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    Has this situation happened to you? You've dedicated your professional career -- and let's be honest -- your life, on a subject, only to find “that's not good enough.” Maybe it comes from having too many irons in the fire, or it could be that there are just too many fires to be chasing.


    Ericsson (1990) says that it takes 10,000 hours (20 hours for 50 weeks a year for ten years = 10,000) of deliberate practice to become an expert in almost anything.


    I’m sure you’ve heard that Ericsson figure before, but in any normal field, the expectation is that you will gain and garner that expertise over the course of 10 years. How many of you can attest to spending 20 hours a day for multiple days to even multiple weeks in a row as you tackle whatever catastrophe the business demands, often driven by a lack of planning on their part? (Apparently, a lack of planning IS our emergency when it comes to keeping that paycheck coming in!)


    I got my start way back in Security and Development (the latter of which I won’t admit if you ask me to code anything :)). As time progressed, the basic underpinnings of security began delving into other spaces. The message became, “If you want to do ANYTHING in security, you need networking skills or you won’t get very far.” To understand the systems you’re working on, you have to have a firm grasp of the underlying Operating Systems and kernels. But if you’re doing that, you better understand the applications. Oh, and in the late 1990s, VMware came out, which made performing most of this significantly easier and more scalable. Meanwhile, understanding what and how people do the things they do only made sense if you understood System Operations. And nearly every task along the way wasn’t a casual few hours here or there, especially if your goal was to immerse yourself in something to truly understand it. Doing so would quickly become a way of life, and before long you'd quickly find yourself striving for and achieving expertise in far too many areas, updating your skill sets along the way.


    As my career moved on, I found there to be far more overlap of specializations and subject matter expertise, rather than clearly delineated silos. Where this would come to head as a strong positive was when I worked with organizations as a SME in storage, virtualization, networking and security, finding that the larger the organization, the more these groups would refuse to talk to each other. More specifically, if there was a problem, the normal workflow or blame assignment would look something like this picture. Feel free to provide your own version of events that you experience.



    Given this very atypical approach to support by finger-pointing, having expertise in multiple domains would become a strong asset since security people will only talk to other security people. Okay, not always, but also, yes, very much always. And if you understand what they’re saying and where they’re coming from, pointing out, “Hey, do you have a firewall here?” means a lot more coming from someone who understands policy than from one of the other silos, which they seemingly have nothing but disdain for. Often, a simple network question posed by one network person to another could move mountains, because each party respects the ability or premise of the other. Storage and virtualization folks typically take the brunt of the damage because they regularly have to prove that problems aren’t their fault because they’re the easiest point of blame due to storage pool consolidation or hardware pool consolidation. Finally, the application guys simply won’t talk to us half the time, let alone mention that they made countless changes without understanding what WE did wrong to make their application suddenly stop working the way it should. (Spoiler alert: It was an application problem.)


    Have you found yourself pursuing one or more subject matter domains of expertise, either just get your job done, or to navigate the shark-infested waters of office politics? Share your stories!

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    Raise your hand if you have witnessed firsthand rogue or shadow IT. This is when biz, dev, or marketing goes directly to cloud service providers for infrastructure services instead of going through your IT organization. Let's call this Rogue Wars.


    Recently, I was talking to a friend in the industry about just such a situation. They were frustrated with non-IT teams, especially marketing and web operations, procuring services from other people’s servers. These rogue operators were accessing public cloud service providers to obtain infrastructure services for their mobile and web app development teams. My friend's biggest complaint was that his team was still responsible for supporting all aspect of ops, including performance optimization, troubleshooting, and remediation, even though they had zero purviews or access into the rogue IT services.


    They were challenged by the cloud’s promise of simplified self-service. The fact that it's readily available, agile, and scalable was killing them softly with complexities that their IT processes were ill prepared for. For example, the non-IT teams did not leverage proper protocol to retire those self-service virtual machines (VMs) and infrastructure resources that form the application stack.That meant that they were paying for resources that no longer did work for the organization. Tickets were also being opened for slow application performance, but the IT teams had zero visibility to the public cloud resources. For this reason, they could only let the developers know that the issue was not within the purview of internal IT. Unfortunately, they were handed the responsibility of resolving the performance issue.


