Network Monitoring Essentials

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by Joe Dissmeyer | August 2013 | Enterprise Articles

This article created by Joe Dissmeyer, the author of SolarWinds Orion Network Performance Monitor, discusses using Orion NPM to actually monitor the performance of your network.

This article covers monitoring basics, customizing views, network device monitoring (such as routers and switches).

By the end of this article, you will have learned the following:

  • Monitoring basics
  • Customizing views
  • Managing and adding views
  • Editing monitoring resources
  • Router monitoring
  • Switches
  • Wireless monitoring
  • Wireless Controllers and Access Points

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

Monitoring basics

By now, you have already added some devices to your own Orion NPM installation and are ready to dive right in. In all actuality, network monitoring with Orion NPM fundamentally consists of two different actions. The first is Orion NPM polling devices and discovering nodes. The second is an administrator physically logging in to the Orion dashboard and looking at the statistics and node information.

All monitoring is performed by viewing the pages available from the various tabs at the top of the dashboard website. By default, the Orion Summary Home page opens directly after logging into Orion NPM's dashboard. This is the page you will find yourself looking at most of the time while managing and monitoring your network with Orion NPM.

There are several modules on every page of the dashboard that provide you with several pieces of information. If you are not sure what the content of a module contains or if you want more information about what the module is displaying, click on the HELP button at the top-right corner for a detailed explanation.

Map

The most prominent module displayed on the main page is the network map on the right-hand side. It is designed to display the "big picture" of your entire network that is monitored by Orion NPM. Questions that are quickly answered by the network map is, "Are some nodes up?", "Are some nodes down?", "Are there any network performance issues (slowness or packet loss) between WAN links?", or "Are there any network performance issues that I should be aware of?" The network map can point you in the right direction quickly if a network issue needs to be resolved. A picture truly does speak a thousand words!

The map that is displayed after a fresh installation of Orion NPM is the sample map. The sample map is only a placeholder and does not display any of your nodes on it. To create and customize your own network maps, you need to use the Orion Network Atlas utility.

All Nodes and All Groups

The next module on the Home Summary page that will strike your attention is All Nodes. All Nodes displays every node that is being monitored by Orion NPM.

On the right-hand side of the screen underneath the network map is the All Groups module.

This displays any groups that I have configured in Orion NPM. This module operates in the same way that the All Nodes module does, aside from the fact that it shows the status of an entire custom group instead of just the nodes themselves.

The view is configurable, but by default, the module displays first by vendor, its up or down status, and then the host name. If the host name is not known, then it will display the IP address of the node. A sample of my own network lab is displayed in the previous screenshot. All Nodes displays what nodes are up and what nodes are not responding to Orion NPM.

All Triggered Alerts

Continuing down to the left-hand side of the page is the All Triggered Alerts module.

This module is very helpful in that it displays the time and date, node title, current value if available (such as Active ), and the description of the latest alerts that Orion NPM triggered. In the preceding example, you can see that on March 11, 2013 at 8:52 A.M., Orion NPM detected high packet loss on the JD-1130AP node. Then one minute later Orion NPM triggered an alert that it could no longer communicate with the node. To see more details about that specific node, click on the node name to open the Node Details View page.

Event Summary and Last 25 Events

The next modules are Event Summary and Last 25 Events.

This module displays a summary list for all types of events related to network monitoring and only displays events from the last 24 hours. It is useful when needing a quick rundown of a total number of events that occurred throughout the day.

Since this is only a summary of events from the day, there is very little information provided. To see more information on a specific line of item in the Event Summary module, click on one of the event titles to open a filtered view in the Events web page. Clicking on an event title, such as 5 Alert Triggered shown in the preceding example, will open the Events page with a filter to only display Alert Triggered. Clicking on 2 Node Down event will open the Events page with a filter to only display Node Downinformation.

The final module on the Home Summary page is Last 25 Events and shows more event information in a historical context. A sample of what it displays is shown in the following screenshot:

From the example, you can see that someone caused quite a few events within a short amount of time. On the JD-3500XL node , you can see that a FastEthernet port was administratively disabled, a port labeled Wireless Trunkcame online, the JD-1130AP node's packet loss rose above the loss threshold, and other important information. The downside of this module is that it will only show the last 25 events but it is extremely useful in assisting with troubleshooting a recent issue.

