Auvik Review

Builds and updates network topology in real time, making that information immediately available

What is our primary use case?

I do internal IT for a company and I use Auvik for most of my daily tasks as they relate to firewalls, switches, and routing.

How has it helped my organization?

The automation of network mapping enables junior network specialists to resolve issues directly and helps to free up senior-level team members to perform more involved tasks. It can be a key tool in environments where somebody who doesn't have a strong network skillset can go in and see, "Is it good, is it not?" and be able to make a decision on whether it needs to be escalated to me or not.

It also automatically updates network topology. One of the things that I really enjoy doing, when I first get into a new environment with it, is to watch it rebuild the map as it learns in real time. I can see its process and for me, as a very technical guy, that is one of the most entertaining things to watch, as it learns and updates the changes in a network in real time. It saves time maintaining network topology since the tool actually does it automatically. I have a high level of confidence that the information is correct, and it is immediately available. Just last week, I got a call from one of our internal auditors who needed to provide some information. He said, "Yeah, this usually takes a few weeks. Can you provide firmware information and serial numbers?" During our phone call, I was able to get into Auvik, pull the list, get it sent over to him and say, "Here you go. We're done."

Auvik has also decreased our mean time to resolution. Being able to go in and look at what's not broken, very quickly, and get that confirmed, means that I can look at what I actually need to fix. It eliminates a whole bunch of other problems and a whole bunch of checking. It has reduced our MTTR by up to 80 percent in some cases.

And because we've got it triggering PagerDuty alerts, if something problematic really fires off, I will know about it and be in the tool looking at what's going. I can say, "Hey, this is a problem we need to alert," or, "This isn't a problem and we just need to be aware," very quickly.

Another benefit is the TrafficInsights feature which shows network bandwidth usage without the need for expensive, in-line traffic decryption, and it does it very well. That is a very nice-to-have in my current role because we don't have issues with our network bandwidth. But in other environments that I've been in, where there were issues with bandwidth, it is a very well-put-together tool allowing me to find the answer and say, "This is what our problem is." It enables me to tell the business that we either need to spend more money on bandwidth, or we need to deprioritize a certain type of traffic. It gives that information in a format in which I can give it to somebody who is less technical than me. I can show them the graph and say, "This is what's going on and why."

TrafficInsights helps to show you where your system is experiencing performance issues around capacity and what is the busiest traffic. It can help improve network performance by letting me know exactly what's going on. It lets me see whether it is an application misbehaving, a lack of bandwidth, an upgrade that we need to make, or a configuration. It gives me these choices so that I know for real what's going on. In some cases, people "feel" that something is going on, but this gives me the facts to know what's going on. I would estimate TrafficInsights has improved our network performance by 50 percent.

In multiple environments I've been in, we've been able to eliminate other tools and use Auvik as our single network management solution. In those environments, I've had up to five tools that I have been able to decommission by using Auvik. In that environment where there were so many tools in place, replacing them probably saved $100,000 a year.

What is most valuable?

Some of the key features that I get out of it are that it is a well-rounded monitoring solution, so I know when something fails—whether it's a device or a service on the device. But it also performs backup, in inventory, of some of the key things to control and manage the network.

And one of the best things about Auvik, and it's why it's one of my go-to products, are the remote access capabilities. Without a VPN and without any other way in, I'm able to get in and work on and troubleshoot my devices through the remote access console. It has multiple options for that and has been very useful and a huge time-saver. That's one of the killer features. It's one of my must-haves and that's why I like it so much.

In addition, for products in this category, Auvik's ease of use is one of the best. It's really built for people like me. I'm heavy into the parts of IT that are not server-related, including routing, switching, firewalls, et cetera, and it is organized for somebody like me. It is the network engineer's toolset. It gives me what I need upfront in a way that I understand well. Auvik speaks my language.

When it comes to its network discovery capabilities, It is the best that can happen. I've used it in multiple environments, and as long as I've got the right starter information, it can go find information in an hour that would otherwise take a person weeks. It's very good and very quick. I've been able to benchmark it against competitive tools and it is way more useful, giving me information that I actually need and can use.

The automated, out-of-the-box device configuration backup capability is one of the key features for me in Auvik. To manage a network, one of my key requirements is to be able to rebuild that network if something catastrophic happens. Having up-to-date backups is a must, and this is a tool that I count on to get that right, and it has always performed as I expect. I am able to very quickly and easily audit that the backups happen and I know that they're there. I can also restore to a previous point with very little hassle, if anything goes wrong. Compared to other backup solutions, it saves me 80 percent in terms of my time.

What needs improvement?

The logging features could be a little bit better polished, although that aspect is relatively new. It comes in as raw data, with different formats for different vendors. It's not immediately clear to people what's going on with some of that and you have to read through the codes. Some of the higher-end logging solutions, like Splunk, which is very expensive, can parse through it and correlate items better. Improvement to the logging features would be a value-add, but I'm still very happy that it exists.

There are a few edge cases where I have found support for devices to be a little bit lacking. I'm migrating away from Check Point right now and Auvik and Check Point do not get along at all, so it was very troublesome to get those put in place.

Another issue that I know is already in progress, but that will be very nice, is full integration with PagerDuty. I'm using email connectors right now that have a little bit of a lag, so once the APIs are in place between Auvik and PagerDuty, it will give me better alerting when something breaks. I know that's on the roadmap because I've talked to them about it.

For how long have I used the solution?

Between two different companies, I've been using Auvik for about three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The availability is 99 percent. They do have maintenance windows where it's not available. I've been happy with their communication on the maintenance windows and they pick the times very well when it's not going to be available. I realize that everyone needs maintenance, but it works out very well.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I've used this for everything from companies that are in a single building up to a company that had offices in 20 time zones with almost 100 offices, some of them with 1,000 users, and it was able to scale up to that. I've never had worries about how big this can go.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is fair to good. There have been a few times where I've had to escalate to somebody higher, when I thought the lower-level person should have understood it, but I've always ended up with a good answer.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward and, as far as the product category is concerned, it's the most straightforward. I've used this in an MSP environment and I've done deployments into close to 30 companies with Auvik and it is, by far, the fastest way to do it for a fresh deployment.

We can get the initial install going in a few hours and we can be confident in the data in a week or two. Comparing that to other tools, it would be an initial deployment of a week or two and two months until we're confident with our data. It has probably reduced the time spent on setup by 90 percent. And when dealing with an MSP, it cuts down a client onboarding by at least a month, which lets revenue start coming in earlier.

The implementation strategy depends on the size of the environment that we're going into, but we usually put in collectors at key locations and first let them do their discovery and see what's out there. Then we'll tune them down so that the collectors are monitoring from the right locations. But we like to get as much data in as possible, initially, and then tune downward.

As a cloud-based solution, it requires just about no maintenance and that's one of the other benefits of Auvik. With other solutions, we have spent more time updating and babysitting the servers and fixing our tools, instead of fixing our environment. That's a major plus.

What was our ROI?

When I was first evaluating it and we were going through pricing models, I was able to make the case that, for a team of five, this would be better than adding a person to the team when it comes to getting work done.

When I was new in this environment, I was trying to get a lot of stuff together. I brought Auvik as a solution to my supervisor and said, "This is what we used at my last company," and he was familiar with my last company. He viewed them as very good at what they do. I suggested we take a look at Auvik. As soon as he got the pricing during the first sales call around Auvik, he said, "Sold. Well worth that money." They didn't even have to finish the presentation. He saw what was being offered and he also based his decision on the fact that I'd used it before. The cost easily made it worth it in his mind for what it would provide to us.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing is fair for the value and time saved that you get out of it. The larger you go, the more sense it makes per device, because as you hit different pricing tiers, it becomes much more affordable per device.

Auvik is billed by network device. They've got a very clear-cut definition of what is a device and what isn't a device, and that's very convenient. Anything like a server, or a phone, or an access point, is not billed but they are still captured for data, which is very useful. Auvik is very upfront that the solution is not a good server monitoring platform, but it's a fair server monitoring platform and that comes along for free with everything else. My server guys have another system they use for monitoring servers, but they find being able to look at Auvik as well has been a huge value-add.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have used LogicMonitor, PRTG, the N-central suite, the ManageEngine suite, and the SolarWinds products.

In terms of the differences between those solutions and Auvik, I would summarize them this way: Auvik is a tool built for the network guys, primarily, whereas a lot of other tools are built for the server guys first and then add in network. It's a tool really built for what I care about and it values my time. I'm able to get it put in fast, I'm able to use it fast, and my information is fast. It lets me do more with less.

What other advice do I have?

Definitely go through the proof of concept testing. The results speak for themselves. It's a fully rounded product and everyone I know who has used it has been happy with it.

When you're first deploying it, understand how you need to set up your locations. Otherwise, you're going to end up redoing work. If you're in a larger environment, you need a little bit of knowledge about where things are to be able to put stuff in the right places. If you're small, you can just drop it in and be super-happy with what it gives to you.

Overall, compared to everything else out there, it's a solid 10 out of 10. I haven't found anything that gives me what I need better.

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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