    This is how the easy button of cloud services is making IT organizations feel the complex burn. Please share your stories of rogue/shadow IT in the comments below. How did you overcome it, or are you still cleaning up the mess?

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    Just wanted to take a fresh poll and see if there's any new gadgets or gear you'd like to see given away in a future thwack mission.  I've listed several categories below, place your vote and let us know the specific item(s) you'd like to suggest in the comments!

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  • 07/28/16--01:26: Adding New Polling Engine?
  • I would appreciate if anyone could suggest me regarding Adding New Polling Engine?

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    I currently use the following to unmanage a node from the API.


    curl -k -u user: -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d @"unmanage.txt" "https://x:17778/Solarwinds/InformationService/v3/json/Invoke/Orion.Nodes/Unmanage"


    unmanage.txt -

    ["N:19","04-26-2017 12:00:00 PM","04-27-2017 02:00:00 PM","false"]


    I tried using this since transactions have an ID assigned -


    ["T:2","04-26-2017 12:00:00 PM","04-27-2017 02:00:00 PM","false"]


    which returned a clear error -


    {"Message":"Only nodes can be unmanaged through this interface. T:2 does not refer to a node.","ExceptionType":"System.NotSupportedException","FullException":"System.NotSupportedException: Only nodes can be unmanaged through this interface. T:2 does not refer to a node.\u000d\u000a  at SolarWinds.InformationService.Verb.VerbExecutor.Invoke(Object hostInstance, Object[] parameters)\u000d\u000a  at SolarWinds.InformationService.Verb.VerbExecutorContext.Invoke()\u000d\u000a  at SolarWinds.InformationService.Core.InformationService.Invoke[T](String entity, String verb, Action`1 setupParameters, Func`2 extractReturnValue)"}19


    I then tried referencing the table / modifying the call slightly


    curl -k -u user: -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d @"unmanage.txt" "https://x:17778/Solarwinds/InformationService/v3/json/Invoke/Orion.SEUM.Transactions/Unmanage"


    ["T:2","04-26-2017 12:00:00 PM","04-27-2017 02:00:00 PM","false"]


    which simply returned 'null'.


    Could anyone point me in the right direction on how I can unmanage a transaction through the API?

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    Great to see the SolarWinds development team have added a "Load Balancing" section/feature to NPM V12.0, but the utter travesty to ONLY include F5 was very disappointing.


    Would like to see Citrix Netscaler also available !  Please add it, make it available, thanks !

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  • 04/25/17--12:04: Solarwinds or SolarWinds?
  • I write a lot of documentation.  I mention Solarwinds (meant to describe the entire suite or sometimes just a single module in which case I'll specify the module) a lot in that documentation.  Or is it SolarWinds?  Or solarwinds?  Or...?

    I see it referred to differently in various places.

    What is the standard?

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    Hybrid IT continues to grow as more agencies embrace the cloud, so I wanted to share this blog written last year by our former Chief Information Officer, Joel Dolisy, which I think is still very valid and worth a read.



    Most federal IT professionals acknowledge that the cloud is and will be a driving component behind their agencies’ long-term successes; no one expects to move all of their IT infrastructures to the cloud.


    Because of regulations and security concerns, many administrators feel it’s best to keep some level of control over their data and applications. They like the efficiencies that the cloud brings, but they aren’t convinced that it’s suitable for everything.


    Hybrid IT environments offer benefits, but they can also introduce greater complexity and management challenges. Teams from different disciplines must come together to manage various aspects of in-house and cloud-based solutions. Managers must develop special skillsets that go well beyond traditional IT, and new tools must be deployed to closely monitor this complex environment.


    Here are a few strategies managers can implement to close the gap between the old and the new:


    1. Use tools to gain greater visibility

    Administrators should deploy tools that supply single access points to metrics, alerts, and other data collected from applications and workloads, allowing IT staff to remediate, troubleshoot, and optimize applications, regardless of where they may reside.