Search nodes

Search Nodes is a useful module where you can search a node to quickly access that node's detail view. For example, if I can't remember the name of a node but I do know where it is located, I can search the location description instead of clicking through all of the nodes until I find it. In the following example, I am searching for all nodes in the Orlando location.

All of my nodes in the Orlando location are displayed in the search results. From this point, I can click on the node name to open the Node Details View page.

Custom

Custom Object Resource is a module that allows you to create your own modules by displaying polling data of your choice. Click on the Configure this resource link, or the EDIT button, to view the contents.

If there are some modules or resources that you do not need to view or certain pieces of information that you want to add to your pages, you can do so by customizing the web pages and modules.

Customizing views

A view in Orion NPM is the same thing as a web page. Views are displayed when clicking on a link in the menu bar, when clicking on a node in the dashboard, or when clicking on an interface in the nodes detail view. Each module on each page can be fully re-arranged as you see fit. It is possible that you want to view the network map on the left-hand side column instead of the right-hand side on the home summary page. You can make that change from the view editor.

Looking at the Orion Web Administration page, the Views module is where we are going to focus our attention.

In it are the following three links:

  • Manage Views
  • Add New View
  • Views by Device Type

Manage Views

Clicking on Manage Views will display the Manage Views editor. Orion NPM sets up default views in an out-of-the-box installation. To edit a view, highlight it and click on the Edit button.

There is no Save or Undo button when editing views in Orion NPM. Once a change has been made to a view, it is permanent. Make note of what settings are in the view you are editing before changing them in case you wish to revert back.

To demonstrate how to customize a page view , the following is an example of how to do so with the Orion Summary Home page. In this example I will perform the following:

  • Move the Map from the right-hand side column to the left-hand side
  • Gather All Nodes, All Groups, and All Dependencies together in the right-hand side column under All Nodes
  • Place All Triggered Alerts, Event Summary, and Last 25 Events under the Map on the left-hand side column
  • Remove the Search module
  • Set the columns to be of equal width

Perform the following steps to execute these tasks:

  1. Highlight Map,All Triggered Alerts, and Event Summary in Column 2 then click on the left arrow button.
  2. Hold the Ctrl key on the keyboard in order to select multiple options in the column.

  3. Reorder the Column 1 list by using the up arrow button until Map is first on the list.
  4. Highlight All Nodes in Column 1, then click on the right arrow button to move it to Column 2.

  5. Reorder the Column 2 list by using the up arrow button until All Nodes is first on the list.

  6. Highlight Search Nodes. Click on the red X to remove it from the column.

  7. Click on the Edit button next to the column widths.

  8. Change the column widths for columns 1 and 2 to 500. Ensure that the Layout is set for two columns. Click on SUBMIT when finished.

Your page view should now look like the following screenshot:

The name of the view is also the web page's title. I decided not to change the name of the view for the sake of simplicity. Also, I did not apply a view limitation.

The Orion Summary Home view should not have a view limitation applied since it is the main view page to Orion NPM. Applying a view limitation may omit important node information, or the limitation may render the page useless.

Click on the PREVIEW button to preview the view layout in a new web browser window. It will look similar to the following screenshot:

Since I was satisfied with my changes, I clicked DONE. As you can see, the options available when editing a view are extremely straightforward. You can change the resources (or modules) for each column, edit the column sizes, and attach view limitations. The only item you cannot change when customizing a view is the type.

When you change the name of a view, only the title is changed. Its contents will not change.

Add New View

Orion NPM already has a great deal of default pages and default views associated with each page. However, there may be cases where a default view will not suffice and you want to create your own. The following are a few examples:

  • Create a view that consists of a specific customer's equipment
  • Create a view for all volumes in a VSAN
  • Create a custom view for all monitored UPS units
  • Create a custom view that lists all nodes in a single location

The list could go on, but you can see that there are several reasons to create your own view.

Defining the name of the view is the first step. The name you define will be the title of the page when it is saved. Make sure it is a meaningful name and one that makes sense for what you are creating.

