SolarWinds NPM Review

Reliable and awarded bandwidth analysis that provides important information about performance and traffic

What is our primary use case?

We are a reseller of SolarWinds, so that is our primary use. SolarWinds Network Bandwidth Analyzer is actually a marketing name. That is the brand name of a couple of products in a suite. The main product of the network management suite is NPM, or the Network Performance Monitor, which is qualified as a global market-leading product and has won a lot of awards in the past few years. It is the flagship for network management software.  

The cool thing about that product is that you can use it to also monitor your network cloud connections through the internet. That is quite a unique feature. With this NPM piece, called NetPath, users can see how their applications on the internet are behaving performance-wise. So, for example, you can see how your Office 365 use, status, and performance are doing on the internet. Our customers would otherwise not have a clue when they have performance issues without using this tool.  

What is most valuable?

What is good about this product is that the customers get real insights into the behavior of their network. They can see what is flowing over it. They will know what kind of data it is, like whether it is YouTube movies or if it is application information. This allows them to get an exact picture of how their network is being used.  

What needs improvement?

I see a tendency in the industry that a lot of software is going into the cloud. Customers now have to install it on-premises or they could install on-premises software in the cloud. That is also possible. So I see a tendency that software is becoming more cloud-related and I think that it is valuable for customers. SolarWinds should continue in this direction.  

As far as areas that can be improved, we already have NetPath functionality. Maybe that can be improved even more to add more options for visualization.  

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the solution since 2013.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This product is very stable. It has been a proven software solution for a couple of years. 
We have sold this to global banks who use it to manage their global networks. For this purpose, it needs to be very scalable and very stable.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is a very scalable solution as well. It is meant for large businesses but small and medium-sized businesses can also use this product. They can all use it, but I see more and more big companies — enterprise companies — coming to use this software. This includes data centers, global industries, banks, other financial institutions, insurance companies, and big brand names.  

How are customer service and technical support?

We do not have to contact the technical support for SolarWinds that I am aware of. Sometimes I have heard of support cases that are resolved really quickly by SolarWinds for their clients. We can not have any kind of issues in production. The company knows this so takes this responsibility for support very seriously.  

So I would say that overall they have good support.  

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have been working with another HP product called OpenView a long while ago, but that software is now disappearing and it is being replaced by HP with SolarWinds. The big bank I worked with has already replaced all the HP OpenView software with the SolarWinds product.  

The main difference between SolarWinds network monitoring software and other software is the price and the ease-of-use of the tool. The software has also been made by network engineers for network engineers. The designers are in the industry as well. So they speak the same language and the software is being endorsed by other IT engineers.  

How was the initial setup?

It is very easy to set up. We also deliver consultancy and I recommend to all our customers that they have us involved in the configuration of the software. It is easy to install but then when it is running, it has to be configured. We are good at that.  

What about the implementation team?

We recommend an integrator or consultant while deploying it because this part is very important. That is a bit of marketing, of course. But we are experts with a lot of experience. We see what happens with the customers and we already know what they need and why they have the product, so we recommend they take some help from us with this. 

We do mostly one-on-one consultancy with someone who can do the job. He is engaged for a couple of days and depending on the customer's requirements he takes care of those needs. For example, some of them want to have an integration with other software, like ServiceNow.  

If they want to have SolarWinds integrated with something like ServiceNow it takes a bit more time because it adds a level of complexity. Then the client should also get training in the new product. We provide certified admin training for the software. We train about eight people at one time and they get a certification at the end of the week after a five-day training. Having a SolarWinds certified staff member is very valuable for our customers as then they are experts as well in-house.  

What other advice do I have?

My advice to people who are coming to SolarWinds is that they do a training on the website and take advantage of exploring the trial version. The free trial will allow them to use the product and get to know the features before paying for it. I always recommend that smaller organizations start small. You can make the initial purchase of a very simple license which is not very expensive. Then you can build it out later to a bigger scale and then use the software company-wide.  

So the advice is really to begin small and build it out and take more licenses as you need them. You can pick the functionality that you need at the current time and scale-out. Sometimes you need more functionality or you may need more analysis as well. You can take another module and put it into the Orion platform to integrate it. Sometimes a customer might say they are having some database performance issues. We use the Orion module DPA (Database Performance Analyzer) and then they get to see a lot of information about how their applications are using the databases — like an Oracle SQL server. Another company is also producing a database performance monitoring tool for Progress Databases and some other open-source flavors. So over time, the picture is getting more and more complete to cover everything that clients want to do.  

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate this product as a nine. The reason I would give it a nine is that our customers are evaluating the software and they are big brands, like famous names in the banking industry. They really rely heavily on the software for their business. Before they purchase it, they go through a fairly strict selection procedure to get everything they need, find out if it is stable, and how well it is running. They make the product pass rigorous testing and evaluation. So if it is good for them, it is a proven solution. It is stable, scalable, reliable and not too expensive.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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