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Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Menggunakan Ticketing System dalam PRTG


Another new feature for PRTG Network Monitor has arrived! Monitoring your IT infrastructure and taking care of potential issues is even more comprehensible now: The new ticket system lets you and your colleagues from the administration team keep track of all network related issues which PRTG detects. You can use it to document related resolution steps and important system information.
Basically, the ticket system as implemented in PRTG manages and maintains lists of current issues regarding a defined application scenario. One element in this system is a ticket which reports about a particular problem, the status of it, information about the steps which were conducted to resolve it, and the involved person(s) who took care of the issue. You might be familiar with such systems from working with them in your support center or utilizing them as a bug tracking system. Such a ticket system perfectly suits network monitoring: You can use it in PRTG to work on network issues, to gather PRTG system information, and to distribute information and tasks to your colleagues.
Tickets in PRTG can contain information about recent events in your PRTG installation which need a closer look by the administrator or another responsible person. They can be created either by the PRTG system or by PRTG users. If you use PRTG with a team of administrators, you can now assign a monitoring related task together with your comments to a particular user directly in PRTG-quickly and easily with two clicks via the context menus of affected monitoring objects in your device tree. With notification triggers, you can set up PRTG to open tickets (and automatically close them) for any of your sensor alarms.

Notifications as Tickets

With the ticket system, we added a new option to PRTG's notification system as well: When you choose the option "Assign Ticket" within a notification, PRTG will create a ticket automatically and assign it to you (or another PRTG user defined) when there is an outage or a limit triggers the notification. As soon as a notification ticket has been opened, the responsible person receives an email that informs about the new ticket and can take care of the issue immediately. As long as the ticket remains open, you know that the problem persists. If the ticket is assigned to a whole user group (for example, the PRTG System Administrators group), all members of this group receive an email and the first person reacting to it can indicate that the issue is taken care of: "Hey, the disks on our ESX server are running out of space. Since I can take care of the issue, I'll assign this notification ticket to myself!"

A Ticket's Lifecycle: Open—Assign—Edit—Resolve—Close

You can consider each monitoring related task to have a lifecycle in the ticket system:
    1. The task becomes alive when a ticket is created. Either a user or the PRTG system has opened it. For example, a notification was triggered by low disk space. The system creates a notification ticket and assigns it to the PRTG Administrators group.
    2. Then, members of this group take appropriate actions. One member of the group knows who is responsible and assigns this ticket to this person together with a comment describing the problem.
    3. This PRTG user increases the disk space; the alert condition clears and the corresponding sensor turns up again.
    4. Now the user resolves the ticket which goes back to the PRTG admin group.
    5. Another member of this group proofs the solution ("Sensor is indeed green!") and closes the ticket. The lifecycle of the task ends.
      Oh, and by the way, to keep it simpler for you, PRTG can close notification tickets automatically as soon as an alert condition disappears. This comes in handy when an outage appears during night, for example, due to a faulty internet line:
      • PRTG detects the outage, opens a new ticket, and assigns it to a specific user (group) as defined.
      • Your provider restores the internet line and the issue is resolved by the next morning.
      • Because of this, there is no need for an issue tracking for you anymore.
      • PRTG can automatically close the ticket which it originally created when it detected the outage.
      It does this automatically so you don't waste your time by looking into an issue which has already been resolved!

      Three Types of Tickets: User, ToDo, Notification

      In conclusion, we have three types of tickets: user tickets which are created by a user in PRTG; ToDo tickets which are created by PRTG and show important system information and in case of specific system events; and notification tickets which are created in case of monitoring alerts. Tickets are neatly arranged in a list which you can call via PRTG's main menu bar. You can filter the list by ticket status, type, responsible person, related object, and date of last change to find desired information quickly. Keep everything in your network under control—we are sure that tickets will help you to comprehend what is actually going on in your network.

      Tickets Assimilate ToDos

      Until now, PRTG has used ToDos in order to provide you with items regarding important system information or action for you to take as the administrator. For example, new ToDos were created after applying auto-discovery, after connections of new remote probes, for finished reports, or when a new software version was available, as well as for some other system related issues. However, you were only able to view information and to acknowledge it. The introduced ticket system supersedes ToDos, you will be able to view and accomplish system related tasks in a more comprehensible way and relate and work on the issues with your colleagues. PRTG documents each resolution step so you will never miss important information.
      You can also maintain your tickets in PRTG for Android—we plan to include the ticket system into our iOS app in one of the upcoming versions as well!
      If you aren't a PRTG user yet but want to manage network monitoring more comprehensibly with the help of tickets, then try out PRTG's free trial now!