Second, you need to choose what type of view it will be. There are several different types of views and all suit different purposes. The list of view types is as follows:

  • Summary: Displays network-wide information. Summary is the default option. If you will be creating a view that includes multiple hardware types or locations, the Summary type will be your best option.
  • Node Details: Displays information about a single node. This is the option that you would choose when creating a customized view page for a hardware device type. For example, you could create a custom view specifically for firewalls.
  • Volume Details: Displays information about a single volume. Depending on your needs, you may want to create a custom view for a volume within one of your servers.
  • Group Details: Displays information about groups.
  • Interface Details: Displays information about a single interface.
  • VSAN Details: Displays information about a single virtual storage area network device.
  • UCS Chassis Details: Displays information about a Cisco Unified Computing System chassis. If you needed to create a customized view for a UCS node, this is the view type to choose.
  • Virtualization Summary: Displays information about your VMware infrastructure.
  • Cluster Details: Displays information about a VMware cluster.
  • Datacenter Details: Displays information about a VMware Datacenter.

Third, you need to select the resources for each column. These are the exact same resources available when editing a view as discussed in the Manage Views section.

The last item that you can de fi ne is a view limitation. A view limitation is optional and it will limit the network devices that can be displayed within this view. An example of needing to apply a view limitation would be to limit this page to only display nodes from a specific hardware manufacturer. Or, you could add a limitation to only display nodes that reside in a specific location. The reasons why you would want to apply a limitation are virtually endless. Just keep in mind that view limitations are optional and are not required in order to create a new view.

Only one limitation can be applied to a view. It is not possible to apply multiple view limitations.

The following is an example of how to create a custom view page with a limitation applied to only display access points:

  1. In the Add New View wizard, enter the name Access Points and choose Summary as the view type. Click on SUBMIT to continue.

  2. Click on the Edit button next to the column widths. Select the two columns and set the widths of columns 1 and 2 to 500 and 400 respectively.

  3. Add resources to Column 1 by clicking on the plus button.

  4. The Add Resources page appears. Expand Node Lists – All Nodes and Grouped Node Lists and place a check mark next to All Nodes. Click on SUBMIT to continue.

  5. Add resources to Column 2 by clicking on the plus button.

  6. Expand Summary Reports – Various Reports Showing Problem Areas and place a check mark next to Current Traffic on All Interfaces . Click on SUBMIT to continue.

  7. Scroll down to View Limitation and click on the Edit button.

  8. Select Group of Nodes, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on CONTINUE.

  9. Place a check mark next to each node. In this example, the hostnames JD-1130AP-1 and JD-1131AP-2 are access points I am applying this new view against. Click on SUBMIT to apply the limitation.

  10. Click on DONE to finish.

The following is how the new custom view will look like based on the example provided.

This is only one way to create a custom view for Access Points, and there are plenty of other resources that I could have added to the page. Also, I could have chosen a Node Detail view type instead of Summary type. This is only one simple example of how to create a new view in Orion NPM. I encourage you to experiment with creating your own custom views to become more familiar with the process.

Views by Device Type

Views By Device Type is where you can customize which page displays when looking at a specific type of node. For example, I can force Orion NPM to display a different Node Details View page for a specific model of hardware. This is helpful for when Orion NPM does not have a details view page for a hardware type, such as a UPS unit that can be monitored via SNMP. Only device types that are currently being monitored by Orion NPM will be displayed when editing views by device type.

You cannot apply custom views against a specific hardware type unless Orion NPM is currently monitoring that type of device.

Most options have the (default) option selected. The default view for almost every node monitored by Orion NPM is the Node Details View. Some exceptions to this rule are VMware nodes where ESX Host Details is automatically chosen.

Menu bars

When working with the Orion dashboard, you have already seen the tabs and menu bars at the top of the page. All of the menu bar types can be customized as you see fit. You can even create your own custom menu bars. To customize menu bars, click on the Customize Menu Bars link in Orion Web Administration.

Menu bars are assigned to one of the three tabs at the top of the dashboard. As shown in the following screenshot, there are five different menu bars from an out-of-the-box installation:

Orion NPM includes five default menu bars: Admin, Default, Guest, Network_TabMenu, and Virtualization_TabMenu. Admin is the only menu bar that cannot be deleted from Orion NPM but it can be edited. To edit a menu bar, click on the Edit button under its title and the Edit Menu Bar wizard will be displayed. Simply drag-and-drop the available item you wish to add to the menu bar from the right-hand side to the left-hand side column. When finished, click on the SUBMIT button. When creating a brand new menu bar, the same editing process applies.

In addition, menu bars are assigned to a user account's view settings through the Manage Users wizard. This means that when you create a new menu bar, you will need to assign it to a user account from the Manage User Accounts wizard.

You cannot create your own tabs (that is Home, Network, Virtualization) in Orion NPM. You can only edit and create menu bars and assign them to a tab.

