Category: Blog

December 2018 SolarWinds – Version Upgrades

Is your SolarWinds Environment ready for 2019?

SolarWinds recently released version upgrades for NPM, NCM, NTA, IPAM, and general updates to the Orion platform and we want to make sure your team is completely up to date.

What’s New?

  • NPM 12.4 – Cisco ACI® Support. Now your team can accurately monitor your SDN environment with Cisco ACI support and other general interface and performance improvements.
  • NCM 7.9 -Simplify configurations with multi-device baselines. Easily create, assign, and implement baseline templates across multiple devices.
  • NTA – 4.5 Alert on Flow. Create custom alerts to quickly identify extreme changes in traffic flow and remediate issues more efficiently.
  • IPAM 4.8 – Update includes Infoblox® support, the ability to replace custom fields with more convenient custom properties, and more comprehensive support for Linux users.

Where does Loop1 come in?

2018 IT trends found that nearly half of IT professionals have a reactive organizational strategy, leaving teams spending 50% of their time maintaining and trouble shooting an environment, instead of working on mission critical tasks. So what can Loop1 engineers do to mitigate this issue and get your team back on track?

  • Manage updates and optimization
  • Monitor & trouble-shoot your environment
  • Implement proactive monitoring strategies to pinpoint issues faster
  • Identify mission critical tasks for your team

While the SolarWinds product suite has completely changed the game for IT monitoring software with out-of-the-box solutions, many of our clients have benefitted from Loop1 engineers walking them through the update process – saving time and effort in the long run.

What does Loop1 Bring to the Table?

  • Over 7 years of experience with SolarWinds products per engineer on staff
  • More than 600 SolarWinds engagements in 2018 – including many version upgrades
  • Over half of the Fortune 500 Companies are currently Loop1 clients
  • Engineers work in some of the most complex environments across the globe
  • Ability to quickly remediate some of the more common update issues experienced
  • Provide valuable insight and problem solving for the more difficult obstacles

If you need help with your upgrade, contact us at info@loop1.com, and a member of our expert staff will reach out to discuss your needs.

End-of-Life Announcements

An End-of-Life Announcement was made December 4th, 2018 for the following SolarWinds Products:

NPM 12.1, NTA 4.1, NCM 7.6, IPAM 4.5, VoIP & Network Quality Manager (VNQM) 4.2, User Device Tracker (UDT) 3.2, and Enterprise Operations Console EOC) 1.5.

If you are currently using one of these products, it is advised to upgrade to a more recent version.

Caveat Emptor or “Smart Quotes”

We live in a world these days where copy & paste is the shortest path to winning. In a world of Stack Overflow and Thwack and all those other sources of awesome content, it’s easy to find something you like, fire up a SAM template with a fresh PowerShell component and then paste the content in there. Sometimes it doesn’t go so well and when it doesn’t, it can be maddening.

Let’s take this email with some helpful SolarWinds API code for example,

It looks good, right? Add the snapin, build the connection, run the query, get the results. Nothing could be easier. But when you try to run it in PowerShell, you get some pretty confusing results:

The error we get is on Get-SwisData which is a little maddening since that’s the very first command we tried to run. It’s simple and there’s no obvious issue with it. You fire up a PowerShell window and try it to make sure you have the syntax right and all goes well. So… what gives?

If you look closely, you can see that Outlook has helpfully converted your quotes to “smart quotes” which are a bit curvier:

This is going to break your code because it’s expecting regular quotes ” instead of smart quotes that wound up in its place. It’s taken some practice, but having this bite me several times in the past I’ve taken to very carefully typing code and keeping an eye on these automatic changes which you can reverse by using undo (ctrl+z) like below:

If you’re not a fan of smart quotes and you’d rather just turn them off so they don’t muck up the works, you can do that by adjusting Outlook’s configuration:

That’s all there is to it! You’ll never have that problem bite you again.

 

What Happens if I Have Conflicting Alerts?

Loop1 Answers Top Questions from Alert Noise Webinar

We recently hosted a webinar on alert noise – the importance of getting them under control and how to customize for your needs.

If you missed it, you can view it here:

We had a rich conversation in our Q&A portion where our host, Chrystal Taylor, walked attendees through application in specific scenarios.

The top questions and answers were:

I have a Windows domain environment with mostly laptops plugged into Cisco switches. I would like to get an alert if/when someone that has a non-domain computer joins my switches. Can I create alerts based on this situation?

There are a couple of different ways we could approach this. If you’re using DNS in your environment and all of your other devices are DNS, and something pops up that isn’t using DNS, you can trigger an alert to let you know. If you want to go a different route, you can utilize an events monitor or a script monitor to check for devices not on the domain.

We need some of our servers to monitor interfaces and hardware. Often, when the node goes down, we get a barrage of alerts for the interfaces and the hardware going into an unknown state. How do we protect against this from happening?

