SolarWinds adds visibility, analytics to network performance monitor

SolarWinds recently added dynamic baseline threshold and NOC views to its NPM increasing its value while keeping its price affordable.

SolarWinds added new capabilities to its Network Performance Monitor (NPM), making it an affordable option to companies that want deeper visibility and advanced analytics.

The upgrade includes support for features that include dynamic baseline threshold calculation (DBTC), custom NOC views and customizable network mapping, said Chris LaPoint, SolarWinds' vice president of product management. Support for additional routing protocols and to Motorola and Ruckus wireless controllers was also added.

The upgrades are an effort by SolarWinds to narrow the gap between NPM and more expensive monitoring products offered by Computer Associates, HP, IBM and Microsoft, the company contends.

Ashley Cotter, third line applications engineer at Nottingham, U.K. -based ISP Timico Ltd., said the addition of DBTC -- a feature that redefines device thresholds based on historical network performance data -- is a key benefit to administer his organization's DSL infrastructure.

Better DSL monitoring, no need for Internet Control Message Protocol

"Due to the nature [of] DSL technology it can be difficult to monitor and gauge performance based off traditional monitoring practices," he said. "We find that the dynamic baseline threshold calculation is critical. This enables us to monitor DSL at an even greater level where the usual peaks and troughs of traffic would cause the node to go into a warning or critical status due to the statically defined thresholds being breached." DBTC automatically changes device and service thresholds to allow for spikes in traffic.

Cotter said he's also using NPM's retooled support of Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to track performance. "We had some latency issues surrounding certain isolated devices off net that filter Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP). With this recent update, SolarWinds has addressed this issue by allowing NPM to monitor devices without the requirement of ICMP but to solely use SNMP."

That functionality allows Cotter to monitor devices while minimizing security risks -- a key consideration.

The NPM enhancements come as organizations seek additional ways to monitor and track network performance, particularly as the number of network devices and services continue to grow, LaPoint said.

"Network complexity is absolutely increasing as we've seen in mobility, software defined networking and bring your own device," he said. "Network engineers are more desperate for software that helps them do their jobs. What we're seeing is engineers realize they need to stop firefighting and start being proactive. But it's hard to find software that fits the needs and budgets of everyone. Imagine trying to race up a mountain, but every mile five pounds are added to your back that you weren't expecting. Networking professionals feel like that sometimes."

NPM pricing starts at $2,675 and includes the first year of maintenance.

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