SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor Review

The most valuable features are trends, capacity planning, recommendations, and diagnostics.


How has it helped my organization?

VMAN recommendations have helped us manage the VMs to perform more efficiently. They note everything from storage to processor utilizations. This helps us, in the organization, to make informed decisions about whether or not we need to expand the infrastructure. This saves us time and money.

What is most valuable?

The features like trends, capacity planning, recommendations, and diagnostics are the main items I focus on for added value.

The trends help me when I am looking at how my VMs are performing. There are times when we need more performance out of certain VMs. With trends and capacity planning, you can really focus on the items and help get a better picture of how you can move things around to streamline your infrastructure.

For example, with the VMAN recommendations, it immediately show you a graphical view, single click drill down to the actual recommendations, which allow you to read more. Almost a single pane of glass approach to your Virtual infrastructure. From recommendations we can see things like the space utilization on a datastore has reach a critical threshold. With detailed explanation of the issue you can quickly go in and almost effortlessly make corrections you need. Some are more labor intensive however you still know what you need to do. VMAN also details the CPU utilizations on a particular VM which has been both lower, and offering to save you resources automatically or higher, offering to increase your resources automatically by simply accepting the recommendation. The VMAN tool then will apply the suggested changes to the VM for you with usually little interaction from the end user / administrator required. This allows us as a small IT department to operated more efficiently and react to situations before they become larger issues.

The recommendations are a life saver. They have valuable, daily information regarding your VM network. I don’t always follow the recommendations, but when I do, it’s usually automated. There is no other interaction needed from me. It’s like having another employee.

The diagnostics simply helps me make sure that I am meeting my required KPIs.

What needs improvement?

I would like it to be fully integrated into Orion. Although there are many pieces that are integrated and make it a very good application for managing and monitoring your VM environment, I would like to see more of it in Orion. I would like to not have to switch between sites for information.

I believe that some of the trends, environmental maps, and items like those found in Orion would be very beneficial.

We create NOC views in Orion. Adding many of the VMAN dashboard items to it would be great added value.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I had some stability issues. I lost my environment, but with the help of SolarWinds support, I was able to get back to a stable platform. I was able to install the upgrade to VMAN to bring me up to v7.

The appliance for VMware would lock up and I was unable to shut it down properly. If I didn’t reboot, I could not see the VMAN admin console. I had to shut it down through VMware, thereby corrupting the appliance.

SolarWinds was not sure why this happened, but after several days, we were better than before. There was not a hiccup since.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We didn’t encounter any scalability issues for our infrastructure. We only have a 50 VM license and we are currently using 27 of them. We are not one of the larger enterprise environments. The speed and stability has been great.

Since 2012, we only had one major issue, and that is pretty good. If Windows were that reliable, what a world we would live in.

How is customer service and technical support?

At times it’s been difficult to get through to technical support. However, in the past twelve months, they have reformed their ways and it’s been fantastic.

I have used SolarWinds with three different companies in the past seventeen years and they have never failed to help me. Sometimes it takes some time, but they always get you going.

Which solutions did we use previously?

Of course we used other products, and we still do. One product cannot do everything you want it to do, at least with what you can afford.

Sometimes it’s better to run a tiered approach, such as with security, so all your eggs are not in one basket, so to speak.

However, mostly everything else we use is freeware or open source. SolarWinds is the only fully paid product we currently own.

How was the initial setup?

I found the setup really very easy, if you are familiar with deploying '.ova' files. The setup was a snap, and the setup wizard really walks you through everything.

Their documentation is very detailed and if you need support, you can use their technical support and THWACK, which is world class and ahead of its time.

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

I have always said SolarWinds is very “proud” of their products, meaning they are expensive. I cannot afford to purchase all the licenses I need for all the SolarWinds products. But in the case of VMAN, I have exactly what I need and room to grow. That being said, you are not going to find a better solution on the market for the price.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We were only using tools from VMware and we didn’t look at other options. Knowing SolarWinds from using Orion and other applications they sell, I wanted to have my monitoring software to be as integrated as possible. We looked no further.

What other advice do I have?

DO IT!!! You will not regret it. This product is so helpful, out-of-the-box. Even for larger environments, you have a very short roll-out timeline, fantastic benefits, and results.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are only a customer and I am a Thwack MVP.
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