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Home > Success Center > Netflow Traffic Analyzer (NTA) > NTA Documentation > NTA 4.4 Adoption: Frequently Asked Questions

NTA 4.4 Adoption: Frequently Asked Questions

Updated May 31, 2018


This article provides answers to frequently asked questions about deployment and installation changes in NTA 4.4.


  • NTA 4.4


Below is a list of frequently asked questions about the deployment changes in NetFlow Traffic Analyzer and the NTA Flow Storage database.

What's new in NTA 4.4?

NTA 4.4 uses an MS SQL columnstore database for flow storage. This technology offers significant performance improvements in a small resource profile in comparison to our earlier versions of the product. Consolidating our databases on a single platform reduces the expense and complexity to stand up and manage a SolarWinds deployment, and offers security, performance, continuity, and resiliency that is maintained and constantly developed by Microsoft®, and allows us to focus exclusively on the development of new product features.

NTA 4.4 also includes a new feature to monitor and report on malicious traffic destined for TCP or UDP port 0.

Finally, NTA 4.4 delivers support for TLS 1.2 communication channels.

For more information on new features and improvements, see the NTA 4.4 Release Notes.

Why are we changing to Microsoft SQL for the NTA Flow Storage database?

NTA was an early adopter of the columnstore technology to enhance the performance of the NTA Flow Storage database. As Microsoft’s columnstore solutions have matured, we’ve chosen to adopt the MS SQL 2016 and later versions for the supported flow storage technology. That offers you the ability to standardize and consolidate on MS SQL across the Orion Platform, and to manage your monitoring data using a common set of tools with common expertise. We’ve made deployment and support simpler, more robust, and more performant.

Consolidating on Microsoft SQL technology means we can focus our development efforts on new flow analysis features, rather than maintaining a dedicated database solution. Microsoft will continue to enhance and develop their SQL server to bring additional performance and robustness features to all of our customers.

What are some of the benefits of using a SQL server for storing NTA flow data?

NTA with a MS SQL Flow Storage database is faster than previous versions. Microsoft SQL with columnstore indexing offers accelerated query performance and a faster troubleshooting workflow with resource performance enhancements. MS MSQL also offers increased efficiency of your hardware footprint with a significant reduction in CPU and IOPS.

What’s required to install NTA?

MS SQL version 2016 with Service Pack 1 or later is the version that incorporates the columnstore indexing features that accelerate query and resource performance. Prior versions of SQL did not include the features that NTA requires and cannot be used for flow storage. Both the Standard Edition and the Enterprise edition are supported for production deployment.

For more information, see NTA 4.4 System Requirements.

What’s the installation flow for new deployments?

New installations of NTA and upgrades to version 4.4 and later will require an instance of MS SQL 2016 Service Pack 1 or later version for flow storage. For evaluation, the Express edition is supported. For production deployments, we support the Standard and Enterprise editions.
During the installation process, the installer will run a pre-flight check and prompt you to confirm that you have a supported instance of MS SQL available. If you confirm that, the installer will proceed, and the Configuration wizard will attempt to build the new Flow Storage database on the MS SQL instance. If you reject the pre-flight check, the installation process will halt.

For more information on installing NTA and the NTA Flow Storage database, see the following resources:

What’s the upgrade flow for existing NTA deployments?

For an upgrade of an existing NTA installation, you will see a pre-flight check to confirm that you have an instance of MS SQL 2016 SP1 or later available, and that you understand that your existing flow data will not be migrated. If you do not confirm this, the installer will proceed and upgrade your product version to 4.2.3 – the most recent version supporting the FastBit database. If you’re already on version 4.2.3, the installer will take no action to upgrade your NTA product, but in both cases your other product upgrades will proceed.
It’s important to note when upgrading to this version from older version using the FastBit database, migration of flow data is not supported. This upgrade will build out a new, empty database in the new MS SQL instance.  The existing flow data in the FastBit database will not be deleted or modified in any way. That data can be archived for regulatory requirements, and customers can run older product versions in evaluation mode to temporarily access the data.

For more information on upgrading, see SolarWinds Orion Installer.

What if I don’t have MS SQL 2016 SP1 or later yet? Can I run on older MS SQL versions?

No, it’s not possible to run NTA 4.4 on older MS SQL versions.

The installer will not permit an installation on older SQL versions, and the critical features that NTA requires – the columnstore indexing features – are not present in older versions. You must have MS SQL 2016 with Service Pack 1 or later to install and run NTA 4.4.

Do I still need to have a completely dedicated server for flow storage?

No. In previous versions of NTA, we required a separate server for the FastBit Flow Storage database.

You can install your NTA Flow Storage database and your Orion database in the same instance of MS SQL, provided that instance is an MS SQL 2016 SP1 or later version. We support co-locating these two independent databases within the same SQL instance. You’ll need to take care to ensure that the performance of this instance is adequate for your workload and environment. For more information, see Deplyoment options for the NTA Flow Storage database.

Do I need some special SQL server permissions?

Yes. The NTA Flow Storage database account requires the ALTER ANY CONNECTION permission in order to schedule and optimize the daily database maintenance task. This ensures that SolarWinds minimizes the performance impact of the maintenance task, and maintains the overall performance of the database.

Using SQL Management Studio, run the following command to grant permissions:

USE master

GRANT ALTER ANY CONNECTION TO <grantee> [ AS <grantor> ]


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