    2. Use a micro-service architecture and automation

    Hybrid IT models will require agencies to become more lean, agile, and cost effective. Traditional barriers to consumption must be overcome and administrators should gain a better understanding of APIs, distributed systems, and overall IT architectures.


    Administrators must also prepare to automatically scale, move, and remediate services.


    3. Make monitoring a core discipline

    Maintaining a holistic view of your entire infrastructure allows IT staff to react quickly to potential issues, enabling a more proactive strategy.


    4. Remember that application migration is just the first step

    Migration is important, but the management following initial move might be even more critical. Managers must have a core understanding of an application’s key events and performance metrics and be prepared to remediate and troubleshoot issues.


    5. Get used to working with distributed architectures

    Managers must become accustomed to working with various providers handling remediation as a result of outages or other issues. The result is less control, but greater agility, scalability, and flexibility.


    6. Develop key technical skills and knowledge

    Agency IT professionals need to learn service-oriented architectures, automation, vendor management, application migration, distributed architectures, API and hybrid IT monitoring, and more.


    7. Adopt DevOps to deliver better service

    DevOps breaks down barriers between teams, allowing them to pool resources to solve problems and deliver updates and changes faster and more efficiently. This makes IT services more agile and scalable.


    8. Brush up on business skills

    Administrators will need to hone their business-savvy sides. They must know how to negotiate contracts, become better project managers, and establish the technical expertise necessary to understand and manage various cloud services.


    Managing hybrid IT environments takes managers outside their comfort zones. They must commit to learning and honing new skills, and use the monitoring and analytics tools at their disposal. It’s a great deal to ask, but it’s the best path forward for those who want to create a strong bridge between the old and the new.


    Find the full article on Government Computer News.

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    We use NPM as our main console, single source of information for our NOC. In order for this to function we need to be able to receive alerts from all of the other tools the organization owns.


    I would like to see an service within NPM that can receive an email then parse out the sender, header, and body of the message and then generate an alert from any of the three items. I don't care about attachments, only text.

    It could be very similar to the existing Syslog alerts.


    1. Many external devices that I try to integrate into Solarwinds for alerting only support email. For example a UPS, or a security camera

    2. On a busy WAN Email(TCP) is more reliable than syslog/snmp (UDP). I have had some cases where my alerts were getting lost in the past

    3. Most importantly, Email can make it through the firewall. If I am using a external monitoring solution (Solarwinds owns a lot of these) I can receive alerts that originated from the internet without needing to make a bunch of special

        firewall rules.


    I currently do this, but on a separate machine that reads the email then syslogs the alert over to NPM. So every alert needs to be created twice once on my Linux machine and then again as a Syslog rule in NPM.

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  • 04/21/17--08:04: Solarwinds and DCIM
  • We invested into iPDUs and DCIM solution from Sunbird (formerly Raritan): PowerIQ & dcTrack, for all of our locations so we can keep track of our rack elevations with detailed asset tracking & power usage, environmental monitoring and remote power management.

    We are currently rolling out Solarwinds NPM (with SRM, SAM, IPAM, VManager, etc..) and I was wondering if anybody had any success incorporating power usage statistics and alerts into Solarwinds.

    My ultimate goal is the ability to correlate power consumption data with asset performance in PerfStack and display any power and environmental alerts in NOC view and/or Dashboard.

    Any insight, ideas will be greatly appreciate it.

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    I recently upgraded my Solarwinds suite to the following versions:


    NPM 12.0.1 - 12.1

    SAM 6.3 - 6.4

    NTA 4.2.1 - 4.2.2

    SRM 6.3 - 6.4

    NCM 7.5.1 - 7.6


    I started receiving alerts that the NPM server the Solarwinds Alerting Engine service was down.  I noticed that the service was uninstalled.  The only thing remotely close to it now is the Solarwinds Alerting Service V2.


    Does anyone know if this replaced the Alerting Services Engine?  I actually put in a ticket with support and the had me remove the core services files and reinstall, but I had no success.


    Thanks in advance.



