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Level 9

Oh, APM (now SAM!) How You Have Changed My Life...

{N}Ode to APM:

Nodes a-plenty, some up, and some down

Directors, managers, all with a frown.

We needed help, we needed a tool

We needed less complexity and didn't have time for school.

We had tried homegrown, Tivoli, SCOM, and NetIQ

then from our network engineers, we discovered you!

Within three weeks and at 1/4 of the cost,

All 983 servers were green and SCOM had LOST.

No more host-based agents eating up our procs,

no more false positives, zombies, or mystery locks.

Just green (sometimes yellow) balls of joy

and more time and resources to upgrade and deploy.

We dove in deep with a little SQL, perl, and PHP

and our patches, EPO, and HPSIM status we now can see...

...all in one tool, a "single pane of glass"

we are finally proactive and ahead of the class.

We went deeper and scripted for Service Manager (by HP)

now those nodes are registered in our CMDB.

Alerts are now tickets in our service desk app

then we moved on to real-time Google Maps!

A node detail will show you location - and street view (!)

one small click will create driving directions for you.

The servers are all happy and so are the staff

so now we can move on and talk about APPS!

Within minutes we were monitoring Exchange and AD

Add in Citrix, SQL, IIS, and TMG!

Monitors that took days in SCOM to create

are ready in minutes and reporting state.

Custom monitors and pollers are truly a snap -

click three more times and share them on THWACK!

2796 applications monitored and healthy

again we are proactive, now quiet and stealthy.

When other teams say "our app is slow at three each day"

We hand them a 6 month performance report and send them on their way.

With APM we truly (and finally!) have moved ahead of the game

our view into systems will never be the same.

We are now spoiled and privileged and perhaps even brag

of the power of the tools in our IT bag.

A happy customer, yes, I most certainly am

and will be even more so when we upgrade to SAM!

 

~ One IT Manager VERY happy with his choice of tools.

Tags (4)
11 Replies
Level 11

Check out perform his poem about SolarWinds SAM on film at Microsoft TecEd: {N}Ode to SAM - YouTube

Level 21

Not such a huge fan of SCOM?  LOL

Very well put, thanks on behalf of the rest of us that feel the exact same way!

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Level 9

LOL, no, I don't care for SCOM at all. 

SCOM was the last contender prior to moving to APM.  We tried - really tried - to get the functionality we wanted, or more importantly, NEEDED, but never really got there.  Something as simple as "node up / down" or "disk space full" (two things we should never be the last ones to know about) were ridiculously complex, required agents that constantly needed attention, and proved notoriously unreliable. 

We have 7 System Engineers maintaining close to 1000 servers (both physical and virtual) and we are busy. Very, very, busy.  We don't have time to worry about every single event log entry that SCOM wanted to pelt us with, we just needed integration with our service desk app and a single pane of glass to let us know the state of our boxes and the key applications they host.  When there are problems with those apps, a service desk incident needed to be opened and the on-call staff notified. 

This was never a reality with SCOM. 

We tried thrid-party integration, we tried in-house development, we un-installed and re-installed countless times and always ended up in the same place: about 65% effectiveness.  Not good enough.  Our Network Engineers discovered NPM (and NCM) and showed it off to us... (if I end up with a gorilla (which would be very cool!) they deserve one too! we eval'd APM, bought it the next week, and had all the functionality we wanted out of SCOM in less than two weeks and at 99.999% effectiveness (if not more!).  Since then the sky has been the limit and we have integrated APM with most all our management systems. 

SCOM gave us A LOT of information.  TOO MUCH information, most of which wasn't usable.  If I had 3 dedicated FTEs just to spend time with SCOM, tweaking it, making sense of it, and building custom dashboards - maybe it could work, but I honestly don't think so now that I have worked with APM.  Before APM I honestly thought all "systems management tools" HAD to be complex.  They obviously don't, and that's what we love about APM.  A simple Windows service monitor in SCOM took DAYS to set up.  Perhaps we were doing it wrong, but 8 people all had the same experience - and most were even trained by Microsoft.  In APM, it takes only a few minutes and all members of the team figured it out with only a few simple directions.

A feature that we have taken a LOT of advantage of in both APM and NPM is the ability to include custom HTML in all the views.  Through this, a little PHP and perl, we have truly made APM the top tier of an integrated stack of tools.  We can access key information and respond more quickly now than we ever could before. 

Recent fun: Just yesterday we completed HP iLO integration - now my staff can force reboot, power off, and even power on servers directly from the Node Details page in APM and with real-time power status!  (Which means they can also do this from mobile devices, which means we can eliminate yet another tool!)

~ Jed

Product Manager
Product Manager

Recent fun: Just yesterday we completed HP iLO integration - now my staff can force reboot, power off, and even power on servers directly from the Node Details page in APM and with real-time power status!  (Which means they can also do this from mobile devices, which means we can eliminate yet another tool!)

Jed, this would be great to share with the community! If it's not in a workable form worthy of general consumption but you'd still be willing to share me and the rest of the SAM team would definitely be interested in taking a look at what you've setup. iLO/DRAC integration in SAM is an idea we've been flirting with internally so to hear you've already done something similar tells us we're on the heels of a good idea. Let me know if you'd be interested in showing off what you've done, or if you'd be willing to share your hard work with the community in the Content Exchange. There are many geeks who'd love to see it.