      Mengirimkan alert SMS di PRTG

      In some monitoring scenarios users want a notifications system that can alert independently from an existing IP (and internet) connection. We have already introduced several means to do so, but with MWconn it gets really simple.
      PRTG already comes with IP-based SMS functionality which enables you to trigger and send out text messages to your mobile whenever there are alarms in your monitoring. IP-independent SMS dispatch can be achieved, for example, with a GSM modem connected to the machine running the PRTG core server in combination with some third party command line client which can send out SMS text messages via the connected modem.
      There are several suitable tools available. Our partner ProComp gave us a valuable hint to a solution that even works with free software only.
      In this article we will describe a sample setup using the well known Freeware tool MWconn. We have set up a test scenario using an Option iCON 225 GSM USB modem (also known as "T-Mobile Web'n Walk Stick") in combination with a prepaid card operating in the Vodafone network. Our test scenario runs well under Windows 7 x64 and can send SMS text messages with up to 160 characters (longer messages will be cut off in the current MWconn version). This setup is inexpensive, too: Searching the "bay", compatible USB GSM modems start from 20 EUR (new).
      Please note: This article is intended for your information to demonstrate how you can add independent SMS functionality to PRTG easily. Very likely, the steps to go will vary for your individual setup, depending on Windows version, hardware, and network provider used. Please understand that we cannot provide any support regarding the functionality of third party software, nor answer specific questions regarding hardware configurations.

      Step 1: Check for Compatible Hardware

      There is only a selection of GSM modems which work well with MWconn. In order to find a compatible device, please have a look at the "Data Cards" list in the MWconn wiki.

      Step 2: Install Your Hardware

      On the computer running your PRTG core server, install the modem using the correct drivers (we found drivers on the manufacturer's website). Make sure that the hardware is installed correctly and that no modem management software (running in the system tray) is blocking access to the modem.

      Step 3: Download and Install MWconn

      Download the Freeware tool and install it.
      In our test, we downloaded version 5.7 and installed it directly on the computer running our PRTG core server, into the folder
      C:\mwconn

      We assume you use the same folder.

      Step 4: Configure MWconn

      In the installation directory, start the "CONFIG.exe" file with Administrator rights. MWconn is mainly intended to provide internet access via GPRS/UMTS. As we only want to use SMS functionality, there are just a few specific settings we want to change here. Our SIM card does not require any PIN code.

      Global Tab

      In the "Global" tab, in the section "Standard settings", select the network provider from the list (you will find several for almost every country). Apply your selection by clicking on the "Confirm" button.
      This will set the short message service center (SMSC) to the correct number. This setting is needed to successfully send out SMS messages. If you do not find your network provider in the list, go to the next step.

      Network Tab

      In the "Network" tab, in the "SMSC" section, make sure the correct short message service center number for your network provider is shown. It should be right if you successfully could apply settings in the previous step. Change the number if needed.
      We do not pay attention to the other settings in this tab.

      Connection Tab

      In the "Connection" tab, disable automatic start and set the "Connection mode" option to "dial-up". This is because we do not want MWconn to establish any data connections.

      Start/End Tab

      In the "Start/End" tab, we will tell MWconn to set up itself as a Windows service on the computer running the PRTG core server. This way, it will start-up automatically after a server reboot and will be available even if no user is currently logged in to the server (just as the PRTG services themselves).
      Make sure you started "CONFIG.exe" with Administrator privileges. From the "Rules for program start" section, choose "GPRS.exe" from the drop-down menu. For best network coverage, do notchoose one of the EXE files containing "UMTS". This way you make sure your modem connects to the nearest available cell on the mobile network, no matter if this cell supports UMTS or not.
      Click the "Confirm" button and confirm the following messages. MWconn will tell you that you will need a "CONTROL.exe" file if you want to see GUI output for the program running as service. Confirm with "Yes" to create it.
      MWconn is now set up as a Windows service. Open "services.msc" to check if creation was successful. There should be an entry called "MWconn_Internet" with start type "Automatic", running under the "Local System" user account.
      Leave the "CONFIG.exe" program by clicking on the "OK" button.

