What should I monitor in SAM?

Discovery is a term used to describe the process that the Orion Platform uses to identify network elements. During Discovery, the system scans the network for application servers and applications that you can you can add to the Orion database for monitoring.

SAM can monitor an application, or you can configure SAM to monitor a custom collection of application components, process monitors, and performance counters. Depending on your needs, SAM can assess the status of every aspect of your application, and the health of the application as a whole.

SAM also monitors Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud instances and Microsoft Azure VMs. With access to your cloud services account, SAM can poll cloud service APIs for cloud metrics and status. This data aggregates and displays through the Orion Web Console to monitor, manage, and troubleshoot issues in your cloud environment. See Manage your cloud infrastructure for details.

SolarWinds recommends adding a limited number of applications and servers to begin monitoring and gauging performance, including Microsoft Exchange, IIS, SQL, Linux, and Unix. After monitoring, alerts, and reports are set up, continue adding more applications and servers to expand your infrastructure monitoring.

Discovery checklist

When you run the Discovery Wizard, you will be asked to provide IP addresses and credentials for the devices you want to monitor. SolarWinds recommends that you gather this information before running the Discovery Wizard.

Determine the devices to monitor.

Determine the protocol used to monitor your devices: SNMP or WMI. See the Monitoring overview for details.

Gather IP ranges or individual IP addresses you want the system to scan as it discovers your network.

Collect SNMP v1/2c community strings and SNMP v3 community strings and credentials of the devices you want to monitor.

Obtain login credentials for each monitored device, including

  • VMware host credentials. The system requires read-only permissions.
  • Windows credentials: domain or local admin.

For AWS cloud monitoring, add an AWS IAM user account (up to 10) and Account Access Key ID and Secret Access Key for access. The account should include the following permissions:

  • ec2:DescribeInstances
  • ec2:DescribeAddresses
  • ec2:DescribeVolumes
  • ec2:DescribeVolumeStatus
  • cloudwatch:GetMetricStatistics
  • autoscaling:DescribeAutoScalingInstances

For additional management actions, add the following permissions to the AWS IAM user account:

  • ec2:StartInstances
  • ec2:StopInstances
  • ec2:RebootInstances
  • ec2:TerminateInstances

To set up permissions and AWS cloud accounts, see Learn more about Amazon EC2 credentials for cloud monitoring.

For Microsoft Azure cloud monitoring, configure Azure to interact with the Orion Platform before adding an Azure cloud account to the Orion Web Console. Each account requires sufficient Azure Active Directory (AD) and subscription permissions to add an AD app in the Azure Portal so the Orion Platform can retrieve status and metrics for VMs. IAM permissions must also be set up.

Visit the SolarWinds Success Center and review Configuring Microsoft Azure for cloud monitoring in the Orion Platform for details.

Monitoring overview

You can configure an application or template to collect data through a preferred polling method as agent or agentless.

Monitor with Orion agents

An agent is software that provides a communication channel between the Orion server and a Windows or Linux computer. Products install plugins on agents to collect the data that the agents send back. Orion agents are available for Windows and Linux. For requirements and information, see Monitoring with Orion agents in SAM.

Monitor with SNMP

To monitor devices using SNMP, you must enable SNMP on those devices because it is not enabled by default. SNMP is primarily used to monitor network devices, for example, routers, firewalls, and switches. To enable SNMP, consult the device vendor documentation.

When configuring SNMP-enabled network devices for monitoring, note these details:

  • Steps to enable SNMP communications differ by device; consult the documentation provided by your device vendor.
  • For correct device identification, monitored devices must allow access to the SysObjectID.
  • Unix-based devices should use the version of Net-SNMP (5.5 or later) that is specific to the Unix-based operating system in use.
  • If SNMPv2c is enabled on a device, NMPv2c is used to poll the device for performance details by default. To poll with SNMPv1, disable SNMPv2c on the device to be polled.
  • SolarWinds SAM can monitor VMware ESX and ESXi Servers versions 4.0 and later.
  • Linux/Unix servers are generally monitored with SNMP and SSH Script Monitors that require user credentials.

VMware Tools is not required on virtual machines (VMs) running on monitored ESXi and ESX servers, but additional details such as IP addresses are made available if VMware Tools is installed on VMs hosted by monitored ESXi and ESX Servers.

Monitor with WMI

If monitoring Windows servers, use Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), which is usually enabled on Windows devices by default. Capable of gathering more data than SNMP, WMI is the preferred polling method because some SolarWinds SAM features are not available if you use SNMP.

Agentless monitoring using WMI is not recommended when the polling engine and the device are separated by a firewall. To overcome this limitation, SolarWinds provides an optional agent that allows you to securely monitor Windows servers and applications by WMI. If you want to use SNMP for Windows, then you must install and configure an SNMP agent.

Deciding between SNMP and WMI

SNMP is typically used to monitor servers and network devices without agents. For Windows servers, WMI usually provides better metrics than can be obtained through SNMP monitoring alone. For many Windows-based servers and applications, agentless monitoring via the WMI gateway provides strong monitoring capabilities.

The availability of some features depends on which Orion Platform modules are in your environment, as well as which product versions you're using. For example, NPM supports polling via WMI, SNMP, and agents. However, interface polling via WMI and the Orion Agent is not supported unless you have a SAM license. You must use SNMP as a polling method to obtain interface data in an NPM-only installation. For details, see Polling methods used by Orion.

The following table describes the pros and cons of monitoring with SNMP vs. WMI:

SNMP WMI
Bandwidth, CPU, memory usage on the host/polling engine Uses more bandwidth, CPU, and memory than SNMP per poll.
Monitoring across firewall/NAT-ed WAN connection Requires an agent for secure monitoring over one port.
Windows mount points and application metrics Cannot collect Windows mount point statistics or application level metrics.

To learn more, see the following SolarWinds Success Center articles: