SolarWinds NPM Review

Low administrative maintenance compared to alternatives.


Valuable Features

  • Extensible REST API
  • Excellent technical support
  • Mature product, strong brand, Gartner awards
  • Custom MSSQL scripting support in both alerting and reporting.
  • Support for a wide variety of makes and models of network equipment/appliances.
  • Support for monitoring Windows, Linux, Unix, and some other server OSes.
  • Consistent and constant application improvements.

Improvements to My Organization

  • Our ability to locate the source of a network issue has dramatically reduced our mean-time-to-resolve.
  • Helped us to consolidate different network and server monitoring needs under one product.
  • Low administrative maintenance compared to alternatives. The system simply 'works' most of the time. Our previous tools required constant maintenance by admins just to keep them running.

Room for Improvement

  • Failover functionality does not exist without the purchase of the "Fail Over Engine (FoE)" license.
  • Software upgrade and installation procedures are time consuming, especially for large/multiple site installations. Consulting the support matrix for software versions and modules is critical.
  • Multiple server software upgrades still require a planned downtime outage window for the entire NPM instance regardless of the size of installation even if using the Failover Engine module.
  • Each NPM polling server require a full Windows Server with GUI operating system to install and administer.

Use of Solution

5 years

Deployment Issues

Yes. Remember to do your homework on required ports, especially for when installing a polling engine server across the WAN in a different domain.

Stability Issues

Yes, multiple times. Some of the areas of stability had to do with 'monitoring capacity' per polling server several versions ago. Official documentation claimed each server can handle monitoring for up-to 10,000 elements (i.e. ports, volumes, nodes, etc.). In reality this number was more like 5,000. However, monitoring capacity improvements have been made with each software release and we are now back up to the 10,000 element.

Another area of stability issues we have experienced are with the dependency on MS SQL. There were a few times where we had stability issues with SQL server, which in turn impacted NPM performance. When there are issues with the SQL database NPM doesn't make this known and is up to the admin to figure it out.

Scalability Issues

Yes, every once in a while. SolarWinds defines 'scalability' in the same manner as 'monitoring capacity' --- which is incorrect. This is a huge issue and is one of the hits against the rating I gave NPM.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

Excellent. Customer support is knowledgeable about the product line and will engage with technical resources if needed.

Technical Support:

Excellent. Technical support is responsive, knowledgeable, and friendly. My team and I do not hesitate to contact support if we have a question or need immediate assistance. They will also escalate to a higher support tier if the issue is not resolved in a timely manner, or if we request them to do so.

Previous Solutions

Yes, multiple products were used previously including Microsoft MOM 2005 (current versions are System Center Operations Manager) and What's Up Gold. Switch was made to attempt to consolidate various monitoring tools into a single space.

Initial Setup

Initial setup of the application servers were very straightforward. It is possible to get started with one app server and the main SQL server then add more polling engine servers as your monitoring needs increase.

Implementation Team

In-house installation was done. The product is designed for self-installation and self-maintenance in an on-premise mode.

ROI

Unknown at this point.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

Always contact your sales rep for best pricing. There are multiple times per year where the vendor will make special licensing offers that you can take advantage of.

The official North America pricing list is available at solarwinds.com. Use that as your pricing baseline for your monitoring project.

NPM licenses by "element" you want to monitor, not by device as a whole. Take this into account while you evaluate monitoring software vendors.

Other Solutions Considered

Yes. We looked into Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2012 R2, What's Up Gold, ManageEngine, AppDynamics, NewRelic, and Nagios.

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