be prepared to roll up your sleeves
Updated July 15, 2020

be prepared to roll up your sleeves

Bret Brutlag | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor

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.
  • The new modern Dashboard should have shipped with more canned items, a fair representation from the standard legacy offerings. At a minimum the newest SAM release should have included at AppInsight standard items. The Dynamic Designer is difficult to use because no example of whats returned for a is provided. Without an intimate knowledge of the schema its cumbersome.
  • Server & Application Monitor has helped identify both current active issues and focus the troubleshooting where it needs to be.
  • Issues that might not be noticed can be identified before they become a issue.
  • For success it takes a commitment. There is so much functionality, its difficult to leverage all of it without commitment from all teams in a organization. The Network teams need to be bought in to maintaining the Network Performance pieces, Same for the DevOps team, DBAs and management. Without commitment it become fragmented and parts of the suite done get the full ROI they should.
A major influence was the overall reputation of SolarWinds as a company. It was obvious that there was a continual roadmap for product improvement and growth. During the evaluation period support was friendly and professional. I had confidence in the information that the support engineer was passing on. Additionally the most significant influence was the whole stack in the suite in addition to Server & Application Monitor. A goal for picking a monitoring tool was to get as close as we could to a single pain of glass. There might have been some individual products that could have met the needs but nothing was hitting as many of the check boxes as Orion was, (NPM, Netflow, SAM, Virtualization, Patching).
With a limited operations staff it would be next to impossible to get the insight into all the server and applications stacks in our environment. The reality is that there would be issues that would go undiscovered for who knows how long. If there's no smoke you might not notice many issues. SolarWinds Server & Application Manager (SAM) has worked well for us to work with application owners to show that performance issues that they may perceive are not part of the environment but the application configuration. The biggest benefit to me is just shortening the time to resolution for issues and more importantly providing me with information that allows me to be proactive and attack problems before they are noticed by our users.

SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Feature Ratings

Application monitoring
Database monitoring
Threshold alerts
Predictive capabilities
Application performance management console
Collaboration tools
Out-of-the box templates to monitor applications
Application dependency mapping and thresholding
Virtualization monitoring
Server availability and performance monitoring
Server usage monitoring and capacity forecasting
IT Asset Discovery

Feature Questions

SAM is very useful, the monitors provide relevant information. The lower rating was more to deficiencies in the Orion web platform than to SAM itself. It is very rigid and cumbersome to customize for a particular users role.

Using SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor

Tripwire Enterprise, AlienVault Unified Security Management, vSphere

Using SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor

Like to use
Well integrated
Quick to learn
Feel confident using
Requires technical support
Lots to learn
  • Getting started with a basic out of the box configuration is very straight forward. Discovery of nodes is simple and wizard driven.
  • Assigning monitors and polling engines to nodes is simple enough. Just select them from some dropdown boxes and apply.
  • Security is cumbersome and not intuitive. It is simple enough to add users and assign some rights. But locking users out of some functions or views is not intuitive at all.
  • Assigning new or changing out monitors for an existing group of nodes could be simpler. The process currently makes it easy to miss nodes or accidentally include nodes that the monitors are not appropriate for. Using application groups to mimic a role based approach to assign and maintain monitors would simplify the process.