I need to let everyone know about the free tools offered by Solarwinds. I wish I had access to these tools when I was trying to solve network issues back in the day. I sweated many a bullets trying to diagnose issues without the tools I needed. Netstat only goes so far. Well, there is no excuse for any Network or System Admin not to use these free tools from Solarwinds. They are basically mini versions of the full featured tools. They do not expire. If you do not use any other tool they offer you must try IP Address Tracker. This tool automatically tracks static IP address assignments and lets you know what IP’s are free. No more spreadsheets. Get your FREE tools Herrrre (tried to imitate the Sonic pretzel dog guy).
Solarwinds includes an application called Network Atlas. This application creates maps for use with Network Performance Monitor (NPM) and Enterprise Operations Console (EOC). This tool creates maps that are stored inside the Solarwinds Database. They are not files stored on the hard drive. All configuration data is stored in the database. This allows you to recover the Solarwinds installation by just restoring the database but I’ll save that for another post.
Back to Maps. The graphics included in Network Atlas are not bad. You can create a decent looking map using the built in graphics. However, if you want to use vendor specific graphics or your own graphics they must be imported. I’m not referring to the background image function provided by Network Atlas. Background images cannot be connected to objects in the Solarwinds database. They simply provide something other than a plain white background.
Changing the graphics that represent database objects is an easy way to develop maps that relate to your environment and just plain look good. Lets face it, if you build a map with nothing but round LED’s that represent objects, It would not be very useful or interesting to the end user. You need to convey to the user how and why the service they are monitoring is important. A good way to do this is to use graphics that represent your environment.
There are two ways to get custom graphics into the database. You can use the copy and paste method or create multiple images with different color back grounds to represent different operational states. I prefer the copy and paste method. Visio has some great looking graphics that can represent objects in the database. Nearly every major IT manufacturer and application developer provides free Visio stencils. Just search for “Visio Stencils” with your favorite search engine. So, the first thing you do is find an interesting graphic. I’ll use a Dell Server 910 graphic I imported from a set of Dell stencils. Simply right-click on the stencil and choose “copy”.
Switch to Network Atlas, right-click on on the map and click “Paste”. An input box will appear and give you two choices. “Paste the image from the Clipboard as a new object” or “Use the image from the Clipboard as a new map background”. Choose “Paste the image from the clipboard as a new object”, enter a name for the new image and click “OK”.
The new graphic is now part of the map and has been placed in the C:\Users\<logged on User>\AppData\Roaming\SolarWinds\NetworkAtlas\Maps\Orion\localhost\NetObjects\Imported. Once it is added to a map, it becomes part of the database and is available to all users that view the map with the Solarwinds Web interface. To delete the graphic from the database simply delete it from the location specified above.
The next step is to apply a object indicator style and add the graphic. I am kinda partial to the “Pad Underneath” style.
After selecting the style, click the “Select Graphic” and choose the graphic you just imported to augment the style.
Now your object indicator looks like this…..
Not only can you now use the object graphic to represent an object in Solarwinds, you can drop other indicators on the image and use it like a background.
Solarwinds Orion’s interaction with the SQL server is extremely disk write intensive and requires a fast storage sub-system on the supporting SQL server. RAID 10 is the fastest disk configuration with redundancy. Having a fast controller with write cache also increases performance. I use a tool called SQLIO.exe to test the write speed of the SQL storage system hosting the log files and tempDB. It can be downloaded from Microsoft.com. This tool performs controlled disk read/write operations and is used to gauge the storage system IO performance. The higher the number, the better the performance. There are dozens of options for SQLIO. I run general write performance tests on the SQL log file drive. A score of 800 or higher will do for most installations. I’ve seen throughput as high as 7000 IOP’s on solid-state drives. There is no reason you cannot install SQL on a virtual machine using a SAN as long as you can get acceptable IOP performance. Click the image to the right. This is the new AppInsight application monitor contained in Solarwinds Server and Application Monitor (SAM) 6.0.
Refer to this Solarwinds White paper for SQL tuning guidance PDF – Managing Orion Performance