Review of SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) v12
Review of SolarWinds NPM v12
NPM is designed for detecting network outages caused by broken links
and faulty equipment.
Awesome is an overused word, but it describes the power that that SolarWinds agents and pollers
give to this Network Performance Monitor.
Thanks to NPM v12, you really will get an answer to any question concerning
the performance of your network devices.
Topics for SolarWinds NPM v12
Here are the key features of Solarwinds® NPM (Network Performance
Network Availability and Performance Monitoring NPM from Solarwinds provides comprehensive network availability and
performance monitoring management to make sure that your network is
running at optimal performance. The NPM's dashboard displays the
performance all the nodes on your network. By using this web
interface you can check what's occuring in real-time.
It's always instructive to examine the SNMP statistics from the
routers, switches and servers; this data is particularly useful
for detecting problems caused by slow traffic or packet loss.
Monitor bandwidth utilization, packet loss, latency, errors,
discards, and quality of service.
Inspect disk space, CPU load, and memory usage on network
Hover over any network object to examine its status, IP address,
machine type, and percent loss.
Hop-by-Hop Analysis along Critical Paths NetPath is a key reason to upgrade to NPM v12; it's better than
TraceRT at detecting the network pathway from the source computer to the
What's most impressive, is the way NetPath not only shows you internet
paths, but also measures the performance characteristics of each network
node and link. You can even look inside the 'Cloud' and check the
ISP's network. As a result it's easier than ever to spot
Automated Device Discovery Thanks to SolarWinds Sonar feature NPM automatically discovers any
new server or router that is added to your network. You can also
take advantage of the built-in Network Atlas™ to easily create or update
network maps. Select from built-in map templates or better still, import
an image of the network based on the building plan. SolarWinds has
also integrated with OpenStreetMaps to allows you to drill-down from the
world map to the device status. You can even utilize geolocation
capability to automatically position devices on the map.
NPM 12 Configuration In Action
SolarWinds Network Insight and F5's BIG-IP®
Big-IP is a suite of products created by the F5®
company. Its mission is accelerated data delivery; it
covers all aspects of traffic management from web acceleration and load
balancing to data distribution across SANs.
In NPM 12 SolarWinds introduce a new feature of their own, its called Network Insight.
What this provides is comprehensive analysis even if the application
service is spread across many LTMs, GTMs, or dozens of servers.
Intelligent Network Alerts SolarWinds NPM enables
you setup network alerts. By creating multiple conditions you can
respond to any set of circumstances on your network. For instance,
to help with capacity planning, you could create alerts on bandwidth memory usage
and disk space.
Conditional Group Dependencies allow
you to group connected devices, the benefit is users receive only a single critical alert if there
is a problem with the core
routers. As a result, users can distinguish between what's
really down and what is merely unreachable.
The resulting alerts are delivered via any of the usual methods, email, paging, SNMP traps,
text-to-speech, syslog messaging.
Wireless Heat Maps You supply the office floor
plan, and NPM v12 will use triangulation of wireless points to record
the strength of the signal in each room; you can see a display of the resulting heat
map on the NPM console. The benefit of knowing where signal strength is
low, is that you can reposition the wireless points to improve network
Dynamic Statistical Network Baselines SolarWinds NPM
calculates the performance baselines from historical data.
The built-in Baseline Threshold Calculator automatically calculates Warning and Critical thresholds
by referring to each
workloads' baseline. Actually. there are four levels of threshold, good, warning, critical, and down.
This helps you distinguish between a device that is performing
poorly and a one that is likely to fail soon.
Enterprise Scalability From small networks with
less than 100 elements to large organizations with over 10,000 individul
elements SolarWinds NPM ensures that your network will never
outgrow the ablilty to poll and manage our hardware.
SolarWinds Polling Engine. Investigate where it's worth adding
more polling engines.
SolarWinds Web Server Engine. Add another Web
server so that more users can access the NPM Web portal without
SolarWinds Failover Engine. This gives you the peace of
mind of a two-minute failover for the SolarWinds management system. SolarWinds Enterprise
Operations Console. Shows you a unified picture of remote
servers and their associated modules.
Quality of Experience and Deep Packet Inspection
What you need to know when troubleshooting is if the problem is caused by the application, or the network.
Deep Packet Inspection and Quality of Experience give you the ability to
identify changes in application performance and compare them with
network metrics to determine if the fault lies on the network or is back
at the application.
I love the Top 10 veiws you get with the Application Performance and Health Dashboard.
