Solarwinds NPM – Take 2

Ok. So I’m back at it now.

The first step of this mulligan was to remove the activated license from the corrupted windows box that caused me all the trouble in the first place.

While I deploy a brand new Windows 2012 image, I headed over to the solarwinds website and read through this document.  As detailed in the doc, I installed the licensing application. Deactivated the NPM license and everything went as great.

Good news so far. I’m really looking forward to start digging into how NPM manages HP Networking gear.

An Update

So after the fiasco of the last attempted install. I learned a couple of things.

  • The Solarwinds NPM install package from the customer portal does NOT include the embedded Microsoft SQL server.  If you want to run this with SQL express, then you need to install the eval version.  Good thing to know if you are trying to install NPM in a smaller environment.  Keep in mind though, it is STRONGLY recommended – I read it multiple times in the docs – to use an external SQL server when using NPM in production. This makes sense for a “real” network, but for my purposes, I have a small lab so there’s really no need. 
 
  • My Windows image was hosed. screwed. burned out. totally useless.  When I did the install on a brand new Windows 2012 server, it went totally smooth. I pre-installed the IIS server, as mentioned in the docs, and everything else went off without a hitch, so much so that the only reason I’m mentioning it is the fact that I had so much trouble the first time.   The blame for that one goes on a bad windows build.

 

First thoughts

Initial Discovery

It’s been a couple of years since I was at the helm of an NPM  box, but to be honest, it feels pretty comfortable. Having a lot of sticktime on some other products, I had a bit of trouble with getting the desired results from the discovery process ( IP ranges vs. Subnets didn’t do exactly what I wanted – I kept getting more ranges that I wanted to. ) but after a few tries, I managed to get the initial discovery up and running without any trouble.

The Good:

In general. The discovery process went smooth. Interestingly, NPM asked me for windows, vmware, telnet/ssh, and SNMP credentials. The nice thing, which kind of surprised me, was that NPM was now able to discover my VMware ESXi and vCenter servers. This is a good thing as I’m a big fan of providing a consolidated view of the entire network, whether that’s physical or virtual, wired or wireless. I’ll check later into what Virtualization support is actually offered in NPM, but for now, I’m happy to see that I can at least identify the resources on my network. 

 

NewImage

 The not so good:

There were a couple of mis–labeled devices. Specifically, the HP 5500EI and the HP 5120EI which are a couple of boxes that have been in the market now for a few years. As you can see from the images below, both of these devices are HP devices. The description ( which is pulled directly from the device through the sysdesc OID  ( .1.3.6.1.2.1.1.1.0  for anyone who’s counting ) does show that this is an HP device.

 

NewImage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the bright side, the error has been submitted to the NPM unknown device thread here so hopefully this will be addressed in a future update. 

Topology Maps

In previous versions of Solarwinds, one of the things that did bother me was having to jump back and forth between the web interface and the windows console depending on the task that I needed to accomplish. I know Solarwinds has done a lot of work to move all the administrative functions into the web interface, but it doesn’t look like Network Atlas has made the cut yet. 

This is first glance, so it’s possible I just haven’t clicked on the right button yet. One of the most powerful pieces of a good NMS is an accurate topology map. Now that I’ve got the network discovered and up and running, creating some network maps are going to be my next task. 

 

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Closing

In general, Solarwinds feels familiar. It’s not too far removed from the versions I was more familiar with so I’m hoping that digging in is going to go more smoothly. I’m also VERY happy that I’m over my initial install issues. That was a painful experience and it’s nice to be able to say I just had a corrupted windows build.  The new install went perfectly.  I’ve been spending some time upgrading my lab to ESX 5.5 this week, as well as playing with the HP SDN Controller as well, so I might take a break from Solarwinds for a bit, but expect more info in the future as I start to spend some more time with NPM.

 

@netmanchris

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Baselining

Where are you coming from?

One of the first mistakes that new network operators make is that they don’t have a good idea of where they already are.

Take the case above. Say you want to get to Disneyland. Google can tell you were Disneyland is, but if you don’t have a starting point, there’s really no way to understand how you are going to get to where you want to be.
So the first thing you need to do when you’re trying to operate a new network is figure out exactly where you are.

This concept is known as baselining

Baselining:

At its essence, baselining is really nothing more than taking stock of where you are. Most experienced engineers instinctively know when they reach a new environment that they want to spend some time just getting to know the place before they make any changes. Network Management as a discipline takes this to a much more structured level.
There are a few types of baselines, performance and configuration been the major.

Performance Baselines –

This is the simple act of contain and recording things in the network. One of the common mistakes that I see new network management practitioners make is the ” I want to monitor everything! ” move.

Now there are some grounds for this. Remember this guy?

“When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it. But when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind.”

Lord Kelvin, 1891

Continue reading “Baselining”