I’m a bit of a stranger to SolarWinds products, having only dabbled with some of the free solutions a few years ago and also engaging in a Tech Field Day 9 session in their Austin headquarters and as a Thwack Ambassador. Historically, I’ve thought of them for their IP Address Management (IPAM) and network management products, such as Network Performance Monitor (NPM). Many environments I work with leverage SolarWinds to keep tabs on network devices, interfaces, and performance.
With the approach of Virtualization Manager’s 6.1 release, I decided to spend some hands-on time with two of their flagship products: Server and Application Monitor (SAM) and the aforementioned Virtualization Manager (often just dubbed VMan). The team at SolarWinds is cooking up some rather interesting modular integration for these products, allowing their underlying platform to feed on multiple data sources (server, app, virtualization, and storage) to ultimately make more informed and seamless decisions. The idea with the 6.1 release of VMan is to allow SAM to use multiple perspectives of the data center – namely, the physical servers and apps combined with the virtualization perspectives – to holistically examine a workload stack and identity where improvements or concerns may be found.
I’ve configured all the bits in my lab, courtesy of some NFR and trial licensing, and offer a number of thoughts and considerations as we walk through the deployment below. For those curious, Virtualization Manager 6.1 officially releases tomorrow (Wednesday, May 14th), but I was given the green light to publish this early using a release candidate (RC) build. Enjoy the sneak peak. 🙂
Virtualization Manager – Setup and Configuration
I needed to deploy two different tools into the lab:
- Virtualization Manager (VMan) which is an OVA deployed into vSphere. The default configuration is 4 vCPUs and 8 GB of RAM. I named it VMAN.
- Server and Application Monitor (SAM) which is an application installed onto a Windows Server. I created a Windows Server 2012 box with 2 vCPUs and 4 GB of RAM and named it SAM.
Both VMs were set to consume storage on my all-flash Synology array by way of an NFS datastore. As such, the disks were thin provisioned.
The Virtualization Manager appliance was deployed first. There’s really nothing significant to configure on the appliance other than network details (IP, subnet, gateway). Once the appliance was powered on, I browsed to the IP address and went through a simple wizard. I won’t bore you with screenshots of this – just plug in your vCenter credentials and then the vCenter Server details, and away it goes.
Once that’s done, two jobs will kick off – a configuration data job to pull your configuration, and a performance data job to pull performance related stats. The configuration job runs twice a day, and the performance job runs every 10 minutes. These are just default values; you can change them if you wish.
Below are my completed jobs, including a few failed jobs from me goofing up my service account password. 🙂
Now that Virtualization Manager (VMan) is done, you can play around with the product itself or move on to the Server and Application Monitor (SAM) deployment. I tinkered around a bit in VMan but ultimately went ahead with the SAM install to explore what the tools can do together.
Below is the default dashboard view for a VMware Administrator showing off the various alerts, maps, and performance details for the lab.
Server and Application Monitor – Setup and Configuration
Much like the deployment of VMan, installing SAM was very simple. The installer identified a few missing components on my brand new Windows Server 2012 box, namely needing to install the .NET feature and IIS 8, but offered to do all the work for me. I’m 100% fine with less work, so I opted to let the tool do the heavy lifting for me. I was also asked to point the application to a SQL server, and chose my production SQL box named … SQL.
Unfortunately, the install produced an error at the end because I do not have named pipes enabled on my SQL server. Since I didn’t read any of the install guides, I assume this is my own fault. If you run into this situation, fire up SQL Server Configuration Manager and toggle Named Pipes to enabled, as shown below. This also requires a restart of the SQL service.
Once that was resolved, I ran through the SAM installer a second time and was told everything was successful. Browsing the IP address of the SAM server brought me to a set of discovery wizards to figure out what was in my network. Due to having a 50 node licensing limitation, I chose to add my vSphere lab components, a few of my servers and switches, and provided my SNMP configuration. After a few minutes of discovery, my environment was ready for action.
Since I don’t run any physical workloads there’s only 4 nodes showing for the hardware health overview. Those are my 4 ESXi boxes. To make things interesting, I added one application for monitoring – SQL Server (on my SQL box). But I’m not quite done yet – I need to point VMan at SAM so that the two can share information and offer a unified view of my environment.
Virtualization Manager Integration
Before we go further, let me point you to a great post that describes the integration steps in detail. This Thwack post walks through all of the steps. It’s a bit older and focuses on version 6.0, so I’ll add my own take below.
There’s an installer file called SolarWinds-IVIM-v1.10-Full that is bundled with the VMan download. IVIM stands for Integrated Virtual Infrastructure Monitor. Copy this over to your SAM server and run it. This will install or upgrade the IVIM component to the latest version, which was 1.10 in my lab.
The first step will ask you to backup your SAM (Orion) database. Don’t skimp on this – any time a vendor makes you take a backup, it’s probably because there is no rollback. 🙂
Follow along the wizard. I went ahead and accepted defaults, including this screen that asks about services to install.
Towards the end, a review will present the options chosen. If you are curious, mine is below. Note that my database is named “sam” and my SQL server is named “SQL” – your values will vary depending on your names.
Once completed, a happy success screen should appear and offer to open the “Orion” web console, which is just SAM in my case.
The final step is to configure SAM to talk to VMan. Visit Admin > Settings > Virtualization Settings > Setup Virtualization Manager integration. Add the IP, port, and credentials for VMan as I did below:
Now, run a sync job to pull all of the nodes into the database. The job ran fairly quickly due to my rather small environment.
After a few minutes, I noticed 5 new options are now available from the SAM dashboard for Virtualization: Storage, sprawl, map, reporting, and dashboards. This means I did things correctly. Yay! 😉
Whew, that was a fair bit of work. Fortunately, it’s a one time thing to integrate the products and I won’t have to do it again.