event Support, Log Export, Log Forwarding and Rule Improvements as well as other items listed in the Release Notes.

Windows Events

As a System Administrator, closely monitoring Windows Events is vital to ensuring your servers and applications are running as they should be. These events can also be hugely valuable when troubleshooting all sorts of Windows problems and determining the root cause of an issue or outage. While there are vast array of Windows Events categories, the three main categories you'll likely focus on when troubleshooting are the Application (events relating to Windows components), System (events related to programs installed on the system) and Security (security related events such as authentication attempts and resource access). Trawling through Windows Event Viewers to find the needle in the haystack on individual servers can be a laborious task. Having a tool such as Log Analyzer can be a real life saver when it comes to charting, searching and aggregating these Windows Events. Thanks to the tight integration with Orion, you can view your Windows Events alongside the performance data collected by other tools such as NPM and SAM. Worth noting that you can also add VMware Events into the mix, thanks to the latest Virtualization Manager (VMAN) release.

In order to start ingesting Windows Events with Log Analyzer, you need to install the Orion Agent on your Windows device. Windows Event Forwarding​ is also supported, so if you prefer to forward events from other nodes to a single node with the Orion agent installed, that's an option too. By default, we collect all Windows Application and System events, along with 70 of the most common Windows Security Events. You can view more information on setting up Windows Event Collection here.

Once you have the agent installed and added the node(s) to Log Analyzer, you'll see the Events within the Log Viewer. Events are automatically tagged with Application, System or Security tags. Predefined rules are also included out of the box which tag events such as Authentication Events, Event Logs Cleared, Account Creation/Lockout/Deletion, Unexpected Shutdowns, Application Crashes and more.

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Windows Events are also supported in PerfStack, enabling you to correlate performance data with Windows Events. For example, you can see below there are memory spikes on a SQL Server, with some corresponding Windows Events and Orion Alerts. Drilling into the Windows Events you can clearly see there is insufficient system memory which is causing the Node Reboot and SQL Server Insufficient Resources alerts.

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Log Forwarding

​Log Analyzer shouldn't be seen as a dead end for your log data. There may be times when you need to forward import syslog/traps to another tool such as an Incident Management or SIEM for further processing/analysis. This release includes a new 'Forward Entry' rule action which enables you to forward syslog/traps to another application. You can keep the source IP of the entry intact or replace with Orion's IP address:

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Log Export

When troubleshooting problems it's often necessary to share important log data with other team members, external vendors or attach to a helpdesk ticket. You can now do so thanks to the new Export option within the Log Viewer.

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Rule Improvements

We've added some pre-populated dropdown menus for fields such as MachineType, EngineID, Severity, Vendor and more to make it even easier to create log rules. It is now also possible to adjust the processing order of the rules.

Screenshot 2019-03-12 at 12.00.34.png

The team is already hard at work on the next version of LA, as you can see covered here in the What We're Working On post. Also, please keep the feedback coming on what you think and what you would like to see in the product in the Feature Requests section of the forum.

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2 19 3,000
Product Manager
Product Manager

Virtualization Manager (VMAN) 8.4 is now available and can be downloaded from your customer portal. In recent releases, we brought you VMware vSAN monitoring, container support, and better centralized upgrades to your deployment overall.

VMware Event Monitoring, Correlation, and Alerting

As a virtualization admin, it's a primary concern to track the many changes that occur in dynamic and often automated virtualization environments. While many virtualization vendors tout that the simplicity of their solution alleviates the need for admins to worry, I err on the side of caution. With VMware event monitoring, you now have real-time access to alert and correlate VMware's alarms, health checks, events, and tasks to issues in your environment. Ephemeral events such as vMotions are now easily tracked, and if you also have Log Analyzer, you can tag them for future cataloging.

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Looking at my VMware Events summary, there are quite a few warning and critical events in the last hour. Filtering down to the warning events to do deeper inspection, I can see four of them are warning me of a failed migration for virtual machine DENCLIENTAFF01v

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Clicking on one of these events allows me to drill in to get more context. Clearly, I need to look at the configuration of my vMotion interface.

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Clicking "Analyze Logs" allows me to have better filtering and is also where I would configure processing rules to start configuring real-time alerting on these VMware events. Yes, event collection is real-time, and as a result, your alerts configured on these events are also triggered in real-time. If you want to be alerted to host connection changes, or when vMotions are triggered when they aren't supposed to be, you now can be alerted immediately.

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For those of you who have Log Analyzer, you have even more troubleshooting tools that play very nicely with this VMAN feature. Are you looking to visually see occurrences of this event over time? Easy. Click "Analyze Logs" to navigate to the Log Viewer. Your Log Viewer will differ in that you'll have a visual graph to see how many times this event has occurred over the specified time period. In the example below, I increased the time to two hours, and searched for "vMotion." In addition, I've used the tagging feature to tag all events like this with a "vMotion" tag.

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So how do I correlate this to problems? By using PerfStack dashboard.

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After troubleshooting your issues, simply save the PerfStack project and put that project on your NOC view for future visibility.

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Deeper Dives and Other Features

For a more in depth look at the VMware events feature check out these documents. Let me know if you have use cases that require real time alerting, monitoring and reporting so we can consider putting them in as OOTB content.

For those of you who are curious what we have for those users who do not need VMware event visibility check out these documents for more details:

Next on the VMAN Roadmap

Don't see what you're looking for here? Check out the WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON FOR VIRTUALIZATION MANAGER (UPDATED MARCH, 2019)  post for what our dedicated team of virtualization nerds and code jockeys are already looking at. If you don't see everything you've been wishing for there, add it to the Virtualization Manager Feature Requests

This version of VMAN is compatible with the legacy VMAN 8.1 appliance; however, all the newly available features are only on VMAN on the Orion Platform. If you're using the appliance on your production VMAN installation, I recommend that you consider retiring the appliance at your earliest convenience to reap all the benefits of the new features we are developing for VMAN on Orion. If you cannot retire the appliance for any reason, I'm very interested in your feedback and reasons, and would love to see them listed out in the comments below.

Helpful Links

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0 8 1,605
Community Manager
Community Manager

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a fan of PowerShell. “Fan” is a diminutive version of the word “fanatic,” and in this instance both are true. That’s why I was so excited to see that PowerShell script output is now supported in Server Configuration Monitor (SCM).

Since SCM’s release, I’ve always thought it was a great idea to monitor the directory where you store your scripts to make sure they didn’t vary and to validate changes over time, even going in and reverting them in case there was a change without approval. However, that part was available in the initial release of SCM. Using PowerShell with SCM, you can monitor your C:\Scripts\*.ps1 files and get notified when any deviate from their baselines.

Using PowerShell scripts to pull information from systems you’re monitoring is only limited by your scripting prowess. But let me say this plainly: You don’t need to be a scripting genius. The THWACK® members are here to be your resources. If you have something great you wrote, post about it. If you need help formatting output, post about it. If you can’t remember how to get a list of all the software installed on a system, post about it. Someone here has probably already done the work.

Monitoring the Server Roles

Windows now handles many of the “roles” of a machine (Web Server, Active Directory Server, etc.) based on the installed features. There never was a really nice way to understand what roles were installed on a machine outside the Server Manager. This is especially true if you’re running Windows Server Core because it has no Server Manager.

Now, you can just write yourself a small PowerShell script:

Get-WindowsFeature | Where-Object { $_.Installed } | Select-Object -Property Name, DisplayName | Sort-Object -Property Name

…and get the list of all features displayed for you.

