How we use SolarWinds NPM, and some of the features you will find helpful
Updated December 08, 2020

How we use SolarWinds NPM, and some of the features you will find helpful

Dwain Erhart | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM)

We use the Orion Summary page for all senior admins - we get alerts if things are coming down, if servers are running low on disk space, if memory is over utilized. Many different uses. I like the additions of NetPath services. I have also used reports and the network Atlas to create visual representations for our active links. Diving into a node is helpful to establish response time issues, trends and even capacity forecasts. I use this on servers, SANs, switches, Wireless controllers, and alert monitoring services.
  • NetPath services are a godsend when you are trying to explain to ISPs, etc. about where traffic is congested or stopping. Sometimes seeing is believing for them.
  • The other BIG deal is anticipating disk capacity - when volumes get to full, servers crash. With NPM, we can and create set thresholds for warning us before we run into issues, and then we can add storage, memory, and CPU, (especially on our Virtual environment.)
  • Alerts are great - instead of hearing from our users that a server is offline, we are aware of it right away.
  • We also like the alerts that le us know when there are upgrades available.
  • It would be nice to be able to set up SNMP3 for some of our systems in an easier fashion. But it is not a show stopper.
  • Sometimes the support refers us to the Knowledge base and Thwack. Not a huge deal, but I only end up putting in a ticket when I have spent a great deal of time searching for a solution.
  • Email alerts sometimes go wonky after an upgrade.
  • Once we started using it, it is hard to envision being without it! It is nice to show uptime percentages and the like to the folks who control the purse strings.
  • SolarWinds NPM is not the only SolarWinds product we use, but it was instrumental in making the decision to purchase additional SolarWinds products.
  • We used SolarWinds to build reports, which have lead us to replacing T1 circuits with faster dedicated wireless and fiber optic connections as well. I think our IT group is respected because we tend to be aware of the issues impacting our users on a deeper level than we would have without NPM.
We tried Dell OMNM manager suite but it was difficult to clear alerts, to setup, etc. It did more -- allowed us to back up and recover switch configurations etc. -- but it didn't present a very user friendly interface and it was impossible to manage correctly. We spent a lot on the solution because we got it with our new switching equipment and were told it was the best way to manage an monitor our switches. It turned out that we continued to rely on SolarWinds NPM after repeated attempts to configure and make OMNM usable.
SonicWall NSA Series, SolarWinds Security Event Manager (SEM)
If you have a decent sized server farm, you will want to monitor it. If you spend time arguing with ISPs about whether they are at fault, you need NetPath to clarify. If you are a very small business, you may get by without it, but it can really save your team time and effort when you deal with multiple servers. We don't monitor EVERY node on our network - just the high level points - all servers, all network egress/ingress points, keeping ahead of storage space issues, and getting an email if something is happening you would otherwise be unable to check on a regular basis.

SolarWinds NPM Feature Ratings

Automated network device discovery
10
Network monitoring
10
Baseline threshold calculation
9
Alerts
10
Network capacity planning
6
Packet capture analysis
5
Network mapping
4
Customizable reports
4
Wireless infrastructure monitoring
8
Hardware health monitoring
10

SolarWinds NPM Premier Support

SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) Smart Start

SolarWinds NPM ROI Questions

The entire team uses NPM - DAILY! If I am at lunch, I can count on the fact that someone else will get alerts as well. I like this product and for the most part there are few issues. The only thing I am having trouble with is some of the SMS alerts. The email alerts are great but the visual dashboard (Summary page) is always up on its own monitor.

Feature Questions

  • Early down time notification for ALL IT staff via email alerts
  • Alerts on issues with disks, fans, and various hardware.
  • Uptime reporting

Using SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM)

