Category: Blog

Loop1 announces the appointment of Eric Koach as new VP of Global Sales

Tech industry veteran to lead Loop1 global sales, marketing & client success teams through next phase of growth

Austin, TX | February 4, 2021—Loop1, a leading global IT Operations Management (ITOM) company specializing in the SolarWinds ITOM product offering, and Cisco Premier Partner with specializations in Unified Communications and Webex Collaboration, today announced the appointment of Eric Koach to the newly established role of VP of Global Sales.

Koach, who previously served in VP roles at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and as Global Sales Director at Dell, is an accomplished sales and operations leader with 30+ years of driving global business strategy to achieve stellar growth.

Koach’s appointment comes at a pivotal time in Loop1’s growth strategy as the group realigns its operations to build on the evolution of L1M3 (Loop1 Monitoring Maturity Model ‘LIME’) Services, a proactive 24/7 Managed Services Secure NOC (Network Operations Center) developed for SolarWinds clients. L1M3 Services provides Loop1 clients with certainty over SolarWinds availability, performance, security, and compliance by forming proactive partnerships aligned to a mature framework to deliver business outcomes.

Commenting on Koach’s appointment, Anthony Bettanin, Chief Operating Officer at Loop1, stated: “We are delighted to welcome Eric to the Loop1 global leadership team. Eric is renowned for developing client-focused, world-class teams, skilled in solution selling, targeted client acquisition, and client relationship management. He will be instrumental in developing and executing Loop1’s global go-to-market strategy for L1M3 Services.”

Koach will be responsible for driving strategic alignment across the US, EMEA, and APJ regions, focusing on establishing a unified enterprise sales model and developing go-to-market strategies to enable the sales, marketing, and client success teams to drive ongoing growth as the world’s largest SolarWinds specialized services partner.

Koach will also lead efforts to grow alliances, channel, distribution, and partnering models worldwide and strengthen existing top tier partnerships with Solarwinds and Cisco.

Eric Koach, VP of Global Sales

Commenting on taking up the reins of VP of Global Sales, Eric Koach stated: “I am thrilled to be joining Loop1; I see a great deal of opportunity for growth. The leadership team is very seasoned and shares my passion for ‘results and outcome-based selling’. I am excited to lead such a talented, globally diverse team with exceptional depth and breadth of highly skilled Project Services and Managed Services professionals. The best is yet to come!”

Koach will be based out of Loop1’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, and report to Loop1 Chief Operating Officer Anthony Bettanin. Learn more about Eric Koach and connect on LinkedIn.

Know What’s Next with Loop1

Loop1 is a leading global IT Operations Management (ITOM) company specializing in the SolarWinds® ITOM product offering; and Cisco Premier Partner with specializations in unified communications and Webex Collaboration. We help our clients to ‘Know What’s Next’ through our unique methodology ITOMplus, incorporating L1M3 (Loop1 Monitoring Maturity Model), which delivers a simplified roadmap and scorecard to enable organizations to measure and improve the value of their overall IT operations.

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, United States, with offices in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Singapore; the group has more than 110+ employees across four continents, clients in more than 60 countries, and 50+ SolarWinds SCP and Cisco certified engineers holding CCNP’s and CCIE’s. www.loop1.com

Loop1 Media Contacts:

Anthony Bettanin, Chief Operations Officer
anthony.bettanin@loop1.com

Helen Owens-Pope, Director of Global Marketing
helen.owens@loop1.com

Top 5 things to do as a new SolarWinds Administrator

Top 5 things to do as a new SolarWinds administrator

In this latest blog post, from Loop1 programming guru, and training instructor, Steven Klassen, learn the top 5 things you may want to consider as a new SolarWinds administrator.

So you have a new SolarWinds install and you’ve been handed the keys and the responsibility of monitoring all the things. You know there are probably some settings that should be given attention sooner than later, but which ones?

1. Set Your SMTP Information

There are a lot of things that SolarWinds software will do out-of-the-box, but one of the most important is letting you know when things go wrong. To that end, you’ll need to make sure it knows how to get that information to you.

Under Settings > All Settings > SMTP Settings you can tell the system where your SMTP server is, if it requires authentication, and from whom the emails should appear to be coming from. A common choice for this is solarwinds@example.com where example.com is your company’s domain.

Add SMTP Server

2. Customize Your Data Retention

How much data about your system monitoring do you want to keep? I know the answer is probably “well, all of it…” but realistically you probably care about information that’s recent more than you care about what happened 3 months ago.

