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Home > Success Center > Network Performance Monitor (NPM) > Network Performance Monitor (NPM) Training > Free SolarWinds Training Videos - NPM > Building a Map - Video

Building a Map - Video

 Updated November 2nd, 2017



This video (9:50) demonstrates how to build a map using a tool called Network Atlas, which is included with Orion products such as Network Performance Monitor or Server & Application Monitor. Network Atlas is automatically installed on the polling engine and you’ll find it on the server’s Start Menu under the SolarWinds folder. Or you can install it on your local workstation so that you don’t have to log on to the polling engine server directly.

This video is available in the following languages: German, Simplified Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese. 


Server & Application Monitor  

Network Performance Monitor

Virtualization Manager

Network Traffic Analyzer         

Storage Resource Monitor  

Network Configuration Manager 

Web Performance Monitor

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User Device Tracker                                                        

VoIP & Network Quality Manage

Video Transcript

Network Atlas has a fairly simple and standard layout. Up at the top you have a tool bar. On the left hand side you’ll have your Orion objects pane. This is where you’ll see all the objects that were pulled in from the database. And on the right hand side of the screen you have your map editor pane, which automatically opens to a new map. The first step in building your map is going to be to choose a background image. Ignore the fact that there’s a world map background already loaded, you can use any image file you’d like. So you can go find your own background, or you can use one of the preinstalled background images.

To load a background, click background image on the toolbar and browse to the location of the image.

I’m just going to grab the very first pre-loaded background image, this Africa 964 background.

  • Highlight screen areas
  • Choose background image

Right now you may be saying “in a previous clip didn’t you say you’ll want to make sure that you’re planning ahead so that your maps will fit inside your views? So is this background image a good fit?” Honestly, probably not. So I’m cheating a little bit here. I said that step one is to choose a background image. In reality, step one should be to find or create a background image that’s the right size to fit the view where the map will be displayed.

So if I wanted to use this particular image as my background but my view columns are narrower than 964 pixels, what I’d normally do first is to open this graphic file in any graphic editor and scale the image to match the pixel width of my view columns. I’m going to skip that step this time, and it’s not going to affect how I build the map, but when I add this map to a view a little later, you’ll see why it’s so important that you pay attention to the size of your maps before you start building them.   

Visual 4.    Network Atlas – adding nodes

Now that I’ve got my background step 2 is to begin adding some objects to my map. On the left hand side of the screen I’ll go to my Orion objects pane and I’ll add some nodes using drag and drop. You can add multiple objects at once using shit+click and ctrl+click.   

Add nodes to map
Once I’ve got a few nodes placed on the map and have them positioned where I want, I’ll go to the toolbar and click on the Connect Now button. Connect Now will automatically add links between devices based on your network topology. When you click the button, you get a dropdown that asks whether you’d like to map your layer 2 topology, layer 3 topology, or both. I’ll click Layer 2 topology first and you’ll see that in this case it found the three physical links between my network hardware. I can click Connect Now again and choose my Layer 3 topology as well. But notice that there’s no real differentiation between Layer 2 and Layer 3, so it’s probably best to stick with one or the other on a single map.  
There are some links that Connect Now just will not find. For instance, I’m going to add a couple of Windows servers that I’m not monitoring the interfaces on. Since I’m not monitoring the interfaces, Connect Now cannot map the Layer 2 connections. In cases like this, I can add the links manually. On the toolbar there are two connection tools; a straight line connector and a curved line connector. The straight line connector is very simple, you click on the start point and the end point and you’re done. With the curved line connector, you’re going to draw out the curve by clicking at multiple points as you go.  
So I’ve got some nodes placed on my map and I’ve added my connections, but now I want to format my map to make it a little easier to read. So I’ll start by repositioning some of my labels to make them easier to see. And then maybe I’ll change the font size and formatting, which I can do from the toolbar. But I’ll be honest, I tend not to use the toolbar all that often. Instead, I almost always use the right-click menu. Because from the right-click menu you’ll always have all the same options you have on the toolbar, but sometimes you’ll have additional options as well. Look at my label for instance. On the toolbar I can change the font size and basic formatting. I can even change the color.

