SolarWinds is our recipe for success
Aaron Oberman | TrustRadius Reviewer
Updated August 28, 2019

SolarWinds is our recipe for success

Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM)

We are using SolarWinds as a SNMP monitoring tool for all of our switches, routers, UPSs and other misc devices. It is the primary monitoring tool of our networking team and is utilized remote technicians as well to be informed through the alerting engine. SolarWinds has been instrumental in proactively addressing network and power issues prior to end users calling us. This level of support has enabled us to minimize downtime saving our company a significant amount of money.
  • I think the shining example that sets SolarWinds apart from the rest is the approach it takes with SNMP. I have served in the Managed Service field and monitored devices for over twelve years and SolarWinds SNMP monitoring design is bar-none the best I have used.
  • I appreciate how different aspects of NPM flow togeher. An example of this is when you monitor a wireless controller and how it will automatically populate all of your access points along with statistics into the system. Using this feature along with the Network Traffic Analyzer has been a powerful troubleshooting tool.
  • The user community is a large part of the success of NPM. SolarWinds provides a forum that allows others to share their successes and discoveries with others. It is both friendly and professional and has been a major help to me.
  • I'm not a big fan of the licensing model which can quickly become bloated as your consider adding additional modules. It would make sense to me to cover device counts in your maintenance contract and then simple pay a straight fee for your modules.
  • Getting assistance for setting up monitoring templates is primary found through the user community (especially for unique devices). I would love to see a section in thwack that has a more organized approach to monitoring scripts that are organized by device (perhaps even company).
  • Make all functions required for monitoring templates available through the web GUI. Having to configure use the Universal Device Poller for configuring SNMP templates is a nuisance.
We really havn't found an opportunity yet to utilize this feature as we believe it is intended. I can see where it might be useful in scenarios where there might be a network device that was installed any not documented properly (not on our network :) ). I love the idea of NetPath and I'm sure there will come a time when it will be of use to out team.
Network Insights is a time-saver. When we need a quick answer regarding a stat on an end device we can flip to the insight screen in NPM as opposed to having to logon directly on a switch or router. It summarizes the right kind of information which is also customizable to our preferences.
I love the freedom that NPM provides with defining alerts! The granularity of alert configurations within SolarWinds has been a major asset for our network team. We have been able to finely tune alerts so that we receive what we need to see without having to be bombarded with unnecessary chatter. Receiving pertinent alarms is crucial to avoiding unnecessary distractions during the day and getting much needed sleep at night.
  • First and most importantly, we maintain networks in food manufacturing environments. Downtime means loss of product and is always incredibly costly to our company. Providing proactive support for our systems has helped keep our downtime costs low.
  • Reporting has given us an opportunity to communicate network statistics to our company executives. This focus aides targeting areas of our network that need investment as well as areas that do not.
  • Granularity in monitoring and alerting has been helpful in assisting other departments within the organization such as maintenance, laboratory and administrative. It has allowed us to consolidate monitoring solutions into one tool as opposed to various implementations through-out.
  • SolarWinds Netflow Traffic Analyzer
Can't imagine using SolarWinds NPM without NTA. We utilize NTA regularly when remote sites contact us about performance issues. Critical tool to have on hand!
I have worked with tools that excelled at WMI monitoring or shined specifically in reporting but were found lacking in other crucial aspects required to a NOC. SolarWinds has been the best over-all solution that I have worked with that handles all the aspects of proving a proactive monitoring solution. In my opinion, SolarWinds SNMP monitoring is the strongest solution out there. Having the ability to integrate net-flow and wireless visibility into NPM and wrapping it all into a decent reporting engine is our recipe for success.
SolarWinds is specifically suited for network device and SNMP monitoring. While there are other solutions out there that do well for monitoring Windows, SolarWinds is the king of SNMP. It is the best all around monitoring solution that I am aware of. We use SolarWinds for a primarily Cisco network and the ease of adding devices and utilizing out-of-box features was crucial when we first began using the product.