Editing Resources

While Orion NPM's default views will suit almost every need out-of-the-box, it is still a great idea to dive into all of the view settings of a module and view what you are able to customize. Every module in the dashboard allows an administrator to edit the module in some way by clicking on the EDIT button on the top-right corner of the resource.

As an example, open the All Nodes view in the home summary screen, then click on the EDIT button to be presented with a list of options.

Every single module in Orion NPM can be edited, to a certain limit. You can always edit the title of the module as well as the subtitle in case the default descriptions are difficult to understand. For All Nodes, you can edit the grouping list for up to three levels. An example of creating a view for geographic locations is to set the first level to City, then leaving the second and third levels set to None. This will display only the city name at the top level, then the node names underneath. In the following example, it is easy to see how simple this type of view can be:

For medium to large network sizes, a more appropriate view option is to set the first level to Location then level two to Department. Feel free to set the grouping display to one that will suit your needs.

The remaining settings in the Edit Resource page are:

  • Put nodes with null values for the grouping property
  • Remember Expanded Groups
  • Filter Nodes (SQL)

When Orion NPM does not know a specific property for a node, such as its location or department, the Put nodes with null values for the grouping property setting tells Orion NPM how to group these nodes. There are two options available. We can place nodes In the [Unknown] group or At the bottom of the list, in no group.

Placing nodes in the [Unknown] group will have Orion NPM display these nodes with unknown properties (or blank properties) with the group title [Unknown], which will be displayed at the top. The following is an example:

The second option At the bottom of the list, in no group will do just that. Any node that has unknown or blank values will be placed at the bottom of the node list in the generic Unknown group.

By default, the Orion dashboard website will trigger a browser page refresh every few minutes. When the page refreshes, if you a expanded a view in a module (a.k.a drill-down view by clicking on the plus button) the drill-down view will reset. The checkbox for Remember Expanded Groups is enabled by default and it is a good idea to leave this checked.

The final option is Filter Nodes (SQL). This is an advanced feature of Orion NPM where you can use an explicit SQL string as a filter for these views. For example, use the filter Status<>1 to filter out all nodes that are operationally up and only view nodes that are down in the All Nodes module. SQL filters are helpful when creating custom views for administrative personnel. For more SQL filter examples, expand Show Filter Examples . Also, you can click on the Help button in the module for more examples and guidance on how to perform SQL queries.

Just as in creating new views, you may have noticed by now that there is no cancel or revert option when changing a view setting in a module or a page. If you made a setting change but do not want to save the new setting, simply click on the Back button in your web browser to go back to the previous page without saving the new settings. Make sure that you don't change a view setting that you didn't intend to.

Customization

Orion NPM allows administrators to change a few aspects of the dashboard interface from the Customize module in Orion Web Administration.

There are three different customization options available; Customize Menu Bars, Color Scheme, and External Websites.

Color Scheme

Orion NPM includes several color schemes that can be changed on the fly. To change the dashboard color scheme, click on the Color Scheme link in Orion Web Administration, choose the Color Scheme option, and click on the SUBMIT button. Personally, I always use the Orion Default (white) because I can never decide which color to use!

External Websites

The External Websites option in the Customize module is an interesting one. This option enables an administrator to add some external website to the Orion NPM dashboard as if it is a part of the dashboard itself. For example, if you have an internal Microsoft SharePoint team site on your domain, you could add it to the Admin menu bar and have the team site act as if it is a part of the console. When adding an external website, it must be in URL format such as https://URL. The following is an example of how to add an external website:

  1. Click on External Websites in Orion Web Administration and then click on the ADD button.

  2. Enter the Menu Title, Page Title, URL of the website, and which Menu Bar you want to apply the link to. In the following example, I am adding a link to www.SolarWinds.com on the NETWORK tab at the top of the dashboard page. Click on OK to finish.

The external web link will appear now appear in the NETWORK tab. When clicking on the link, the web page will appear as if it is embedded in the Orion dashboard.

This sums up the discussion on customizing web views, modules, and other aspects of the dashboard. Now, we will discuss how to use Orion NPM to monitor your devices.

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Routers and Firewalls

Knowledge of how traffic is flowing in and out of your routers is critical to maintaining network performance throughout your organization. Verifying sufficient throughput for your users is the entire point of monitoring routers and firewalls with Orion NPM. The SNMP agent installed on your devices send all types of statistical information to Orion NPM. When monitoring routers and firewalls, the items that you should be most interested in are their actual interfaces.

