Editor's note: This SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor product overview is part of a series on NPM. The series also explores the evolution of network monitoring technology, discusses the major use cases, lays out the major purchasing criteria and compares the leading vendors on the market.
SolarWinds has been involved with network monitoring and troubleshooting tools for nearly two decades. The company gained great customer loyalty due to a roster of impressive and wide-ranging tools that simplify daily network management and troubleshooting. Originally called Orion, the network monitoring tool has since been renamed SolarWinds NPM to reflect the product's growing features, which include visibility, network analytics and performance monitoring of applications, as opposed to the more traditional availability monitoring using ICMP and SNMP.
In addition to NPM, SolarWinds offers a number of add-on products that complement and expand on NPM's features. SolarWinds monitoring products are software-based as opposed to the more popular appliance-based vendor options. The products can be installed on a bare metal or virtualized instance of Windows Server. Additional products are either installed on the same server that NPM is hosted on, or on a different Windows server.
The SolarWinds monitoring product primarily revolves around NPM. Additional products can be purchased that integrate with NPM to allow for more monitoring capability.
Network Performance Monitor -- SolarWinds' flagship monitoring software is Network Performance Monitor. This tool is used for network fault, performance and availability monitoring, as well as troubleshooting. It also has built-in tools for capacity forecasting, network health reporting, analytics and problem alerting. NPM is a single-pane-of-glass tool that integrates all other network management tools into a unified system.
NetFlow Traffic Analyzer -- A feature set that bolts directly onto SolarWinds NPM, the NetFlow Traffic Analyzer can be configured to monitor data flows and alert and investigate whenever the network experiences periods of low performance. This includes proprietary and open source flow data such Cisco NetFlow, Juniper J-Flow, S-Flow and IPFIX.
VoIP & Network Quality Manager -- A tool largely dedicated to monitoring and troubleshooting voice over IP performance issues, the VoIP & Network Quality manager monitors critical metrics such as latency, jitter and packet loss in order to identify the root cause of the issue. Another key function is the ability to monitor and alert when quality of service thresholds are crossed and exactly where the problem occurred within the network.
Server and Application Monitor -- In order to provide detailed performance insight at the server and application-levels, SolarWinds NPM supports the Server and Application Monitor add-on. This multivendor product can automatically discover servers and applications on the network and take advantage of SolarWinds' wide variety of prepackaged alerting and reporting functions. The tool offers the choice of either agent-based application monitoring for servers residing in the public cloud or agentless monitoring of on-premise server applications.
Virtualization Manager -- If you are in the need for a VMware and Hyper-V monitoring tool, SolarWinds has you covered. The Virtualization Manager helps to eliminate virtual machine (VM) performance issues by analyzing various hypervisor alerts. The tool can also be used to identify over- and under-utilized VMs to better right-size your VM environment.
Storage Resource Monitor -- The Storage Resource Monitor is a great way to gain visibility into a multivendor NAS or SAN storage environment. This tool can monitor and alert based on predefined thresholds to ensure that your storage is performing the way it was intended. This includes the monitoring of storage Logical Unit Numbers as well as I/O hotspots.
Pricing and support
Each SolarWinds product can be purchased independently or in a series of prepackaged bundles. This gives customers a great deal of flexibility in terms of what they choose to purchase and implement on day one. Product licensing is also flexible. The licenses are mostly based on the size of the environment and are based on total number of devices, interfaces or volumes depending on the specific product being purchased. Unlike many other vendors, SolarWinds products can be purchased directly from the company and downloaded from the website. The base SolarWinds NPM product with licensing for up to 100 elements starts at $2,795. The same NPM with the ability to monitor up to 2,000 elements lists at $17,085. Both include one year of maintenance that includes access to patches, updates as well as 24/7 online, phone and email support.
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