Packet Pushers Heavy Networking Podcast

Packet Pushers Heavy Networking Podcast

NEW Heavy Networking 624 Podcast: Solving Network Problems With NMIS

The latest Packet Pushers Heavy Networking 624 podcast is out, feat. IT Network experts Keith Sinclair, NMIS founder, joining Greg Ferro from Packet Pushers. They’ll discuss; 
  • NMIS capabilities for network management and monitoring
  • How to disaster proof your Network and operate at maximum efficiency
  • Latest Product features incl. Enterprise Service Monitoring
  • Future proofing your business with Operational Process Automation (OPA) against the great resignation
  • The NMIS product pipeline and how the market is changing
  • Real-world cases on how Opmantek’s solutions can save your team time & resources – Hear more below!

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Listen to the Podcast Now!


Podcast: (47.52 MB)


For all this and more, fill out the form and book in today.
[Case Study] Nextlink Takes Network Management to the Next Level with Opmantek

[Case Study] Nextlink Takes Network Management to the Next Level with Opmantek

This Case Study covers how we take organizations from reactive to proactive with the ability to scale and leverage more insights into the projects they’re working on. The following case study details actionable guidance that strengthened internet service provider Nextlink’s Network Management capabilities and took them to the next level. Download the asset below.

Key Points:

Who

Nextlink Internet is an internet service provider delivering high-speed internet and voice services throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Since 2012, Nextlink has become one of the largest wireless internet service providers in the nation. 

Challenge

Nextlink wanted to improve the stability of its automated provisioning system as well as its network. Nextlink’s previous monitoring system would send an alarm if one of the previously configured rules was triggered, but it didn’t provide the solution that they were looking for.

Situation

“Our fast-paced operations are growing every day, so we need something that can grow with us,” said Jordan Long, Director of Network Operations, Nextlink. “We wanted something that would not just assist with our operations center, but an automated solution that would monitor for issues throughout our platform, automate the troubleshooting tasks and make configuration changes when an alarm was raised. We also wanted a solution that could share data about our operations to drive new projects.”

Get the Case Study

Packet Pushers: Detect, Diagnose, And Act Podcast

Packet Pushers: Detect, Diagnose, And Act Podcast


Podcast: Download (46.2MB)
Keith Sinclair, CTO and progenitor of NMIS, joins Greg Ferro on Packet Pushers

They discuss:

  • What NMIS does and how it works
  • Protocol support including SNMP, WMI, SSH, RESTful APIs, and more
  • The persistence of SNMP
  • Opmantek’s approach of detect, diagnose, and act
  • Automation capabilities
  • How NMIS uses dashboards, portals, and maps

Discovery to Monitoring, Automatic & On Your Terms

Discovery to Monitoring, Automatic & On Your Terms

Introduction

So you have this great discovery and auditing tool called Open-AudIT and you also have an amazing monitoring tool called NMIS. How can you automatically take your discovered devices and have NMIS monitor them…and why would you want to?

With version 4.2.0 of Open-AudIT, we have re-implemented Integrations in an extremely easy-to-use yet extremely configurable way.

Why?

Discovery provides network transparency. Monitoring provides network visibility. Both are essential to good network management and go hand-in-hand with diagnosing network performance issues and device management and lifecycle.

You cannot manage something if you don’t know it exists, and you cannot plan for the future if you don’t know the current performance of your devices – be they desktops, servers, switches, or routers.

Why wouldn’t you want the ability to automatically monitor select device types (for example) as they come online? You can set up a scheduled Integration and automatically include all discovered routers and switches.

 

Let that sink in for a moment.

Automatically monitor devices without having to set them up individually in your monitoring solution. From discovery to monitoring automatically, on your terms.

 

Less time spent entering details.

More accurate information with zero possibility of spelling mistakes mistyped credentials, etc.

No double handling of information between systems is required.

 

It just works.

Discover it in Open-AudIT, monitor it in NMIS – seamlessly.

 

How does it work?

Integrations take a list of devices from NMIS and a list of devices from Open-AudIT. They match the devices based on selected attributes, combine their attributes according to which system (NMIS or Open-AudIT) should be the point of truth, and update both systems based on any changes.