The default modules when monitoring routers in the dashboard include the following:

  • Multiple Object Chart
  • Average Response Time & Packet Loss (Radial Display)
  • Average CPU Load & Memory Utilization
  • Node Details
  • Average Response Time & Packet Loss (Bar Chart)
  • Min\Max\Average of Average CPU Load
  • Event Summary
  • Polling Details
  • Availability Statistics
  • Custom Properties for Nodes
  • Current Percent Utilization of Each Interface
  • Virtual Machine Details
  • Disk Volumes
  • Active Alerts on this Node

There is one module that is not displayed on the Node Details View by default, and that is the Network Latency & Packet Loss.

This resource is very similar to the Average Response Time & Packet Loss module .But there is one key difference; it can display recorded data over an extended period of time (up to several months). I recommend removing the Average Response Time & Packet Loss module from the Node Details Viewand adding the Network Latency & Packet Loss resource instead.

When monitoring routers and firewalls, the items that you want to keep an eye on the most are as follows:

  • Response Time
  • Packet Loss
  • Throughput/Utilization
  • Interface Monitoring

By default, Average Response Time and Packet Loss statistics for devices are displayed in two different resources on the Node Details View page. The first is a radial dial and the second is a bar chart. The radial dial displays captured data from the last time the device was polled and are statistics for the device as a whole, not for particular interfaces. These are the statistics that will clearly indicate if there is a network performance issue. The radial gauges displays the current response time and any recorded packet loss for this interface at this moment in time.

The bar chart displays the response time and packet loss over a period of time. In the following example, you can see that there are some very short instances where the response time spikes up, but goes down quickly. It is important to note that the left-hand side of this bar chart displays the highest millisecond response and does not necessarily indicate a serious problem on your network. The default view for the bar chart is 24 hours. If you want to view a larger time period, such as 7 days or 30 days, click on the View Options drop down and choose an appropriate option.

There are great deals of things that can hog up network bandwidth and network resources on your network including the basic TCP/IP overhead. Bandwidth is always limited and is an expensive commodity. So, measuring network throughput is another key aspect of router monitoring with Orion NPM. First, we do this by viewing the Current Percent Utilization of Each Interface resource on the Node Details View page.

In the following example, you can see that I have two interfaces on this specific router. The first is a WAN link to my Chicago site. The second is a WAN link to Seattle. Both TRANSMIT and RECEIVE are sitting at zero, which indicates that each interface are underutilized and basically unused. Each interface is set so that the maximum TRANSIT is 100 Mbps and RECEIVE is 1000 Mbps. To view the statistics for a specific interface, click on the interface's description to display the Interface Details view.

The Interface Details page is where most of the magic happens when monitoring router interfaces. On this page are the following modules:

  • Percent Utilization – Radial Gauges
  • Min/Max/Average bps In/Out
  • Interface Details
  • Percent Utilization – Line Chart
  • In/Out Errors and Discards
  • List of Interface Charts
  • Total Bytes Transferred
  • Interface Polling Details
  • Interface Errors & Discards
  • Maximum Traffic Today
  • Min/Max/Average packets In/Out
  • Event Summary for this Interface

Every one of these resources is fairly self-explanatory and it is for that reason I am not going to explore every single module in detail. However, I will mention a few critical ones.

The Min/Max/Average bps In/Out and Total Bytes Transferred are the resources that will display real-time usage of the interface. These modules help with performance troubleshooting by displaying bandwidth trends over a period of time (the default of which is 24 hours). An example of the Min/Max/Average bps In/Out display is shown in the following screenshot:

Switches

Switches are always the first point of contact for each device in your network, so if there is an issue, you want to be the first to know about it. Monitoring switches in Orion NPM is similar to monitoring routers, but with a few additional requirements.

When opening the Node Details View page for a switch in Orion NPM, you will find that all of the modules for monitoring a router are included here as well. You can view the response time and packet loss data, CPU and memory load, and more. However, the All Interfaces on the Selected Node may be your most important module when monitoring a switch. The All Interfaces on the Selected Node module displays all of the interfaces that are being monitored by Orion NPM. Take a look at the following screenshot:

There are two types of ports being monitored in this example. The first is a Proprietary Virtual interface type and the second is an Ethernet type. The first interface type is actually an EtherChannel port on the switch. Any type of virtual port will be noted in the type section of the display grid. PortChannels and Cisco StackWise ports are considered to be virtual ports in Orion NPM while VLANs and standard Ethernet ports are considered to be standard Ethernet port types. Monitoring PortChannels and stack ports is just like monitoring any other interface on a device. The same goes for monitoring VLANs.