By default, SolarWinds stores 7 days of detailed data. That means every time your device is pinged SolarWinds stores a pass/fail in the form of a 0 (it didn’t respond) and 100 (it responded). After 7 days those get averaged at the one-hour mark. So after day 7 you can’t tell how the device was doing at the top of the hour versus the half hour because you have three values – the minimum, the maximum, and an average. The minimum and maximum are more interesting for things like latency and speed, but the average tells us, on average, how often it responded to ping. After 30 days, those averages to go to an entire day.

So, make sure you’ve set your retention settings to support the maximum reporting requirement you’ll need. It’s not fun to have to generate a report and then realize after you need it that you don’t have enough data with the right precision.

You can find these settings under Settings > All Settings > Thresholds & Polling > Polling Settings.

Customize your data retention

3. Create a DeviceType Custom Property

Because SolarWinds is capable of monitoring so many types of devices from servers to routers to fiber switches to UPSs, it’s important to be able to categorize them. Also because SolarWinds treats devices very generically (with some exceptions, like Cisco UCS and VMware) it doesn’t hazard a guess as to what “flavor” of device you’ve added.

Since that information isn’t assumed by the system, it’s good to have a custom property that can be set on each device or cluster of devices as they’re imported into the system.

Some good values for that custom property follow:

  • Router
  • Switch
  • Power Supply
  • Printer
  • Server
  • Environmental Sensor

Armed with this custom property you can use it to customize the rest of your SolarWinds configuration. For example:

  • View all your routers and switches only
  • Limit an alert about your UPS devices to your facilities distribution list only

4. Create a THWACK Account

There’s nothing worse than working with software in a vacuum. While you’re working with SolarWinds software you’re going to have questions. The resources I’m going to want to find immediately upon being put in charge of a new install are the following:

  • Where can I learn more about this software?
  • If I have a problem, who can I ask?
THWACK IT Community

THWACK has you covered. There are forums for each of the products and they’re well attended by SolarWinds administrators, hobbyists, and SolarWinds’s very own MVPs.

Besides product-specific forums they have special areas for the API and labs for reporting and alerts because they got enough traffic that they were split off from the main content. Links are below to check those out, but don’t forget to create an account – that’s the only way you can contribute and take part in the conversation.

Important THWACK Links

5. Install SolarWinds SDK

Programming isn’t for everyone, that’s true. So it’s possible that you might have read about the SolarWinds SDK (software development kit) and passed right over it. What you didn’t see is that this software comes with an extra sharp tool called SWQL Studio (pronounced swickle).

If you’ve ever used SQL Studio from Microsoft to interact with a database, this utility won’t be too hard to get into your toolbelt. These are the major differences:

Entities vs. Tables

This is partly a naming convention and partly a functional one. In the database your node information is in an appropriately-named table (okay, it’s actually a view) called Nodes. In SWQL, the same information can be found in the entity called Orion.Nodes . Your volume information is in a table called Volumes. In SWQL, it’s in Orion.Volumes . That’s great – are we just prefixing everything with Orion? No, but there is a search, so you can find the entity easily.

Select Star From Table

When you want to get to know a table and its contents, the DB wrangler in us all taps out the usual query:

SolarWinds Administrator Select Star From Table

Not to worry, you can still double-click on the entity and get a tidy SELECT query with all the fields. From there you can whittle it down to just the fields you want.

Select Star From Table Query

JOIN vs. Navigation Properties

This is probably the very coolest difference between being thrown into a database you don’t know and working with SolarWinds data.

Usually you would have to know that a) two tables are related and b) that there’s a key between them that you can use to establish a relationship by way of some type of JOIN. With SWQL they curate these relationships for you.

They’re represented here by these chain-link icons. The string to the left is the navigation and the bit in the parentheses is the actual entity. There may be some slight difference between them as is the case with ResponseTimeHistory (navigation property) and Orion.ResponseTime (the entity itself).

JOINs vs. Navigation Properties

There will be a follow-up article that goes into using SWQL in more detail, but here’s a taste – we are working with the Orion.Nodes entity and we want to reach into the Orion.NPM.Interfaces entity only for the purpose of taking the InterfaceName field from that entity.

Orion.NPM.Interfaces entity

Summary

In this blog post you learned how to:

  1. Get automatic email SMTP notifications when things go wrong
  2. Make sure your reports have the data that they need
  3. Add extra information specific to your environment
  4. Get help when you need it (and share what you’ve learned) on THWACK
  5. Get the data back out of SolarWinds using SWQL

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and you’ll stay tuned for others that are coming soon.