The list of devices may actually be empty on either side. We can restrict the device list on either side based on device attributes. We can select attributes to be stored – even if they don’t exist in Open-AudIT. NMIS and Open-AudIT don’t even need to be on the same server. There is so much flexibility!

But with great flexibility, comes (potentially) great complexity. This is an area we are particularly proud of. We’ve kept the creation of an Integration as easy as possible. At its most simple level, if NMIS and Open-AudIT are installed on the same server, you can click a ‘create’ button and everything is automatically done for you. You don’t need to supply any information. We’ve chosen sensible defaults and the Integration just works.

On the other end of the scale, you might have NMIS running on Debian and Open-AudIT running on Windows. You might wish to only integrate devices that are routers. You might even have some fields in NMIS that don’t exist in Open-AudIT, – but you wish to track and be able to edit them in Open-AudIT which then updates NMIS. It’s all completely achievable with just a few clicks.

More than the simple integration above, – but still very easy to accomplish.

No code to write, just a simple-to-use web interface. Oh, – and there is also the JSON RESTful based Open-AudIT API as well.

Questions

Now let’s back up a little bit and set the scene. You’ve been using Open-AudIT for a while and have discovered some devices on your network. You have working credentials for these devices and can see their configuration. You may have computers, switches, printers, routers, firewalls, etc.

How can we easily send some of these devices to NMIS for monitoring?
When you create an Integration in Open-AudIT, by default we include all discovered devices that have working SNMP credentials. However,  you might not want every device integrated with NMIS. Some of your servers, for example, may use SNMP – but you don’t need NMIS monitoring them. Integration has a section to select which devices to include from Open-AudIT. Every device is defaulted to have its “manage_in_nmis” attribute set to “y”. There is also a rule in Open-AudIT that sets this attribute if we talk to the device using SNMP.

 

But in this example, we don’t want every SNMP talking device, we only want our routers in NMIS.

In this instance, we can simply change the used attribute to “type” (instead of “manage_in_nmis”) and the value of that attribute to “router” (instead of “y”) – then we’re done!

What if I want the SNMP Community string to be defined in NMIS, not Open-AudIT?
An Integration contains a list of the fields used by both systems (NMIS and Open-AudIT). Each field has a flag that defines its ‘priority’. This can be set to either NMIS or Open-AudIT (actually stored as external or internal). Just select NMIS for the priority for the NMIS → configuration. community field and if this value is changed in NMIS, the next time the Integration is run Open-AudIT will be updated.

How can I automatically run the Integration?
Integrations can be scheduled within Open-AudIT just like discoveries, queries, baselines, et al. You can choose to run an Integration on whatever time frame you choose.

What if I’m an NMIS user, have just installed Open-AudIT, and don’t have any devices in it?
Simply run the default Integration. Your NMIS devices will be sent to Open-AudIT and discovered automatically. Open-AudIT stores more information about the make-up of a device, as opposed to NMIS’s performance data. When you run an Integration; Open-AudIT has the device’s IP and the device’s credentials.  You can then run a discovery and retrieve everything Open-AudIT can.

 

Again – this is configurable. You might not wish to run a discovery on the device – that’s up to you! To enable or disable a discovery is a single attribute. Click, done!

Making it Happen
As usual, the Open-AudIT wiki has all the technical details you should need. Check the Integrations page and if you still have questions, please do ask in the Community Forums.

What have we Learnt through Navigating in an Economic Downturn & Pandemic?

What have we Learnt through Navigating in an Economic Downturn & Pandemic?

Between suffering from uncertainty to naturally flourishing, the ability to adapt out of dead market space will have made all the difference for your business in the past year. Whether you are in a country that is on track for normality or being hit by a new wave of infections – All businesses have needed to evolve.

 

For those of us operating in the tech industry, we have experienced several significant economic events – especially the .com crash of 2000 and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. We know what happens during an economic slowdown while there are some unique factors at play in relation to COVID-19; here is what we have learned.

