Watchman Monitoring + Archiware P5

I’ve been a little busy lately. I’m working on some scripts for Watchman Monitoring that alert when Archiware P5 needs attention. It’s really much more exciting than it sounds. ūüôā

WatchmanArchiwareP5

Archiware P5 plugin (included with Watchman Client 6.6.0)

UPDATE: The Archiware P5 plugin is now included with the Watchman Monitoring client version 6.6.0

Use the link above to read up about Watchman Monitoring and the Archiware P5 plugin.

This plugin is now part of Watchman Monitoring thanks to Allen and his team! Of course, big thanks to a lot of help from Python magician and MacDevOps:YVR colleague, Wade Robson. I couldn’t have finished this plugin without his help. Merci, mon ami. (Early help to get started with this project is thanks to Scott Neal, automation expert and programming wizard. Thank you so much Scott, and thanks for the tasty Portland beer!).

Watchman Monitoring is a group of plugins that will warn when drives are failing, computers have restarted unexpectedly or backups are not running.¬†All reporting goes to a beautiful web interface in the cloud which can keep a history of plugin issues. Watchman allows for integration with ticket systems and multiple users¬†including clients and IT staff that can keep track of what’s up with their workstations, and servers.

Watchman Monitoring helps me keep tabs of major issues at all my clients before they become disasters. I even use it in discovery for new clients to see what issues exist but are ignored or unknown.

Since I set up a lot of SAN storage for my clients, and I use Archiware P5 for backups and archives I realized I needed to write a plugin for Watchman Monitoring that alerts me to issues. Instead of remoting in with VPN to each and every client every day to check on backups the only alternative is to automate it. These scripts watch the LTO tape drives and emails when they need cleaning, or warns when running jobs need tapes, if workstations haven’t backed up in a while or if tape pools need more tapes. And in Beta 2 we’ve added a check to see if the P5 maintenance support needs to be renewed to give you time to renew it before it expires. As well as better alerts for issues with running jobs, and lots of bug fixes.

We have it working on Mac servers running Archiware P5 and the next step is Linux, and the Unix family. Later on, Watchman will port it to Windows. The scripts are written in Python which is great for portability (except to Windows. Ha ha). And the P5 Watchman plugins should eventually run everywhere that Archiware P5 runs (OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris and Windows).

The best part of writing plugins for Watchman Monitoring is the great help that Allen and the whole team at Watchman have given us been throughout our development of these Archiware P5 plugins. And of course everyone at Archiware and Mike at PVT have been super helpful in explaining the use of the nsdchat cli for Archiware P5, even going so far¬†as to add some features we needed to nsdchat when we explained how useful they’d be for this project. Mille mercis. Vielen danke.

Using GitHub to check code in, document business logic, write code, build a¬†wiki and then track issues that need bug fixes or enhancement requests has been an adventure. It all starts with an problem that you¬†want to be alerted for. It’s easy enough to add custom plugins to Watchman Monitoring you just need some ideas, a programmer (or two) and some time for testing, debugging, more testing and time. Did I mention you need lots of time? Ha ha

And now for a sneak peak of the Archiware P5 beta 2 plugins for Watchman Monitoring.

  1. Watchman nicely lists the new warnings and expirations for quickly getting to the issues you need to see.             Watchman Monitoring Archiware P5 warnings expiration X
  2. Expirations are tracked with Watchman. In this case we note the date when the maintenance for Archiware P5 needs to be renewed. Don’t want to miss that!¬†Watchman Monitoring Archiware P5 Expirations plugin Xpng
  3. Server info is good to know. Uptime, port used, and what exactly is licensed.         Watchman Monitoring Archiware P5 Info plugin X
  4. The LTO tape drive is the heart of any tape library, and alerting when it needs cleaning is very important.                                               Watchman Monitoring Archiware P5 Devices plugin X
  5. Other plugins watch the tape pools, running and completed jobs, as well as Backup2Go (workstation backup).

Watchman Monitoring Archiware P5 B2Go plugin X

Watchman Monitoring Archiware P5 Pools plugin X

Watchman Monitoring Archiware P5 Jobs plugin X

MacDevOps Manifesto

I was explaining Munki (and autopkg) to some colleagues when I hit on the idea of the MacDevOps manifesto.

Munki and friends (apps used to augment and extend Munki) are helpful automation tools. Setting up automation systems take time and must be maintained and grown but they pay big dividends.  Freeing us to do Dev work or other tasks they automate and iterate and repeat and build our systems in the way we want.

No more 100 machines built in a hundred different ways (unless we want to). But now we can check at a glance in MunkiReport to verify that indeed the latest Adobe Flash patch is installed. That may make our lives better. Especially if we need to satisfy corporate IT or our bosses that we are up to date and patched as required.

The MacDevOps Manifesto Part 1: Munki and friends

Munki is at its core free software created by Greg Neagle at Disney Animation and used worldwide in many different ways but essentially to distribute apps and run scripts on client workstations. There are many ways to customize it and if fits many different workflows. The MacDevOps:YVR conference I ran last June turned out to be a Munki love-in and showed me the many awesome and varied ways organizations are using it.

With AutoPkg, another free Mac open source project, Munki can get the latest updates to any software that it has recipes for and by extension install them on clients immediately. This fits the workflow of having Flash, Java and web browsers (Chrome or FireFox) updated as soon as possible for security patches. Exploits on the Mac are coming from these entry points and if you need to use these apps or plugins then having the latest versions helps. For this feature alone I use Munki. In a few months you will see that Munki with AutoPkg has downloaded dozens of versions of each app and keeping up with this takes time away from other tasks. Automation of simple tasks frees up our time so we can focus on other things. That is MacDevOps.

I also use Munki for installation of any app that is needed everywhere. If I have to download or install one app for one client workstation I put it in Munki and it is ready for installation anywhere with a simple click by the user in a self service portal or automatically by choosing managed installs. Of course if there is an app you don’t want installed (flash or Skype or messenger, etc) add it to Munki and mark it as managed uninstall. Done.

Scripts and files and config Profiles (replacement for mcx, managed preference settings for OS X) can be imported and used to configure workstations to make deployment easy and flexible. Put everything in Munki and then you don’t have to use golden master builds anymore. Buy a new Mac and install the Munki client. Done.

Add to this Munki Report which gives an excellent dashboard for what is installed and a total inventory of your client Macs. Very useful info which will let you know if you 15 different versions of flash or Photoshop or any app you choose to look for.

Last but least I always install Watchman Monitoring which reports to a secure cloud (web portal) to automatically monitor for bad drives, Ram, backups not running etc. It’s a great 50ft overview of all your installs and it can alert you immediately when a machine is having issues that you need to deal with (drives 90% full or Xsan volume not mounted, etc).

I find this combination of Munki and Watchman great for helping me manage my clients and I want to share these ideas about MacDevOps inspired ways of automating systems with everyone. Jump in and get involved with all these projects. You’ll be writing recipes for AutoPkg and sharing cool Munki tips and tricks with all your friends. And maybe like me you will start writing plugins for Watchman to monitor your favourite apps (I’m working on Archiware P5 backup and archive monitoring scripts).

Good luck to everyone and hope to see you at the next MacDevOps:YVR conference in June 2016. If you can’t make it go to your nearest Mac Dev / IT conference or start your own meet up somewhere local.