SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Review: "All the eyes in your environment with SolarWinds SAM"
SAM allows us to have a centralized control of our IT assets. SAM lets us know when an application is using many resources at best, and in the worst case it lets us know when a container like Amazon EC2 or Tomcat is down.
Regarding our customers, in addition to the above, SAM allows us (and them) to determine reasonability for the performance of our applications compared to others of the client property (our outsourcing partners).
- SAM really has the exact customization detail needed to monitor your most important assets on a single screen in real time.
- Works very well with Azure apps and Amazon AWS. You can integrate them in less than an hour.
- Easy and comfortable UI for less technical roles.
- Clearly one of the best in the monitoring systems field given the experience from SolarWinds
- Reports and dashboards can be quite simple without customization. Customizations in general can have a little slower learning curve.
- Some clients depend on batch and shell scripts. The tool provides monitoring though the logs, but that is it. We would like to see more detail regarding the consumption of resources in these types of programs.
- For Azure apps monitoring, other Microsoft tools like SCOM have a better performance overall.
If you rely on Microsoft applications and consider to monitor only these systems, maybe you would prefer Log Analytics or the robust SCOM.
On the other hand, if your ecosystem is small (1 or 2 application for a startup), I would recommend ad hoc tools specialized in these particular scenarios.
- Powershell. We use this as a key tool to make sure software (both custom and delivered) is up and working correctly. Microsoft has standardized on this for the foreseeable future and Solarwinds does a great job using this tool set.
- Stack monitoring. It has always been extremely difficult to find the source of a problem. Combining SAM with their other products really provides an amazing insight in correlating a perceived issue with its ultimate cause.
- Community/Support. While SAM is a great tool, it is the people that really drive this product. Both support and customers are very responsive and excited to help out.
- Learning Curve. SAM (and other solarwinds products) take a lot of time to learn how to make everything work well. Management can become frustrated with the perceived lack of progress. Solarwinds has recently made efforts to improve this with their Customer Success Center.
- Reporting. The reporting tool is ok for some basic table reports but lacks a lot in comparison with reporting services.
- Default dashboards. While custom dashboards can be awesome tools, the default ones are overwhelming in detail and underwhelming in looks. There is are also difficulties in creating great looking dashboards.
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Review: "Great module and addition to your SW suite of tools"
- Tight integration with their network performance monitor
- customizability of alerts
- customizable dashboard so I can see only what matters to me and hide all the other "stuff"
- Fantastic user resources aka Thwak
- A tighter tie-in with O365
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Review: "Great Product and easily one our best decision to Purchase SolarWinds"
- It has pretty descriptive errors that it can capture. This greatly helps and improves troubleshooting.
- It is easy to see when something is not running and the added alerts help with our support promptness.
- Once we enabled the alerts, we were actually able to find issues that we didn't even know we had
- Sometimes it takes some time to make sure alerting is setup right.
- Some of the setup is not straight forward and needs a little research.
- Super-simple to configure everything from standard HTTP checks all the way to custom Powershell scripts that return tables of values
- Upgrading is simple- the unified installer detects and upgrades all Orion products (NPM, SAM, DPA) and upgrades them at the same time, to maintain version compatibility
- Documentation and forums are straightforward and helpful
- The web UI is often slow, even on beefy hardware with a beefy database server.
- The alerts are very rigid- e.g. you can't define a group of email addresses and then include the group in alerts, you have to list every email address in every individual alert.
- The F5 BIG-IP support is terrible- you cannot exclude specific components from the view the way you can with other parts of the software, so our balancer view shows a bunch of test/dev nodes that shouldn't even be there
- AppInsights is poorly designed and poorly executed
- Most permissions/settings for users are not defineable by group or policy, you have to edit individual users and edit a big sheet of permissions dropdowns on a per-user basis
1. If you have a high change rate (adding or removing nodes/applications, etc), SAM might not be for you- there is an API, but it is not very good, so you will probably be doing most of your configuration using the web interface
2. If you have a large enough environment that it makes sense to have several staff [members] to manage the care and feeding of infrastructure monitoring, you might be better off using an open-source solution and rolling your own
3. If cost is a major factor, SolarWinds products might not be for you- everything SolarWinds sells is incredibly expensive.
- Alerts software failures
- Integrated with NPM
- Integration also allows event history
- SAM is customizable, almost too much
- SW relies on it's customer base for direction (too heavily)
- SAM needs a little too much customization at times
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Review: "SAM from the perspective of MS SQL and application monitoring"
- SAM gives excellent out-of-the-box insight into database performance.
