SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor Review

Some of the valuable features are being able to see your devices and monitoring their components.


What is our primary use case?

Any customizable monitoring needed from process/service monitoring to performance counters, PowerShell and Per Scripts for reportable status or values, SQL based queries for status or values

How has it helped my organization?

The best example would be that we can provide transparency to the infrastructure which is meaningful to developers, but even to business users. Our IT teams can work with developers using a common reference when reviewing issues or planning improvements.

What is most valuable?

The overall valuable feature is the integration that exists. It really ties everything together to see the entire stack. Individually, the main focus of each component is the value.

  • Being able to see your devices (NPM)
  • Monitoring the components on your devices with out of the box monitors or the ability to create new ones (SAM)
  • Seeing the components of virtual infrastructure (VMAN)
  • Reviewing the storage behind it (SRM)
  • Performance of web applications using synthetic playback (WPM)
  • Being able to deep dive into DB activities to see blocks, deadlocks, and improve performance by tuning queries (DPA)

What needs improvement?

The nice thing about SolarWinds is that the company always looks to improve their products. Since they regularly update the software for stability and new features, it’s not easy to pinpoint items to improve unless they directly impact usability.

It’s difficult to find a feature or capability of SolarWinds that needs improvement as they are consistently looking to make the product better. Through the Thwack community, they get great feedback from customers for feature improvements as well as ideas to use the product better in ways beyond original intentions. The community is pretty innovative regards to using SolarWinds. My experience is that if a feature directly impacts my daily routine, then the product needs improvement. So far, any issues I’ve had in the past have been rectified by Support, added as feature to correct, or new enhancements that never allow me to face problems reports by others.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability was hardly an issue as long as we balanced what we were monitoring.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability was an issue in the past. It wasn’t growing the environment, but rather it was maintaining it on upgrades. It used to take a long time since we have a large deployment.

Now that the lightweight scalability features exists, maintenance is not time consuming. Another issue was firewalls which is on our part due to “allow nothing, request everything” policy. No product out there will ever connect agnostically when it comes to firewalls.

How is customer service and technical support?

Support knows what they are doing. Very rarely do I find the standard approach to issues to be “reboot and call back” type of action.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We had another solution for many years and it was functional but not insightful. We needed software that could level the playing field or better; to bring all the fields under one roof without having to build everything from scratch.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward, but it’s very important to understand the amount of objects (CPU, memory, network interfaces, any monitored component) to monitor. You could easily overload the environment if you pull everything.

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

As mentioned about scaling, understanding the counts of objects to monitor will determine the licensing need. In terms of pricing, it’s not cheap but it’s not expensive as larger vendors whose products don’t have all the features or integrations.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Nagios and Nimsoft at the time.

Nimsoft seemed similar to what we were previously using and didn’t want to repeat history.

With Nagios, we found it to be highly customizable, but requiring us to build out everything. We were at a stage where we didn’t know the possible heights of monitoring we could reach, but knew there was more than what we had.

SolarWinds fit the bill because it gave many possibilities in monitoring with a good amount of out of the box capabilities.

What other advice do I have?

If you need a starting point, SolarWinds is a good start.

Be sure to know how many objects or element you plan to monitor to determine the licensing and the topology of your environment to help scale out your deployment. If you have those down, you’ll be able to up in running in no time

Additionally, a nice thing about SolarWinds is that the company always looks to improve their products. Since they regularly update the software for stability and new features, it’s not easy to pinpoint items for improvement. Through the Thwack community, they get great feedback from customers for feature improvements as well as ideas to use the product better in ways beyond original intentions. My experience is that if a feature directly impacts my daily routine, then the product needs improvement. So far, any issues I’ve had in the past have been rectified by Support, added as feature to correct, or new enhancements that never allow me to face problems reports by others.

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