I believe the ease of setup and use, including everything, from the initial installation to the discovery of devices is the most valuable. The advanced alerting and notifications capabilities are helpful as well. Devices can be discovered automatically on a schedule, and grouped by vendor automatically, which makes it very easy to track down devices. The customizable dashboards and reporting are flexible and tend to come in handy as well.
Improvements to My Organization:
SolarWinds NPM allowed the IT department to take a more proactive approach to troubleshooting, and gaining insights on device availability. We were able to use the integration with Storage Manager and Virtualization Manager to gain valuable insight into our storage and virtualization environments. We were able to readily pull reports on device availability, and other metrics, to provide to our senior management staff and external security auditors.
Room for Improvement:
The SolarWinds notification and alerting configuration could be simplified as it would be easier to find if it was within the NPM web application instead of in a separate client application. The SolarWinds Orion/NPM installation comes with a few Windows client application “add-ons” that would be better served if they were built into the SolarWinds NPM web application. Another area for improvement would be better integration between Solarwinds NPM and Solarwinds NCM as it seems that Solarwinds NCM installs a separate version of NPM/Orion console.
Use of Solution:
I used this product for a little over two years in two different companies. I implemented the product for the first organization I was with to gain visibility and performance monitoring for the network and servers within our data center.
Yes, there can be issues with deployment if you try to install/uninstall or re-install under different account types (i.e. Local Administrator vs. Domain Administrator). I would recommend sticking to one or the other and you won’t run into any problems.
I have never had an issue with stability or performance. I recommend following the SolarWinds documentation (which is very detailed) and you can be assured not to encounter a single issue in regards to stability.
We setup a standalone instance of SolarWinds NPM. However, SolarWinds NPM offers a couple of different HA architectures that will allow you to scale locally (within the same data center) or globally (across multiple data centers in different geographic locations).
The customer service experience was always top notch and I don’t recall ever having a bad experience. The customer support staff were friendly, courteous and always there to help you out. It was also very easy to get in touch with a technical support engineer, all who seemed very knowledgeable, within just a couple of minutes or less.
SolarWinds technical support was one of the best support departments I’ve ever dealt with. All of the technicians were very knowledgeable and technically capable. Also, when you call into their technical support number, you don’t have to jump through multiple departments to get to a technician, which is very nice and not the same with other vendors.
No, SolarWinds NPM was the first network/server monitoring product that was brought into the organization. Other network monitoring products were researched, but didn't have the feature set, didn't seem as easy to use or as robust as Solarwinds NPM.
It was very straightforward, as you basically just have to start up a Windows Server, and click through the SolarWinds NPM installation wizard before you are ready to configure. You will configure basic settings within the installation wizard (i.e. the database storage location).
We implemented it using an in-house team. It should not be necessary to use a third-party team unless you are performing a massive roll out across multiple sites.
Cost and Licensing Advice:
I believe the original setup cost was around $3500 with an annual cost of around $1200-$1500 to renew the support license. This would bring the average day-to-day cost of around $5-$6 over three years.
Other Solutions Considered:
We also evaluated ManageEngine OpManager and AdRem NetCrunch before deciding to purchase SolarWinds NPM along with the SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA) module.
If you’re looking to get a lot more insight and visibility into your network devices, servers, applications, and other devices, along with real-time alert notifications, SolarWinds NPM should be towards the top of your list. You will be able to view devices by type or by location and poll all sorts of different data using SNMP or WMI or other methods. Out of the box, you will also receive customizable dashboards, alerting, reporting, and Active Directory integration.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.