11 Replies Latest reply on Nov 7, 2018 9:34 AM by rschroeder

    Configuration management questions (x2)

    ollydrew

      Hi all,

       

      What's the difference between these two NCM Job types - Download configs from devices vs. Export configs. I'm trying to establish if I need to be running both jobs?

       

      The Export configs job comment reads "This Example Job exports all Configs in the database each Saturday night. You can use a Job like to to create a backup of all Configs."

       

      The download configs from devices job comment reads "This Job downloads the Configs from each device in the SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager database each morning. SolarWinds suggest you use either the Weekly Config Backup Schedule or the Nightly Config Backup Schedule, but not both."

       

      Sounds to me like if I had a daily download configs from devices job, then I can do away with both the weekly download configs job and the the weekly export configs job? I'm trying to simplify what I've inherited from previous admins, as to me it looks like we're backing things up more then once.

       

      I also wonder why one would choose to have two separate jobs to to back up the running config and startup configs separately, if one job is capable of downloading both.

       

      Some best practices/tips would be much appreciated.

       

      Thanks,

       

      ollydrew

        • Re: Configuration management questions (x2)
          wluther

          ollydrew The first job, "Download configs from devices", logs in to each device, downloads the device config, and stores the config in the database.

          The second job, "Export Configs", takes the already saved configs, from the database, and exports them elsewhere.

           

          You only need to run the first job, if you want device configs backed up from each device.

          You need to run the second config if you want to archive your configs offsite/different location.

           

           

          Thank you,

           

          -Will

            • Re: Configuration management questions (x2)
              ollydrew

              Thanks Will.

               

              Is the database that NCM stores configs in, part of the overall SolarWinds Orion SQL database or is it separate from that? I'm thinking of this from a disaster recovery viewpoint.

               

              Today the "Download configs from devices" job is saving the configs at C:\ProgramData\SolarWinds\NCM\Config-Archive on all three of our pollers. I see that the documentation recommends locating archive folders outside SolarWinds installation directories, so I was planning on changing this to a different drive on the server (e.g. E:) that's regularly backed up. So if we lost one of our pollers, would we have also lost all the configs saved in C:\ProgramData\SolarWinds\NCM\Config-Archive, or are they retrievable from the product's SQL database.

               

              I might well be confusing myself!

               

              Your help is greatly appreciated.

                • Re: Configuration management questions (x2)
                  wluther

                  ollydrew If you are running relatively recent versions, NPM and NCM should be sharing the same database. (There was a time when the two used separate databases, but I think that was a couple of full versions back...)

                   

                  There should be an option, in the main NCM settings (/Orion/NCM/Admin/Settings/ConfigSettings.aspx), which will allow you to specify the default location of your config archives. I use a network shared drive, and I have set all of my pollers to use the same location. You should be able to change the location within the jobs too.

                   

                  Then, you can look at the "Config Archive Folder Locations" link (/Orion/NCM/Admin/Settings/ConfigArchiveFolders.aspx), on the NCM settings page, which will show you every location being used by any/all active jobs. I use this to verify everything is going to the correct place. If something is set to use the wrong path, I can just click on the job, from the same page, and edit the location of that job.

                   

                   

                  Thank you,

                   

                  -Will

                   

                   

                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                    • Re: Configuration management questions (x2)
                      ollydrew

                      Thanks.

                       

                      We have NCM 7.5.1 and NPM 12.1 HF1 so quite up to date (ish).

                       

                      I can see those settings you're referring to. So for us at the moment, we're backing up the devices to the C drive of whichever poller they're being polled from. I'll update them to be a location that's backed up regularly so that way we'll have the SQL back up and also a windows directory backup, which would be good.

                       

                      I think I'll move to simply have a download configs from devices every night (only if changes detected) and do away with the weekly download. In addition to that we can disable the weekly export configs job. Thanks very much for your help.

                       

                      Regards,

                       

                      Olly

                • Re: Configuration management questions (x2)
                  rschroeder

                   

                  wluther is spot on.