Name                      DisplayName

----                      -----------

FileAndStorage-Services   File and Storage Services

File-Services             File and iSCSI Services

FS-Data-Deduplication     Data Deduplication

FS-FileServer             File Server

MSMQ                      Message Queuing

MSMQ-Server               Message Queuing Server

MSMQ-Services             Message Queuing Services

NET-Framework-45-ASPNET   ASP.NET 4.7

NET-Framework-45-Core     .NET Framework 4.7

NET-Framework-45-Features .NET Framework 4.7 Features

NET-WCF-Services45        WCF Services

NET-WCF-TCP-PortSharing45 TCP Port Sharing

PowerShell                Windows PowerShell 5.1

PowerShell-ISE            Windows PowerShell ISE

PowerShellRoot            Windows PowerShell

Storage-Services          Storage Services

System-DataArchiver       System Data Archiver

Web-App-Dev               Application Development

Web-Asp-Net45             ASP.NET 4.7

Web-Common-Http           Common HTTP Features

Web-Default-Doc           Default Document

Web-Dir-Browsing          Directory Browsing

Web-Dyn-Compression       Dynamic Content Compression

Web-Filtering             Request Filtering

Web-Health                Health and Diagnostics

Web-Http-Errors           HTTP Errors

Web-Http-Logging          HTTP Logging

Web-ISAPI-Ext             ISAPI Extensions

Web-ISAPI-Filter          ISAPI Filters

Web-Log-Libraries         Logging Tools

Web-Metabase              IIS 6 Metabase Compatibility

Web-Mgmt-Compat           IIS 6 Management Compatibility

Web-Mgmt-Console          IIS Management Console

Web-Mgmt-Tools            Management Tools

Web-Net-Ext45             .NET Extensibility 4.7

Web-Performance           Performance

Web-Request-Monitor       Request Monitor

Web-Security              Security

Web-Server                Web Server (IIS)

Web-Stat-Compression      Static Content Compression

Web-Static-Content        Static Content

Web-WebServer             Web Server

Web-Windows-Auth          Windows Authentication

Windows-Defender          Windows Defender Antivirus

WoW64-Support             WoW64 Support

XPS-Viewer                XPS Viewer

This is super simple. If someone adds or removes one of these features, you’ll know moments after it’s done because it would deviate from your baseline.

Monitoring Local Administrators

This got me thinking about all manner of other possible PowerShell script uses. One that came to mind immediately was local security. We all know the local administrator group is an easy way to have people circumvent security best practices, so knowing who is in that security group has proven difficult.

Now that we don’t have those limitations, let’s look at the local admins group and look at local users.

Get-LocalGroupMember -Group Administrators | Where-Object { $_.PrincipalSource -eq "Local" } | Sort-Object -Property Name

Now, you’ll get returned a list of all the local users in the Administrators group.

ObjectClass Name                         PrincipalSource
----------- ----                         ---------------
User        NOCKMSMPE01V\Administrator   Local
User        NOCKMSMPE01V\Automation-User Local

Now we’ll know if someone is added or deleted. You could extend this to know when someone is added to power users or any other group. If you really felt like going gang-busters, you could ask for all the groups, and then enumerate the members of each.

Local Certificates

These don’t have to be relegated to PowerShell one-liners either. You can have entire scripts that return a value that you can review.

Also, on the security front, it might be nice to know if random certificates start popping up everywhere. Doing this by hand would be excruciatingly slow. Thankfully it’s pretty easy in PowerShell.

$AllCertificates = Get-ChildItem -Path Cert:\LocalMachine\My -Recurse

# Create an empty list to keep the results

$CertificateList = @()

ForEach ( $Certificate in $AllCertificates )

{

    # Check to see if this is a "folder" or a "certificate"

    if ( -not ( $Certificate.PSIsContainer ) )

    {

        # Certificates are *not* containers (folders)

        # Get the important details and add it to the $CertificateList

        $CertificateList += $Certificate | Select-Object -Property FriendlyName, Issuer, Subject, Thumbprint, NotBefore, NotAfter

    }

}

$CertificateList

As you can see, you aren’t required to stick with one-liners. Write whatever you need for your input. As long as there’s output, SCM will capture it and present it in a usable format for parsing.

FriendlyName : SolarWinds-Orion
Issuer       : CN=SolarWinds-Orion
Subject      : CN=SolarWinds-Orion
Thumbprint   : AF2A630F2458E0A3BE8D3EF332621A9DDF817502
NotBefore    : 10/12/2018 5:59:14 PM
NotAfter     : 12/31/2039 11:59:59 PM

FriendlyName :
Issuer       : CN=SolarWinds IPAM Engine
Subject      : CN=SolarWinds IPAM Engine
Thumbprint   : 4527E03262B268D2FCFE4B7B4203EF620B41854F
NotBefore    : 11/5/2018 7:13:34 PM
NotAfter     : 12/31/2039 11:59:59 PM

FriendlyName :
Issuer       : CN=SolarWinds-Orion
Subject      : CN=SolarWinds Agent Provision - cc10929c-47e1-473a-9357-a54052537795
Thumbprint   : 2570C476DF0E8C851DCE9AFC2A37AC4BDDF3BAD6
NotBefore    : 10/11/2018 6:46:29 PM
NotAfter     : 10/12/2048 6:46:28 PM

FriendlyName : SolarWinds-SEUM_PlaybackAgent
Issuer       : CN=SolarWinds-SEUM_PlaybackAgent
Subject      : CN=SolarWinds-SEUM_PlaybackAgent
Thumbprint   : 0603E7052293B77B89A3D545B43FC03287F56889
NotBefore    : 11/4/2018 12:00:00 AM
NotAfter     : 11/5/2048 12:00:00 AM

FriendlyName : SolarWinds-SEUM-AgentProxy
Issuer       : CN=SolarWinds-SEUM-AgentProxy
Subject      : CN=SolarWinds-SEUM-AgentProxy
Thumbprint   : 0488D26FD9576293C30BB5507489D96C3ED829B4
NotBefore    : 11/4/2018 12:00:00 AM
NotAfter     : 11/5/2048 12:00:00 AM

FriendlyName : WildcardCert_Demo.Lab
Issuer       : CN=demo-EASTROOTCA-CA, DC=demo, DC=lab
Subject      : CN=*.demo.lab, OU=Information Technology, O=SolarWinds Demo Lab, L=Austin, S=TX, C=US
Thumbprint   : 039828B433E38117B85E3E9C1FBFD5C1A1189C91
NotBefore    : 3/30/2018 4:37:41 PM
NotAfter     : 3/30/2020 4:47:41 PM

Antivirus Exclusions

How about your antivirus exclusions? I’m sure you really, really want to know if those change.

$WindowsDefenderDetails = Get-MpPreference

$WindowsDefenderExclusions = $WindowsDefenderDetails.ExclusionPath

$WindowsDefenderExclusions | Sort-Object

Now you’ll know if something is added to or removed from the antivirus exclusion list.

C:\inetpub\SolarWinds
C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\SolarWinds
C:\Program Files (x86)\SolarWinds
C:\ProgramData\SolarWinds
C:\ProgramData\SolarWindsAgentInstall

Trying to find this out by hand would be tedious, so let’s just have SCM do the work for you.

This is all just a sample of the power of PowerShell and SCM. We’d love to know what you’ve got in mind for your environment. So, download a trial or upgrade to the latest version of SCM. Be sure to share your excellent scripting adventure so the rest of us can join in the fun!

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14 22 5,638
Product Manager
Product Manager

In part 2 of "What's New in SAM 6.8" we are going to discuss the improved Cisco UCS monitoring that is shipping with SAM 6.8

(If you were looking for part 1 it is over here: SAM 6.8 What's New Part 1 - AppInsight for Active Directory )

Those of you who have been using SAM with NPM for a while are probably already aware that some support for UCS monitoring is possible in Orion. UCS support has been re-written to be utilized by any combination or standalone deployment of SAM, VMAN or NPM Additionally we added a new overview resource that let's you visualize your UCS environment. We fleshed out the hardware health support to include all the pieces. Fabric Inter-connects, Chassis, Blades and any rack mount UCS servers that you have managed under UCS. Finally we added a widget to let you see native errors and failures from UCS via the API. If you are using Cisco UCS in a Hyper-converged (HCI) configuration or hosting your critical virtualization resources in UCS then the new monitoring we have added is going to be a big win for you!

Get started by adding your Cicso UCS Manager node. In the Add a node wizard, click  'Poll for UCS' and enter your credentials.

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Once you are successfully polling the UCS Manager some new widgets will become available:

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Overview and UCS Errors and Failures

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Chassis Overview

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Blade hardware health

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New layer added in AppStack!

AppStack let's you see the relationship between your Cisco UCS resources and the VMs and Applications running on them.

See end to end status from containers and applications all the way to the storage at the foundation of your UCS stack!

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Out of the box alerts and reports:

Hardware Alerts:

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Cisco UCS Entity Report

pastedImage_4.png

That wraps up our quick tour of this great new feature in SAM 6.8... As always, if you like what you see or have a question or a comment please feel free to contribute below.

You can also submit a feature request Server & Application Monitor Feature Requests

If you are curious about what we are planning for future releases jump over to the public road map What We're Working On Beyond SAM 6.8 (Updated March 13, 2019)

Here are some additional useful links related to SAM:

Read more
4 16 3,325
Product Manager
Product Manager

SAM 6.8 is now available - Following up to our previously released AppInsight for SQL, Exchange and IIS... The latest installment of AppInsight is here and it wants to make your life easier when it comes to monitoring Active Directory. In addition to performance counters and event logs, detailed information about Replication, FSMO Roles and Sites is provided out-of-the-box

To get started there are a couple ways to get AppInsight for Active Directory applied to your domain controller nodes:

You can either use "List Resources" on a node you know to be a domain controller or you can run a network sonar discovery and we will find your DCs for you!.