But what I can’t do is change the background color. But if I right-click on the label and click properties, on the Appearance tab, which is the only tab I have for labels, you’ll see I’ve got all the same options I had on the toolbar, but I have an additional option to change the background color as well. So I’m going to change my text color to white, uncheck the box for Transparent Background, and I’ll make my background color black. Now anytime I do this I also add a little bit of border width, because if you don’t the text runs right to the edge of the background field and it just doesn’t look as good. So I’m going to give it just a little bit of border padding. Now click OK and you can see that now my label stands out on my map much better.   

And you can change the look of any of the objects on your map. If I want to change my link, I’ll right-click, go to properties, and on the appearance tab I can make my line a little thicker, maybe I’ll change the color to green. And I’ll change it to a dashed line, just because I can. So now again my link stands out on my map a little better.   
Now I do have to throw out one word of caution here. When you look at a link like this, you might be tempted to assume that the link is up. But there is no “Up” status indicator for links in network atlas. There is some status information.    
In the lower left-hand corner below the Orion Objects pane you’ll see Connection Display Options and you have the choice to show link speed or show link utilization, which will color-code all of your layer two links according to the link details. There is also a down status indicator, so if any of the layer two links that Connect Now was able to map automatically go down, the link color will change to red. So there is some link status information, but there’s not an UP status indicator. So if are looking at a map like mine and you see a link that’s green, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the link is up, it probably just means someone liked the color green.   
Of course you can also change the look of your node icons. To do this I COULD click the icon, go to the toolbar, and click Select Graphic. And that brings up a pop-up window with a whole bunch of built in graphics you can use as your icons.   
But instead, I’m going to use the right-click menu again, and go back to properties. And on the Appearance tab, notice I have more options. So I can still choose graphics, and when I click on select graphic I get exactly the same pop-up box I saw just a minute ago. But I also have additional options as well. I can choose a basic shape to use as my icon, which sometimes is exactly what you want, it just depends on what sort of map you’re building. I can also choose Orion LED Status Icon, which includes the Small LED icon which is actually the default Icon for almost all the objects you’ll see on your maps. I’m going to choose the Large LED, just to make my icon a little easier to see. And then I’ll click OK.  

So now my icon is a little bigger, and the reason I wanted to enlarge this a little is I want to take a look at the little bubble here in the lower right hand corner of the icon. This little bubble is the Child Status indicator. If you have an element that is part of the parent object that’s acting up, you’ll see the child status indicator pop up. For instance if I have an interface or a volume on a node that’s having problems. You can turn the child status indicator on or off by selecting the node, then on the tool bar under status and links, click Show Child Status, and you’ll see the bubble is gone.   
But again, you always have all the same options in the right-click menu, so I’ll right-click on the icon, go to Properties, and on the Status tab you’ll see Include Child Status. So I’ll check the box and click OK, and now you see my little bubble is back.   
So now my map is starting to take shape. It’s still very simplistic of course and there are a lot of features of Network Atlas that we haven’t talked about yet, but at least I’ve got something to look at. So I’m going to save my map by clicking save at the top of the toolbar. It will ask me to give my map a name, so I’ll call this My First Map and click OK.   
Sometimes people ask where the map files are actually saved. There actually is no map file. The maps only exist as links in the database. So to see your saved maps, go to the top of the Orion Objects pane and expand the maps folder. This will show you the list of all the maps you have built. And this is where you’ll do all of your map management. So if I need to rename or delete map, I’ll right-click on the map name and make that change here. When I save my new maps, this is where I’ll find them.
Alright, my map is saved and it’s ready to add to a custom view in the web console.

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