18 Replies Latest reply on Sep 4, 2013 9:30 AM by smartd

    500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?

    Kellie Mecham

      We'd love to hear, see and learn about real life examples of how you'd like to use Cron to schedule alerts, reports and discoveries in Orion. Whatever you show us that you are currently doing or describe to us about how you would ideally like it to work, will be used as background information for upcoming design vision work for Core. We will only be awarding points between now and next Thursday, August 22.  After that, please feel free to post ideas and thoughts, but no points will be awarded.

       

      A few things to keep in mind: 

      • What are use cases you have in mind for enriched scheduled discoveries?
      • How would you like to use Cron for maintenance windows or Time of Day controls for alerting?

       

      You can post to this thread, or email me directly at kellie.mecham@solarwinds.com.  Personally, I always like how you all share with each other and your ideas seem to feed off of each other.  Looking forward to your ideas!

       

      Kellie

        • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
          Leon Adato

          Yes oh yes in the name of all that is good and holy and wonderful in the world YES!

           

          First, I want SolarWinds to add anything that moves them closer to Linux. I know, I know, getting Orion out of .Net is a pipe dream. But seeing more Linux-like options is always, in my not-so-humble opinion, A Good Thing (TM).

           

          With that said, one of the most important reasons I could see going to it is simple manage-ability. It is very difficult, even interactively, to manage jobs in Windows Scheduler unless you are logging in with the full-on "administrator" account. Why? Because in a large and/or secure operation, passwords change. When passwords change, jobs that run under the affected account stop working. No problem! Just change the owner to "SYSTEM". Great except that then you can't EDIT the job (actually, you *can* but you get all kinds of error messages about it)

           

          So Cron would allow for easier management of jobs.

           

          It would also allow for programmatic creation of jobs.

           

          Presuming I can build a form that asks all the right questions - which report, how often, etc - I could build a fully automated, self-service system that allows users to pick a report and have it sent out on a regular basis (basically giving a user-level version of the Report Scheduler utility)

           

          Another use case would be the ability to have cascading alerts - problem occurs, at which point we want to "turn up the volume" on alerting - basically make the system more sensitive for a period of time. So the first alert throws the flag, but also changes the Cron settings on the second alert - from "disabled" to "check every 2 minutes". THAT alert is the canary in the coal mine. But a third alert watches for things to quiesce, and when THAT trigger is crossed, it changes CRON on the second alert back to "disabled".

           

          Final use case would be on discoveries. Again, using automation we could read our change control calendar and update the discovery jobs so that they avoided maintenance weekends, or freeze windows, or whatever.

           

          I'm sure there's more, but I wanted to get my thoughts in as soon as possible.

          • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
            masonstryker

            Lots of good stuff there Adatole.

             

            I would use it to automate management windows on my network, so that during our weekly scheduled windows alerts were automatically turned off.

             

            The scheduled reporting option is also golden. Nice fresh reports in my bosses queue automatically every Monday at 6am. Love the idea above of having a self serve scheduling area for reporting, too.

              • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
                jcherpeski

                masonstryker wrote:

                 

                I would use it to automate management windows on my network, so that during our weekly scheduled windows alerts were automatically turned off.

                 

                 

                This for sure.  It is a pain to get alerts during maintenance windows, but when the alerts go to the help desk too, it becomes a big problem.

                 

                We use our system for billing customers on bandwidth usage, it would be nice to be able to schedule reports to run automagically every month.  Right now our admin person spends most of a day getting the reports run and sent out.  If it could be automated, it would make it that much less time consuming.  It would also make it nice for the pretty picture reports to be generated automatically so that the big bosses feel like we are proactive.

                 

                Discovery on a schedule would be helpful too.  Save people from having to kick it off during the off hours.  It would avoid the forgetfulness that occurs when people are busy.

              • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
                wbrown

                First thing that comes to mind is the ability to schedule IPAM discoveries.  Specifically I'd rather be able to schedule time windows for super/subnets rather than a period of every x minutes.  Discovery during non-business hours when workstations are more likely to be powered off or not present is just a wast of processing time that could be devoted to a different discovery or other process.