SolarWinds NPM Feature Ratings

Automated network device discovery
10
Network monitoring
10
Baseline threshold calculation
9
Alerts
10
Network capacity planning
Not Rated
Packet capture analysis
9
Network mapping
Not Rated
Customizable reports
9
Wireless infrastructure monitoring
10
Hardware health monitoring
10

SolarWinds NPM ROI Questions

We absolutely have used SolarWinds for capacity planning and proactive support. I administrate an enterprise network with various switches, routers and UPS devices being monitored. We have used Solarwinds on numerous occasions to provide us reports detailing the age and resource utilization of our hardware at numerous locations. We have also used SolarWinds to monitor temperature readings at our facilities to determine HVAC needs.
1 points (e.g. from 98% to 99%)
2-3 - Our help desk uses their own tool to monitor desktops and thin clients (through Citrix sessions). Our server team uses a separate tool to monitor servers and blade hosts. Our network team uses SolarWinds to monitor network devices and UPS equipment. SolarWinds is the only tool that has the capability to monitor all items under one umbrella.
Yes - We were paying an Managed Service Provider to handle our server monitoring and patching. For our network devices we were utilizing HP Openview as well as some home grown applications prior to using SolarWinds. SolarWinds has allowed us to consolidate a handful of tools into "one pane of glass" simplifying our management approach.
  • Product Features
  • Product Usability
  • Product Reputation
  • Analyst Reports
  • Third-party Reviews
Product Features is probably the biggest factor as to why we chose to go with SolarWinds as our monitoring tool. Very few monitoring products offer the range of capability under one umbrella as SolarWinds does. We have been specifically impressed with the ease of SNMP monitoring that the tool provides. SolarWinds is not the cheapest solution out there, but this is an example where the benefit will outweigh the cost.

Using SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM)

10 - Network, Server, Helpdesk and Maintenance
3 - A working knowledge of SNMP, Windows Server and Windows SQL along with basic technical and troubleshooting capability.
  • After we began monitoring UPS equipment, we started setting up alerts for maintenance crews at various locations. This has alleviated communication bottlenecks when relaying power issues at our plants.
  • We currently monitor all network equipment, UPS units and temperature control equipment. I would love to start monitoring our Cisco UCS devices.
Cisco Firepower NGFW (formerly Sourcefire), Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller

Evaluating SolarWinds NPM and Competitors

We wouldn't make any changes as our adoption of SolarWinds went very smoothly. We knew what we were looking for and this product addresses the needs that we we required. General criteria that will be important for administrators new to monitoring in general are:

1. A good understanding of the product's licensing structure.
2. That the product or product modules addresses the specific monitoring needs that you have identified.
3. The product provides the alerting features needed by your support team(s)
4. A robust reporting engine that can address your reporting needs

SolarWinds NPM Support

I rated support at a "9" because there is always room for improvement.
ProsCons
Quick Resolution
Good followup
Knowledgeable team
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
None
No - Not unless you consider a maintenance contract premium support...
An area where I believe Solarwinds really shines is the user community and culture present on it's Thwack customer portal. Here you find a large amount of documentation and instruction covering the basics of modules or setting up a new monitoring template. I was having difficulty finding specific information on creating a monitoring rule for my Liebert UPS devices and SolarWinds support assisted me with this quickly and effectively. This is unique in my experience working with other monitoring vendors as one-off user requests like this can sometimes take weeks to get an answer (I had mine within 24 hours).

Using SolarWinds NPM

ProsCons
Like to use
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Well integrated
Consistent
Convenient
Feel confident using
Familiar
None
  • As with all technical tools there is a learning curve. SolarWinds NPM has a design flow that allows a users to make adjustments fairly easily once they understand the basics of the product. For new users, there is a lot of training information available through the Thwack website.
  • I have spent a lot of time learning how the reporting engine works. An important distinction that is that out of the box monitoring and reporting works immediately. If you are looking for custom alerting and reporting, it will take some work to understand.