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pastedImage_6.png

Perf-counters and events are still here but we took the time to add some new ones and also improve the grouping presentation. User and Computer Events, System Events, Replication Events, Policy Events and Logon Events are all neatly grouped together to make it easy to find what you are looking for.

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Click to EnlargeClick to EnlargeClick to Enlarge

Replication: If replication isn't working, your Active Directory isn't working. Keep an eye on replication and get alerted if anything goes wrong. In addition to status we are representing direction and site location. You can also expand any given DC to see more detail about it's configuration.

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Click to EnlargeClick to Enlarge

FSMO Roles at a glance: When something is wrong with a particular DC it can be helpful to know what roles it holds. Hover over the pill to expand the role description. Filters are also available at the top of the resource to allow you to focus on servers of a particular type of role.

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Site Details: This widget provides a detailed overview of your sites including a view into related Links and Subnets. The widget also allows for quick searching to zero in on a specific item.

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Alerts objects specific to AppInsight for AD

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So that wraps up our quick tour of this great new feature in SAM 6.8... Don't forget to check out part 2 of what's new in SAM 6.8 SAM 6.8 WHAT'S NEW PART 2 - Enhanced Support for UCS Monitoring

As always, if you like what you see or have a question or a comment please feel free to contribute below.

You can also submit a feature request Server & Application Monitor Feature Requests

If you are curious about what we are planning for future releases jump over to the public road map What We're Working On Beyond SAM 6.8 (Updated March 13, 2019)

Here are some additional useful links related to SAM:

Thanks for stopping by!

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5 18 3,957
Level 11

Update: A few new screenshots based on the current version. Full release notes available here.

After four months, it is time again to write another article about another product.
As it happens, we’ve added a new toy to our portfolio:

SolarWinds Access Rights Manager (ARM)

Some of you may know it under its former name, 8MAN.

What exactly does ARM do? And who came up with this TLA?

The tool validates permissions within Active Directory®, Exchange™, SharePoint®, and file servers. So who has access to what, and where does the permission come from?

Users, groups, and effective permissions can be created, modified, or even deleted.

Reports and instant analysis complete the package.

Everything works out of an elegant user interface, and you can operate it—even if you aren’t a rocket scientist.

ARM will be installed on any member server and comes with minimal requirements.
The OS can be anything up from 2008SP1; give it two cores and four gigs of RAM, and you’re golden, even for some production environments. The data is stored on an SQL 2008 or later.

The install process is quick.

01.jpg

02.jpg

03.jpg

Once installed, the first step is to click the configuration icon on the right-hand side. The color is 04C9D7, and according to the internet, it is called “vivid arctic blue,” but let’s call it turquoise.
On that note, let me tell you: I am German and unable to pronounce turquoise, so I am calling it Türkis instead.

04.jpg

The next step is to create an AD and SQL® user and connect to the database:

05.jpg

Don't panic if you see this message, the system is automatically reconnecting:

06.jpg

ARM is now available, but not yet ready to use.

07.jpg

We need to define a data source, so let’s attach AD. The default settings will use the credentials already stored in ARM for directory access.

05.png

In my example, an automated search kicks off in the evening. When you set it up for the first time, I suggest clicking the arrow manually once to get some data to work with.
Attention: Don’t do this with 10,000 users in the early morning.

Alright, that’s it.


Now click the orange—sorry, F99D1C—icon to start the tool.

06.png

Login:

08.jpg

The first thing we see is the dashboard:

09.jpg

Let’s deal with the typical question, “Why was that punk able to access X at all?”
The main reason for this is probably a nested authorization, which isn’t obvious at first glance.
But now ARM comes into play.
Click on Accounts and enter Mr. Punk’s name into the search box above:


09.png

The result is a tree diagram showing the group memberships, and it is easy to see where the permission is coming from.

10.png

If you click on a random icon, you will see more details—give it a try.
You can also export the graphic as a picture.
On the right side, you will find AD attributes:

11.png

Now it is getting comfortable. It is possible to edit any record just from here:

12en.png

Oh yes, I don’t trust vegetarians!

By the way, this box here is mandatory on any change, as proper change management requires the setting of notes.

13.png

And while we’re at it, right-click on an account:

14.png

Let’s walk from AD to file permissions. It’s only a short walk, I promise.
Click Show access rights to resources as seen above.

Now we need to select a file server:

15.png

On the right, we see the permissions in detail:

16.png

We ship ARM with a second GUI in addition to the client—a web interface accessible from anywhere, where you find tools for other tasks.

10.jpg

Typical risks are ready for your review out of the box. Just click on Analyze/Risk Assessment Dashboard. I know you want to do it.

You’ll find some interesting information, like inactive accounts:

18.png

Permanent passwords:

19.png

Or everybody’s darling, the popular “Everyone” permission on folders:

20.png

One does not simply “Minimize Risks,” but give it a try:

21.png

I could initiate changes directly from here – also in bulk.

By the way, any change made via ARM will be automatically logged.
The logbook is at the top of the local client, and we can generate and export reports:

22.png

You may have seen this above already, but you can find more predefined reports directly on the Start dashboard:

23.png

Let’s address one or two specific topics.

Since Server 2016, there is a new feature available called temporary group membership.
It can be quite useful; for example, in the case of an employee working in a project team who requires access to specific elements for the duration of the project. That additional authorization will expire automatically after whatever time has been set.

Practical, isn’t it?

But also consider this: Someone might have used an opportunity and given him- or herself temporary access to a resource with the understanding that the change of membership will disappear again, which makes the whole process difficult—if not impossible—to comprehend.

But not anymore! Here we go:

24.png

If you hover over this box here…

25.png

…you will find objects on the right side:

26.png

For this scenario, these two guys here might be interesting:

27.png

Unfortunately, in my lab, there’s nothing to see right now, so let’s move on.

ARM allows routine tasks to be performed right from the UI; for example, creating new users or groups, assigning or removing permissions, and much more.
This becomes even more interesting when templates, or profiles, are introduced.

Let’s change into the web client. Click the cogwheel on top, then choose Department Profiles:

28.png

At the right side, click Create New.

29.png

The profile needs a shiny name:

30en.png

Always make sure people who operate microwaves receive proper training. But that’s a different story.

More buttons on the left side; I will save it for now:

31.png

Starting now, you can assign new hires to these profiles, and everything else is taken care of by the tool, like assigning group memberships or setting AD attributes.

Of course, these profiles are also baselines, and there is a predefined report available showing any deviations from the standard. Just click Analysis and User Accounts.

32.png

Select a profile and off you go:

33.png

Elyne is compliant; congratulations. But that’s hardly surprising, as she is the only employee in Marketing:

34.png

These are just a few features of ARM. Other interesting topics would be the integration of different sources, or scripts for more complex automation. This is food for future postings.

Have fun exploring.

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3 1 1,671
Product Manager
Product Manager

Woes of Flow

A poem for Joe

It uncovers source and destination

without hesitation.

Both port and address

to troubleshoot they will clearly assess.

Beware the bytes and packets

bundled in quintuplet jackets,

for they are accompanied by a wild hog

that will drown your network in a bog.

The hero boldly proclaims thrice,

sampling is not sacrifice!

He brings data to fight

but progress is slow in this plight.

Mav Turner

As network operators, one of the most common—and important—troubleshooting tasks revolves around tracking down bandwidth hogs consuming capacity in our network infrastructure. We have a wealth of data at our fingertips to accomplish this, but it’s sometimes challenging to reconcile into a clear picture.

Troubleshooting high utilization usually begins with an alert for exceeding a threshold. In the Orion Platform’s alerting facility, there are several conditions we can set up to identify these thresholds for action. The classic—and simple—approach is to set a threshold for utilization defined as a percentage of the available capacity. The Orion Platform also supports baselining utilization in a trailing window and setting adaptive thresholds. Next, you need to investigate to determine what’s driving utilization and decide what action to take.

Usually, the culprit is a particular application generating an unusual level of traffic. We can get some insights into application traffic volumes from a NetFlow analyzer tool like NetFlow Traffic Analyzer.

So, why don’t the volume measurements match exactly from these two sources of data? Aren’t interface utilization values the same as traffic volume data from NetFlow?

Let’s review the metrics we’re working with, and how this data comes to us.

Interface capacity—the rate at which we can move data through an interface—is modeled as an object in SNMP, and we pick that up from each interface as part of the discovery and import process into Network Performance Monitor network monitoring software. It can be overridden manually; some agents don’t populate that object in SNMP correctly.