Steven Klassen - Programmer Analyst

Steven Klassen

Programmer Analyst

Steven Klassen is a principal developer for Loop1, designing and developing SolarWinds integrations primarily in Go, PowerShell, Python, and JavaScript. He has more than 20 years of experience in software automation and technical training. He teaches public training classes on database design, queries in SQL and SWQL, and programming in Go, Python, and PowerShell. Steven developed and teaches the Loop1, 1-day virtual Solar Flare coder camp class.

Steven enjoys learning new programming languages, technologies, APIs, and just about anything else. His very favorite thing to do is breaking down a technical concept into easy-to-learn bits by spinning analogies. Steven likes to listen to music while he works, and that usually consists of whatever the Biebs has put out recently along with anything and everything written between ’84 and ’95.

A Healthy Active Directory Makes for a Healthy Environment

A Healthy Active Directory Makes For a Healthy Environment Do What You Can to Bolster Your Security Posture

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month! In honor of the occasion, our Loop1 Technical Account Manager, Katie Boldizar, gives insight about the importance of maintaining Active Directory (AD) and how a healthy AD can significantly improve your cybersecurity protocols!

Keeping your AD secure is fundamental to maintaining services for Microsoft-based servers and networks. Proper upkeep of your Active Directory is crucial to cybersecurity because Active Directory holds the keys to the proverbial kingdom—so to speak. With the ability to assign and enforce security & encryption protocol, control the storage & flow of data, and manage access rights, certificates, & security roles, AD is truly the core of the entire IT infrastructure.kingdom_keys_final1-300x300.png

Because Active Directory is such an integral piece of our technical environments, there are numerous housekeeping tasks that need to be addressed to maintain optimal domain health. But, due to the chaotic nature of the modern SysAdmin role, many of these tasks are often neglected, overlooked, or take a backseat to more mission-critical tasks. We’ve all heard the saying the squeakiest wheel gets the grease – well, that sentiment rings true for IT professionals world-over.

Alas – You are not alone in your journey to maintaining a healthy AD. SolarWinds has a deep bench of security-related tools that will help increase the security posture in your environment with minimal time and effort on your part. Let’s look at some of the most commonly overlooked tasks and how SolarWinds Access Rights Manager (ARM) can simplify these tasks.

To start, let’s talk about finding and fixing the broken inheritance permissions.

I won’t make you air your dirty laundry in a public forum, but, I am willing to bet that someone reading this is thinking to themselves, “When was the last time I checked for broken inheritance permissions in my environment?” – Last week? Last month? Maybe even last year??!

Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, establishing a regular maintenance schedule can help you avoid broken inheritance permissions and will further secure your environment from external attack. For practitioners utilizing SolarWinds ARM, I encourage you to incorporate the out-of-the-box features into your maintenance schedule. A handy, built-in report will identify all your corrupted inheritance issues with no manual processes or messy scripts to maintain, saving you time and effort in the long run.

It’s possible that you are using some kind of complex scripting to automate this process in order to avoid setting up reminders to check for errors or anomalies. While it may be more convenient to automate most of the time, in this instance automation can pose a security risk to your AD.

arm_picture-300x182.png

Creating automatic workflows to check permissions instead of establishing a schedule could lead to a situation where incorrect permissions are applied to the wrong object. This could be anything from granting the wrong permission to a file resulting in a breach of confidential data, to security permissions being incorrectly applied to an Organization Unit (OU), resulting in a catastrophic failure. Ultimately, inaccurate inheritance permissions can cause errors or inability to edit objects for administrative accounts or groups trying to modify the Active Directory – a headache we all want to avoid.

Next, we need to talk about circular nested groups.

For those of you new to the conversation, circular nested groups occur when groups are created that include overlapping user access by means of nested group access creating an infinite loop in the full membership path. Active Directory allows “children” to also be “parents” in the same instance of their family tree so to speak, which can lead to circular nested groups. If you have a nested group structure that loops in a circular manner, every user who is a member of any of the other recursive groups will be granted access rights for all of the groups. Needless to say, this structure makes group membership assignments ineffective and pose rather obvious security risks.

You are more likely to have circular nested groups as more and more layers are added to your nested group structure. There are a number of ways to identify circular nested groups in your environment from manual process to utilizing PowerShell scripts, but for those that can, we recommend using SolarWinds ARM which can automatically identify any recursion that exists in your environment.

shutterstock_267093089.jpg

The last major task we need to discuss is monitoring assigned permissions using DirectAccess.