If Orion NPM is monitoring StackWise ports on Cisco switches, Orion NPM will not display any type of statistical data for them. This is because StackWise ports connect multiple Cisco switches as if they are one and only provide high-speed throughput for each connected switch via a virtual backplane . However, it is still a good idea to monitor stack ports, as Orion NPM can detect the up/down state of that port which, in effect, can indicate if one of the stacked switches is experiencing an issue.

The default modules available, when monitoring switches in the dashboard, include all of the same modules from routers and firewalls. However there is one new module applied at the bottom of the view, NPM Network Topology.

The NPM Network Topology resource is a visual representation of which interfaces from monitored nodes are physically connected to each other. It displays how they are connected by their interfaces.

As you can see in the example, the access point JD-1130AP-1 has its FastEthernet0 interface physically connected to the FastEthernet0/2 interface on the JD-3500XL switch.

The reason why you may see an Unknowninterface in NPM Network Topology is because Orion NPM must be monitoring that interface on the node. So for example, if you are monitoring a Windows Server but you are not monitoring its physical interfaces, NPM Network Topology will not display which interfaces are connected to the server.

Wireless

Orion NPM is a very useful application for monitoring your wireless infrastructure . It can tap into any 802.11 IEEE compliant wireless controllers or access points and provide critical information such as an access point's status, radio channels, Wi-Fi utilization, connected client details, rogue access points, signal strength and power, and more. The following screenshot displays some of the information that is captured by Orion NPM.

There are three different types of wireless devices that can be monitored with Orion NPM:

  • Wireless autonomous access points
  • Wireless controllers
  • Wireless thin APs

Wireless autonomous access points , or thick or heavy access points, are wireless devices that can be managed and configured individually. Wireless thin APs depend on some type of centralized management device, called a wireless controller or wireless LAN controller, to retrieve its configuration. And the final type is the wireless controller itself, which is a centralized management server for thin wireless APs. Orion NPM has a view for each type of wireless node and automatically assigns the correct web view when the device has been added to the Orion database.

When a wireless controller is added to the Orion NPM database, all of the access points that are registered to that controller will be imported as well. Controllers and access points will be linked to each other in the Wireless summary view only after topology and interface data has been collected by the poller. For example, imagine that you have a Cisco wireless controller with five access points associated to it. You need to add the controller and all of the access points to the database before Orion NPM will poll each node.

Orion NPM does a pretty good job of auto-detecting wireless nodes and assigning them the correct web views in the dashboard. However, it is possible that an incorrect web view will be assigned to the node. If this happens, you will need to correct the web view options for that node. To do this, simply change the default view for that device type in Orion Web Administration. Follow the next set of instructions to change a web view per device type :

  1. Open Orion Web Administration.
  2. Under Views , click on Views by Device Type.

  3. All of the various device types that have been detected by Orion NPM will be displayed. Choose a web view for the object type you wish to change. In the following example, I have changed the Meraki Networks, Inc. object type to display the Wireless Autonomous AP web view:

  4. Click on Submit to save your settings.

    Once wireless nodes have been added to the Orion NPM database, the polled data can be viewed in the Wireless Summary View from the NETWORK tab in the dashboard.

Wireless controllers and access points

Most of the details about the wireless device are shown in the display grid. Under the Access Point column, a red icon indicates that a node is no longer responding to the Orion pooler while a green wireless icon indicates the node is reporting back to Orion NPM without an issue. The AP's IP address, AP type, list of SSIDs, channels, and current connected client count is displayed. If there are any connected wireless clients on an access point, you can click on the carrot on the left-hand side of the access point's name. Doing this will display all currently connected clients, their MAC address, assigned IP address, signal strength, the date and time of the connection, current data rate, and inbound and outbound traffic statistics.

Choose the Group By option on the left-hand side pane to decide how you want to view the display pane of the Wireless Summary View. There are multiple group types available as shown in the following screenshot:

The No Grouping option is usually the default display option for this view. No Grouping will only display access points, not wireless controllers. The only way to view wireless controllers in the Wireless Summary View is through the Controllers group.