Interface utilization is calculated from the difference in total data sent and received between polls, divided by the time interval between polls. The chipset provides a count of octets transmitted or received through the interface, and this value is exposed through SNMP. The Orion Platform polls it, then normalizes it to a rate at which the interface speed is expressed. That speed is usually “bits per second.”

Picture1.png

The metrics reported by SNMP about data received or sent through the interface includes all traffic—layer two traffic that isn’t propagated beyond a router, as well as application traffic that is routed. Some of the data that flows through the interface isn’t application traffic. Examples include address resolution protocol traffic, some link-layer discovery protocols, some link-layer authentication protocols, some encapsulation protocols, some routing protocols, and some control/signaling protocols.

For a breakdown of application traffic, we look to flow technologies like NetFlow. Flow export and flow sampling technologies are normalized into a common flow record, which is populated with network and transport layer data. Basic NetFlow records include ICMP traffic, as well as TCP and UDP traffic. While it’s possible on some platforms to enable an extended template that includes metrics on layer 2 protocols, this is not the default behavior for NetFlow, or any of the other flow export protocols.

Picture2.png

The sFlow protocol takes samples from layer 2 frames, and forwards those. So, while it’s possible to parse out layer 2 protocols from sFlow sample packets, we generally normalize sFlow along with the flow export protocols to capture ICMP, TCP, and UDP traffic, and discard the layer 2 headers.

When we work with flow data, we’re focusing on the traffic that is generally most variable and represents the applications that most often drive that high utilization that we’re investigating. But you can see that in terms of the volumes represented, flow technologies are examining only a subset of the total utilization we see through SNMP polled values.

Picture3.png

An additional consideration is timing. SNMP polling and NetFlow exports are designed to work on independent schedules and are not synchronized by design. Therefore, we may poll using SNMP every five minutes and average the rate of bandwidth utilization over that entire period. In the meantime, we may have NetFlow exports from our devices configured to send every minute, or we may be using sFlow and continuously receiving samples. Looking at the same one-minute period, we may see very different values at a particular interval for interface utilization and application traffic that is likely the main driver for our high utilization.

Picture4.png

If we’re using sFlow exclusively, our accuracy can be mathematically quantified. The accuracy of randomly sampled data—sFlow, or sampled NetFlow—depends solely on the number of samples arriving over a specific interval. For example, a sample arrival rate of ~1/sec for a 10G interface running at 35% utilization and sampling at 1:10000 yields an accuracy of +/-3.91% for one minute at a 98% confidence interval. That accuracy increases as utilization grows or over time as we receive a larger volume of samples. You can explore this in more detail using the sFlow Traffic Characterization Worksheet, available here: https://thwack.solarwinds.com/docs/DOC-203350

So, what’s the best way to think about the relationship between utilization and flow-reported application traffic?

  • Utilization is my leading indicator for interface capacity. This is the trigger for investigating bandwidth hogs.
  • Generally, utilization will alert me when there’s sustained traffic over my polling interval.
  • Application traffic volumes are almost always the driver for high utilization.
  • I should expect that the utilization metric and the application flow metrics will never be identical. The longer the time period, the closer they will track.
  • SNMP-based interface utilization provides the tools to answer the questions:
    • What is the capacity of the interface?
    • How much traffic is being sent or received over an interface?
    • How much of the capacity is being used?
  • Flow data provides the tools to answer the questions:
    • What application or applications?
    • How much, over what interval?
    • Where’s it coming from?
    • Where is it going?
    • What’s the trend over time?
    • How does this traffic compare to other applications?
    • How broadly am I seeing this application traffic in my network?

Where can I learn more about flow and utilization?

An Overview of Flow Technologies

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJhQaMN1ddo

Visibility in the Data Center

https://thwack.solarwinds.com/community/thwackcamp-2018/visibility-in-the-data-center

Calculate interface bandwidth utilization

https://support.solarwinds.com/Success_Center/Network_Performance_Monitor_(NPM)/Knowledgebase_Articl...

sFlow Traffic Characterization Worksheet

https://thwack.solarwinds.com/docs/DOC-203350

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5 4 1,646
Product Manager
Product Manager

Choosing the right monitoring tool can be difficult. You have fires to put out, time is limited, and your allocated budget may rival that of a first grader's allowance. When budgets are tight, there's nothing better than free, and many of you may lean on open-source solutions. These tools usually have no price tag and are essentially "free," but we have a saying here at SolarWinds®... "Is it free like a puppy, or free like a beer?"

While there isn't an actual cost through a purchase with open-source software, the caveat is that you usually need to put extensive work into getting them up and running. What if you had an alternative? A monitoring solution already purpose built for you, that is intuitive and helps cover the essentials. I'd like to introduce you to SolarWinds ipMonitor® Free Edition. The free edition of ipMonitor offers all the same functionality as paid software and supports up to 50 monitors.

ipMonitor is a comprehensive monitoring solution for your network devices, servers, and applications in a consolidated view. The tool is streamlined for simple agent-less monitoring of availability, status, and performance metrics in a lightweight tool that can be installed almost anywhere.

Perfect for even the smallest satellite office, ipMonitor sets up in minutes, uses minimal resources, and is completely self-contained, so there is no need to install a web front end or separate database and be forced to maintain it.

Use and customize built in dashboards to organize the critical data in your environment.Easily track response time, hardware health, or bandwidth of your firewalls, routers, and switches.Monitor servers for cpu, memory, drive space, and even critical services.

Free_Edition_Dashboard.png

(Click image to enlarge)

ipMonitor_Switch_Details.png

(Click image to enlarge)

Server_Details.png

(Click image to enlarge)

Drill down to investigate in more granular detail and view historical statistics.Click a chart to instantly generate an automated report to share, print, or save.

Leverage built in service monitors or assign port checks.

Pull performance counters or simulate user experience through built in wizards.

Switch_Interface_Stats.png

(Click image to enlarge)

Interface_Report.png

(Click image to enlarge)

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(Click image to enlarge)

  Take advantage of simplified NOC views to quickly pinpoint areas of concern.

NOC_View.png

(Click image to enlarge)

There is a ton of power packed in such a small package, and best of all - it's FREE!  Download it for yourself. Check it out here: ipMonitor Free Edition | SolarWinds

Want to learn more? Check out the upcoming webinar: https://launch.solarwinds.com/essential-monitoring-with-ipmonitor-re-broadcast.html

Share feedback or see how others are leveraging ipMonitor in the ipMonitor forum on THWACK.

Video Link : 1285

Need to expand beyond the free edition? ipMonitor offers the ability to scale to help stay ahead of the next crisis, without emptying the pocket book. Whether you run a small business or need dedicated monitoring for a particular project fast, ipMonitor is designed to simplify the day-to-day.

Check out the ipMonitor documentation in the SolarWinds Success Center

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2 2 1,106
Product Manager
Product Manager

SolarWinds® Access Rights Manager (ARM) v9.1 is now available on the customer portal!  For a broad overview of this release, the release notes are a great place to start. 

Feature Summary

View and Manage Azure AD Accounts with ARM

Create Azure AD accounts with ARM

Identify shared directories and files on OneDrive

Create a report about directories and files shared on OneDrive Identify users assigned to a transaction code in SAP R/3

Identify multiple authorizations for transaction codes in SAP R/3 Identify critical basic permissions in SAP R/3 Conclusion

Feature Summary

The primary changes you will see in this new release are designed to extend support for your critical applications and simplify integration with other systems and business processes, with explicit design to save you time on repetitive tasks.  

1.    Rebranded interface.The legacy 8MAN branding has been removed and the UI now looks similar to other SolarWinds products.  This is a small change but the first step in making ARM an important part of the SolarWinds security portfolio.

2.    Microsoft Azure Active Directory.  SolarWinds ARM now provides the ability to see and change permissions within Azure Active Directory.  By extending ARM to Azure-based Active Directory deployments, organizations who are directly leveraging Azure or who have hybrid environments can now utilize ARM to get better visibility and control over both. 

3.    Microsoft OneDrive.  SolarWinds ARM has been extended to include permissions visibility and change for Microsoft OneDrive, complementing the existing access rights permission visibility with Active Directory, Exchange, and file servers. Gain visibility into key areas, such as which files an employee has shared externally, and who has shared what files and directories internally with which employees.

4.    SAP R/3.  With this release, SolarWinds ARM introduces support for SAP R/3, allowing you to search for security-critical transaction codes, find authorization paths, and recognize multiple authorizations.  See which Active Directory users are assigned to each SAP account through the Access Rights Manager interface.

