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AppNote: New Features in Management and Monitoring Services in ZENworks for Servers 6.5 - A Case Study

Novell Cool Solutions: AppNote
By K Swaminathan

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Posted: 13 Jan 2005
 

Along with an overview of the new features in ZENworks for Servers Management and Monitoring Services, this AppNote provides a typical customer scenario that demonstrates how the new features address specific business needs.

Contents:

Introduction
Case Analysis
Conclusion

Introduction

Novell ZENworks for Servers Management and Monitoring Services (MMS) provides SNMP-based management and monitoring for heterogeneous network environments, helping you proactively manage the network and increase overall system availability.

A number of things are required when monitoring and managing network elements. The customer scenario that follows highlights some of the typical network management requirements and shows how the new features in MMS help satisfy those requirements.

Case Analysis

Problem Statement:

The network at ACME Corporation has a number of NetWare, Windows, and Linux servers that need to be monitored and managed, and the company wants each server category to be individually managed. To ensure maximum availability, ACME wants any server issues to be addressed in the shortest possible time. As part of the management and monitoring of the network, the company also wants a periodic report on server health to be generated; the report needs to compare various server parameters—such as processor utilization and memory usage—and create customized views for charts, tables, and alarms for looking at any third-party MIB implementation.

The major requirements for ACME Corporation, then, are to:

  • Manage the servers by grouping them according to common attributes, such as their operating system, IP address, or department to which the server belongs.
  • Compare the parameters—such as memory and processor utilization—between different servers.
  • Easily isolate and quickly handle critical events.
  • Generate reports on the health of each server.
  • Create customized views for graphs, charts, tables, and alarms.

Solution

New features added to MMS—which meet the requirements of ACME Corporation in solving their business problems—include:

  • Custom Atlas - Provides the ability to create a user-defined atlas and organize servers in various containers.
  • View Builder - Provides the ability to create a customized view with scalar variables, tables, graphs, or alarms.
  • Discovery Console - Provides the ability to specify a set of machines that need to be discovered without having to wait for an entire cycle.
  • Multiple View Display - Lets the user simultaneously see multiple views for Alarm, Summary, Trend, and others.
  • Advanced Trending Agent - Provides the ability to trend on any numeric MIB variable. Site Server Status - Shows which services are running on the site server.

Each of these new features contributes to the solution for ACME Corporation, as outlined below.

Custom Atlas

An Atlas is a pictorial view of all network elements that are identified during the discovery process, showing the topology of the network. Custom Atlas lets you create an atlas, group nodes of interest in the newly created custom atlas, and then manage those nodes.

Custom Atlas meets the following requirements of the ACME Corporation:

  1. It helps manage the servers by grouping them according to particular attributes; for example, servers may be grouped by operating system.
  2. It generates a report on the grouped servers.

Here's an example of how Custom Atlas works in a business setting: An administrator wants to manage a system that is running NetWare, Windows, and Linux with one specialized engineer for each operating system. With this feature, the administrator can create a custom atlas for each of the operating systems, copy the nodes to the specific custom atlas by operating system, and each engineer can then manage that custom atlas separately.

To create and manage nodes using a custom atlas:

  • Create a Custom Atlas
  • Create a container
  • Copy nodes to the container
  • Manage the nodes

Creating a Custom Atlas

Create an atlas with a user-specified name that represents the type of the node in the atlas or the identity of the entity that is managing this atlas. Create the custom atlas from ConsoleOne with the "New" "Atlas..." option.

Creating a Container

Use the "New" "Container..." option to create the container within the custom atlas.

Copying Nodes to the Container

There are three ways to add a node to a custom container:

Search the required node and copy into the custom atlas.

  1. Search for the node using the Find option, for this any of the name, IP Address, IPX Address if exist or the MAC Address of the Node should be known.
  2. Double-click the node.
  3. From the right pane view, right-click the node and select "Copy to Container". The entire list will be displayed. Select the container on the atlas, then click OK.

An example is shown in the following image:

In the following image there are three custom atlases—one for each operating system (NetWare, Windows, and Linux). The NetWare custom atlas has two containers, each representing a type of server (data server or print server). The "Add Node" option on the container level will list all the nodes in the atlas; select required nodes and copy them into the container.

Copy nodes from the unified view for the devices.

From the atlas, you can list all the servers using the "Unified View for Devices" option. As shown in the image below, select the NetWare server to display all the NetWare servers in the system atlas. From this list, use the "Copy to Container..." option to copy a group of nodes to the created custom atlas.

Note that the above operation will not delete the object from its original container.

Managing the Node:

The process described above will create a custom atlas. It will also create a new node in the console view, though only a single copy will be present in the database.

Customizing the Node:

Change the name of the node by specifying a different name. Use a name you can easily identify.

Set other properties for the node, such as the location, the list of implemented MIBs, the list of services running in the system, and so on. Use the Database Object Editor to set or change these properties.

Note: The changes made to the node in custom atlas will also reflect on the node in the system atlas.

