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What a great network sanity tool that has proven itself time and time again. The price is less then the big names but I found after using it for several years side by side with some big names (Opsware, Netcool, eHealth) that Solarwinds is far more flexible, easier to use and the customization is fantastic.

To demonstrate how easy it is to add a new device to be monitored, I'm going to show you below by using only the web interface.

Before you get to far, be sure an Admin grants your ID the access to manage nodes

STEP ONE.. enter the URL of the Solarwinds server and enter your login information.

STEP TWO.. click on Manage Nodes (doesn't matter under what title (example Exchange Servers) because it brings you to the same place.

STEP THREE.. Now you are presented with the Manage Nodes screen which should look like the below. Go ahead and click Add

STEP FOUR.. Define the information about your Node (IP Address, SNMP string(s)) and click Next

STEP FIVE.. If you have the SNMP string and it validated when you clicked next, pick the resources from the object you want to monitor (CPU, MEMORY, INTERFACE(S), HARD DRIVE, etc..) On a switch I like to monitor the interfaces/ports the WAN router(s) are plugged into, server(s) and any critical devices to include uplinks to other switches. I just don't monitor users or printers.

STEP SIX.. Pick the poller(s) to use to monitor your device (you can have multiple pollers with Solarwinds to help reduce the load on the server. Some like to use a poller per region or business unit. Its not needed but nice to have multiple pollers.)

STEP SEVEN.. Enter your custom property definitions. This is fully customizable from the server but you can add anything you want to track or group nodes together. So for example, switch location (city, state, country). This allows you to quickly find all the nodes in a city, state or country. I also use the custom fields for contact information so when a node goes down it sends a page with the address, contact1 info, contact2 info and some other useful information in the event I'm not near a computer to look it up.

Some pre-planning if you are using Solarwinds to help you out in the future.

1.) When installing a switch, take the time and make sure the switchport descriptions are short and accurate. Come up with a naming standard that you could use Globally. Solarwinds will pull the switchport descriptions automatically and if you already did the work ahead of time you will save yourself a lot of time from adding alias's to the switchports later.

2.) Also when configuring the switch ensure you have SNMP Read-Only access as well as the Syslog Messages forwarded to your Solarwinds Server. This will make troubleshooting a site or hardware faster and easier. Also in the event of hardware failure, you'll have some final syslog messages from that device that could help identify what happened.

3.) Depending on the hardware, enable Netflow. This comes in handy when you are trying to find top talkers or bandwidth utilization on the WAN circuit. This requires a Solarwinds Add-on Module but is highly recommended and does provide some very useful information all in one place, your Solarwinds Network Monitoring Tool.

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If you want to Monitor Cisco Power

Power supplies and total switch load you can get it here -
Port POE values you can find everything you need under here -

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Another nice part of Solarwinds is you can keep your Custom Properties updated offline via a spreadsheet and then import the changes all at once.

What is SolarWinds Orion Custom Properties you ask?

This allows you to track anything relevant to that node or interface. For example I have 1000+ nodes but only a couple are at a specific address and I want to track location, create custom properties:







Now you can search/sort which nodes are in which city, state, country, postal code... you can also include these custom properties in your alerts so you can provide the shipping address to a vendor that needs to ship out a replacement part without needing a computer.

Custom Properties can be anything, region, contact1 name, contact1_role, contact1 email, contact1 home#, contact1 cell# (include contact information in your alerts so you know who to call from the site to confirm issues or to be available for testing)

Maybe include the building#, floor#, closet# for each node so you can quickly find the device.

Another idea is to include WAN provider information, WAN_Vendor, WAN_CircuitID, WAN_CircuitSpeed....

So first, lets assume you already have some Custom Properties defined but want to update the information on missing items.


  • Log into the server that is running Solarwinds Orion

  • Click on Start - All Programs - SolarWinds Orion - Grouping and Access Control - Custom Property Editor

  • Click on Nodes

  • Click File - Export - Export to Excel (this creates an .xls file and the columns with the text in blue are the columns that are custom properites)

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