5.    UI/UX Improvements.  The ARM UI now has a more modern look.  The loading indicators have been improved.  We’ve added user pictures next to the comment boxes.  And, the user experience was improved by introducing tables with persistence in areas such as the resource view.  No need any more to re-apply your changes to the order or size of columns.  They stay with you after you set them.  Also, Analyze & Act scenarios can now be selected much easier by the new grouping and filtering functionality.  We heard you and made these improvements to make your job easier.

6.    Microsoft SQL Server Express Integration.  To make the installation for smaller environments easier, ARM now supports the automatic installation and configuration of Microsoft SQL Server Express directly from the ARM configuration page.  Use this option out-of-the box or utilize Microsoft SQL Server instead if you need a higher performance database.

7.    ARM Sync!  Most companies have several systems in place to manage users and their data.  This includes Active Directory, HR systems, and ERP systems.  Without proper synchronization processes, the systems may have an inconsistent view of the user’s data, resulting in administrators and HR employees having a difficult time identifying the correct set of data. ARM Sync! Helps to automate the data exchange between third-party systems and a system administered with ARM. With ARM Sync!, you can automatically create, deactivate, or delete user accounts.

8.    Recurring Task Scripting. Scripts are often used by administrators to ease the execution of recurring or repetitive tasks.  ARM now allows you to make a script available to users via the cockpit in a safe way to allow those users to execute an action immediately without an approval workflow.  These scripts can be executed before or after user provisioning processes, making it flexible and easy to apply.

9.    Create SharePoint Permission Groups.Industry best practices for SharePoint and file servers is not to grant permissions directly to users, but instead via group memberships to resource groups. With the Group Wizard for SharePoint, ARM relieves you of the many manual work steps needed to do this.  ARM now let’s you assign authorizations through a simple drag-and-drop procedure, and ARM will automatically create authorization groups and group memberships for both SharePoint online and SharePoint on-premises.

The SolarWinds product team is excited to make this new set of features available to you.  We hope you enjoy them.  Of course, please be sure to create new feature requests for any additional functionality you would like to see with ARM in general.

To help get you going quickly with this new version, below is a quick walk-through of the new Azure Active Directory feature, SharePoint, and OneDrive.

View and Manage Azure AD Accounts with ARM

ARM helps you to view, manage, and get control of your accounts in Azure AD and on-premises AD through a common interface.

1. Use the search box to find an Azure AD (AAD) account.  Use the search configuration (arrow) to ensure that Azure AD accounts are included in your search results.

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2. Click on the desired entry. The icon with the cloud symbolizes an AAD account.

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3. ARM focuses on the account. After right-clicking, select the appropriate action you want to perform.

Create Azure AD accounts with ARM

Create new Azure AD accounts or groups based on templates. Ensure the correct attributes and data is set.

1. On the start page, click "Create new user or group". 

pastedImage_18.png

2. Click on the desired template for a new user or new group in the AAD.

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3. Enter the required information.

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The information requested by the template can be fully customized.

4. Specify the logon information used to create the account in the AAD.

5. Enter a comment.

6. Start the execution.

Identify shared directories and files on OneDrive

OneDrive is an easy tool to let your employees share resources with each other and/or external users. ARM makes it easy for you to check which files an employee has shared externally, and who has shared what files and directories internally with which employees.

Option A: Browse through the OneDrive structure.

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1. Select the resource view.

2. Expand OneDrive.

3. Browse the OneDrive structure.

4. ARM displays the permissions.

5. ARM shows you the authorized users.

"External" is used to identify files or folders shared externally. OneDrive creates a link (hence the symbol used). Anyone who owns the link can read or change it.

"Internal" identifies files or folders that are shared within the organization.

If a file or folder is shared with a specific user (email address) within the organization, this user is given permission (not a link).

Option B: Search for shared resources on OneDrive.

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1. Search for "Internal" or "External" in …

2. OneDrive Accounts. 

3. This will open a scenario that displays all with OneDrive internally or externally shared files and folders.

Create a report about directories and files shared on OneDrive

Sometimes a report is easier to share, or you just want to follow up later on something you found. ARM allows you to easily generate a report about the files and folders your employees share on OneDrive.

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1. Select the resource view.

2. Expand OneDrive and select a resource.

3. Select "Who has access where?".

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4. The previously selected resource is preset.

5. Optional: Delete the preselected resources.

6. Use Drag-&-Drop procedure to add resources.

7. Start report creation.

Identify users assigned to a transaction code in SAP R/3

Transaction codes are important entities of SAP permissions. ARM helps you to identify which users are assigned to a specific transaction code, either direct or indirect, via membership in roles.

1. Use the search to find the transaction code you are looking for.

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2. Click on the search result.

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3. ARM automatically expands the tree view of the permission structure and focuses on the transaction code you are looking for.

4. ARM displays all permissions.

5. ARM displays all SAP users that have assigned the transaction code.

Identify multiple authorizations for transaction codes in SAP R/3

As with all permissions, there is often more than just one way a transaction code has been assigned to a user. ARM resolves all of these authorization paths and clearly visualizes these, leaving no room for ambiguity.

1. Use the search to find the transaction code you are looking for.

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2. Click on the search result.

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3. ARM automatically expands the tree view of the authorization structure and focuses on the transaction code you are searching for.

4. In the user list, ARM shows you how many authorization paths (arrows) have been set for the transaction code. Click on the user.

5. ARM shows you the authorization paths.

Identify critical basic permissions in SAP R/3

Use ARM to check regularly for critical basic authorizations following the principle of least privilege, and reduce the risk of data leakage.

1. Use the search box to find and select the critical basic authorization you are looking for. ARM opens the SAP authorization structure and focuses on the entry you are looking for.

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2. Browse through the subordinate structure to analyze the use of the critical basic authorization.

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Conclusion

That is all I have for now on this release.  I hope that this summary gives you a good understanding of the new features and how they can help you more effectively manage the permissions of your Azure AD, SharePoint, OneDrive, and SAP R/3 applications. 

I look forward to hearing your feedback once you have this new release up and running in your environment!

If you are reading this and not already using SolarWinds Access Rights Manager, we encourage you to check out the free download.  It’s free. It’s easy.  Give it a shot.

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3 1 2,207
Level 12

The Ghosts of Config Past, Present, and Future (Well, Sort Of)

The scene is set: the curtains open to a person in bed trying to get a good night’s sleep during a dark and windy night. The hair on the back of their neck is standing on end, and with one big gust their worst features come true! In bursts, a flurry of emails demanding proof for configs of old.

Okay, okay, while I’m no Hemingway, I can tell you that we’ve all experienced the nightmare of being visited by configs of old. Being bothered to prove an older configuration was in compliance is a real pain, and the thought of doing this manually makes skin crawl. Enter SolarWinds® Network Configuration Manager (NCM) network configuration management software and the Favorite config.

Being a “favorite” is always a good thing, and the same can be said for Favorite configs inside of Network Configuration Manager. Just as any favorite gets special handling, Favorite configs are granted special privileges within compliance policies. Compliance Policies are always evaluating the most recent version of a configuration file. If you’re trying to prove compliance of an old file, you need to tell NCM to use that file instead. You do that by setting the config as Favorite.

If you set one config from each node as Favorite, then those Favorites will forever be the most recent. This means that you, as the user, would be able to prove these configs’ compliance at any point in the future from that day without any extraordinary effort. The best part of getting this setup is that it can be fairly easy, if you have established rules and policies.

Simply mark a config as Favorite either through the UI or, for the savvy user, through the SDK. This is done by navigating to the Configuration Management page and expanding the list of configs nested under a node.

Setting config as favorite.png

Once this is done, you need to make sure to set up or modify your Policies to use this config type.

Assigning a Policy to Compliance Report.png

After the policies are set, just add these policies to a Compliance Report. 

Assigning a Policy to Compliance Report.png

After the Compliance Report is set up, update the report and click on it to see the output. You can verify that this is evaluating the correct config by drilling into any violation and clicking the “View Config” link.

View Config in Compliance Report.png

If everything is set up correctly, you will see the details for the Favorite config. 

Verify Config.png

And there you have it! You’ll no longer be pressed to manually evaluate older configs for audit review or documentation. If you find this useful, have any comments, or would like to see how this can be done through the SDK, please let me know below!

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1 0 906
Product Manager
Product Manager

The team continues to hammer away on enhanced and new application template content for Server & Application Monitor. The list below adds to what has been discussed in recent earlier posts, which you can find here, here, and here.

