SolarWinds Assessment -- Can we monitor the monitoring system?
March 20, 2020

SolarWinds Assessment -- Can we monitor the monitoring system?

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 5 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor

SolarWinds is being used to monitor systems that are in
place across the whole organization. Some alerts create incidents in our
ticketing software using a third-party orchestration software. Server and
Application Monitor is combined with several other SolarWinds products/modules
to get more capabilities. At least four team members manage different
products with access provided to dozens of IT users. The intention is to
be proactive to mitigate issues before the customers experience issues or use
the data collected to improve troubleshooting.

  • The online community is a good resource to solve monitoring questions.
  • The default web page displays are very functional and they can be modified for specific teams and uses.
  • The built in alerts and monitoring application templates are useful.
  • Training and Thwack lab videos are very informative.
  • I understand that our system is not highly available, but every 4 to 6 months SolarWinds fills up logs or ports or numerous other maladies that cause it to stop monitoring. Sometimes this causes a big enough issue that Monday morning the whole system is crashed. Several times it stopped polling devices without any outward signs. One time it stopped monitoring and wasn't discovered until we were trying to look at processor performance on one specific system and it showed that it had stopped recording data 4 days prior. The polling engines were up, but everything had just stopped polling. SolarWinds does not do any root cause analysis, but they do a lot of rebuilding components when systems fail. Sometimes that means a complete reinstall. I have used many ways to monitor the monitoring system so I can determine when it has quietly failed. The simplest, but somewhat effective way, has been to ask SW to send me an email every 4 hours. That requires me to check my email evenings and all weekend and after 4 months I have still missed a couple of outages.
  • Nearly every SolarWinds upgrade has created issues with stability and monitoring downtime. The first time I experienced the upgrade nightmare, it was completed by a SolarWinds engineer who was attempting to fix an issue. That was the time I learned to always take a VM snapshot before an upgrade was attempted. That first time could not be backed out and ended up causing problems for months. This upgrade problem must be true for many customers because the upgrade system has been changed a lot in the last three years. Support has been very responsive and usually can work through the problems. It is unfortunate that it consumes so much of my time for two to six weeks following an upgrade.
  • Our current Strategic Account Manager is useless. Instead of helping with a support issue that had been going on for 6 months, he suggested we pay for higher-level support for faster response times. Then no follow-up until he sent a form letter a month later asking if we have any current needs! To be fair we have had two other Account Managers that were responsive when we needed assistance. Those two moved on to other companies. It is especially significant to note that we only contact the Account Manager as a last resort and in three years that has only been about 2 or 3 times. The current one had only one request for assistance from me and of course, that will be the last time I reach out to him.
  • As with any company's support, SolarWinds has good and less than helpful support technicians. Several times I have had to request a different tech, or just close and open a new case when the tech provided answers like, just turn off that monitor on the SolarWinds application server instead of figuring out why it frequently alerts. There has also been resistance to escalating cases when progress has halted. On the other side of that is, there are several support technicians that know the products well and have had experience with many common issues. Those techs get things fixed quickly.
  • SolarWinds has helped to improve proactive resolution or mitigation of application issues. This has often resulted in issues fixed before customers were aware of the problem.
  • SolarWinds has provided valuable information when troubleshooting issues to meet Service Level Agreements.
  • SolarWinds has helped get the correct team working on issues.
Zabbix was a free solution running on a linux platform. It was extremely limited in capability and the version running did not have a good interface.
The size of our environment seems well suited to SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor. There are about 2000 nodes, 13000 elements, 6000 volumes, and 4000 interfaces. I am sure it can be scaled up to accommodate larger organizations, but that would require additional investment in hardware. The server requirements are very high and pushing desired guest Virtual Machines specifications on our current hosts. Unfortunately, being a Health Care organization is not a good fit when not having high availability implemented. I do not have experience with other large scale enterprise monitoring systems, but reliability is my concern with SolarWinds.

SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Feature Ratings

Application monitoring
Database monitoring
Threshold alerts
Predictive capabilities
Application performance management console
Collaboration tools
Not Rated
Out-of-the box templates to monitor applications
Application dependency mapping and thresholding
Not Rated
Virtualization monitoring
Server availability and performance monitoring
Server usage monitoring and capacity forecasting
Not Rated
IT Asset Discovery
Not Rated