      Step 5: Start MWconn

      From the installation directory, start "MWconn.exe". Make sure your GSM modem is recognized successfully. It might take a few seconds until the modem is initialized and connects to the mobile network. Eventually you should see your network provider's name and the signal strength.
      "up" and "down" will both be shown as "offline", as we previously disabled automatic network connections. This is okay. MWconn is now ready to send out SMS text messages.

      Step 6: Understand How Sending SMS with MWconn Works

      Check the MWconn user manual in your installation directory to understand how sending SMS works.

      From the MWconn Manual

      «MWconn provides other programs with the option of sending short messages. To make this process uncomplicated and also facilitate the usage of batch files, data exchange per files is used in this case. For this purpose, MWconnchecks on a regular basis, whether a file whose name meets the formatsms_ExampleApplication__155500123.txtexists in the folder sms_send in MWconn working directory. If yes then the text that is contained therein is sent and subsequently the file is moved to the folder sms_out. The destination address must be provided in international format, the plus sign is omitted in the file name. The maximum text length is 160 characters, i.e. no 'long SMS' can be sent in this case.
      Example of application: In case you want to send an SMS from a new batch file (e.g. senden.bat), then generate this file with the name "send.bat" and the following content:
      echo Hello, this is an automatically sent SMS. >sms_send\sms_test__155500123
      Double-clicking on the icon of "send.bat" will send an SMS with the above-mentioned content and to the number +155500123.
      [...] In order to prevent duplication of SMS that is sent or that it is continuously sent across in the case of a program error, MWconn sends the consecutive SMS with the same destination and same content only post lapse of a time lag of ca. 3 minutes since the time of the last send action.»

      In a Nutshell

      Basically, PRTG just needs to create a text file in a specific format and save it to an "sms_send" folder in the MWconn directory, in our case:
      C:\mwconn\send_sms

      MWconn will check this folder and send out SMS messages automatically. Processed files will be moved to the "sms_out" folder. Only the first 160 characters of each message will be sent; all other content will be cut off.

      Optional: Test It

      You can test SMS sending if you run "MWconn.exe", create a text file in the according format and move it to the "sms_send" folder.
      After a few seconds, the program will show a "Sending SMS" message and again after a few seconds you should receive the message on the target device.

      Step 7: Prepare PRTG Notification

      If not done yet, reboot your server to start MWconn as a Windows service, or start the "MWconn_Internet" service manually.
      In the "Notifications\EXE" sub folder of your PRTG installation directory, create a new batch file
      mwconn.bat

      In the file, save the following content:
      echo "%~2" >"c:\mwconn\sms_send\sms_PRTG-%date:/=%-%time::=%__%1.txt"

      This batch file will expect two inputs as parameters, a phone number and a message, and create a new text file using MWconn compatible naming and content. File names will also contain an ID based on the current time in order to make them unique (the ID is parsed for incompatible characters typical for date/time values).

      Step 8: Add PRTG Notification

      In the PRTG web interface, create a new notification using the "Execute Program" method. In the "Program file" drop down, select the "Mwconn.bat" entry.
      In the "Parameter" field, enter
      • the recipient phone number in international format, with leading country code but without plus (+) sign
      • the message that will be sent, in double quotes.
      Put a space between the these two parameters.
        For example, enter
        1555123456 "[%sitename] %device %name %status %down (%message)"

        This will create an SMS message to the US number +1-555-123-456 containing some default information about the sensor which triggered the notification.
        Please note that the message must be written in double quotes (") to make sure it is regarded one parameter. Only the first 160 characters of the message will be sent.
        Save the notification and test it by clicking the "Test" button in the notifications list. You should receive a test SMS shortly.
        Now set up notification triggers in PRTG just as usual to trigger your new SMS notification.

        Debugging

        If you have problems sending SMS messages with such a setup, please make sure your MWconn Windows service is up and running. From the MWconn installation directory, start "CONTROL.exe" to see the output of the MWconn instance running as Windows service. This window should show your mobile network name and coverage. It will as well show a message while an SMS is sent.
        Create a new text file with the name
        sms_test__1555123456.txt

        In the filename, replace 1555123456 by your own mobile number in international format, omitting the leading plus (+) sign. Open the text file and write the word "test" in it. Save it.
        In the MWconn installation directory, create a "sms_send" sub folder (if it does not yet exist) and copy the newly created text file to this folder. The SMS containing the word "test" should be sent to your mobile number after a few moments.
        If the SMS is not sent, please check the SIM card and make sure you are allowed to send SMS with it.

        If you like MWconn, please consider donating to the author to support this project