What’s new with SolarWinds N-central?

Many MSPs rely on SolarWinds® N-central® to run their businesses, and we are happy to announce the availability of N-central 12.0.

N-central 12.0 was designed to give managed service providers (MSPs) enhanced abilities to see more deeply into customer networks, know more about the security of customer endpoints, and do more to grow their own businesses by increasing technician efficiency.

See more deeply into customer networks—whether on-premises or hybrid

As SMBs increasingly ask their MSPs to manage a patchwork of cloud, hosted, and on-premises services, the ability to pinpoint the source of IT problems becomes difficult. Combine that with the limited control the MSP may have over public cloud services, and this patchwork risks causing deep customer satisfaction.

We created the NetPath tool to address these issues, and it is now available in N-central 12.0. NetPath is a visual, intuitive tool designed to help you see if your customers experience slowdowns when trying to access a website or network service. Upgrade today to try it for 30 days.

 

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Odds are good you’ve used tools like traceroute to troubleshoot these scenarios. Traceroute is useful when there is a problem, but it has some serious shortcomings. For example, it does not easily present multiple paths, does not display historical data, and it often displays incomplete data as many firewalls block ICMP (internet control message protocol) requests. Not only can NetPath help with these challenges, it also displays the flow of data in a visually compelling, professionally designed UI, compared to the command line display of traceroute.

To get started, first upgrade your server to 12.0. Then under the left-hand pane, select View, then select NetPath. The NetPath tool can be set up on any Windows server or Windows workstation in N-central. Try it today.

Once the upgrade is complete, you will have five free paths to use for 30 days. We left some common URLs in the description below for you to try out with NetPath:

  • Monitor web connectivity: google.com | Port 443
  • Monitor Office 365 connectivity: outlook.office365.com | Port 443
  • Monitor office connectivity: portal.office.com | Port 443
  • Monitor on-premises apps: <n-central.server.com>| Port 443 (N-central server IP for hostname)

 

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For a comprehensive video overview of NetPath, click here.

Know more about endpoint security with patch improvements

The constant change in the threat landscape means MSPs must be aggressive around the first-line of endpoint protection—patching. As people grow more aware of the dangers of unpatched machines, managed customers want assurances that their endpoints are up to date.

N-central 12.0 includes patch management enhancements designed to provide MSPs with more awareness about the patch statuses and more control over managing the inevitable exceptions that arise. N-central users can now approve or decline patches using keywords in addition to lists of product categories and names. Also, you can choose to automatically approve or reject patches based on appropriate keywords, such as “Preview” or “Beta,” which may not appear in the existing category lists.

Based on our analysis of the patch status service, we also updated our patch status service to be mindful of your maintenance windows. These changes were designed to give enhanced reporting accuracy so you can clearly communicate patch statuses to customers.

Do more to grow through technician efficiency—PSA Improvements and more

Customer tickets drive a significant part of an IT technician’s daily workflow, and the constant switching between the MSP’s professional services automation (PSA) tool and their remote management console helps drives IT inefficiency and reduces technician productivity. N-central has long offered API-level integrations with PSA vendors such as Autotask, ConnectWise, Tigerpaw, and our own tools such as MSP Manager and Help Desk Manager. N-central also has a custom API available if you wish to develop your own integration.

One of our goals is to design solutions that improve technician efficiency by reducing the number of screens technicians have to use. We try to deliver on this by offering improved ticket management workflows and helping eliminate the most common reasons technicians switch between consoles.

The PSA module now lets MSPs:

  • See the last five tickets, regardless of the source (PSA or N-central), from the “Create Ticket” button in the device. From there, N-central allows you to:
    • Create new tickets for items not directly under management in N-central.
    • Quickly take ownership of the ticket by changing the assignee.
    • Properly classify the ticket by changing its status and priority.
    • Review the notes logged against the ticket to understand the context and history of an issue.
  • Create tickets manually or automatically from any monitored service, on any monitored device, at any time to help you save time and be more proactive.
  • Reduce the need to flip back-and-forth between your PSA and RMM by updating tickets from the audit trail feature. This feature tracks Direct Support actions, such service restarts and running the command prompt, then lets you push details to a ticket with the click of a button.
  • Close tickets automatically based on the service’s state, helping you save time and clicks.

Everything was built with flexibility and customizability in mind—MSPs can configure N-central to align with their procedures and workflows. We also offer free training on the PSA Integration in N-central and notifications in the technical training area of our Community Resource Center to support our partners and offer assistance when they have questions. If you do not have a PSA and want to see what SolarWinds MSP has to offer, start an MSP Manager trial.

Beyond our PSA integration, this update includes other features developed to improve technician efficiency:

Scheduled tasks—AV Defender scans, scripting tasks, software distribution tasks, and more—have been updated with a new missed executions section. This new section enables you to configure what N-central should do if a device is offline when a scheduled task is slated to run.

How missed executions works—By default, N-central runs scheduled tasks during a specified time window, but we’ve added the option to have them run when a machine boots up. The missed executions feature also lets you control how long the system should wait after the device powers on before running the scheduled task. You can configure the missed executions settings from the Schedule tab of any scheduled task. For example, let’s say an AV Defender full scan is scheduled to run every day at 9 am. If the device is offline at 9 am, the task would normally run at 9 am the next day. Missed executions allows for the AV Defender scan to run as soon as the device is online, helping ensure the device is protected, regardless of when it’s powered back on.

Single sign-on (SSO)—N-central now supports SSO using a Google G Suite account. Based on the OpenID Connect protocol, this new integration helps you discover and import G Suite accounts, then sign into SolarWinds N-central with those accounts. As a result, the existing LDAP Servers menu, which is under Administration > User Accounts, has been renamed to SSO Providers. You can now configure both LDAP integrations and G Suite integrations from that one location.

Take advantage of these great features by upgrading today to N-central 12.0. Log into the Community Resource Center and download the appropriate service pack. Don’t forget, there will be five free paths available for use 30 days post-upgrade.

By Omar Kahiel

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