SolarWinds NPM Review

It provides out-of-the-box monitoring. With custom properties and some ingenuity, you can get it to do pretty much anything else


What is most valuable?

We have a lot of “home-grown” apps to handle the interesting and challenging monitoring requests and alerting needs.

This product is extremely flexible and customizable. It will do just about anything you need it to do. Out of the box, there is a significant amount of monitoring you can do with very little setup. Then, with custom properties and some ingenuity, you can get it to do pretty much anything else. Additionally, there are a lot of ideas and support in their forum, Thwack.

How has it helped my organization?

With custom properties and the alerting flexibility, we’ve been able to customize the alert trigger and reset logic to meet the needs of our users, as well as eliminate the likelihood of making mistakes in the operations center.

We used to be fraught with scenarios, such as:

  • Only call if the alert doesn’t clear after 45 minutes.
  • Ignore that alarm.
  • Don’t call on that night.

What needs improvement?

The SAM custom script for running component checks only supports 10 pairs of results. I am not sure whether this is a scalability issue. It would be nice to have the option to do more. We worked around it by doing a component check per pair as much as we needed.

The product is excellent at taking feedback, especially from the Thwack form, and implementing popular feature requests.

For how long have I used the solution?

We’ve been using it for almost 10 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Back in the early days and new major releases, of course, there were some hiccups and gotchas. Bleeding edge, baby! It’s all a matter of risk assessment with new feature needs, etc.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not run into scalability issues.

How is customer service and technical support?

In general, the technical support is great. Around new major releases, you do experience longer waits; and every so often, you get a support technician who is newer. Still, if you call in and it’s critical, they fix your issues in a timely manner. This is to be expected; and you need to take this into account in your risk calculation when you schedule upgrades.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We were previously using HPE OpenView. The biggest reason was its lack of mapping flexibility at the time. The ops part is still very visual with the green/yellow/red color-coding of icons. Our systems side is based on alerts and emails.

How was the initial setup?

I don’t recall any troubles during the initial setup. It was a long time ago. I was enamored by its mapping capabilities.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

  • The software is structured and priced well. It’s not cheap; but it’s not overly expensive either. You get what you pay for, and they are well positioned.
  • You are able to spread the costs out by implementing it in steps. Your team is probably not huge. You don’t need to sit around waiting to install and configure the entire monitoring solution. Start with NPM, and start adding modules and capabilities as your existing implementation matures.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We were required to assess alternatives, but I don’t recall the specifics. When implementing SAM in the last 2 years, we moved from Big Brother and evaluated Nagios.

What other advice do I have?

  • Gather the official requirements for a monitoring solution, and alert all the consumers. The consumers here are the owners of the monitored gear and apps, and the engineers in the support and ops teams.
  • Set a good chunk of time aside to test drive the solution, and get creative with the custom properties.
  • Learn SQL or SWQL, a SolarWinds query language that is easier than SQL. This will expand your potential capabilities for customization significantly.
  • I am very active on the forum. I get a bunch of ideas and help; so I like to give back.
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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