In this update, we will walk through the latest updates, including:

  • Verson 2 of Office 365 monitoring – We’ve reorganized the templates a bit, but more importantly, fixed an issue some customers were experiencing where components would randomly go into unknown status
  • Citrix XenServer – Net-new template support
  • Citrix PVS Accelerator for XenServer – Net-new template support
  • Oracle RAC (Real Application Clusters) – Net-new template support

As always, please let us know if you have any comments about these templates or requests to add to our list for new template creation. 

The info provided in this post is relatively high-level. Click on the links to see the complete detail for each new or updated template.

With that, let’s jump right in!

Office 365 Exchange Enhancements:

As mentioned above, besides reorganizing the templates a bit, the main update here is the fix to the issue some folks had reported where components would randomly go unknown. The issue was due to the fact that Microsoft has a “Global Throttling Policy,” which limits simultaneous connections from one client for O365 and maximum three simultaneous connections are allowed.

To overcome this concurrency issue, we have implemented a locking mechanism and restricted three scripts establishing a connection with Office 365.

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Oracle RAC:

Next up, following on from the previous Oracle template updates, we are also releasing a new template for Oracle RAC, which you can download and read more about at https://thwack.solarwinds.com/docs/DOC-203744

The list of metrics available for monitoring include:

  • Average MTS response time
  • Average MTS wait time
  • Sort ratio
  • MTS UGA memory
  • Database file I/O reads
  • User locks
  • Locked users
  • Global cache service utilization
  • Global cache block lost
  • Global cache average block receive time
  • Long queries elapsed time
  • Redo logs contentions
  • Active users
  • Buffer cache hit ratio
  • Dictionary cache hit ratio
  • Average enqueue timeouts
  • Global cache block access latency
  • Nodes down
  • Long queries count
  • Database file I/O write operation
  • Global cache corrupt blocks

The thing to keep in mind about this template is, just like our other Oracle templates, it requires some prerequisites be set up on the Orion Server and/or Poller for it to work.

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Citrix XenServer:

The third template we are releasing is for XenServer, which you can download and read more about here – https://thwack.solarwinds.com/docs/DOC-203745

Monitors the host as well as the guest VMs running on that host, including the following metrics:

  • Host - Free Memory
  • Host - Average CPU
  • Host - Control Domain Load
  • Host - Reclaimed Memory
  • Host - Potential Reclaimed Memory
  • Host - Total Memory
  • Host - Total NIC Receive
  • Host - Total NIC Send
  • Host - Agent Memory Allocation
  • Host - Agent Memory Usage
  • Host - Agent Memory Free
  • Host - Agent Memory Live
  • Host - Physical Interface Receive
  • Host - Physical Interface Sent
  • Host - Physical Interface Receive Error
  • Host - Physical Interface Send Error
  • Host - Storage Repository Cache Size
  • Host - Storage Repository Cache Hits
  • Host - Storage Repository Cache Misses
  • Host - Storage Repository Inflight Requests
  • Host - Storage Repository Read Throughput
  • Host - Storage Repository Write Throughput
  • Host - Storage Repository Total Throughput
  • Host - Storage Repository Write IOPS
  • Host - Storage Repository Read IOPS
  • Host - Storage Repository Total IOPS
  • Host - Storage Repository I/O Wait
  • Host - Storage Repository Read Latency
  • Host - Storage Repository Write Latency
  • Host - Storage Repository Total Latency
  • Host - CPU C State
  • Host - CPU P State
  • Host - CPU Utilization
  • Host - HA Statefile Latency
  • Host - Tapdisks_in_low_memory_mode
  • Host - Storage Repository Write
  • Host - Storage Repository Read
  • Host - Xapi Open FDS
  • Host - Pool Task Count
  • Host - Pool Session Count
  • VM - CPU Utilization
  • VM - Total Memory
  • VM - Memory Target
  • VM - Free Memory
  • VM - vCPUs Full Run
  • VM - vCPUs Full Contention
  • VM - vCPUs Concurrency Hazard
  • VM - vCPUs Idle
  • VM - vCPUs Partial Run
  • VM - vCPUs Partial Contention
  • VM - Disk Write
  • VM - Disk Read
  • VM - Disk Write Latency
  • VM - Disk Read Latency
  • VM - Disk Read IOPs
  • VM - Disk Write IOPs
  • VM - Disk Total IOPs
  • VM - Disk IO Wait
  • VM - Disk Inflight Requests
  • VM - Disk IO Throughput Total
  • VM - Disk IO Throughput Write
  • VM - Disk IO Throughput Read
  • VM - VIF Receive
  • VM - VIF Send
  • VM - VIF Receive Errors
  • VM - VIF Send Errors

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Citrix PVS Accelerator for XenServer

Last but not least, we added a net-new template for Citrix PVS Accelerator for XenServer, which you can read more about and download here - https://thwack.solarwinds.com/docs/DOC-203773

Includes the following metrics available for collection:

  • PVS - Accelerator Eviction Rate
  • PVS - Accelerator Hit Rate
  • PVS - Accelerator Miss Rate
  • PVS - Accelerator Traffic Clients Sent
  • PVS - Accelerator Traffic Servers Sent
  • PVS - Accelerator Read Rate
  • PVS - Accelerator Saved Network Traffic
  • PVS - Accelerator Space Utilization

That’s it for this round of content updates! We have more in process and will post to let you all know as soon as they are ready. As always, you can suggest new templates or features for SAM by creating a Feature Request.

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0 2 1,957
Level 12

Network Configuration Manager (NCM) v7.9 is available today on the customer portal! For a broad overview of this release, the release notes are a great place to start. This is a particularly pleasing release as we are delivering a feature that has received over 470 votes: Multi-Device Baselines.

What are Configuration Baselines?

Baselines are often attached to the act of measuring and rating the performance of a given object (interface, device, or similar) in real time. In configuration management terms, baselines are used to provide a framework for change control and management. The configuration baselines measure and evaluate the content set within the config and indicate whether the content is aligned to the baseline or not.      

Given that configuration changes over time are more difficult to directly observe and more complex to manage, this means that baselines play a role in monitoring and preventing unwanted changes. I find that this definition of baselines from Techopedia is interesting and accurate:

“It is the center of an effective configuration management program whose purpose is to give a definite basis for change control in a project by controlling various configuration items like work, features, product performance and other measurable configuration.”

This means that monitoring may be possible for a small number of nodes, but it is not practical nor is it reasonable to scale this type of manual monitoring framework. Actively monitoring each device’s config makes the validation of consistency and alignment to corporate or regulatory requirements reliable and possible.

Baselines

The great news is that NCM already helps with mitigating the challenges related to monitoring configuration drift by providing config change reports, Real Time Change Detection, rules and policies that monitor configurations based on a set of user-defined conditions, and a one-to-one configuration baselining. What we implemented in the latest version of NCM extends and improves configuration baselines to include:

  1. Creating new baseline(s) through
    1. Promoting an existing config to be a baseline, or
    2. Creating a new baseline by copy/paste or loading a file
  2. Ignoring unnecessary configuration lines (or lines unique to each device)
  3. Applying baseline(s) to a single node or multiple nodes

<New!> Baseline Management

In this release, there is a new list view of all baselines that have been created or migrated from an upgrade. From this new page, users can create new baselines, edit existing, apply or remove nodes for a given baseline, enable or disable a baseline, update the status of the baseline, or delete a baseline.

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 11.01.47 AM.png

<New!> Updated Diff Viewer

A major improvement in this release is the implementation of a new diff viewer for baselines. This new diff viewer will collapse lines that are unchanged, highlight ignored lines as gray, and mark all changes as yellow.

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 11.17.56 AM.png

More Ways to Create a Baseline

The process of creating baselines should be easy—take an existing config and simply apply it against a set of nodes, right? In NCM, you can do just that by promoting an existing configuration, loading a config from file, or copying and pasting.

Promoting a config is now nested under the node and in the baseline column:

Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 4.34.53 PM.png

Creating a new baseline can be done through the new Baseline Management Page:

Screenshot Cropped.png

No matter the steps to create the baseline, each will ultimately lead to applying the baseline to the nodes and configs.

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 11.08.40 AM.png

Ignoring Extraneous Config Lines

One of the key challenges with baselines is being able to get an accurate assessment of the config and not having false positives for config lines that are unique to a node or not relevant to the baseline. In NCM v7.9, we have introduced an ignore line capability that allows users to click through lines that are not relevant to the baseline to aid in reducing false positives. To read more on this, check out this link.

