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. 

 

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 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.

 

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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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Playing with Solarwinds Orion NPM – How to recover from a corrupted database

I can’t believe it’s been that long, but I recently realized that my Solardwinds SCP has actually slipped. The SCP was one of the first certifications focused on network management and, as I’m sure you can imagine, I was in there as an early adopter. The training was really good ( I still miss Josh Stevens!) and the test was one of the best tests I’ve every taken in IT. It had some REALLY evil questions on there. You know the kind… the ones that prove you either know your stuff or you don’t.  No messing around with ambiguities. Ahh… good times.  On to the present though.

Open Disclosure

I’m assuming because of the major focus of my blog is network management, I was approached by Solarwinds and offered an NFR license for a couple of their products to run in my labs. As with them, I think it’s important for my readers to understand that I work for HP and sometimes find myself in competition directly against these products. I do also find myself giving some guidance to customers who are using Solarwinds products and trying to manage their HP Networking products through the Orion console. It’s the experience of using NPM and NCM to manage HP Networking equipment that I’m going to try to focus on.  Please don’t ask me to compare products.  I told you where I get paid and you can guess what my official opinion is going to be. 🙂

Orion NPM

The first product I wanted to play with is Solarwinds NPM. Solarwinds has a great following and has been around for a lot of years. There were some things that I really didn’t like about this a few years back when I passed the SCP and it will be interesting to see how the product has improved overtime and whether my old issues have been fixed.

Specifically, I was never happy with the half-enabled web-console.  The fact that I had to bounce back and forth between the windows console and the web browser to get anything done was frustrating to say the least. I know there were a lot of improvements made in Orion 10, and I’ve heard good things about 10.5 specifically.  I downloaded 10.5 and will be upgrading to the 10.6 with hot fix 3 tonight. I’m really excited to see the improvements that Solarwinds has made in the years since I last had my hands dirty with the platform.  WIsh me luck!

Before we get started…

So this is detailing some the issues I had getting NPM up and running.  To say the least, I had some issues. ( as detailed below ).  I’ve written down the symptoms and the fixes that I went through, but to be honest, this was just a REALLY bad Windows build. Sometimes, there’s just nothing you can do when the base operating system gets corrupted right from the initial install.

 

Installing

To be honest, I had some issues getting it running. The licensing actually crashed and somehow it was assigned in the Solarwinds system, but never applied to my system. I also made the mistake of downloading the package that didn’t have SQL installed ( wasn’t clear and I didn’t read the documentation closely enough ).  On the bright side, Solarwinds support actually helped me through this one in about 24 hours. Sometimes thing happen during an install, so I can’t complain too much. Plus, I should have paid more attention when flipping through the documentation. My bad.

Unscheduled Interuption.

Ahhh… well… Sometimes things don’t go as planned.  I had an unscheduled power outage tonight and it seems something has gone wrong with my installation.

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Google didn’t come up with anything. So I’m off to follow the SQL Management studio where the SolarWindsOrion database is marked as suspect…. hmmm… that’s not good.

A couple of scooby snacks and some super-sluething later and I come up with this link

In a nutshell, it looks my SQL database has been corrupted somehow and it’s now showing up as suspect in the Microsoft SQL server management console. ( While I was banging my head against this problem, I didn’t take a good screen capture. So this is where I ask you to imagine a big yellow exclamation mark of DOOM over the SolarwindsOrion database in the following image.  )

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Looks like the power outage REALLY messed up the SQL database.  But GoogleTechnician to the rescue!

Solarwinds Configuration Wizard – Attempt #1

So now I’m off to the Solarwinds Configuration tool ( on the console of the windows server ). For this attempt, I run the database configuration only. Thinking, I’ve got a database, issue, let’s just run the database configuration wizard and that should fix it, right?

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Nope… doesn’t look like this is going to work either

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Solarwinds Configuration Wizard – Attempt #2

So now I’m off to the Solarwinds database.  Hmm.. nothing on this error.

At this point, I just try what any good network guy does. I start clicking things and seeing if anything will work.

So this is what I did

  •  Logged into the Microsoft SQL Management console and reset the password on the SolarWindsOrionDatabaseUser account to something I knew.
  • Re-ran the Solarwinds Configuration Wizard. This time, instead of just the database, I’m going to re-run this for the Database, Web Site, and the Services.

note: Normally at this point, I would pull the plug, call the patient dead and re-install. But this was supposed to be a learning experience, right? We’re certainly learning now, aren’t we?

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Look like I’m back in business! Good to go right?

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Nope. now it’s time to remove the license, delete the VM and start from scratch. I don’t want a known corrupted system monitoring my network, even in a lab.

Hopefully, this blog will help someone with a production Solarwinds deployment who gets this same nasty SQL suspect database error.

Lesson to Learn

In a lab, sometimes things happen. Take the opportunity for the full learning experience when things go wrong. It’s always fun to see if we can bring a system back from the dead. But remember, once you’re done with the learning. Scrap it. This is not the system that I want to be evaluating as I will always be wondering “Hmmm… I wonder if this is normal or if this is a result of that bad install.”

Things go wrong. Known good clone images just have something funky. I’ve seen registry issues on brand new windows installation. SQL strangeness etc… None of which I feel like dealing with for longer than necessary. With how easy it is now to deploy a new VM from a template. There’s just no need to subject myself to this kind of long term pain.

So before I go to bed tonight, I’m going to start cloning a new windows image so that I can re-do the entire install tomorrow night on a clean VM.

FOR THE RECORD :  I’m 100% sure this is not a normal Solarwinds Orion NPM installation tale. I just happened to be the lucky one who was hand-selected by the universe as it thought ” Hmmm…  who can I REALLY mess with today? “.

Can’t wait for tomorrow.

@netmanchris