- SAM's flexibility and configurability allows us to add our own custom metrics. For instance, I currently have a query I wrote that checks a table and sends me an alert when performance is beyond my set threshold.
- I find setting up new pages in SAM to less than intuitive.
- Setting up new alerts can be cumbersome depending on the alert type.
- Granular level of detail about servers
- Robust reporting
- Alerting on CPU, Memory, Disk.
- Getting set up took a bit of work.
- Installing the agent on all of our servers for best availability of information
- Website and URL monitoring.
- Windows services monitoring.
- Process monitoring.
- SAM templates.
- Setting up templates take some time as there is a learning curve initially. It has to setup in two different places.
- It would be great if templates could be auto-assigned as new servers are added into the system.
- More templates to be released on frequent basis.
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Review: "SolarWinds is like hiring someone to just sit and watch your stuff 24/7 and you never have to feed them!"
- SolarWinds has a great dashboard interface. The ability to modify the dashboard and add data per user is excellent.
- Getting detailed event logs is outstanding for troubleshooting. Being able to use the Message Center to gather Events, Alerts, Syslog, Traps and Audit Events is a great resource.
- The way the tool is organized to display network, application, and server data separately really helps. Top 10 lists are extremely helpful to pinpoint issues during troubleshooting.
- I would like an easier way to provide SMS messages through a web-based service or other offering.
- The mobile application is decent but could benefit from an update.
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Review: "Server and Application Monitor - Stay On Top of Your Outages"
- Monitors applications. It lets you know when something is down, at what time, and when it came back up.
- Strong custom community templates. For those of us that aren't as tech savvy, the community offerings are very helpful in getting the best from SAM.
- You can create dashboards to monitor your most important applications.
- The process is very manual. It takes a little time to learn, and remember how you did it the first time.
- Navigation is confusing the first number of times as well. Trying to get back to where you started can be a pain. It's not 100% clear what you're doing at times, until you've done it a few times.
- Creating your first dashboards can be a bit daunting at first. This is pretty typical of anything I've used from SolarWinds.
Our environment is very distributed throughout the United States. SAM gives me good insight to what's happening in our various data centers and local sites, in addition to the valuable information that I am getting from NPM about the nodes themselves, resource usage and other metrics. Thanks to the SAM alerts and App Insight I am able to better tune the applications that we are monitoring (AD/SQL mostly). It has exposed some misconfigurations on our SQL servers and lack of resources on some servers. In addition to identifying servers that needed more resources to be allocated we identified some nodes that were over provisioned allowing us to reclaim processors, memory and storage.
If I were to offer a criticism it would be that between NPM, SAM and other SolarWinds monitors that are part of the suite there can be an overwhelming amount of data. It isn't trivial to tweak what you are monitoring and getting alerts for. Depending on the size of the environment don't be surprised if it takes a lot of resources (human time) to get it setup and working to suit you. It will work doing a next, next install but you can end up getting overwhelmed by data you might not care about.
- SAM and App Insight are handy to look at the whole environment. When looking at a node I can see how that fits into the whole enterprise. If a issue is reported I can see that there might be some environmental issue at the root of the problem and not necessarily the server that is being reported. For instance the SQL server is fine but a switch upstream from that server is having issue or there is a internet circuit down. This saves a lot of troubleshooting time.
- When you see monitors that are out of tolerance there are immediate resources to help make sense of the reported issue. Not just that something is out of sorts but why.
- The metrics that are collected simplifies the process of identifying trends and the predictability monitors do a good job of letting you know that not only are resources are becoming tight on a node but a estimate when they will become critical. This give you that chance to plan for the growth instead if a reaction to some critical event.
- I have used both WhatsUp Gold and SolarWinds. One item that I think WhatsUp does particularly well is customizing the user interface for each user. Customizing the interface in SolarWinds is cumbersome. A change to a page layout by one user affects all users that use that page. The security is very granular and it can take some work to get what you need. There is nothing ad hoc about it. But this is more of a complaint about the whole Orion interface that displays the SAM data in addition to data from all the other modules.
- I would also like to see some improvements in node configuration, I would like for it to be easier to manage nodes as groups. You can groups nodes together for monitoring purposes but there isn't an obvious way to manage them as a group for instance add/remove monitors and pollers. I would like to see a feature to add a server to a group and it automatically gets a predefined set of pollers and monitors assigned.