                   

                  My NCM does daily jobs to "Download configs from devices" and then compares those configuration files to the previous day's configs.  Then it generates a Config Difference report and e-mails it to me and my team.  I analyze these reports closely every day to understand what has changed in the network.  I compare those changes to e-mails and discussions with my team, and also with our Change Administration Board's approved Changes for that day.  When I don't understand the changes, or when they don't occur when Change Management approved them, or if they weren't submitted to Change Management, I start asking friendly questions.

                   

                  Once a week I have NCM automatically run the Export Configurations job, to move the configuration files to "better" locations off the Solarwinds servers.  "Better" in that these new locations aren't taking up space & resources on the pollers, they're backed up to SAN or tape, and if the poller fails I can easily recover the configuration files it managed because they're on different servers.

                   

                  Better still, NCM's scheduled ability to automatically do backups, make comparisons and reports, purge old config files, perform database maintenance--even do regular write mem tasks--makes my life more efficient.

                   

                  Here's a sample of what NCM does with config files for me regularly:

                  • Re: Configuration management questions (x2)
                    tayyabrao

                    Hi,

                     

                    can you please help me to understand the Config Archive Directory Structure? how the files are getting stored and retention?

                     

                    Thanks

                      • Re: Configuration management questions (x2)
                        rschroeder

                        The simple answers:

                         

                        The Configuration Archive Directory Structure is built as follows:

                          • First you define where the files will be stored.
                          • Second, NCM remotely accesses the node and downloads the running or startup config
                          • Third, NCM places the file in a Dated folder, inside a named folder, inside the directory location you initially defined. 

                         

                        Example:

                         

                        • I have seven APE's.
                        • I've configured NCM to NOT save config files locally on each APE, but that's a choice I made for easy reporting and convenience.
                          • We wanted one place to go to for all configuration files
                          • This place had to be is inside one of our data centers
                          • The share is automatically backed up to SSD/Flash and SSD nightly
                          • This share is accessible to all our APE's.
                        • I built a large enough share space to handle the files from 800 nodes
                        • I pointed NCM to save all NCM backup jobs from all APE's to this directory.
                        • I ran the Validation command against that network share from all the APE's

                         

                        The directory structure nests like this:

                        • The Hosting Server's name
                          • The hosted Network Share Name
                            • Unique Node Name
                              • Folder containing the date of the backup
                                • Config file

                         

                        To set this up, go to Settings > All Settings > Product Specific Settings > NCM Settings > Configs > Config Archive Locations

                        From here you have three different things to review or consider or configure:

                        • Binary Config Storage Settings.  If you're going to store binaries, fill out the blanks with a network path, then enter the appropriate credentials for NCM to use, and then click Validate.  If it doesn't validate, correct the path or the share permissions or the credendials.
                        • Config Archive Folder Locations.  I use this page only to verify that each APE has a local config archive AND a network share archive.  For simplicity, I like to see the APE's local config archives are all named identically, AND I MUST see the network share archives be identically for every APE. 
                        • Config Settings.  This is where you set up the meat of the matter.:
                          • Config Types:  Determine what config types are to be saved (running and startup or something else, or only startup or only running)
                          • Config Transfer:  Set how many simultaneous downloads/uploads are allowed, how long to wait for snmp config transfer timeout, and the minimum length of a config.  I had to use trial and error to discover that my environment worked best when only eight simultaneous download sessions were allowed.  Improvements in the product or the servers or the WAN speeds are some of the factors that may cause the number of simultaneous downloads to work better with more or less than the default twenty-five.
                          • Config Comparisons:  Although this seems like a boring and mostly useless section, I found that limiting the number of lines shown before and after a config change to two lines resulted in more manageable and understandable comparisons in the Real-time or Daily Config Change Reports.
                          • Config Archive:  Select the appropriate options for your environment.  Save a copy of each config into the archive directory or not.  Retain the last version of an edited config, or not.
                          • Set the path for each polling engine's archive directory.  AND set the template to use for naming those config files.  I suggest letting NCM use its default naming template.