                 

                Next thing is to schedule alerts so that alerts that are active during business hours send alerts to recipients J,K, L, while alerts active during non-business hours send alerts to recipients X,Y,Z.  The ability to schedule when various alerts are active and executing their checks would decrease the CPU load on the polling engine as well as the DB server.

                • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
                  mcam

                  Just having a know, reliable scheduler would be really nice. At least using cron is it would use the same syntax as a whole bunch of our servers.

                  But getting the ability to properly schedule scripts etc, as adatole says - getting this more linux like really is a great step forward.

                  As crontab is file based, having scripts that update the crontab to allow changes in scheduling based on existing conditions.

                   

                  On my linux servers we use crontab to schedule updates, sync files, etc.

                  Or use it for offloading polling and reporting, almost like having an agent running on the target server.

                  So a scheduled script that (say) checks for file existence locally then triggers another externally monitored resource so we don't have to keep running a file monitor over the network. Great for high latency links etc.

                  Another one is a trigger that starts file sync based on external triggers.

                  So many possibilities

                  • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
                    byrona

                    Kellie

                     

                    Are we talking about implementing a scheduler that we will need to interact with or are you referring to Cron as a the back-end system that will allow us to schedule things directly through the SolarWinds WebUI without needing to interact with a separate scheduler application?

                     

                    While I think Cron is a great scheduler, I don't think the new Windows Task scheduler is bad (the old one was terrible though).  I personally don't want to interact with a scheduler application at all.  I want to be able to just go into the SolarWinds WebUI and have scheduling options for any of the tasks one would expect to schedule (reports for example), I would expect SolarWinds to handle this on it's own on the back-end without requiring me to directly manage the scheduler.

                     

                    Does this make sense?

                    • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
                      ronroe

                      I am with byrona. I do not use Cron very often..I really avoid it.  Windows Task Scheduler works fine for me and I can run it from an admin PC.

                      • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
                        martimus98

                        Personally I don't see a value in using cron in my environment.  While Windows Task Scheduler isn't quite popular or feature rich, it works just fine for the occasional scheduled job.

                         

                        From a scheduling standpoint, I would really like to see a way to automatically schedule reports and discovery.  For something like discovery I'd like to be able to schedule discovery on different network segments at different times of the day/night.

                        • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
                          802jr

                          meech this is a great idea to have slight move towards *nix type programmability. These can have so much more robustness and can integrate easily to scripts. I like what adatole has mentioned about creating a form that could basically give users a sort of Report Scheduler utility. But I also agree with byrona on this statement, "I would expect SolarWinds to handle this on it's own on the back-end without requiring me to directly manage the scheduler."

                          • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
                            ykoops

                            Hi everybody,

                            Here is Jan, the UX designer of SolarWinds.

                             

                            I see how wild you guys can get when you hear the word Cron, but the original question should be more like what kind of schedules would you like to create for Reports or  Alerts or Maintenance widows.

                             

                            e.g. I want particular Alert to be enabled all the time except (Every day 12:00 AM - 3:00 AM) + (Mon - Fri 10:00 PM - 11:30 PM) + (Sat, Sun 8:00 PM - 11:59 PM). 

                             

                            Guys, please let us know what schedules you would like to build, but currently you are not able or you have to create couple of separate alerts to achieve the desired schedule.

                             

                            Thanks much!

                            • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
                              RichardLetts

                              There are currently several things that get 'scheduled' in different parts of solarwinds:

                              NCM = backup + reports + export + policy report generation + timed execution

                              NPM = discovery

                              IPAM + NPM + UDT = polling for data

                              ALL = Database maintenance

                               

                              what i personally would like is for this functionality to brought into one place so i can see what all is scheduled to run when (and where). this would allow me to balance the workload and make sure I had not accidentally setup too many things to run at once, e.g. an export at the same time as a backup.

                               

                              The UI I might like would be something like the meeting scheduler in Outlook (it's a metaphor many people already know) for setting the recurring meeting.

                              I might also like something like outlook attendee scheduler to show when the jobs started & finished so I could identify any overlaps.

                               

                              Thank you

                              • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
                                BenRichards

                                I'd like a single centralized flexible scheduler for discoveries, reports, DB backup/maintenance and devices/groups maintenance windows.