Because DirectAccess gives us the ability to determine how permissions are assigned to any user and identify users with directly granted permissions, we are able to swiftly eliminate any inappropriate access, thus reducing overall risk and strengthening security posture. SolarWinds ARM can pinpoint all of the direct access rights on your file server(s), allowing you to use the built-in drag and drop functionality to effortlessly direct access rights into a particular group. As always, security best practices should be top of mind when using DirectAccess to set permissions in Active Directory.

Using DirectAccess to assign permissions through group membership ensures that we are eliminating security risk where possible. This approach allows us to utilize the rule of privilege – an AD best practice that emphasizes the importance of assigning users the permissions they need to do their job and nothing more. Keep in mind that the rule of privilege is used to prevent the spread of potential threats to your entire environment and has nothing to do with the trustworthiness of your employees or team members.

All-in-all, Active Directory is an extremely useful tool utilized by nearly 90% of businesses to supports sysadmins, accidental DBAs, and IT professionals of all sorts, in their attempt to keep our IT environments safe and secure. If you are looking to bolster your security protocols, your first step is to ensure that your environment is set up properly. Once that is established, maintaining regularly scheduled checkups in your Active Directory will help you sustain a secure environment. Beyond that, utilizing DirectAccess, checking for broken inheritance permissions, and keeping a clean environment are the best ways to keep your organization safe from a security threat. Good luck and God’s speed in your security journey. For further support, or any questions you may have about Active Directory contact a member of the Loop1 team today!

By: Katie Boldizar
Loop1 Technical Account Manager
Network+, Security+, SCP
https://katieboldizar.com

Q&A with our Loop1 Engineer on keeping your servers secure

Servers are integral to network functionality and are also one of most common targets of a cyber attack. According to Verison’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, the second most common type of security breach the world is a Denial of Service (DoS) attack on servers. Servers, cloud servers, and even hybrid servers can all receive a DoS attack. As such, servers of all types have inherent security vulnerabilities that need monitoring.

computer server illustration

Katie Boldizar, our Loop1 Technical Account Manager, shares her observations about current server security practices and discusses the future of server monitoring and server security as IT environments become more complex.

Katie has over 10 years experience working in IT infrastructure, installation, configuration, and security. Prior to her career in IT, she served as a Multiple Launch Rocket System repairer (94P) in the U.S. Army.

 

Q: What measures to maintaining server security often get overlooked?

A: In order to keep any server secure, you need to patch the server on a regular basis. Another key component to consistent server security would be “hardening” the server:

      • Vetting what software is and isn’t allowed on a server
      • Limiting the server’s open ports (connections to the outside world)
      • Controlling the internet access to the server (who can access the server and what types of devices can access the server)


Q: What good practices do you recommend to others to ensure uninterrupted server security?

A: Making sure the server is properly hardened is my first recommendation. Monitoring who logs into a server and controlling user permissions to which part of a server can be accessed by what user would be other good practices to put into place.

Lastly, I recommend implementing policies that focuses on user accountability, such as regularly changing passwords and setting server usage standards.

 

Image of a data center full of server racks Q: What are the most common SolarWinds tools you’ve seen used for server security?

A: I’ve seen many environments utilizing SEM (Security Event Manager) with file integrity monitor software, which can not only track any files and folders within a server, but also provide details about any changes made to all files and folders within a server.

ARM (Access Rights Manager) is another common tool. ARM is used for automating server access and setting user permissions, which is helpful in preventing data loss and security breaches.

 

Q: What are your thoughts on maintaining physical server security versus cloud server security?

A: For me, there is not too much of a difference. I feel that most now view cloud hosted servers just as secure as on-premise servers. Though, there is an ongoing debate.

 

Q: What are your predictions for the use of cloud-based and cloud hosted servers over physical servers?

A: Serverless architecture adoption and microservices have grown in popularity as more clients are moving away from container-based services. Additionally, I’ve seen an increase in the use of cloud security automation, which allows you to launch security protocols as a response to cloud events such as a DoS attack.

Though, many large organizations that invest a lot in security and choose to keep their data centers onsite may favor housing their data on physical servers.

 

Cloudv2-01.png

Q: Lastly, what are your recommendations to keep a company’s data secure in cloud servers?

A: My top recommendations for cloud security:

  • Educate employees about cloud security awareness and best practices
  • Create a data backup plan
  • Be aware of who has access to the data
  • Always use encryption and have a strong password policy

As cyber attacks and DoS attacks on servers continue, maintaining and monitoring server security remains an ongoing process in safeguarding who has access to the data on a server.