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 11.16.00 AM.png

Baseline Status Indicators

To monitor whether or not a node (config) is in compliance with a baseline or baselines, there needs to be a visual and written indication. Baseline Management, Configuration Management, and ‘Baseline vs. Config Conflicts’ report all now have visual and written indicators. On the Configuration Management page, there is a new baseline column that contains the visual and written indication of whether or not that node is in alignment with the baselines applied.

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 9.52.34 AM.png

For each status, there is a hover that provides a list of all the baselines and their associated status for that node.

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 10.07.58 AM.png

The new Baseline Management view provides a complete list view of all baselines that have been created. This view is meant to show the alignment of all the nodes that are applied against a single baseline.

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 11.01.47 AM.png

Each baseline can be expanded to show the status for different nodes to which it is applied (similar to the hover for Configuration Management). Each one of the statuses is clickable and will load the diff of that baseline vs. the config selected.

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 10.12.21 AM.png

Lastly, the “Baseline vs. Config Conflicts” report also inherits the visual indicators and now shows the status of a node to one or many baselines.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.57.48 PM.png

This is a major step forward for baselines and the monitoring of configuration drift within NCM. Of course, please be sure to create new feature requests for any additional functionality you would like to see with baselines or NCM in general.

Helpful Links:

NCM v7.9 Releases Notes

NCM Support Documentation

Network Configuration Management Software

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3 0 790
Product Manager
Product Manager

Network Performance Monitor (NPM) 12.4 and the Orion Platform 2018.4 are now generally available in your customer portal. For those of you subscribing to the updates in What We're Working on for NPM (Updated June 1st, 2018)  you may have noticed a line item called "Centralized Upgrades." This update will give you the first chance to experience Centralized Upgrades on your environment.

Great news this upgrade is going to be easier than ever!
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Planning for Your Upgrade to 2018.4

Read the release notes and minimum system requirements​ prior to installation as you may be required to migrate to new server or database infrastructure. For quick reference, I have provided a consolidated list of release notes below.

Note: Customers running Windows Server 2012, 2012 R2, and SQL 2012 will be unable to upgrade to these latest releases prior to migrating to a newer Windows operating system or SQL database version. Check for the recommended Microsoft upgrade path through the upgrade center.

See more information about why these infrastructures are deprecated here: Preparing Your Upgrade to Orion Platform 2018.4 and Beyond - Deprecation &amp; Other Important Items

SolarWinds strongly recommends that you update to Windows Server 2016 or higher and SQL Server 2016 or higher at your earliest convenience. 

Refresh your upgrade knowledge with the following upgrade planning references.

Always back up your database and if possible take a snapshot of your Orion environment.

Start Your Upgrade on the Main Polling Engine

Download any one of the latest release installers to your main polling engine.

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For the screenshots that follow I'm upgrading my Orion deployment with the following setup:

  • Main Polling Engine is installed with Virtualization Manager (VMAN) 8.3 and will be upgraded to VMAN 8.3.1
    • Utilizes a SQL 2016 database
  • Three scalability engines
    • One Free Additional Polling Engine for VMAN on Windows 2012
    • One Free Additional Polling Engine for VMAN on Windows 2016
    • One HA Backup on Windows 2016

My first screen confirms my upgrade path to go from 8.3 to 8.3.1.

  • If I'm out of maintenance for a specific product, I would see indicators here first on the screen. Being out of active maintenance will prevent you from upgrading this installation to the latest, so please pay attention to the messaging here.
  • The SolarWinds installer will upgrade all of the products on this server to the versions of product that are compatible with this version of the Orion Platform for optimal stability. This may mean that you'll be upgrading more than just one product.
  • When in doubt, feel free to run the installer to see the upgrade path provided, so you can plan for your downtime. Cancelling out at the pre-flight check stage will give you all the information needed to plan ahead, without surprises and without changes to your environment.  This information can also be used for your change request before scheduling downtime for your organization.

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The second step will run pre-flight checks to see if anything would prevent my upgrade from being successful on the main polling engine.

  • In case there are no blocking, warning, or informational pre-flight checks, we will proceed straight to the next step, accepting the EULA.
    • My main polling engine server and DB meet all infrastructure system requirements for the 2018.4 Orion Platform, so I am not shown any blocking pre-flight checks at this stage.
  • Pre-flight checks can block you from moving forward with your installation
    • You  may need to confirm whether you meet new infrastructure requirements (e.g. NTA 4.2.3 -> 4.4 upgrade) to proceed. Blockers will prevent you from successfully installing or upgrading, so the installer will not allow you to proceed until those issues have been resolved. 
    • Warning pre-flight checks give you important information that could affect the functionality of your install after upgrade but will not prevent you from successfully installing or upgrading. 
    • Informational pre-flight checks give you helpful troubleshooting information for "what if" scenarios, in case we don't have enough information to determine whether this would be an active issue for your installation.

The online installer will start to download all installers needed from the internet

  • SolarWinds recommends that you use the online installer because it will be able to auto-update and download exactly what's needed for the installation. Not only is it more efficient, but it will save you from downloading unnecessary or outdated bits.

This screen gives you an overview of next steps. The Configuration wizard will launch next, to allow you to configure database settings and website settings.

In this release, all scalability engines, including Additional Polling Engines, Additional Websites and HA Backup Servers, can be upgraded in parallel manually, using the scalability engine installer. Manual upgrades are still supported, but if you have scalability engines, please try our centralized upgrade workflow to save you time.

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Follow the configuration wizard steps to completion. If you only have a main polling engine to upgrade, your installation is now complete. Log in to your SolarWinds deployment and enjoy the new features that have been built with care for your use cases.

Centralized Upgrades of the Scalability Engines

For those customers who have chosen to scale out their environment using scalability engines, such as Additional Polling Engines, HA Backup Servers or Additional Websites this is the section for you.

If you kept the "Launch Orion Web Console" checkbox checked in the final step of the Configuration Wizard, the launched web browser session will navigate you directly to the Updates Available page, where you can continue with the Centralized Upgrade workflow. If you want to open a new web browser session on a different system, you can quickly navigate to where you want to go by following these steps.

Launch the web browser and log in.

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Navigate to 'My Orion Deployment' from the Settings drop-down.

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Click to the UPDATES AVAILABLE tab. If this tab is not showing, that means there are no updates available for you to deploy.

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Click Start, to begin the process of connecting to your scalability engines.

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My environment is not experiencing any issues connecting to my scalability engines.

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Bookmark this page Connection problems during an Orion Deployment upgrade - SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. Help and Support  for future guidance on common "gotcha" scenarios, and how to handle them.

After the contact with scalability engines has been established, pre-flight checks will be run against all scalability engines

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Looking at my pre-flight checks you can see that one server PRODMGMT-49 has a blocker that would prevent upgrades from occurring, mainly that it does not meet infrastructure requirements for this version of the Orion Platform.

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However, my "Start Upgrade" is enabled. This is because if at least one scalability engine is eligible for upgrade, we will allow you to proceed. Only when none of the scalability engines are eligible will this button be disabled. Pay attention to servers that have blocking pre-flight checks, as you will have to manually upgrade them or move items being monitored via this scalability engine to one that is upgraded.

Clicking "Start Upgrade" begins the centralized upgrade process, first by downloading all the necessary bits to all the scalability engines in parallel. Notice how my scalability engine that was on incompatible 2012 infrastructure is not being upgraded.

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Grab a coffee as the rest of your installation and configuration happens silently on each of the servers being centrally upgraded.

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Oh no, an error occurred. What can you do at this point?

  • Click Retry download after troubleshooting (e.g. did the scalability engine lose connectivity to the main polling engine?)
  • RDP directly into the server using the convenient RDP link that is provided

Common scenarios to investigate:

  • Is this scalability engine set up inconsistently from the other servers? For instance, you may have Engineer's Toolset on the Web installed on this server and not on the others.
  • Do some of the installed products have dependencies on .NET 3.5? Engineer's Toolset on the Web has a dependency on .NET 3.5 to be able to upgrade. Ensure that if you have enabled .NET 3.5 and try again.
  • Check the Customer Success Center for more scenarios to help while troubleshooting.

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In my case, I clicked Retry and was able to get past the issue.

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My upgrade is complete! Congratulations on an upgrade well done.

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Click Finish to complete your Centralized Upgrade session.

Gotchas - What to do with Unreachable Servers

If your server isn't being blocked because of incompatible infrastructure, you have an opportunity to manually upgrade that server in parallel while the rest of your environment is being centrally upgraded.

In the installation example captured below, if I were to run the installer on the Additional Website that is currently being upgraded by Centralized Upgrades, I would be blocked from running the installer on that server. However for the listed unreachable Additional Website, I can run that upgrade manually with no problem in parallel.

