SolarWinds NPM - A Must-Have for Network Engineers
September 23, 2016

SolarWinds NPM - A Must-Have for Network Engineers

Andrew Aegerter | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor

We use SolarWinds across our entire campus, our corporate remote offices, and our thousands of retail locations. NPM enhances our troubleshooting capabilities for our helpline, the engineering teams, and helps us scale out and manage our infrastructure easily when NPM is combined with NCM. We currently use NPM for monitoring and managing our routers, switches, servers, access points, UPS, point of sale, and several others. NPM is flexible like that, where if there's something you want monitored but it's not natively supported, it takes little effort to create custom monitors and connection profiles for that equipment in SolarWinds.
  • Monitoring - The monitoring system is extremely flexible. You can create templates that apply to all devices as a default, and at the same time, create custom polling and monitoring for individual devices. If SolarWinds doesn't natively support the polling of information you're looking for, it's as easy as creating a custom poller and applying to the devices you want that information from.
  • Alerting - This is honestly my favorite piece of NPM. The alerting system is so robust and malleable you can do pretty much anything with it. When paired up with NCM, you can even automate configuration changes or initiate the execution of scripts. If you know how to write MS-SQL queries, the alerting system is a must-have because you can literally alert on anything!
  • Reporting - Reporting jobs can be run once, or scheduled. The scheduling has a bit of depth to it so you can customize it suit your reporting requirements quite easily. Just like with the alerting, the reporting system is rather robust. NPM comes with a couple hundred report templates right out of the box. If there are custom reports you want, they're easily created through the web portal. Again, if you know MS-SQL queries, this reporting engine is extremely powerful.
  • My only Con for NPM is the fact that there are so many features and it's so highly customization that it's difficult and overwhelming for new users to learn sometimes. In our implementation, we've heavily modified the default layout to try and make it more intuitive, but it can still be a bit confusing at times.
  • SolarWinds NPM provides us with historical data that we can analyze and use for capacity planning. Using our retail locations as an example, when we roll out new applications to the point of sale or install new technologies in the store (think IP cameras), NPM easily provides us with baseline information with snapshots of network health before and after major changes.
  • One negative about NPM is as a product is the cost. It's not cheap to buy, not cheap for maintenance, and not cheap to run (takes lots of server resources). But, you get what you pay for. SolarWinds provides quarterly patches, hot-fixes, new features and enhancements, and free version upgrades between major releases.
I don't think this is really a fair comparison, but both Cacti and Nagios have some similar functionality to SolarWinds NPM in that they all do performance monitoring on networked devices. Cacti and Nagios both lack the in depth feature set and customization that NPM offers, but Cacti and Nagios are either extremely cheap or free when compared to SolarWinds.
SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) is a great product for medium to large companies, and in my opinion a must-have for their network engineering teams. A company's need for NPM is directly proportional to the number of networked devices they manage. The more networked devices they have, the more the information SolarWinds collects becomes useful. That being said, small businesses may not get much return on investment when purchasing SolarWinds. For smaller companies, they may look toward free or relatively cheap solutions like Cacti, PRTG, or Nagios.

SolarWinds NPM Feature Ratings

Automated network device discovery
Network monitoring
Baseline threshold calculation
Network capacity planning
Network mapping
Customizable reports
Wireless infrastructure monitoring
Hardware health monitoring