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Review: "SAM - simple to implement, but extremely in depth monitoring for any organization"
We are alerted on a range of items, from complete server outages to a single SQL database's excessive fragmentation. We also use the statistics from the collected data to determine how we can improve application performance and the end user's experience.
- SAM can dig deep into the applications to provide a wealth of information and immediate feedback on the items it is monitoring.
- We can get a bird's eye view of our environment from the out of the box dashboards, with easily identifiable health indicators showing the state of servers and applications, services, connection attempts, and even the amount of network traffic to individual websites.
- In depth details on our SQL environments allows the team to view the status of the server and databases, but also give detailed information on each component and offer suggestions on how to resolve the issues that we may be facing.
- Each implementation of SAM is going to be different, and requires customization to correct alert on the environment it is monitoring. I would like to see some better probing and questions pertaining to our environment when installing that would help the refining of the thresholds and alerts on those thresholds. With that said, I think this is a difficult task for Solarwinds to provide, but it would be a huge selling point.
- Many of the out of the box dashboards are helpful. We also like the intelligent discovery of the applications.
- I have received a great deal of sales calls from the Solarwinds sales team in the past. It has slowed down recently, so maybe that trend will continue.
- Trends! Showing how a particular application is being used gives us valuable information on what's going on. The ability to have historical data to backup reasoning for adding a server is priceless!
- Using the built in AppInsight takes away the need to know what all makes up a service. Also the ability to create your own application monitor for non standard applications is beneficial.
- The ability to create alerts via email or SMS on critical applications is wonderful! This puts our department "in the know" before the phones start ringing. This feature keeps our help desk knowledgeable on what's going on so they can keep the chaos to a minimum.
- Knowing when an application is in a warning state is helpful so we know when to troubleshoot before it becomes an issue. The great thing about SAM is that it tells you where the problems are so you know where to start.
- I know there are a few bugs still with AppInsight for IIS. When trying to unmanage a web site it does not always work correctly. You sometimes need to go back and forth a few times before it changes to unmanaged.
- I wish that out of the box AppInsight for SQL Server didn't have such low thresholds on its templates. The override feature is useful in this case but you need at least a month of real data to set a new baseline.
- New applications! Right now it's just the basic AD, Exchange, SQL, IIS, Windows, Linux.
- The ease of creating a custom alert is really incredible. Something that may take 30 minutes in Nagios takes only 3 minutes in Solarwinds.
- The custom views are incredibly useful for meeting the demands of specific department and execs to be able to see only what they want to see of the systems being monitored.
- The Thwack community is a to-the-point technical forum with real-world usable solutions by novice and veteran Solarwinds users alike. Its resources include the actual code/plugin needed to take advantage of the solutions.
- The learning curve can be steep. With so many granular, customizable options, it can be overwhelming.
- The default alerts issue too many emails that sound unnecessarily urgent and are sometime misleading, like saying the Domain Controller is down when a user account gets locked.
- Some of the products in SAM are also included in other Solarwinds products making choices sometimes difficult.
- SAM helps our support staff identify applications not meeting our designed SLAs. We have two industry specific applications that have memory leak issues and using this platform we are able to set threshold warnings up letting us know it is time to take a preventative step to make the applciation behave correctly.
- SAM also allows us to monitor server performance so if we end up with logs that get out of control and start eating drive space up, we are promptly alerted so corrective action can take place before service degrades.
- I like have the SAM trend reports so I can see how the performance of applications behave overtime so I can ensure we have enough compute resources to meet our growing business demands.
- Really the price is about the only area I'd like to see SolarWinds get aggressive on. There are many players at different levels in this space, and I get questioned often on the need to spend as much as we do on SolarWinds.
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Review: "SolarWinds SAM - perfect for standard environments, messy to customize in atypical settings"
- Create custom WMI monitors for specific Performance metrics on any Windows Server. This is done through a wizard interface that directly queries the Performance Monitor and gives you the same basic interface for selecting specific metrics. Truly the easiest I've ever worked with.
- Out of the box support for standard IIS monitoring that checks all of the standard metrics using a module called AppInsight for IIS. For straight-up out of the box usage, this is a great solution.
- A very straightforward method of adding additional nodes and matching them to precreated templates to reduce the additional work of adding the same components over and over to the same types of servers (especially when considering a large web farm where every server needs the exact same set of monitors.)