Creating a regular patch and update schedule, educating all employees about security awareness, and monitoring who/what device(s) have access to a server are just a few preventative steps to making sure your servers ready for a cyber attack.

By: Katie Boldizar
Loop1 Technical Account Manager
Network+, Security+, SCP
https://katieboldizar.com

Happy #SysAdminDay – A Sit Down with Our In-House SysAdmin

I have a really great joke about UDP, but you probably wouldn’t get it. . .

Comedic gold that good can only mean one thing: IT’S SYSADMIN DAY! To celebrate, we sat down with our very own Loop1 SysAdmin, @Ben Penney, to learn a little more about him and his integral role in our company.

Ben-Headshot-1.jpg

Q: What exactly is a SysAdmin? In general, what are the responsibilities of a SysAdmin?

BP: The best way to think of a SysAdmin would be a person or team that maintains a company’s day-to-day functionality.

Depending on the company the role could be taking care of severs specifically or certain functions of a network. Usually, there is a team of SysAdmins that take care of different functions: servers, network (switches and routers), help desk and hardware.

Examples of hardware devices SysAdmins maintain:

Servers, VM, switches, routers, firewalls, laptops, desktops, printers, wireless devices, WI-FI networks, conferencing equipment, smart TVs, and much more.

Q: If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why?

BP: Bald eagle – They can see things up to two miles away and they look badass

Q: What are the day-to-day functions that SysAdmins perform?

BP: In terms of the day-to-day functions, the role of a SysAdmin is the make sure that each person has what they need to do their job. For our Loop1 team, it’s making sure that everyone has a laptop, the correct applications running on the machine, and making sure that each person has the right permissions to perform their job (access to particular file servers, specific email calendars, use of certain applications, etc).

For Loop1, I take care of the server infrastructure. I make sure that we have the right servers to perform the company’s needs, as well as maintain the servers by keeping them healthy and patched on a regular basis. More importantly, my job as a SysAdmin is to make sure that all servers and systems are up and running so that the company can function. I am responsible for making sure that all company hardware is patched, secure, and ensure that redundancies are in place in case something does fail—and it’s all documented.

Q: Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?

BP: Hunter – no reason I just feel that’s me

Q: Are SysAdmin responsibilities generally the same from company to company, or are there differences?

BP: More so in a large-scale network, having everything well documented is important. So, if something were to happen to a SysAdmin, another person could easily step in and know-how the network functions and not having to waste time figuring out how and where everything in the network is connected.

Another function of a SysAdmin is keeping a record of every machine in the environment. Knowing how old each machine is and when it was patched are key to maintaining the upkeep of the company network, which is most important because it’s the network that employees work in and do their job.

Q: What’s your favorite ’90s jam?

BP: Sublime – Santeria

Q: What part of managing the network are SysAdmins involved with?

BP: In regards to networking, in our instance, we have an internet connection, a firewall that brings the connection in, and switches that distribute that internet connection to multiple systems.

Q: Do SysAdmins have a role in network security?

BP: Security is another function that a SysAdmin role could include. Typically for larger companies, there is a security team making sure that machines and hardware devices are regularly patched. For Loop1, I hold that responsibility as well as implementing programs that enforce security policies that help reduce security risks that would be detrimental to the company network.

Some of the programs SysAdmins use to enforce security policies could be security training for employees, fake phishing campaigns, social engineering tests, or just leaving a USB outside the office and see who picks it up and uses it. But, these are just high-level examples of what can be done. There is a lot more than can be done by SysAdmins to help keep a company network secure.

Q: You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

BP: Blue streak – because I like the color blue and the movie

Q: Favorite Super Hero?

BP: Chuck Norris

Q: Is there anything you would want others to understand about the roles and responsibilities of SysAmdin beyond just, oh SysAmdin the IT person who fixes the printer and the computers when it breaks?

BP: My advice for employees at any company would be to learn more about the environment they are working in. No matter what position your job is, you will have a computer to use.

Employees having some basic knowledge about the computer you use on a day-to-day basis can save a lot of time. When a member of the IT team comes by to fix your machine, take a moment to learn about what caused the issue and perform your work in a more efficient manner.

So there you have it, folks – a glimpse into the life of the man that keeps our systems and networks running so the rest of us can do the things that we do best! Thank you for being our IT Bald Eagle! Cheers to you, Ben Penney, and Happy SysAdmin Day!