What is most valuable?
Pretty much all of it is valuable, really. You buy NPM if you want to monitor devices and interfaces on those devices. It's mainly geared towards network devices, primarily; the ability of seeing uptime for the device and the interfaces; and also the new features that they've just added. NetPath and the high availability; those are pretty key in a lot of environments. That NetPath is amazing.
How has it helped my organization?
Since NetPath came out, I use it to basically check that my internet is working as it should be by adding in, through NetPath, paths to my cloud-based applications, to things like Amazon, and also to things that we use quite often in the office, and make sure that there's nothing wrong with our ISP. That's actually been quite useful because we have seen an issue with their networks and they have resolved. It's just having visibility of the entire networking estate for myself and for my clients; that's the main benefit of it and it's probably the best product out there.
What needs improvement?
It’s tough to find areas with room for improvement, because they are always improving on it. I guess making the universal device pollers and the custom pollers a little bit more user friendly to the complete beginner would be useful. An awful lot of my clients don't have an awful lot of experience with SNMP. Going through the wizard to create these new pollers is quite cumbersome if you don't understand what you're doing. A lot of people just give up and not use it. Making them a little bit easier to understand for those who don't understand SNMP would be ideal. It would be a lot of work but that would useful.
For how long have I used the solution?
I'm a SolarWinds consultant. Not only do I use it in labs to actually get the best out of it, I obviously support a lot of customers who also use it. I've been using it for on and off for about three years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I have not encountered any stability issues; it's solid.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It's really useful that you can have additional pollers. I think you can have up to four, but I can't remember off the top of my head. It's great to be able to add in pollers, if you get to the point where your existing poling engine – that you have when you install the product the first time – is swamped.
They are going to be releasing in the future branch, smaller pollers, which would be really handy for people who have lots of little branches but don't want to go to the expense of paying for a complete new poling engine for each site. That's going to be cool, so I know they're building on additional bits. It's as scalable as you need it to be.
How are customer service and technical support?
Technical support is excellent. This is a review of NPM and therefore the SolarWinds Orion support is great. If I was reviewing SolarWinds N-able, it would not be so great. I’m not, so, it has great technical support.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I personally did not previously use a different solution. A lot of my customers do use other stuff, such as Paessler’s PRTG and so on, but I wasn't.
How was the initial setup?
The installation of it is simple. Getting the best of the product is where my consultant-level knowledge comes in. The average Joe tends to go as far as getting it installed and working, and then says, “Get lost.” Well, “Get lost” to get the extra bits and pieces to make it a little bit more flexible.
It's easy to get it in and install.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The way the SolarWinds does their licensing can be quite difficult, especially if you're a managed service provider and you want to use the Orion product, because, obviously, you buy the big chunk of licenses and the unlimited licenses are quite expensive. You don't have a subscription model, where you can say, "Right, OK. Mr. customer, you've got 25 devices; we'll charge you X amount." Then, you can obviously go to SolarWinds and say, "This customer needs this many licenses. Can I buy this many please?"
It's literally tiers, which is fine for most people, who just have their own individual installs. If you have lots of little customers and you want to use a central system, it can be quite expensive for you personally to get it set up and licensed. Then, trying to monetize that to the customers can be quite hard.
What other advice do I have?
Join Thwack. The Thwack community that is free for anybody to join, whether they actually have a SolarWinds license or not, is quite possibly the unique selling point that SolarWinds has. It's without doubt the best technical community that I've ever been a member of. A number of big vendors like Cisco have tried to recreate it and failed. It is a one off and it is perfect for what it does.