We are looking at SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor and are looking to compare and contrast it to alternative solutions. How does NPM compare to alternative
Unfortunately I'm not that familiar with Solarwinds so I can't comment on how it works and so on. But after looking at their NPM demo, I can however indicate some products that are capable of doing something similar.
Cacti combined with the reports and threshold modules (will give graphs and alerts) is Open Source and free but does not offer additional monitoring or handling of snmptraps.
Opsview (will give graphs, snmptraps (Pro or Enterprise version), autodiscovery, reporting and is more flexible (primarily aimed at server/system/service/application monitoring but it does do a very good job at network devices if you take the time to configure things)).
In both cases getting things to work as required might take some time. This depends largely on the number of devices that have to be monitored, requirements and so on.
Factors as types of network devices (and do we only want to monitor network devices) all come into play.
With large number of devices features like autodiscovery can be a great asset.
I have extensive experience with SolarWinds, and have relied on it for network management at several companies. The only other tools I can compare it to are vendor-specific tools, such as CiscoWorks, Cisco Prime, Juniper Space, etc.
SolarWinds is a tool which multiple areas in IS rely on for management and alerting. I keep the page up 24/7, and use this tool daily. We manage thousands of devices, including: servers, routers, switches, wireless, voip, SAN, and more. Many modules can be added on for IP management, Configuration management, IPSLA, NetFlow, the list keeps going.
We also use Fluke Networks TruView. Mostly for APM, something that SolarWinds cannot handle.
A few years ago, I was working for a company (large financial institution) that was looking for basically a red-light / green-light product that provided reporting. The main objective was price, followed by ease of generating reports. SolarWinds won easily. I've not done a whole lot since then, but have worked with many competitors to SolarWinds.
Based on 500 employees, I'd say that SolarWinds would probably fit well, unless they are managing a much larger entity (they are a provider of someone else's network). They can easily see network statistics, for example, how busy is the router, how much of the WAN link is being used during work hours, you can look at various reports showing this (monthly, daily, hourly, etc).
What NPM doesn't do out of the box is give you NetFlow information, so while you will see how busy a WAN link is, you won't see who or what is using it. There is an add-on module to give this, but unless you get a fantastic deal from your SolarWinds salesperson, it's extra. I recall that there is an API, but didn't have much success with it and integrations to / from other products were difficult. I've heard from peers that others have had difficulty as well. This is one area where it may be a pain-point. If they have, for example, HP's ticketing system, and want to automate tickets between the two systems, it will be hard to do, whereas HP NNMi isn't going to be much trouble (though the cost of NNMi may eliminate it quickly).
Another thing to keep in mind, similar to integrations, is system wide solutions. SolarWinds can do this - for extra - but this company may have products already in place and there's no plans to replace them. I bring this up as it's a HUGE win to have this integration at least possible. The hours / days that are wasted by not being able to share, for example, network and server / host information between groups is surprising due to systems not being able to talk with each other. So, if they have, again, HP systems managing servers / hosts, it may be worth a look at going with a HP solution on the network side to ensure the integration is possible.
I'm looking for alternatives to SolarWinds NPM as it is expensive for my budget and has poor performance.
Please share your suggestions and why you recommend choosing another solution.