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Level 9

aLTeReGo,

Thank YOU sir for all you have done for and within the community.  We use a lot of your templates!

Be glad to share - although it is a bit of a hack and not as glamorous as full product integration could / would be:

We are almost entirely an HP shop - the 50 or so non-HPs are on their way out as soon as we can remove them.  As we are all HP, we have standard configurations for all our servers and their iLOs.  In our environment, if the hostname is "hostname", then the iLO is configured in DNS to be "hostname-mgmt" - that makes it easy to locate / test for from within APM because it simply becomes ${Caption)-mgmt, etc. We also make sure the same username / password is configured on all iLOs.

I built a small PHP "app" that resides in a custom window within each Node Details page and does the following using the IP address and caption stored within APM:

- pings the server with one packet and reports UP / DOWN  (green ball / red ball)

- tests a socket to port 3389 for RDP capabilities and reports UP / DOWN  (green ball / red ball)

- tests a socket to port 443 for iLO capabilities (using ${Caption}-mgmt) and reports UP / DOWN  (green ball / red ball)

This php simply has a 5 second refresh interval set in it's HTML header, so it offers "real time" status within 5 seconds.  If the node is a VM (determined via other fields we have added the database) it ignores the iLO check and tells the end user to use VCenter to access it. If the node DOES have an iLO and it reports "available", four links also show up:

CONNECT, POWER OFF, POWER ON, and REBOOT

Connect is just a URL to the iLO interface in a new Window.  The other three call psexec.exe on the APM server to execute the CPQLOCFG.EXE command line tool for the iLOs.  Using XML files with the appropriate iLO commands in them, we can perform the associated iLO functions.  The 5 second refresh of the page provides the status / outcome of the commands.  I am currently looking at parsing the actual output to provide more instant feedback when one of the URLs is clicked. 

We also use the same "methodology" to use SHUTDOWN.EXE on Windows servers to enable the ability to reboot (and cancel the reboot if you are fast enough) for those servers without iLOs, VMs, etc.

The PHP code (the important bit to call CPQLOCFG.EXE) looks like this:

$serverilo = $HOST."-mgmt.domain.com";
$command = "c:\\scripts\\cpqlocfg.exe -s $serverilo -f c:\\scripts\\Set_Host_Power_Off.xml";
shell_exec("psexec -accepteula \\\\SERVERNAME -d -u domain\\username -p password! $command");

The node page looks like this (with some bits removed) See the "Server Tools" window:

Thanks!

Jed

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Level 7

This is awesome. I wanted to know a bit more on more fields added to NODE Properties section? Which File did you use? Do you manually edit the values or it is automatically filled?

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Level 9

For location data, we added the following fields as custom properties in the database: Long, Lat, Location Code (unique number / code in our systems), Location name, street address, etc.  All of these are filled for each node using data and related tables in our service desk application (HP Service Manager).  We also added a field for "asset tag" in our SAM database - this is the unique tag / code associated with each of our assets (nodes).  We use this field to pull other unique information (such as location) for each node into SAM from various other systems.  We try to use our asset management and service desk applications as the "source of record" for as much as possible and pull that data into SAM via scripts run every 15 minutes.

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Level 14

"then we moved on to real-time Google Maps!, A node detail will show you location - and street view (!), one small click will create driving directions for you."

Wow, you guys sure have extended SAM.

Jealous of all that integration I am

wish we had the time and expertise to do it too

what you have done is what we want to do.

Would you also mind sharing the map integration

so we can locate our stuff by geolocation?

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Product Manager
Product Manager

Have you seen Brandon's Blog posting on integration of Google Maps with Orion?

There are also a couple of packages available through the content exchange that should help get you started.

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Level 9

We implemented things in a way similar to what Brandon has described.  Essentially, all of our physical locations for the entire organization are assigned a location code and are stored in our service desk app.  These locations are used to associate the proper location with service issues that are reported to our service desk, and used to assign a location to each of our CIs (configuration items, i.e. assets, i.e. nodes) in our asset management system.  Our asset information, including location, flows from our asset management system > our service desk application > SAM database.   (We auto add nodes to SAM as they are moved to "IN SERVICE" in our asset management system too.)

SmittyMan (on Thwack) extended those locations in the service desk app to include long / lat for each.  So... we created SAM custom properties for each node for long / lat and started that data flowing into SAM from the service desk app.  In no time we had long / lat for each node, then used the Google Maps v3 API with custom HTML and now have maps in SAM (as seen above). 

 

In addition to each node details page having a map, we also include driving directions, a map showing the locations used for all our nodes, and a similar map SmittyMan developed that shows all of our network locations - properly color coded (red / green / yellow) based on the status of that location in NPM.

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Level 14

As I'm sure you must have already heard

this is shear genius, ahead of the curve.

Your ode brings us tears, of joy, of course,

as we head into further enhancing the source.

Our devs are all beaming, the PMs all cheer

to hear of such a win, our product held dear.

So, thank you Jed, with the creative head,

for sharing your ode and precious street cred.