Check the Top 10 tables and graphs, also drill-down into the application details.
As with so many of SolarWinds features, you can
customize the information displayed on the applications, so you see the
data that you are most
Hardware Health Monitoring SolarWinds NPM's hardware health
monitoring enables users to monitor the state of key device sensors
including temperature, fan speed, and power supply, naturally it can
create alerts if
the hardware crosses pre-defined thresholds. SolarWinds NPM's LUCID Web-based
interface provides at-a-glance insight into the health of network
hardware for quick detection of potential issues. Additionally, its
built-in report writer creates customizable hardware health reports for
Drag-and-Discover Interactive Charts SolarWinds NPM's
drag-and-discover performance charts include a timeline chart that
allows users to easily select a desired time frame. Alternatively,
they can zoom
for a one-hour, 12-hour, or 24-hour windows. From there, it's easy to mouse-over
particular data points and get detailed performance statistics.
Remember, you can always get support on all aspects of
NPM from SolarWinds' experts
starting with the
System Requirements for SolarWinds NPM v12
Operating Systems for Orion: Windows 2003, 2008
and 2012 Server,
including R2 (32-bit or 64-bit). Please note, that you also need to install IIS and .NET Framework 3.5
Resources: CPU Speed: 3.0 GHz; Hard Drive Space: 30 GB; Memory: 4 GB
Database: SQL Server 2005 SP1, or SQL Server 2008 (Express,
Standard, or Enterprise)
Installing NPM v12 I am not the fastest
installer and it took me 90 minutes to setup NPM, however, most experts take less than
an hour to get started. How long will it take you to install NPM?
Integrate with Microsoft Active Directory Take
advantage of your existing Microsoft Active Directory and permit
selected users to log in to SolarWinds NPM. I like to enable AD
pass-through login and thus bypass the login screens.
Incorporate Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) SolarWinds provide a free NPM Management Pack that enables
integration with Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2007
and Microsoft System Center Essentials 2007.
Monitor Mobile Views for iPhone®, Blackberry®, and Android™ Study network performance from mobile Web browsers such as
iPhone, Blackberry, and Android.
Integration with other SolarWinds Management Solutions NPM integrates with all network, server and application management
solutions from SolarWinds, including Server & Application Monitor (SAM),
Network Configuration Monitor (NCM), NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA), and
VoIP & Network Quality Manager (VNQM).
In case you are wondering, NPM also integrates with SolarWinds Virtualization Manager
and also SolarWinds Web Help
Desk to allow auto-population of network alerts into service desk
Log & Event Manager (LEM) If you are looking for an application that can provide
automatic reaction to events, then check-out another of SolarWinds' apps
namely the Log & Event Manager. In addition to analyzing logs from
routers, anti-virus software and Windows logs on the servers, LEM can
also help you achieve IT
It's only fair to point out when reviewing SolarWinds performance monitors
is that the full package represents a big investment. Indeed, there are
cheaper performance monitoring packages, but they don't have the data
collection and storage capacity of SolarWinds NPM v12. Actually, my
biggest discriminator in determining whether a product is cheap or
expensive is the quality of the support staff. Some people say
SolarWinds is expensive, but nobody complains about the troubleshooting
skills of SolarWinds's technical staff.
More good news is that SolarWinds offer of a trial version of NPM v12
so that you can see if this performance monitor really would save you
money in the long run. Another way of reducing costs is to select
only the NPM modules that you need. Once you see the benefits,
particularly if you are trying to track multiple sites, then it's easy
adding more options later.
There are cheaper alternatives to each SolarWinds module, but one hidden
benefit is that all the modules integrate with each other,
which makes it so much easier for reporting and root cause analysis.
Also most rival products don't supply the level of detail that you get by drilling
down through the network maps.
Summary: Review of SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor
SolarWinds could have designed Network Performance Monitor (NPM) to answer
the question: 'Is this latency problem due to the network, or the application
Actually, the NPM dashboard displays so much more; thanks to a
comprehensive range of pollers and agents you can zoom-in to the
computer network trouble spot and investigate the underlying problem.
See Also: SolarWinds Server Health Monitor
Server Health Monitor is another free tool from SolarWinds. It
is a chopped-down version of NPT, which shows you the performance of
server components such as power supply, temperature, battery and fan
speed. See more on Server
Full Reviews of the SolarWinds Licensed Family of Applications
Here are Guy's comprehensive evaluations, comments and recommendations for
SolarWinds licensed products. Each application offers a 30 day trial of a fully
functional program, so check out the download links provided.