The good, the bad, and greatness!
November 07, 2018
The good, the bad, and greatness!
Score 8 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor
SolarWinds NPM is only being used in our Information Technology department. It helps us address preventative maintenance on our network infrastructure and keep downtimes to a minimum. It is also great at analyzing and monitoring the communication between network devices to see where issues may have risen. Being able to embed maps of our school sites also gives us a visual of our network topology.
- The event log in NPM is quite detailed in explaining what take place and at what time. It also allows you to click on the event so you are able to see the exact node which has been affected.
- NPM also does a great job in constructing visual charts from the SQL database. Once these charts have been created you are able to search for a particular date and time to see what took place on the network, such as how much traffic was sent and received, and utilization of the interfaces being monitored.
- The dashboard gives a nice overview of what's happening on the network. It is also customizable which allows you to remove and/or add any information that you want to see right away.
- One of my main issues with SolarWinds NPM is the fact that it only supports Microsoft's SQL Database. Since there are open source alternatives, this adds to the overall cost of ownership.
- I feel that the amount of server resources it requires is quite taxing. This can be a make a break for smaller organizations who have limited resources.
- The GUI is needing a major overhaul as it's becoming a bit dated to look at and could use an update.
Since our network largely depends on our county's infrastructure, there was an issue that occurred when they implemented new equipment to some of the other sites. We started seeing our overall download and upload speeds decrease from 1gbps to 10mbps. We were able to see NetPath and get a better visual representation of where part of the problem persisted which decreased the amount of time resolving this issue.
The insights have been helpful at being able to quickly spot issues. Since we are able to view our configurations right next to the interface being looked at, it really lets you see if it is a configuration issue or something more troublesome. Since there was a breach at a neighboring site, of all other school districts including our own, we have been on high alert with our network security. Being able to monitor our Cisco ASA to see who's connected and all VPN sessions gives us a better sense of security.
The pre-defined alerts are fine but I've definitely had to do some tweaking since there were certain things or pieces of hardware that were always going off when nothing was actually wrong with one of our core switches. After making my customizations, it has been wonderful at sending emails and SMS alerts. It has truly allowed me to set certain thresholds that our equipment must meet and since everyone has different types of equipment this allows each organization to truly take control.
- It has saved us time by alerting us when a node has gone down and telling us exactly which one it is. This has saved us several hours so we are not having to manually search for the issue.
- We have been able to properly secure our school district's firewall overall network using insights.
- The heat maps it provides once the wireless equipment has been added to NPM has made sure we have the proper coverage for our students and faculty.
The only other product I am familiar with is Zabbix. Although Zabbix is powerful it has a much higher learning curve and implementation is a bit more difficult. There are options to have a vendor create and setup a solution for you, or learn how to customize everything yourself. Because SolarWinds is ready to go after installation, it is easier to get up and running and performs just as well.
I believe NPM is well suited in scenarios where the business has dozens of network equipment and/or servers to monitor. Since it is able to monitor virtually anything, from servers, to network equipment, virtual machines, and wireless devices it is best suited in and environment that supports several different types of devices and within an organization who needs these services up and running at all times.