SolarWinds NPM Review
I like the "Manage Node" feature which provides me with a quick visual representation based on search strings.


Valuable Features

With admin-level permissions, the "Manage Node" feature is the most valuable to me since my preference is to search via strings. It provides a quick visual representation based on searched strings but a lot of false-positives as well with certain vendors – Cisco being one of them, e.g. reporting “critical/warning" states on things that don't really matter to us such as voltages on line cards or in the backplane of devices.

Improvements to My Organization

It improved the way our organization functions by being a consolidated product which I was able to do a lot of the initial data entry and organization with – unfortunately I have not had time to dedicate to figure out every bell-and-whistle with the NPM product. I’ve deployed rules for SNMP traps, syslog alerts, and other advanced alerts to send emails based on certain parameters – sadly these have been on an “as-needed and as-time-permitted” basis which has been lacking lately.

Room for Improvement

I honestly haven’t given thought to areas that need improvement since I spend a lot more time monitoring the network than optimizing NPM and features; nowhere enough time-wise to nit-pick and test every little thing. So far for what I have done with it, it has worked, getting there wasn’t always the easiest – usually a lot of trial and error based on research.

Use of Solution

In our network we've used Solarwinds NPM product for a little over 3 years.

Deployment Issues

I wasn’t part of the deployment for it; our systems team was responsible for initial deployment.

Stability Issues

Yes, plenty of those that our systems team has spent hours on the phone with Solarwinds support with trying to rectify. Especially after moving to later NPM releases; this has made our systems team weary of moving to later NPM releases due to past occurrences following.

Scalability Issues

Yes, polling more frequently yields a near exponential increase in resource utilization which becomes a problem on virtualized platforms resulting in excessive queueing on poller engine(s). While Solarwinds support virtualization they prefer dedicated hardware by some of their documentation; pretty expensive when you consider Solarwinds software, licensing, and then dedicated hardware to boot. Virtualized deployments also seems to yield a slower experience when browsing the web front-end, this could be due to the uniqueness of our corporate network though.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

I haven’t worked with their customer service probably since the beginning, any problems with the platform our systems team would usually be in contact with Solarwinds customer service and technical support.

Technical Support:

I haven’t worked with their customer service probably since the beginning, any problems with the platform our systems team would usually be in contact with Solarwinds customer service and technical support.

Previous Solutions

Older systems that were part of a legacy network and platform that were not well kept and didn’t have many features we were looking for. During RFP’s we narrowed it down to a couple of vendors with Solarwinds at the time taking the lead.

Initial Setup

I wasn’t part of initial setup/deployment of product itself.

Other Solutions Considered

I don’t recall, was over 3 years ago and we have undergone major transformations as a company since then.

Other Advice

Solarwinds is highly modular regarding products and services so it is important to keep in mind that most other modules have a separate price and licensing tag and that it can become very expensive very quickly. When looking for features try to narrow it down to only the critical ones you need, I prefer simplicity and functionality over complexity – as a company I imagine the complexities came from catering to as many customers’ needs as possible. Lastly prepare to spend a lot of time working and tending to NPM, the biggest time taker I’ve had with NPM personally was getting Overview, Node, and Interface views setup that were useful and speedy – their default views are not recommended and “noisy.”

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

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