# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Getting the Most out of Your SolarWinds Orion Network: Features and Add-ons

It’s an unfortunate truth that many network administrators don’t really understand how to get the most out of their network. The software may work, and you may figure out a roundabout way how to do what you want, but there may be a faster, more efficient way to do what you need.
There are a number of ways to get more out of your Orion network, either by utilizing built-in features or finding separate add-ons that give the network a new dimension of usability. Here are just a few things you may not know about your SolarWinds Orion network management tools.
Web portal administration
This SolarWinds Orion feature allows you to administrate Web portals and limit what users can get into. This function is available from the menu bar on your SolarWinds Orion administration interface. This is an incredibly useful feature of Orion that allows you to configure Web user accounts to limit devices they can get information about or view reports on.
Web portal administration works to compartmentalize information and limit access so people only see what they need to see about the network. This applies to lower-level network administrators who need to administer parts of the network and also affects the receptionist working with a simple printer.
For example, if the receptionist’s printer is on network, you can configure their user account to only display that network device for them. For mid-level administrators directly responsible for a branch office network, you can limit their access to only the certain group of routers that office utilizes. Your network may have 15 routers spread out over many office locations. You can limit a user to seeing detailed performance info on two of them. 
For workplaces where data security is an issue, you can also build user accounts to maintain data security so people can’t get into places they shouldn’t be. Job-function-related restrictions can protect your employees from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This feature makes it very easy to build in account restrictions and limitations. Orion gives you a list of a dozen pre-configured limitations, but you can also build in your own account limitations and tailor user accounts to the needs of the specific job description.
Engineer’s Toolset
The Engineer’s Toolset is a stand-alone product that has some very useful IP address management tools, especially for when you need to troubleshoot DNS issues.
With the Engineer’s Toolset, you can determine in a matter of seconds what IP addresses are taken or still available. When you’re managing a huge network, you know that things are changing all the time. It’s hard to find out what devices have been added or what cables have been plugged in without the users notifying the network administrators. This will help you eliminate that problem.
The Engineer’s Toolset also has a DNS audit tool and a DNS analyzer tool, both of which come in handy when you have to troubleshoot DNS.
Map Maker
Map Maker is an Orion network performance monitor that you can access through the system manager. With Map Maker, you can get a quick indication of the status of each remote site in your network.
The maps are ridiculously easy to make. All you have to do is drag your network node icons onto the map background. You can also view the status of various network nodes, as well as the status of a link between network objects.
Cirrus Configuration Manager
Like the Engineer’s Toolset, the Cirrus Configuration Manager is a separate product that can be seamlessly integrated with Orion. It enables you to track configuration changes on all your Cisco routers from one central console. Those could just be routers within an office, or even across remote sites.
You also have the ability to set a baseline configuration for a router as a comparison to subsequent configurations. That way, as things change from month to month, you can compare the changes to the ideal configuration, rather than having to examine the whole configuration line by tedious line.
In a situation where a space in the wrong place can cause you unimaginable misery, it makes life a lot easier to view both configurations in adjacent windows. Cirrus shows you by color and configuration indicators exactly where the changes are. Comparing changes is now a matter of a few minutes rather than a few hours.
NetFlow Traffic Analyzer
Have you ever wondered what applications are eating up your bandwidth over the lunch hour? That’s exactly what the NetFlow Traffic Analyzer can tell you. It’s a separate product that can be integrated with Orion, and not only does it tell you how much bandwidth is being used, but it also tells you exactly what applications are consuming it. You can see if it’s email or Internet applications, and you can even see what websites are visited in what countries.
This makes it so much easier to locate and identify security risks and plug security holes. You can bar subnets from accessing the network and close ports so that your bandwidth usage goes back to normal.
One of the best things you can do for your company and your job is to learn all the features of your SolarWinds Orion network. By making the most of these add-ons and features, you can open up a whole new world of network monitoring that will make your job faster and more efficient than you ever thought possible.
About the Author:
Stacey Crow is the sales manager for Corona Technical Services, the only certified SolarWinds training provider in North America. Sign up for their training course at http://www.coronaservices.net to learn all the ins and outs of the SolarWinds Orion network and make your life easier.