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    Yes, we know it’s only April and IT Professionals Day 2017 isn’t until September 19. However, we want to make sure we do our very best to help celebrate you, the IT professional, on that special holiday. At this time in particular, we’re curious what you think would be a fun, engaging idea for For example, would you enjoy a quiz on some of the craziest tasks you’re called on to perform in your role, and of course, then seeing your results compared to your peers’? Would you find a funny original video highlighting all the great work IT pros do entertaining? How about e-cards you can share with other IT pros, or perhaps an interactive infographic?


    Really, the sky’s the limit and we want to know what we can do on the website to in at least some small way help celebrate you. Share any ideas you have with us by Tuesday, May 2, and we’ll give you 200 THWACK points to show our appreciation.

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  • 03/31/17--10:27: Netpath path visualization
  • Just started using NetPath and very impressed with it. I was surprised to see that netpath was able to show a WCCP redirect to a URL filtering server. I know the path was server / routerA / URL Filter / routerA / FW / router B / internet. Some administrators may not be aware of how the data actual traveled through the path shown. It would be great to be able to have a feature that showed how a packet actually traveled that path. It could be either a continuous dot tracing the path or a play button that starts if off. I'm not sure how that would be implemented, but thought it would be very useful. It would show that the packet went from routerA to the URL filter server and back to routerA and then on to the other path.


    Thank you,

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  • 04/26/17--04:17: Auto assign node to a group?
  • Hi All,


    I was just wondering if you know a way of automatically assigning a polled node to a group? maybe based on name or something similar.


    Also if this is possible could can you assign custom properties based on a group?


    Thank you any any help

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  • 03/30/17--07:02: FortiGate 100E Monitoring
  • Hi all. First ever post!

    So, we upgraded our edge firewalls from FortiGate 200Bs and 300Cs to 100Es in order to support the 5.4.x code, but once we upgraded and rediscovered our firewalls, not all the interfaces are showing up in the discovery process. I started poking around custom poller creation and noticed that the 100E is not in the MIB database. My question is this: Is there a way for me to append the MIB file (that I verified has 100E stuff in it) to the MIBs.cfg file in NPM? Or, is there a way for us to send the MIB file to SolarWinds so they can publish a new MIBs.cfg file?


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  • 04/26/17--07:34: The Actuator - April 26th
  • Heading to Salt Lake City this week for the SWUG meeting on Thursday. If you are in the area I hope you have the chance to stop by and say hello. I'll be there to talk data and databases and hand out some goodies. I haven't been to Salt Lake City in a few years, and I'm looking forward to being there again even if there is a chance of snow in the forecast.


    As always, here's a handful of links from the intertubz I thought you might find interesting. Enjoy!


    Steve Ballmer Serves Up a Fascinating Data Trove

    As someone who loves data, I find this data project to be the best thing since Charles Nelson Minard. Head over to and get started on finding answers to questions you didn't know you wanted to ask.


    The New York Times to Replace Data Centers with Google Cloud, AWS

    Eventually, we will hit a point where *not* having your data hosted by a cloud provider will make headlines.


    Do You Want to be Judged on Intentions or Results?

    Short but thought-provoking post. I learned a long time ago that no one cares about effort, they only care about results. But I didn't stop think about how I want to be judged, or how I could control the conversation.


    Cybersecurity Startup Exposed Hospital Network Data in Demos

    Whoops. I'm starting to understand why they didn't earn that contract.


    Microsoft is Bringing AI and More To SQL Server 2017

    In case you missed it, last week Microsoft announced the new features coming in SQL Server 2017. It would appear that Microsoft sees the future of data computing to include features that go beyond just traditional storage.


    Windows and Office align feature release schedules to benefit customers

    In another announcement, Microsoft announced fewer updates to their products. But what they are really announcing is the transition from traditional client software to subscription-based software for their core products such as Office and Windows.


    Uber tried to fool Apple and got caught

    If you were looking for another reason to dislike how Uber operates as a company, this is the link for you.


    Took the family for a drive to the Berkshires last Friday and realized that my debugging skills are needed everywhere I go:


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