                         

                        Here's hoping this gets you a good understanding of the Directory Structure.

                         

                        Now for the Retention.

                         

                        NCM will never delete your config files from the local or archive directories unless you set up a job to do it.

                         

                        SolarWinds provides a yellow "attention" note right in the "My Dashboards > Configs > Jobs" page:

                        The "Learn More" link goes here:

                        http://www.solarwinds.com/documentation/helpLoader.aspx?lang=en&topic=OrionNCMPHLearnMoreNoPurgeMainJobs.htm

                         

                        I followed the instructions and built a Job to purge the config archive every two weeks.  Here's how:

                         

                        1. Go to My Dashboards > Configs > Jobs
                        2. Click "Create New Job"
                        3. Name it intuitively for anyone who might administer SolarWinds
                        4. Select the Schedule type (I used Basic.  As in "Keep it Simple, Silly!")
                          1. Choose the frequency.  I selected the Daily tab and then entered Every 14 days
                          2. Set the start time
                          3. Set the starting and ending dates
                          4. Put in a Comment at the bottom explaining who built the job and its intent
                          5. Click Next
                        5. Choose Nodes.  This is a silly page in NCM 7.7 because nothing can be selected here.  Click Next.
                        6. Enter the notification details.
                          1. Fill it all in.
                          2. Enter the correct Path and Filename and click Validate.  If it doesn't validate, verify path, folder permissions, user permissions, and credentials.  Fix it until it validates successfully.
                          3. After you've filled everything in and made appropriate choices, click Next
                        7. Here's where the good stuff is:  Job Specific Details
                          1. Select the appropriate tasks
                          2. Adjust the length and size settings here. This is where you adjust File Retention.

                        Click Next

                         

                          8.  Review the Job and either go back and change settings (if desired) or click Finish.

                         

                         

                        Swift Packets!

                         

                        Rick Schroeder

                         

                          • Re: Configuration management questions (x2)
                            wluther

                            rschroeder Dang, you beat me to it... With the detail you put into your posts, I would guess you burn through 5-6 keyboards a year...

                              • Re: Configuration management questions (x2)
                                rschroeder

                                Never discount the value of being forced to take piano lessons in grade school.  I started around age 8, and by the time I was in 9th grade (when we were first being taught to use typewriters--yes, I'm that old!) I was winning the speed/accuracy timed trials.  The hand-eye-brain coordination of reading music and translating it to piano keys is directly related to keyboarding skills.

                                 

                                I'll admit I've had coworkers complain my keyboarding is so fast that they hear it and are distracted by it.  I was forced by them to obtain a different keyboard that is quieter.  There was a bit of getting used to the new keyboard layout (an ergonomic "split" keyboard from Microsoft), but I type even faster on it than my previous keyboard.

                                 

                                Fortunately keyboards apparently are built for the abuse, and I haven't had to swap one out for three or four years.

                                 

                                Thanks for the comment--you made me smile.

                                 

                                And send children to music lessons!  That kind of education has far-reaching impact in thinking and technical and dexterity skills.

                            • Re: Configuration management questions (x2)
                              wluther

                              tayyabrao The directory structure is whatever you configure it to be.

                               

                               

                               

                               

                              Clicking on "Config Archive Folder Locations" will take you here, showing you exactly where the configs are being stored/exported/archived.

                               

                              From there, you can click on either a settings or the jobs link. The settings link takes you to the "Configs" page, where you can see a bunch of the basic settings when saving configs. This includes the directory/folder structure, which you can adjust to your needs.

                               

                              This is the format I have chosen to use for our devices, as it allows for specific reporting options that work for us.

                              ${Vendor}\${MachineType}\${Caption}\${YYYY}\${MM}\${DD}\${Vendor}_${Caption}_${ConfigType}_${YYYY}-${MM}-${DD}_${HH}-${NN}-${SS}${AMPM}.Config

                               

                               

                               

                              I hope that helps.

                               

                               

                              Thank you,

                               

                              -Will