Yesterday I had the good fortune to interview Kevin Small.  Kevin is a system administrator for a large bank.


JK: Kevin, why did you decide to use SolarWinds for your server monitoring needs?
KS:  In December 2011 I joined the team and was tasked with updating network monitoring.  At that time the bank was using CA Spectrum for server and network monitoring.  Before I joined the team, my predecessor decided to move from CA Spectrum to What’s Up Gold.  I spent a month trying to get it working.  What WUG said it would do, it wouldn’t do.  I finally got a hold of a technical architect at WUG and he said that our company was just too big for them to support.


Around the same time I discovered that the network team was using SolarWinds Network Performance Manager to do inventory reporting.  The version they were using was very out of date, but if I wanted to take on the task of updating it, they said I could use it for my network monitoring needs.  So, I got it up to latest version, and now I have 3 pollers, and have set up custom SQL alerts and reports.  The team was doing all their inventory reporting in excel, and now they save 4 hours a week by having SolarWinds automatically email reports to the people who need them.  With SolarWinds the dashboards are out of box, and you can customize with some SQL tweaking, and the reports are very good.  The dashboards are intuitive and you can put reports into the dashboards.


In April or May last year we wanted to monitor all our URLs so we purchased the cheapest license of SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM) just to monitor whether HTTP was http up/down.  Around that same time, the bank was in the process of moving from CA Spectrum to Gomez Server Monitoring.


JK:  How was that decision made?
KS:  No one is really clear how that decision was made but the person who made the decision left the bank shortly after signing the contract.


Compuware’s product is so cumbersome that you need to have the vendor on site to get it working properly.  We were not able to get what we needed out of Gomez Server Monitoring so we started using SolarWinds’ server management tool to report on our 30 UNIX servers.  We tried for months a bunch of workarounds in Gomez to get this level of visibility that came out-of-the-box with SAM.  Gomez couldn’t even decently monitor RHEL.


One of the other disadvantages with Gomez is that if you needed to make a rule change, you would have to go to each polling engine(Control Server).  With SAM, you make the change one place, and it is distributed to your entire environment.  Also, with Gomez, we were unable to provide reports to customers or dashboards that were readily understandable.  With SAM, I can bring one of my customers over to look at my screen and they can immediately figure out what it’s telling them.  Orion Reports are intuitive and straight forward.


We now have an unlimited license of SAM with 3 pollers to monitor our infrastructure and applications.  We continue to use Gomez Dynatrace to do deep level code troubleshooting like method tracing.  We integrate Dynatrace alerts into SolarWinds alert viewer to get a consolidated view.  For infrastructure and application monitoring, SolarWinds is just light years better – upgrades are easier, administration is easier, it’s a very intuitive piece of software.  SolarWinds has allowed us to unify monitoring across our entire organization.


Here is the table I used with my management to convince them to move to SolarWinds.

FeatureGomez Server Monitoring (formerly named Vantage
for Server Monitoring)
SolarWinds SAM
ReportingReporting is crap, cumbersome and not user friendly

Reporting is intuitive, out of the box yet customizable and offers drill down.

DashboardsGomez required us to hire a developer to set upSolarWinds is out of the box, intuitive, Dashboards can be converted to reports and reports can be made dashboards.



Requires tasks and reporting by control server 

Tasks, alerts, rules and reporting are setup regardless of control server across the board 1 time

Community SupportNone

SolarWinds has dynamic community of users, support and developer that answer questions and make enhancements

Alert ViewerRequired hiring developer to integrate the product         

Free Alert viewer that integrates to all SolarWinds products as well as all 3rd party software

UpdatesFew and far between and cumbersome to implement SolarWinds offers updates about once a quarter and they take approximately 30 minutes to apply across the whole foot print.



by Jennifer Kuvlesky