You can use dependencies. There are supposed to be automatic dependencies to keep this from happening, so when your node goes down, all of those that are a child of that node shouldn’t be alerting you. If you’re still getting alerts, you can add a condition to your alerts so when your device is down, you won’t receive notifications.

Is there a way to edit the default email template used for when creating a new alert?

There’s not a way to change the default email template. There are, however, variables to change for an email address. But as far as edits to the template go, there’s not a way to do that to our knowledge.

Can the text of an alert on an application have variables or values in the alert from the different groups? Like nodes or alerts?

Yes. What you’re able to use is going to depend on the property you’ve triggered on. If you’ve set your alert to trigger on a node status, you’ll probably have to use the custom variables. SolarWinds does let you create custom sequels to pull any information from the database in. You can use other variables in there to pull information. If you have something custom from your table that you need to pull in, you can definitely do that. It just takes some tweaking on the front end.

What if you have conflicting alerts?

If you have conflicting alerts, they should both trigger. Alerts don’t take priorities.

For more information on how you can customize your alerts or questions about this specific webinar, please feel free to contact us.

One Client’s Journey to Slaying Alert Noise

Photo by Jacob Miller on Unsplash

 

When we started working with our client, he was overwhelmed.

He had finally convinced his organization to invest more than $250,000 in the SolarWinds platform, but he knew he wasn’t using the tool to its full potential. Subsequently, he was losing faith in the investment.

“It’s just not useful to me,” he told us.

It wasn’t the SolarWinds software that was the issue. The problem was it was flooding him with alerts – the default ones — that were clogging up his inbox. He would investigate each alert only to find that it wasn’t an issue he needed to watch. He couldn’t decipher which were critical and which were just noise.

We had a Loop1 engineer come in, and spend the day with him. Together, they completely customized his alert systems to work for him. They eliminated all of the repetitive alerts and replaced them with ones that worked for his role and his organization.

Now that he’s been cleared of alert noise, he spends his time proactively monitoring his environment. His boss no longer sees his department as a profit drain and his people are better able to meet deadlines – all because they’re no longer investigating unnecessary alerts.

Almost all of our clients come to us feeling overwhelmed with alert noise. Ready to eliminate this nuisance once and for all?

Join our complimentary webinar, on March 22, where we’ll give you ideas on how to customize your alerts to your needs and finally eliminate the noise.

Register here.

6 Instant Benefits When You Address Alert Fatigue

Ding. Buzz. New email in inbox. Ding, Ding, DING!

What’s that noise? Yes, it’s another alert, most likely one of hundreds (or more!) you could see today.

On a good day, they’re a mild nuisance. On a bad day, they’re painfully distracting, forcing you to surrender your precious time to seeing if these alerts are even worth investigating.

At Loop1, we believe the truth is in sight, and you just need to look at it through different eyes. In the thick of alert noise, we’re going to challenge you to look at noise completely differently – in a way where they can actually serve you and bring you valuable insights.

Here are 6 benefits you could enjoy, right now, if you started working on customizing your alerts to work for you, not the other way around:

  1. Reduce False Alerts – When you purchase SolarWinds, you may not realize that it comes with 100+ alerts already enabled. Simply put, if you don’t customize the defaults, your world will be very noisy. Getting a handle on alert noise gives you the reassurance that when you receive an alert, it’s important.
  2. Create Actionable Alerts – When you customize your alerts to your needs, you can also enable them to tell you when action is needed – and when it’s not. For example, if your memory is too high, your alerts can be configured to show which processes are actually consuming the memory, giving you helpful intel to remediate the issue quicker.
  3. Improve Alert Management – Many SolarWinds admins find themselves as an alert order taker, configuring one-off alerts for every person who requests one. Pretty soon, you’re managing a platform with several 100 different alerts. Getting a handle on “alert sprawl” will help you reduce duplicate alerts as well as reduce unnecessary overhead on the database back-end of the platform be limiting the number of alert.
  4. Create Alert Tracking – When you’re suffering from alert noise, every alert is a squeaky wheel. But, you can minimize noise by prioritizing which ones are high priority, creating fewer alerts that are smarter. Plus, tracking such as custom reports and dashboards help you see where the repeat offenders are.
  5. Customize a Logical Escalation Protocol – Getting a handle on alert noise can also enable you to have an escalation process in place. For example, if a Microsoft SQL server crashes, it can prompt an alert to the right person. If that person doesn’t acknowledge or remediate the alert after a period, the protocol can resend the alert or trigger an alert to a secondary person.
  6. Clear the Way for Trend Analysis – Most professionals who are bombarded by alert noise aren’t analyzing trends. When you clear your life of unnecessary alerts, you’re paving the way to being more proactive and preventing problems.

Ready to learn more about preventing alert noise? Watch our webinar at: https://youtu.be/LzDIA8hrOeA