SolarWinds NPM Review

Enables us to proactively resolve issues, resulting in significant time savings and minimal downtime

What is our primary use case?

This solution has many different roles in our company. There is the application support group who configure it for monitoring specific services within applications and our desktop or operations group which monitors toner in laser printers. My group, which is primarily networking and servers, use it for bandwidth monitoring, server processor utilization monitoring, and for disk space monitoring. So we use it for a lot of different things. There are probably 200 services that are being monitored within our financial system to make sure that it is running optimally. I'm an infrastructure supervisor and we're customers of SolarWinds.

How has it helped my organization?

The outcome of using this solution is that we've been able to become more proactive on really resolving issues before users know that there's a problem. Outages have reduced by probably around 90% because we're able to take and proactively add space to a disk or add processors to a server before users know there's a problem. It means we can take something down at night and fix it, rather than disrupting work in the middle of the day. 

What is most valuable?

The alerting and usage tracking is a valuable feature because it alerts us when we're getting near capacity on disk space, network utilization or processor utilization. It helps us manage our capacity and enables us to be proactive.

What needs improvement?

This is a complex product to set up and I think it's really too detailed and could be simplified. It's a change from their older product which was very easy to set up and manage. The new one is more difficult because it's far more detailed. The solution does everything we ask of it, but it takes a long time to deploy.

Additional features and improvements would be to simplify initial data gathering so that we can deploy easily and then refine it over time. Ideally, we'd like to be able to get something up and running in a week and then go through and decide, for example, to monitor things on one particular server and not necessarily on others. They could possibly create a generic installation and then let us go back and refine it. We spend a lot of time without having all of our equipment monitored because it takes so long to initially set up each server. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for three years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I think this is a very stable solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I think the solution is easy to scale although it does require a lot of resources. When we initially set it up, we had about a quarter of the resources that we currently have and we set it up too conservatively which caused a lot issues. When the consultant reset it, we quadrupled the amount of resources that the system has. We have about 10 people that get alerts and are actively involved with the system. The system requires about 10 staff hours for maintenance, updates and verification that everything is working.

As we refine it to monitor services, we are going to increase the usage. So right now we have it monitoring a database server, but we're not monitoring all of the services within that server. So we might have 30 databases in there. We're not yet monitoring each of the individual databases.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have very few issues that require technical support, we only contact them a few times a year. They generally resolve things pretty quickly and our issues are generally related to improving deployment. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used to use a product called ipMonitor, which is a much simpler solution. It's one-tenth of the cost and we used it strictly for alerting. It would tell us when a server was down, but not that the server was running at 70% utilization for the previous week. ipMonitor was strictly a something is working or a something is not working solution.

How was the initial setup?

The server configuration for installation took about a week. And then another two to three weeks to get it installed across all of our servers. We're making modifications every day. We initially set it up ourselves and then about two years after the initial installation, we hired a consultant to redo the installation and make it more efficient because it wasn't initially configured optimally. It's the amount of detail you need that will determine how much time you spend setting something up.

What was our ROI?

Our ROI has been in the savings in downtime during business hours.

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

Our annual maintenance fee is USD $15,000. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

HP had a similar product that we looked at but it wasn't nearly as universal as SolarWinds products. HP has a product to monitor servers and a product to monitor networks, but they don't have one product that does both well, SolarWinds monitors everything very well.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend taking into consideration that you will need more server resources than you think. Knowing that means you can save on having to rebuild the whole environment later on. We ended up going from one server to four servers and it's running much better now. Don't skimp on the server resources you get with the application.

I would rate this solution a 10 out of 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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