Solarwinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) is a powerful, scalable network monitoring tool. It has a vast range of features, and a large number of expansion plugins that can add functionality for almost any need.
Some of the main features of the Network Performance Monitor include:
Great UI – SolarWinds has consistently good UI design that makes it easy for administrators to manage the network. Customizable dashboards make it easy to view status of key services. If a problem arises simply click and drill-down to view devices and their components like network interfaces, CPU, etc.
Monitoring – SNMP or WMI monitoring is SolarWinds’ big strength. But NPM also can function as a Syslog server (see also What is Syslog' - http://www.networkmanagementsoftware.com/what-is-syslog), and also adds native support for VMware, as well as ability to monitor VSANs. Unfortunately there’s no native support for Hyper-V yet.
Alerting – send messages to administrators when pre-specified thresholds are exceeded (e.g. low memory, high CPU) or if devices fail. Or, events could trigger a script to run.
Reporting – The NPM reporting center includes a large number of pre-canned reports that can be run ad-hoc, or scheduled to run automatically. It also has a custom report writer module that allows users to design their own reports. However I found the stock reports to be a little basic and would love to see this area of the product improved in the future.
SolarWinds has great integration across their entire product range. Nearly every plugin and additional product (think NetFlow monitoring, application monitoring, DDI management, etc) seamlessly integrates with the rest of their Orion suite, streamlining access and reporting.
Surprisingly, one of Solarwinds other strengths comes from their customers. Thwack is the name of the Solarwinds user community, a place where both users and Solarwinds staff go to exchange ideas and support – and also product extensions and customizations. Need to customize NPM for a specific need, add a custom report, or poll a custom device' Odds are good that someone else has already figured out a way to do it, and posted it on Thwack.
NPM is priced on a per-interface model, so that could add up quickly depending on your requirements. This is a little different from most of their competitors who price their software on a per-device basis. Make sure you do the math to understand the total cost of the product.
Overall, I’m consistently impressed with the power of NPM, ease of use, and quality of this product, and would have no trouble recommending it for most networks. SolarWinds offers fully-functioning, free 30-day trials of Network Performance Manager so you can test it out in your own environment.
SolarWinds Orion NPM has one of the best user interfaces in the business.
The NPM product does an all-round great job at automatically discovering network devices.
Support for other features: Syslog, virtualization, VSANs.
Thwack (SolarWinds User community) integration.
Some administration tasks can't be completed through the web UI and require the old windows application consoles.
Stock reporting feels limited - would like to see simpler ways of generating my own reports.
No native support for Hyper-V - though can poll with SNMP.