 

Innovation should not be put off

Undergoing a 3-year change progression in a mere month was and continues to be a reality for many businesses across the globe. On countless occasions funds have been pulled from investments, particularly those in technology; deemed as a costly non-essential to cut in order to keep the boat floating. However, innovation needs to be cultivated and fed, without businesses prioritising technology their future fitness will remain grim. Opmantek’s automated network management tools were built on the premise of empowering companies. These tools give users the flexibility to operate in diverse environments with speed and scale at a fraction of the cost so you can keep innovating.

 

Having healthy finances is necessary

In the IT industry, an error caused by a triggered event in your network could cost a wave of rippling expenses. During periods of economic uncertainty what you don’t know can hurt you. Utilising technology such as one of Opmantek’s opEvents will reduce the impact of network faults and failures using proactive event management. Adding tools such as these to your arsenal allows you to gleam intelligent insights to make educated data and cost-effective driven decisions.

 

Optimising your data is the way forward

Your market no matter which side of it you are on has changed, so your business needs to change with it. More data, more data, more data, let’s face it cultivating and finding quality data is a superpower. So how is it possible to see it all? How can it be automatically configured and how can you keep up with it when it changes? Most organizations cannot give accurate location data of their assets, Open-AudIT gives you this information in seconds. Reduce the degree of uncertainty and make data-driven decisions, simply by running tools such as Open-AudIT to develop meaningful reports and resources. Optimising your data is the way forward, to learn how you can audit everything on your network with Open-AudIT book a demo session with our experts here.

 

Continual agility across all facets of business will be imperative to navigate through the next phase of this economic climate. Those that are familiar with nimble project management within the software development world – use similar methods in your financials too –be very conscious that your ability to plan twelve months is now a lot lower than it used to be and you need to undertake agile planning and forecasting. This will be a time of continual change however by; continually pushing innovation and utilising tools that give you the best possible view of your data to drive decision-making process, the path forward will be a lot clearer to navigate.

 

Auditing your network, without credentials.

Auditing your network, without credentials.

Now that I have your attention, how can we possibly audit a network and find all the juicy details about the devices upon it, without having high level credentials to talk to those devices?

Well, it’s a bit of a mistruth. Or a caveat. Or whatever you want to call it. We definitely can do this, but for devices such as routers, printers and switches you will need a minimal set (read only, minimum access level) of SNMP credentials. Computers can be audited without any credentials being stored in Open-AudIT.

“How can you do that?”, “It won’t work on my network, my network and devices are locked down”. Yes, yes, your network is perfectly secure, I understand. In that case you are the perfect candidate to implement network discovery and auditing in this fashion.

So how do we do this? Well, as mentioned, first source a set of SNMP credentials that allow the minimal level of access. Do not worry about credentials for Windows, Linux or any other computer OS.

Next configure Open-AudIT to match devices based on IP address. Note that if you have devices that frequently change IP, you may need to enable this on a per discovery basis to avoid too many false positive device matches. Note that even this can be negated by using a collector per subnet to run discoveries.

Once you have your minimal SNMP credentials and have created and configured a subnet discovery, run it. Naturally devices without credentials will probably be classed as unclassified or even unknown. That is expected – no credentials, remember.

Next use your management software to deploy the audit scripts to the appropriate operating system for each device. For Linux machines (for example), you can use Puppet, Chef or Ansible to push the audit_linux.sh script. Windows domain users also have the option to deploy and run the script at domain login. Then create a cron job (or scheduled task under Windows) to run the audit script on a schedule of your choosing and submit the results to your Open-AudIT server.

Then you should check for unclassified or unknown devices within Open-AudIT and work through them, determining what it is and remediate as necessary.

As the audit script results are submitted, the unclassified or unknown devices should be matched and decrease in number.

Eventually you should have zero unclassified or unknown devices. You have just discovered and audited your network using only a minimal set of SNMP (read only) credentials. You still have all the data Open-AudIT usually collects, but no central store of credentials!

Obviously this will take a lot more effort than using Open-AudIT as designed, but in those cases where you just cannot store sensitive credentials in a central location, Open-AudIT still has you covered.