Alarm management:

The primary idea behind the custom atlas is the easy management of nodes, allowing for faster error detection and handling. Only the alarms pertaining to the custom atlas objects will be displayed here, making alarm management easy.

Health report generation:

Because related nodes are grouped together, you can generate the custom atlas-level health report. The report will contain details about only the set of servers in the atlas, significantly reducing the time required to generate the health report and making it easier to view the health report.

Topology Report:

The topology report provides information about the topology of a custom atlas container.

More information on generating various reports can be found at http://www.novell.com/documentation/zenworks65/smadmin/data/a84s6m8.html.

View Builder

ACME Corporation needed to trend on any numeric SNMP variable, representing an attribute of the managed node, and to view critical alarms generated from a particular server. Both can be done with the View Builder.

As the name implies, View Builder creates views. The view can include one or more of the following:

Alarm View - Displays only a specific set of alarms critical for a particular user or a system
Trend View - Displays the trend of a numeric MIB object
Tabular View - Displays conceptual table values for any node
Scalar View - Displays a scalar object value for a node

For more information on the View Builder feature and how it can be used to create custom views, see the AppNote at http://www.novell.com/coolsolutions/zenworks/features/a_view_builder_zw.html

Discovery Console

ACME Corporation requires that all its servers be managed—but it's possible that some servers may not be identified during the initial discovery process. Each server must be identified if nodes are to be managed. A node may not be discovered if there is a problem with the network or if the system is down during the discovery process.

The Discovery Console can be used to discover a node (or group of nodes) that was not identified during the original process. The Discovery Console can also be used if a node needs to be discovered again, possibly because the node details were deleted from the database or the node has additional services installed.

The Discovery Console, found on the Tools menu, can be used for immediate discovery, using one of the following two options:

  1. Discovering a single node (you already know the IP address, and discovery is done for that particular node alone)
  2. Discovering a set of nodes in the specified range (discovery is done for a set of nodes with the IP address in the specified range; this can be used if you do not already know the IP address of the node or if many nodes that form part of a particular range need to be discovered)

The following dialog accommodates the input of either a single IP address or a range of IP addresses and performs discovery when the Submit button is clicked. View Status will show the status of all submitted discovery requests.

When the discovery is complete, the information about the node will be populated in the database, where it can be easily managed.

Multiple View Display

ACME Corporation needs to compare the parameters between the servers, such as memory utilization and processor utilization. The Multiple View feature makes it possible to compare parameters between servers.

An administrator will want to see multiple views simultaneously to track the performance of the network element, to see how the processor is utilized in several systems, to check the current interface statistics in several systems, or to quickly see changes in trends or other statistics. Using Multiple View Display makes it possible to see these kinds of details without having to change frequently from one segment to another.

To use Multiple View Diplay, use either the toolbar (the icon in the ConsoleOne toolbar) or the File menu (View in New Window). Click the icon to create a new screen with the current visible view; the Console View will be displayed in the right pane of ConsoleOne. Every time you click this icon, the corresponding view will be added into the same screen.

The following is a screenshot with four simultaneous views:

  1. The first two views compare the processor utilization of two systems.
  2. The third view is the alarm view for a specific node.
  3. The fourth view is the summary view for a specific node.

Note that the processor or the segment being monitored becomes the title of that particular view.

Multiple View Display can be used to display multiple tabular views, trend views, and composite views in the ConsoleOne Views window. The view will perform only the SNMP fetching operation; it is not possible to set values for particular attributes using Multiple View Display.

Advanced Trending Agent

ACME Corporation also needs to trend on any numeric attribute value for a managed node; this can be done with the Advanced Trending Agent.

Trending helps track the changes or fluctuations that occur in a particular attribute of a managed node. The previous version of ZENworks supported trending, but trending worked only on a specified set of OIDs and the list was not configurable. A configurable trending agent is added to version 6.5, making it possible to trend on any numeric attribute of a node. The Advanced Trending Agent queries for the configured MIB variable data from the other SNMP agents running in the same node, and it is available for NetWare, Windows, and Linux operating systems.

The Advanced Trending Agent can also be configured to generate rising or falling alarms whenever a monitored attribute crosses a predefined threshold.

For more information about the Advanced Trending Agent and how it can be configured and used to trend on any numeric MIB variable, see the AppNote at http://www.novell.com/coolsolutions/zenworks/features/a_advanced_trending_agent_zw.html.

Site Server Status

Each of the features discussed above solves one of the problems of the ACME Corporation. For the features to work together in meeting the business challenge, there needs to be a site server running Management and Monitoring Services components.

If certain views are not displaying or certain operations are not being performed with ConsoleOne, make sure the corresponding service is running on the site server.

On the Tools menu, select the Management site server status menu item; a dialog will display that specifies the IP address of the site server. Click Okay; a dialog will display, listing the status of each service running in the site server, as shown below.

Conclusion

A number of new features have been added to the ZENworks 6.5 release that streamline the management and monitoring of networks. This AppNote has provided a brief description of each of the features, and gives a real-life example of how each feature can be used to solve specific customer problems.


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