15 Replies Latest reply on Dec 12, 2016 4:35 PM by peacekeeper

    NPM - Group Questions

    peacekeeper

      I am new to using Solarwinds NPM, and these forums, so this might might be in the wrong place. I did do some research but did not find a definitive answer so I thought I would try here.

       

      We are hoping to use groups in NPM as a container for nodes. For example we have 700+ sites that all have 3 or 4 switches at each site. We would like to make each site its own group, so when a user selects a group they see all the nodes (switches in this case) assigned to that site. We would like to use custom attributes for each of the groups for meta data like physical address, contact name, etc. This would mean there would be 700+ groups with custom attributes.

       

      The trouble is I can not find a way to search for a group name once they are created. We can search for a node, but I could not find a way to get back to the group page (that lists all the other nodes for that site) from the node screen. Is there a custom search I can create to to search only for group names (Preferred)? Or maybe a way to get back to the a nodes group from the node screen? Am I missing a step?

       

      Thank you in advance,

      -Matt

        • Re: NPM - Group Questions
          nathan.hejnicki

          Is there a particular reason you can't use custom properties to accomplish this? Then you can group, sort, filter, alert, limit, or whatever else you'd like to do based on the value of that property. You'd just fill out a "site name" custom property and use the Node Tree to see them all (with 700 sites I'd also recommend a Region property to help group sites more easily too).

           

          Does that point you in the right direction?

           

          Nathan

          Loop1 Systems

            • Re: NPM - Group Questions
              peacekeeper

              Thank you for the reply and suggestions.

               

              I was hoping to use the group, with custom properties, to keep all the site specific information. Basically turning a group into a site or location. By doing this I would not have to keep that same information multiply times, once for each node at a location. If possible I would rather keep 700 groups in sync than 2100+ nodes. Also I think keeping the information assigned to a group could simplify management and changes. This way if site information needs added, removed, or changed (Example: change local contact) I would only need to update the information at the group level.

               

              I think the only part I can't figure out is how to search from group names (and maybe a few API commands).

               

              Thank you again,

              -Matt

            • Re: NPM - Group Questions
              nathan.hejnicki

              Sorry to keep hammering on the custom property idea, but if you go to Manage Nodes, you can group by the value of a custom property so if you did have to change the info for all of the devices in one site, if you will, you can just group by Site Name/ID and then select the site in question, select all the nodes, and edit the properties as one and change the Contact Info (as in your example) all at once. It'd actually be easier to manage than dealing with groups from what I can tell.

              • Re: NPM - Group Questions
                d09h

                If you still want to use groups, you can populate them dynamically via custom properties (see comment from jspeer ).  With groups, you can represent numerous nodes as up or down, based on defining your group best case/ mixed/ worst case.  If you don't desire that functionality, you may find you don't need groups.  Are nodes at a site named consistently (ex. all at site ABC named with ABC in the name)?  If so, that could be criteria for group membership.  You may find that the group creation becomes administratively not worth your effort if you aren't trying to roll up statuses.  I believe there is potential for a performance hit with many groups, or many nested groups.  Will have to search a little to verify.  Sounds like something I've read here.

                • Re: NPM - Group Questions
                  jspeer

                  It would be nice to have the ability to choose what you're searching for and be able to search for groups that were created.

                   

                  I had a similar setup at my last job. Here's what we did.

                   

                  • Node is created (one of the custom properties was the site name)
                  • a Dynamic group is created based on that custom properties for the site name
                  • I can now go into the manage nodes view and perform a search based on the site name or change the group by to the site name field and select the group from the left side.

                   

                  It isn't the ideal situation but it helped save us a ton of time going through 30+ pages of group names looking for the one we needed.

                   

                  We were also pretty heavy on the network atlas maps in that you could drill down into a country, city, state to get to the different locations or sites as needed as well.

                    • Re: NPM - Group Questions
                      Craig Norborg

                      I always liked using SNMP location for this.   ie: you set the location on the device to what group you want it in, and then have it group by that in Solarwinds.

                       

                      The big problem is that Solarwinds also wants to use the SNMP location for automatic geographic mapping now.   Which is why I created a feature request to allow for both by being more flexible in the format of the address in the location.  But, we haven't found the automatic mapping to be at a point where its useful, so...

                       

                      I supposed you could also use the SNMP contact for this, generally people tend to ignore it when looking for who to contact re: a down device.

                       

                      The problem with custom fields is, in order to keep it up to date you need too many hands in Orion updating custom fields.   By pushing it back to the device by using an SNMP field (location or contact), its up to the people setting up the devices to group them properly...

                        • Re: NPM - Group Questions
                          orioncrack

                          Indeed, true, managing Custom Properties is difficult for large environments with 50 different Net Admins adding devices 24/7.

                            • Re: NPM - Group Questions
                              d09h

                              Making the custom properties mandatory can help.

                               

                              Since we're discussing naming conventions, my last employer had names that told you geography/ type of device/ and cadency (1/2/3/4).  Since the name (DNS as well as hostname) indicated that information, I killed off all maps (never made them when implementing replacement system).  The care and feeding of the maps got to be a bit much, and showing nodes grouped by their geographic region/ team/ device type essentially showed the same information in less space.  Space was a huge commodity, as was time, and maps were not telling us anything we didn't know already.  In some environments, folks may not have that luxury.  We had hit too many orphaned nodes and map upkeep hell.  I imagine a distinguished visitor or a returning person with enough pull could force them to reappear (I know we gave them Splunk eye candy when forced to).   I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you have the luxury of being in the formative stages of a network (or get hired into one with a suitable naming convention), then the ability to group by the name, and the ability to create dynamic group membership might make maps optional.  There is some coolness to them, if you can justify the time factor.

                                • Re: NPM - Group Questions
                                  Craig Norborg

                                  Mandatory just means more stuff for people to ignore!!  I try and stay away from custom properties and move as much stuff out to the device as possible.   If you have custom properties you want to be mandatory, you should set up reports to let you know when they aren't getting done. 

                                   

                                  While there are some custom properties you might have problems getting away from, there are a lot that can be done in a different way.   And you have to watch out for "Custom Property" creep too!   For instance, we have custom properties on a node that are things like T1_Circuit_ID, 10MB_Circuit_ID, CableBackup_CircuitID.  And then similar custom properties on the interfaces.   Why have the same info on both?  Just asking for one or the other not to be updated.  In this case I prefer to have on the interface description on the device this info.   Like whether it is a primary or backup interface, who the WAN vendor is, the circuit ID and the speed.   If you set a mandatory format for the circuit description, you've gotten rid of multiple custom properties for an interface right there.   Then all you have to do is set a compliance rule for a valid interface description!

                          • Re: NPM - Group Questions
                            peacekeeper

                            Thank you for all the replies. This community it awesome.

                             

                            I spent some of the day learning the in and outs of NPM and NCM. I also started messing with the API and wrote a few test python scripts to automate syncing data from other systems to NPM custom properties fields. I think this will help with management overhead and hopefully remove some human errors (AKA: Not doing it or doing it wrong). One thing is for sure, I have plenty more to learn.

                             

                            I am going to read over this thread again tonight. The goal is to play around with naming schemes, custom properties, groups, etc more tomorrow. I had not even thought about the map till it was posted here. I will post back with a status update.

                             

                            Thank you again for all the feedback,

                            -Matt

                            • Re: NPM - Group Questions
                              bobmarley

                              I also had a similar situation. I ended up putting Longitude and Latitude and a location code in for all of the nodes in the custom properties fields. It took a couple days initially but now they group automatically on the World Map and I can sort, run reports, etc any way I want. About once a month I go out to Custom Properties and look for nodes that other admins set up and didn't finish. It's a little bit of work but worth it.

                              • Re: NPM - Group Questions
                                peacekeeper

                                I spent a few days playing with groups and I can confirm what may of you have already mentioned in this thread.  To re-cap the OP I wanted to use groups like site containers. I thought this would allow me to use custom properties and assign site specific information to the groups (Example Phone Numbers, City, State, etc). Then we could search for a group, click the group, and see all the site information with a node list.

                                 

                                Example:

                                Group (Site Example: Site #1234, Phone Number, Some City, Some State)

                                     Node (Network Equipment Example: Switch A)

                                     Node (Network Equipment Example: Switch B)

                                 

                                However in reality I found you can not search for groups. Also group information does not show up on the node information page. I think this might be because of the the nature of dynamic groups in Solarwainds (Bad sentence but I could not think of a better way to type it). All dynamic group logic seems is tied to the group and does not seem to apply to the node itself. We could work around this by using more custom properties on the node, but I think this could turn into unwanted management overhead. Also since NPM and NCM do not share the groups it is to hard to justify the extra time.

                                 

                                Wish:

                                Please make groups searchable.

                                Please make NPM and NCM share groups.

                                 

                                Admittedly I only program as a hobby, so it is very easy for me to make these requests.

                                 

                                Thank you for everyone one responded to this post. It was very helpful.

                                -Matt