December 2, 2022

How do I monitor advanced network devices with SolarWinds?


Solarwinds Network Insight for advanced network devices such as Cisco ASA, Palo Alto and F5 is a combined feature of Network Performance Monitor, NetFlow Traffic Analyzer and Network Configuration Manager. This bundle gives the ability to monitor advanced devices like an expert.

Benefits of Solarwinds Network Insight

  • Helps ensure network service availability.
  • Monitor connectivity between VPN tunnels.
  • User sessions are connected to a VPN network.
  • High availability and failover monitoring.
  • Policies configured on the Palo Alto firewall.
  • Monitoring relationships between the service and traffic managers, virtual servers, pools, and pool members for F5.
  • In-depth traffic analysis using NTA.
  • Configuration management using NCM.

For the parameters mentioned above, we can configure alerts with thresholds that we would like to receive alerts whenever there is a problem. Additionally, we can create reports to review historical data as well. That being said, let’s see how to use the feature.

To learn more about features and download Solarwinds, click this link. During the installation process, select NPM, NCM and NTA to install the Network Insight bundle to get full advantage.

Network Overview for Cisco ASA

Solarwinds uses a combination of SNMP and CLI polling to monitor Cisco ASA. When adding Cisco ASA to monitoring, we need to enable CLI polling under CLI Poll Parameters after configuring SNMP polling settings on the Edit Properties page. Enter the CLI credentials used to log in to the Cisco ASA device. Click on Test to validate credentials. We can monitor additional details specific to Cisco ASA by enabling CLI polling.

To enable CLI polling for already monitored Cisco ASA devices, select the devices for which you want to enable CLI polling in the Manage Nodes page, click Edit Properties and follow the step above to enable the CLI query.

Let’s see how to check monitored metrics for Cisco ASA.

  1. To check monitored metrics for Cisco ASA, open one of your monitored Cisco ASA nodes in Solarwinds.
    We can see the general summary on the node summary page, such as node details, load summary, VPN tunnel status, etc.
  2. Use the left navigation pane to check any specific metrics for Cisco ASA.
  3. Let’s check the details in each pane. Click on the Platform to check the details available on this page.
  4. Besides the node details, we can see the high availability information. Whether this device is primary or standby and the configuration is synchronized or not, and when the last failover occurred.
  5. Under Hardware Health, we can see the status and values ​​of the hardware components available in the Cisco ASA device.
  6. We can monitor VPN connections used and connection rates in the Platform section.
  7. Click on the Site-to-Site VPN in the left navigation pane to check the Site-to-Site VPN information. We can see the status of the VPN tunnel, its speed, and if a tunnel was down when the tunnel went down. We can use the search field to verify any specific information related to the VPN tunnel.
  8. In the Remote Access VPN we can see users connected to the VPN, duration and usage details.
  9. On the Setups we can see the configuration information provided by Solarwinds NCM, such as the date of the last configuration backup, vulnerability data, policy violations, etc.
  10. We can view the ACLs applied on the Cisco ASA device on the Access list page.

If you click on one of the rules, the rules page will open and we can validate the applied rules.
With the help of Solarwinds Network Insight, we can monitor all these parameters and set up alerts to notify us if something goes wrong. Additionally, we may create reports to collect historical data to examine usage trends.

We can use the default alerts and reports available for Cisco ASA or customize existing alerts to suit our needs. Below are the default alerts available for Cisco ASA.

Below are the default reports available for Cisco ASA.

Network Overview for Palo Alto

Solarwinds has a dedicated poller for Palo Alto devices to collect device data. This poller uses REST APIs to collect data. Therefore, we need valid credentials to query the device via REST API. On the Edit Device Properties page, scroll down to Additional Monitoring Options and check Poll for Palo Alto and provide credentials. Click Test to validate the credentials.

We can also enable CLI polling for Palo Alto devices to get more details about the device. Once enabled the survey methods mentioned, we are good to collect adequate data from Palo Alto. Now let’s see how to check monitored data for Palo Alto devices.

  1. Open any of your monitored Palo Alto devices in Solarwinds. As usual, on the node summary page, we can see the overall Palo Alto summary.
  2. In the Palo Alto left navigation pane, we can see two different Cisco ASA tabs. Global Protected VPN and Policies, all other tabs are same as Cisco ASA. Let’s check out these new tabs.
  3. Click on VPN GlobalProtect. We can see the user’s active and inactive sessions on the VPN, their usage and other details.
  4. On Strategieswe can see the firewall policies configured on the device.
  5. We can review policies by opening one of them.

Network overview for F5 BIG-IP

Solarwinds provides comprehensive monitoring for F5 load balancers. SNMP collects most information for F5. We can enable the F5 iControl to collect pool member health details and to turn pool member rotation on and off. To enable F5 iControl, on the node properties edit page, check Survey for F5 iControl and provide credentials. Credentials must have access to F5 APIs.

Let’s see how to check monitored data on F5.

  1. We can see the usual information on the F5 device node details page.
  2. If you go to Network in the left navigation pane we can see a lot of information related to F5 BIG-IP.
  3. We can see device details and HA details.
  4. List of virtual servers and their status.
  5. List of pools, status and how members are in the pool.
  6. Details of the HA server and its synchronization status.
  7. For more details on F5 BIG-IP, please visit My Dashboards and click on load balancing in the Network submenu.
  8. We can see the overall summary of the load balancing environment.
    Current status of services, global traffic handlers, local traffic handlers, virtual servers, pools, and poll members. By clicking on each object, we can see the details of the object.
  9. Let’s click on any object in the global traffic managers and click on the Show details page to view details of the GTM or Show relationships to check the details of the relationship.
  10. On the details page we can find all the details about the GTM.
  11. On the relationship page, we can see the relationship details for the GTM. By clicking on each relationship object, we can get more details about them.

This is how we can use the Network Insight feature available in Solarwinds to monitor advanced network devices and important settings available on the device. Solarwinds also provides default alerts and reports for parameters. We can also create custom alerts or reports for the parameters.

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