- Customization of the AppInsight for IIS monitors is cumbersome and, in some cases, non-existent. If your organization has atypical requirements, it is difficult to customize and, in a few cases, seemingly impossible (or at least requires a huge effort.)
- Initial setup of SolarWinds SAM was a series of headaches that required multiple calls to support. Again, there is no easy path to solve issues because even the techs have no idea what to do. This just means that SAM's error reporting lacks clarity.
- It is completely confusing as to when you should use Agents or when you shouldn't. Also, techs do not agree. There needs to be more consistent messaging here.
- The SQL backend for this tool is VERY sensitive to performance issues. It really is best to use a dedicated SQL server, but this really shouldn't be necessary. We launched this against a single farm of 10 nodes and it can take up to 2-6 hours for the system to notice changes to that environment. This is unacceptable. The solution? Move to dedicated SQL. That makes an expensive product quickly more expensive.
- The ability to quickly and easily create your own application monitors for those custom applications means you never have to say no when a customer of yours wants to make sure their application is running optimally is a huge benefit.
- Out of the box, Server & Application Monitoring begins to deliver value throughout your infrastructure. Just be careful as some results can be shocking that some apps you thought were fine might not be. The proactive stance that your customers will see you taking will be worth it however.
- As always, the Thwack community has your back if you have questions or want a one off monitor that might be better constructed than your programming skills might allow. It is also very nice that the SolarWinds employees are active in the community to help in really tough situations or answer a question that you don't feel warrants opening a ticket.
- I tend to get a lot of false negatives with the new built in IIS and SQL monitors, so many that I no longer use them and find it annoying that they keep trying to hit every computer I import.
- Navigating the SAM settings page can be very confusing unless you use it a lot (in which case you might be doing something wrong since SolarWinds is largely set it and forget it). It would be nice if it were in a more hierarchical setup.
- If you do set up an application monitor incorrectly you can email bomb yourself or worse your customers very quickly. Test, test, test!
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Review: "Easy and intuitive monitoring of the whole enterprise application stack"
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Review: "The Application Performance Monitor that will not let you down when you need it most"
- Monitors application health
- Create customize monitors to monitor status on just about any service
- Useful dashboards, that assist with troubleshooting and integrate well with Solarwind's other modules.
- Licensing based on the monitors used instead of the application can make this solution seem a bit limited. For example monitoring all your exchange servers services could easily eat up a number of these licenses quick. So recommend counting each critical service that supports your application.
- SolarWinds monitors CPU thresholds well.
- SolarWinds monitors application thresholds well.
- SolarWinds monitors application availability well.
- Setting up the monitors for the first time can be a little tricky.
- Setting up the monitors requires direct access to the server hosting the application. It would be nice to be able to do that from the webpage.
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Review: ""SAM, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.""
Our deployment is being used by many departments across most of our business.
SAM addresses the need to know. Knowing that your infrastructure is up and running and can be addressed at a moments' notice is peace of mind. The product pays for itself buy catching problems before they become a problem.
- Alerting off of anything is done very well. You can make a simple alert or you can make them as complicated as you want.
- It monitors port, and can alert on, throughput, response time, and packet loss just to name a few.
- It gives a rolling list of events for the network.
- I have nothing here. SolarWinds usually addresses anything needed.
- SQL server monitoring was probably the best use for SAM, although there are other products that get into further detail. SAM basically gives us the confidence to be sure that the source of a bottleneck or error is not hardware or configuration related, but instead a possible code or efficiency issue.
- Exchange 2010 monitoring is a little difficult through the management console, so SAM provides that extra layer of monitoring that shows what applications are failing, when the management console doesn't load. This can only be done otherwise through advanced powershell scripting.
- We've seen products that provide that extra level of monitoring that the SQL server monitoring wasn't capable of. However, the cost of solutions like Idera are very high in comparison to what you are getting with SAM.
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Scorecard Summary
Feature Scorecard Summary
About SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM) delivers powerful application and server monitoring capabilities for IT pros enabling them to diagnose and troubleshoot issues faster. The vendor’s value proposition is that this solution prevents slow applications and downtime from impacting end-users and business services. Users can use this tool to pinpoint the root cause of application issues across various layers of the IT stack.
The vendor says SolarWinds SAM is affordable, easy to deploy, use and customize. Users can automatically discover their systems environment and start monitoring in about an hour. No professional services or consultation needed.SAM is built on SolarWinds Orion® platform enabling native integration with Network Performance Monitor and other IT management software from SolarWinds.
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SAM pricing starts at $2,995.
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