                                And I'd like a calendar as requested by Jfrazier here http://thwack.solarwinds.com/ideas/2655

                                Thanks

                                • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
                                  Jfrazier

                                  Kellie,

                                  While Cron is a great scheduling tool and in this case would be good for some recurring events like reports ,certain maintainence, backups, it could potentially be used for "un-managing" nodes or devices during recuring windows or maintainence periods that happen on a regular basis (a feature that is sorely needed).  On that note some maintainence windows would require multiple crontab like entries to implement.  Similar to how Nagios defines timeperiods. 

                                   

                                  Examples:

                                   

                                  Nagios Timeperiods

                                   

                                  define timeperiod{

                                          timeperiod_name 247

                                          alias           24 Hours A Day, 7 Days A Week

                                          sunday          00:00-24:00

                                          monday          00:00-24:00

                                          tuesday         00:00-24:00

                                          wednesday       00:00-24:00

                                          thursday        00:00-24:00

                                          friday          00:00-24:00

                                          saturday        00:00-24:00

                                          }

                                   

                                  Crontab like schedule would be:

                                  /* 24x7 */

                                  * * * * * <247 calander>

                                   

                                   

                                  define timeperiod{
                                          timeperiod_name CommSrvrProd

                                          alias           Comm Server Production Hours
                                          sunday          00:00-02:55,08:00-24:00
                                          monday          00:00-02:55,06:00-24:00
                                          tuesday         00:00-02:55,06:00-24:00
                                          wednesday       00:00-02:55,06:00-24:00
                                          thursday        00:00-02:55,06:00-24:00
                                          friday          00:00-02:55,06:00-24:00
                                          saturday        00:00-02:55,07:00-24:00
                                          }

                                   

                                  Crontab like entry for CommSrvrProd

                                  * 0-3  * * * <everyday midnight to 0300>

                                  * 8-23 * * 0 <Sunday 0800 to midnight>

                                  * 7-23 * * 6 <Saturday 0700 to midnight>

                                  * 6-23 * * 1-5 <Monday - Friday 0600 to midnight>

                                   

                                   

                                  But while a cron like schedular would be nice, I have taken that idea a bit further in an idea that @BenRichards recently mentioned http://thwack.solarwinds.com/ideas/2655 where I decscribe a calendaring system in a bit more detail.

                                  Disclaimer...my crontab syntax may be incorrect as it is a bit rusty...

                                  • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
                                    Kellie Mecham

                                    Hi everyone,  I have received a number of emails about my tardy awarding of points.  Shame on me!  Apologies and working on rectifying this now.  If you do not see points by end of day Friday, September 6 and you posted your answer by Thursday Aug 22, then email me and remind me on Monday.

                                     

                                    Thanks for your patience!

                                    • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
                                      mdriskell

                                      My biggest thing would be improved discoveries.  Currently the only option is daily.  We have a very large network.  I would stagger our schedule.  So let's say for example that I have 21 networks I want to discover.  I would schedule 3 each night to occur.  It is impossible for me to schedule discoveries now due to this limitation of having to schedule them only on daily.  This I'm sorry to say is another example of how SolarWinds touts themselves as an enterprise management platform however is still geared towards much smaller environments.

                                       

                                      One other thing wouldn't so much be a difference in scheduled job but an enhancement.  The report scheduler works very well.  That being said I'd love the additional option of being able to save the reports off to a file share instead of only emailing them. 

                                      • Re: 500 thwack point limited time offer:  how would you like to use Cron to schedule stuff (alerts, reports,discovery)?
                                        smartd

                                        Cron is super powerful but its syntax is complex.  I always have to look up the syntax when updating.  Like all Linux commands, powerful but cryptic.  With a good frontend, cron give total control of the timing of events, and execution of scripts.  Look at VisualCron for a good example.  In the Windows world, this scripting could be Powershell, which MS has pushed admins over the years.   Agree with Adatole, anything that moves to more Linux like is a good thing.  (Regular Expressions for Everything!)

                                         

                                        I agree with Mike Driskell that Discovery and IPAM discoveries need a much better scheduler.  Cron would be perfect.  Solarwinds should error on the side of more powerful instead of simpler, and use a frontend to mask the complexity for beginning users, but open the features for experience users.