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If you're blocked from proceeding on a manual upgrade, you would see the following. Only until you have finished the Centralized Upgrade process will you be allowed to proceed with a manual upgrade that is blocked in this fashion. For these scenarios, simply navigate to My Orion Deployment and exit out of the deployment wizard flow to cancel the centralized upgrade session.

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Manual Upgrades

Manual upgrades of your deployment are still supported. If you have only one scalability engine, Centralized Upgrades may not be the fastest way to upgrade. However, if you have more, it is. This upgrade is still beneficial for those considering using manual upgrades for their deployment, and the reason is the installation and configuration wizard process can now be run in parallel. Existing customers have always known that there were some scenarios where you could run the configuration wizard in parallel across servers (e.g. same server type) and some that you could not. It took time and training to understand what scenarios those were. In this release, that limitation is lifted, and all server types can be configured in parallel.

There are times where you may need to consider falling back to manual upgrades in combination with your Centralized Upgrade. As an example, take this installation: two have completed, one has the configuration wizard in process.

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If the download, installation, or configuration is taking a long time for one of your scalability engines, and you need to see more information that is only available in the client, you may consider canceling out of the Centralized Upgrade session to resume the rest of your upgrade manually. The servers that have been upgraded thus far will remain in a good spot, so you can cancel out with confidence. Proceed with this option carefully, as you will want to ensure that you have upgraded everything by the end of your scheduled downtime.

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Check the My Orion Deployment page to ensure that all the servers in your Orion deployment are upgraded.

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Support

We have all been there, despite all the best intentions and all the preparation in the world, something went wrong. No worries! File a support ticket Submit a Ticket | SolarWinds Customer Portal  and start gathering diagnostics via our new web based and centralized diagnostics.

Click to the Diagnostics tab

Select all the servers in your deployment,

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and click "Collect Diagnostics."

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Sit back and relax as your diagnostics are centrally gathered in preparation for your support call.

Customer Experience

Early adopters and those who have participated in our release candidates have already begun to enjoy the benefits of centralized upgrades. Check out our THWACK forums for testimonials from customers just like you as they experience the new and improved "Easy Button" upgrade experience. Here's a link to one from one of our very own THWACK MVPs  The &amp;quot;Easy Button&amp;quot; has arrived with the December 2018 install of NAM (and other Sol... If you'd like to share your upgrades with me, I'm very interested, and we'd love to see screenshots and your feedback on this new way to upgrade your SolarWinds deployment.

More centralized upgrade success - Success with Centralized Upgrades

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11 29 5,738
Level 12

IPAM 4.8 has arrived and is now generally available! You can find this latest release in your Customer Portal. In recent releases, we’ve brought you integration with VMware vRealize Automation and Orchestrator and monitoring support for Amazon Web Services (AWS) Route 53 and Azure DNS. In this release, we have extended our support (yet again) to additional platforms and bring you these goodies:

Monitoring Support for Infoblox

You asked for it, you got it! This is our #1 integration feature request on THWACK®, and I’ve spoken to many of you at tech conferences about wanting us to monitor your Infoblox DHCP and DNS environments. IPAM provides valuable resources, alerting, and reporting capabilities without having to purchase add-ons, as well as a centralized management console across heterogeneous environments.


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Migration to Core Custom Properties
We have migrated from product-specific custom fields to the unified custom properties designed to be simple and powerful for you to use with other Orion® Platform products. Now you can add new custom properties the same way you would for other modules and use them for IPAM entities in Reports and Alerts.

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Support for More Linux Versions
We have extended DHCP and DNS support to the following Linux distributions:

    • Ubuntu 14.04
    • Ubuntu 16.04
    • Debian 9.5
    • Debian 8.6 (DHCP only)

HELPFUL LINKS:

The SolarWinds trademarks, service marks, and logos are the exclusive property of SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC or its affiliates.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

·         IPAM IP address management software[MJ1]

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0 1 1,128
Product Manager
Product Manager

We’re delighted to announce the release of version 4.5 of NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA)!

The latest release of SolarWinds® NetFlow Traffic Analyzer is designed to help create alerts based on application flows. In past releases, we could alert on the overall utilization of an interface and provide a view of the top talkers when the configured threshold was exceeded. In this release, you can set a threshold on the volume of a specific application in order to trigger an alert. We're making use of the Orion Platform alerting framework, so that flexibility is available to you.

You’ve outlined a small set of critical problems in multiple requests, and in this release, we’re delivering on the five most popular of these.

  • Application traffic exceeds a threshold – Alert triggered when we observe a specific application rate exceeds a user-defined threshold
  • Application traffic falls below a threshold – Alert that can provide visibility when an application “goes off the air” and stops communicating
  • Application traffic appears in the “TopN” list of applications – This alert triggers when application traffic increases suddenly relative to other applications
  • Application traffic drops from the “TopN” list of applications – Likewise, alert triggers for a sudden reduction relative to other applications
  • Flow data stops from a configured flow source – Alerts on the loss of flow instrumentation, and prompts to take action to help restore visibility

Contextual Alerting

The approach we're using to create alerts is built to guide users into a particular context—a source of flow where we see the application traffic—and then offers a simple user experience to create the alert.

To create an alert based upon any these triggers, we must first select a source of flow data as a point of reference. We can do these one of two ways.

We can visit the NTA Summary Page, and navigate to a particular source of flow data:

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If the application of interest is in the TopN, we can expand it to see where this application is visible and select that source. That will take us to a detail page, which is already filtered by both application and source of the flow data.

We can also select our source of flow data directly in the Flow Navigator. We can build our alert based upon a node that reports flow, or upon a specific interface:

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Once we have a context for an alert, we can select an application. If we use the "TopN Applications" resource, we have already identified both the application and the node or interface where it's visible.

Another way to arrive at this context can make use of the Flow Navigator, where we can explicitly select the application we’re interested in:

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We can select either Applications, or NBAR2 Applications, to help describe the traffic. With the context now fully described, we are able to open the "Create a Flow Alert" panel and create our first alert:

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At the top of the panel, we'll see the source of the flow data that we'll evaluate, and a default alert name prefix. We can customize the alert name to help make searching simpler. The severity of the alert is configurable:

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For the Trigger Condition, we'll select one of the options described above. In this case, we'll select "Application Traffic exceeds Threshold," and we'll set a threshold of 50MBps on the ingress. We'll evaluate the last five minutes of traffic; this is configurable. This threshold will trigger when our traffic rate averages greater than 50MBps over the five min. time period.

Finally, we can specify one or several protocols; if we specify more than one, we'll sum the traffic volumes for all the protocols.

To create the alert, there are two options. We can select the "Create Alert" immediately, and this will simply log the alert when it triggers. Or, we can check the box to open the alert in the Advanced Alert Editor and then select "Create Alert." Selecting this option will redirect us to the last step in the "Add New Alert" wizard, where we can modify the trigger actions, reset actions, or time of day schedule.

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The trigger condition is an advanced SWQL query, pre-populated with the contextual information on the source and application.

Before submitting this new alert, we'll see a message indicating whether the alert will trigger immediately.

Practical Alert Scenarios

Use the "exceeds threshold" alert for application traffic levels that average above or below the specified threshold.

Use the operation for ">" (greater than) or "<=" (less than or equal to) to determine then you can alert above or below the threshold. For example:

  • To determine when backup application traffic is running out of schedule
  • To identify large file transfers in the middle of the day
  • To identify DDOS attacks, or when Port 0 traffic is present at all

Use the <= “exceeds threshold” to help detect when an application server process goes offline and stops sending traffic.

  • The application service may have crashed
  • An intermediate connectivity problem (firewall or outage) may have reduced traffic

Use alerts related to applications appearing in—or dropping out of—the TopN can be useful for detecting sudden changes in traffic volume relative to other applications. Examples include:

  • Detecting streaming or peer-to-peer file sharing applications that are transient
  • Detecting changes in the mix of applications that usually traverse an interface

You can also set up an alert for each of your NetFlow sources to help take action if the configuration is modified, or firewall rules block flow traffic.

User Experience Improvements

This release of NTA also includes a number of small but significant improvements in the user interface to help enhance scalability and improve ease of use. Several long lists are now uniformly ordered, and we’ve changed how we label certain features to be clearer in the navigation.

Additional Resources

Check out the Release Notes, download the new release on the Customer Portal, and get additional help with the upgrade at the Success Center.

You can see these new features in action in the webcast, “Up, Down, and Gone: A Tale of Applications and Flow.”

This is an initial introduction of the traffic alerting feature. Be sure to enter additional feature requests and expanded functionality that you'd like to see with this capability!

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