12 - IT Tech support. We use this extensively - those of us who use the product to troubleshoot issues get notifications and the help desk people use it to inform users that we are aware of a situation - even when the end user calls support. It makes the help desk people sound like the professionals they are. Getting a call and saying "yes, we are aware that your switch is down. We have someone working on it." or "the link to the internet is offline, we have contacted the ISP and are working with them on a resolution" sounds so much better than "yes, we are down and are working on it."
2 - We are systems administrators with years of experience. The reason we have 2 of us is for redundancy. We ensure someone is available when the other may be out of office. We also have a dedicated DBA to handle the backend database on Microsoft QL server. The skills to manage NPM are not extensive, a basic knowledge of SNMP, IP networking, SMTP setup and network topology are relevant.
  • Netpath has been very helpful - we have a complex setup for ISP and the ability to use this has helped a great deal.
  • Reporting on uptime. We didn't have a metric to show the leadership how our uptime percentage played out. We were able to create a monthly uptime report for our SLA.
  • The ability for our help desk to be proactive about issues when senior technicians are out in the field.
  • If they can get NPM to use SMS easily, we can get text alerts on weekends etc.
  • Volumes getting to close to capacity. This alert is a bit difficult to use. It is easy if it boils down to a percentage but if you have disks/volumes that are very large, the percentage can skew you results dramatically - so for now it is cumbersome to get granular alerting.
  • High traffic performance issues that need to be tracked in order to ascertain quality of service.
The entire IT staff relies on NPM in its daily operations. It would be impossible for us to maintain our level of service without it. If SolarWinds gets to proud of their product and begins to over charge for it, we would be forced to reconsider and use a different product. But as it stands it is worth the price to renew it.

Do you think SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) delivers good value for the price?

Yes

Are you happy with SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM)'s feature set?

Yes

Did SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) live up to sales and marketing promises?

Yes

Did implementation of SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) go as expected?

Yes

Would you buy SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) again?

Yes

Evaluating SolarWinds NPM and Competitors

We looked at Manage engine. We selected SolarWinds due to the price difference. We ran the product in demo for about a week. We needed some hand holding during the setup and we created some installation cheat sheets to assist. We used SNMP and polling and we manually added devices because we were not buying a license for every workstation on our network - only the things we wanted monitored. It was nice to be able to do this and save some money.

SolarWinds NPM Implementation

Make sure your inventory is accurate. Stand up some virtual machines for testing prior to installation. Make sure your database and its credentials are setup. Think about things you want to monitor that may not be obvious - UPS units, Door hardware, PBX systems, Fabric Channel switches, firewalls, routers, switches. Try to setup SNMP on these devices and have an IP that you will assign to the new server. If you do that it will go well.
Yes - 1) We gathered the monitored items first - Servers, switches, routers, SANs, door hardware, wireless controllers, firewalls, phone equipment and UPS equipment.
2) we created a visual map of our network for the atlas that displayed the buildings/sited for our network.
3) we created a database on Microsoft SQL server to house the data, created a virtual machine to house the software, created an SMTP receiver on our mail server to allow us to get alerts via email.
4) we installed the product and began the setup for all of these preparations
5) we added test nodes to see alerts for the first time and then decided on what to monitor within the nodes.
6) we tested the email alerts, created down times on dummy servers, test switches and our backup firewalls.




Change management was a small part of the implementation and was well-handled - We were starting from ground zero and it was minimal because of the extensive pre-planning on this project. We had the IP addresses/FQDN's of the equipment we wanted to monitor already in place. We created all of the requirements prior to launch so it was a very successful transition for us. Using Virtual machines to test was an awesome way to ensure things were setup properly in a minimal amount of time.
  • Getting SNMP setup on all of the servers was time consuming. We could not get SNMPv3 to work at all.
  • Disk thresholds were set for 15% in the beginning. However, on large multi terrabyte volumes this was not feasible - we ended up having to manually set these up for server OS volumes and start with critical servers first and then work through the rest.
  • Again - I keep coming back to an issue we have never been able to resolve SMS notifications.

Using SolarWinds NPM

ProsCons
Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Well integrated
Consistent
Quick to learn
Convenient
Feel confident using
Familiar
None
  • Adding nodes
  • Using the dashboard
  • NetPath is easy to use and read
  • I am having difficulty getting the SMS functionality working with Exchange 2016 without using a paid product like NotePage.
  • Figuring out which additional things to monitor on the servers to get a more complete assessment.
  • SMS notifications are difficult to setup without using another vendor to accomplish it.
I would give it a 10 if it was easy to setup SMS or the tool to get it working was built in. But this is a serious detriment to the product. IT is 24/7 for us and having a node down during off hours can be critical. We have users in our organization who work differing hours and we have some critical departments every day 24 hours. Having an IT staff that is only working on a day shift requires the on-call person to be able to get notifications via SMS