The Controllers group is helpful when needing to see which AP's are associated to which wireless controller that is being monitored by Orion NPM. The number next to each wireless controller indicates the AP count. Orion NPM classifies wireless controllers in the same category as a switch. You will find the controller in the Network Summary view under All Nodes.

Another useful display group is Wireless Type. As stated before, Orion NPM can monitor two different types of access points, Autonomous APs and Thin APs. Thus, there are two wireless type classes for this display group. All of the other display groups are self-explanatory.

The Controllers display group is a unique one where two very different group classes are shown; Autonomous APs and Rogue APs. Since an Autonomous AP is one that does not require a wireless controller to operate, this has its own class in the Controllers display group. If your wireless controller, and/or access point, has Wireless Intrusion Protection System(WIPS) features, that data will populate in the Rogue APs class. You cannot isolate rogue access points from Orion NPM. You must do that from your wireless controller.

To view the details on an access point, such as the wireless client history and interface and radio details, click on the access point in the main pane. A view similar to the Node Details View page will open, but only with a few extra resources that show wireless information.

The Wireless Thin AP view does not show node details such as packet loss and CPU/Memory usage, since they report back only to a wireless controller. However, Autonomous APs will show CPU and packet loss statistics because they are standalone devices. The resources that are special for both the Autonomous AP and Thin AP views in Orion NPM are as follows:

  • Access Point Errors
  • History Wireless Clients
  • Active Wireless Clients

Access Point Errors displays any type of Energy Deferred Errors, Ack Failures, CRC Frame Errors, Transmit Errors, and Frame Check Sequence Errors per minute.

The History Wireless Clients resource displays a complete history of all wireless clients that have connected to the access point within a 24-hour period. Displayed is the IP address of the client, which SSID it is connected to, the MAC address, latest signal strength, when it got connected, and when it got disconnected. This resource will also display how much data the client transmitted and received.

All Active Wireless Clients shows the current list of clients connected to the access point at this moment in time. It displays the same data as the History Wireless Clients resource aside from the current data rate the client has.

You may have noticed that the link to customize the page is missing on the top- right corner of the Wireless Summary View page. This is because the Wireless Summary View is one that cannot be edited or manipulated. You can always create your own customized view if there is some type of specific data that you want to display (such as a limited view), or you can edit the Autonomous AP and Thin AP views.

Wireless clients

The second display type for the Wireless Summary View is Show Clients.

This display type will list every currently connected device for all monitored access points in Orion NPM and it is similar to the information in the Active Wireless Clients resource described in the previous section. It is a simple but powerful display type due to the data that it can show about a client. This is a very helpful view when trying to troubleshoot wireless performance issues, or when trying to find out who/what/where is sucking up all of your wireless bandwidth.

Summary

In this article, we discussed the management and customization of web views, router and switch monitoring, and wireless monitoring. By now you can see how and why SolarWinds Orion NPM is such a popular network monitoring system and why it is loved by thousands of network and server administrators worldwide. But we are not done discussing monitoring just yet!

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SolarWinds Orion Network Performance Monitor An essential guide for installing, implementing, and calibrating SolarWinds Orion NPM book and ebook.
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About the Author :


Joe Dissmeyer

Joe Dissmeyer has a strong background in enterprise-class software and IT systems which include VMware, Windows Server, Windows Desktop, Exchange Server, and Cisco. He holds multiple IT certifications and has an A.S. degree in Computer Information Science. Joe currently works as part of a team of network engineers for a company in central Florida. Prior to accepting this position, he was working as a Senior Technician for a healthcare provider, a Domain Administrator for a small college, and a Service Desk Specialist for a Fortune 100 company. Joe is well versed in server, desktop, and network administration.

Aside from his full-time job, Joe is a managed service provider for a few small businesses in central Florida where he provides various remote and onsite IT consulting services. He volunteers his knowledge and skills by participating in the Microsoft Answers forums, the Spiceworks IT Professional Community, and frequently posts troubleshooting and tech articles on his website at www.joedissmeyer.com. Joe is an active member of his local community and shares the visual and audio setup responsibilities with his church's tech ministry team every week.

Joe's specialties are the Windows desktop, Windows Server engineering, operating system deployment, network troubleshooting, and network administration. His biggest strength is that he has a deep understanding of how information technology systems work and how they affect a business.

You can contact Joe through his website at www.joedissmeyer.com, or via e-mail at joe@joedissmeyer.com.

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