What is most valuable?
One really big word - AppStack.
AppStack literally changes the way you look at your applications. An outstanding visual representation and drill down into your environment is unlike anything I was used to seeing from other vendors.
The NOC view with the top XX statistics: Having the screen rotations in the NOC views, which allow for fuller details on the screen and more real-time data to be displayed, is truly an added value function.
How has it helped my organization?
SAM gives us true insight into our key applications and other applications. Understanding the response time, static data, physical memory hit, and CPU load of each of your key applications allows you to budget better. It also helps you plan and deploy effectively, timely, and on budget.
What needs improvement?
SAM is a very mature product and needs little in the ways of improvements. I would suggest some more customized views, and maybe a different approach to alerting and events reporting. However, the process they have is good and useful.
For how long have I used the solution?
We have been using this solution for more than four years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I have never had any issues with stability. SAM has been very solid. Installation and upgrading is so easy. The daily operation of the application is simple and needs little administration.
It’s about as truly close to “set it and forget it” as you can get with regards to the actual application function. You have to USE the tool, so you know what happening, but it’s going to feed you good information, whether you use it or not.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability is my sore spot. With the way they use nodes and count nodes, it’s very easy to blow well past your license amount.
I have, for example, a 150 node license, of which I am monitoring 337 nodes. However, only 150 are actually monitored, so I have to do a lot to try to find the right applications to monitor. Since the next level for licensing is 500/700 or something like that, I simply haven’t been able to afford the bump up.
I simply need a much higher license level than I have. However, the cost is too much and they lack the flexibility in allowing you a smaller step up.
It goes from, say 150 nodes to 500. There is no 250 or 300, for example.
Would I find applications to monitor, with the selection from Windows, Linux, SQL, IIS, Active Director, and Exchange? You bet. For now, however, I have to be patient until I can justify the cost of the upgrade.
How are customer service and technical support?
At times, it’s been difficult to get through. However, in the past 12 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 solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Of course we used other products, and we still do. Products from Spiceworks, and other vendors, are good entry and medium alternatives. But with the ad-on pages, it gets distracting. 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 most everything else we use is freeware, or open source.
SolarWinds is the only fully paid product we currently own. We are primarily a SolarWinds shop.
How was the initial setup?
The setup is very easy. It is a simple Windows.exe file, and it takes care of the rest. The setup wizard really walks your through everything.
Their documentation is very detailed. If you need support, there is technical support and also THWACK, which is world class and ahead of its time.
One tip: If you can use a standalone SQL server, do it. It will save you a lot of time in the long run.
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 SolarWinds products and SAM is no exception. They offer an unlimited license, but – WOW - get ready to pay out for it.
I have the base 150 node license and I hope to upgrade to 500 later this year. However, for now, I cannot justify the thousands of dollars they feel is required for such a jump.
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 looked at WhatsUp Gold. We used, and still use, Spiceworks. We tried a couple of less than impressive solutions.
In the end, SolarWinds was simply the best, especially when you consider the integration with Orion and all the other components.
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. From reporting, to alerting, and the KPI data you can pull from this application, it’s worth the investment.
Which version of this solution are you currently using?