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The new SolarWinds Storage Resource Monitor (SRM) provides IT pros with the necessary insight into storage resources and their consequent impact on virtual environments to ultimately ensure business-critical application performance. With SolarWinds SRM’s real-time visibility into heterogeneous SAN and NAS arrays and integration with the Orion technology backbone’s virtualization, server and application monitoring components, IT pros can see into an IT environment from array to application.


SolarWinds SRM collects storage resource data to provide greater context into overall storage performance, allowing IT pros access to status, customizable UI dashboards, streamlined permissions, custom properties, alerting, role-based access control, and more.

  • Orion integration allows integration with SolarWinds’ AppStack dashboard, which delivers critical data from SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM) and SolarWinds Virtualization Manager, giving IT Pros end-to-end visibility into the underlying IT infrastructure to better troubleshoot application issues. Orion capabilities also allow SolarWinds SRM to provide configurable automatic alerting, event monitoring and reporting.
  • SolarWinds SRM supports common array vendors including new NetApp Cluster-mode, NetApp 7-mode, NetApp E-series family, IBM N-series, EMC VNX & VNX2 family EMC Celerra, and Dell EqualLogic PS Series, among others.
  • With real-time NAS and SAN performance monitoring, IT pros can quickly isolate I/O hotspots to identify what’s causing a problem before it can impact the solution.
  • SolarWinds SRM monitors storage capacity with projected growth rates, giving IT pros the visibility to predict when capacity will be reached to properly plan storage capacity growth.


More info: SolarWinds Storage Resource Monitor

Video: Storage Resource Monitoring Software: Introduction to Storage Resource Monitor

SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM) features several powerful new enhancements and expanded application support, allowing IT pros to better maintain business-critical application performance. IT pros with heterogeneous IT environments can now monitor apps and servers on premises or in the cloud and can assess application performance as it relates to other IT infrastructure components within the new AppStack dashboard.

  • SolarWinds SAM’s new cloud agent allows IT pros to extend monitoring to Windows servers hosted by cloud-based services such as Amazon EC2, Rackspace, Microsoft Azure, or virtually any other Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
    • The new agent technology gives IT pros the ability to monitor any application hosted in the public cloud and provides visibility to cloud server compute resource usage and performance. It can also be used to monitor servers and applications where agentless technologies are not optimal, such as servers in DMZs, or where network bandwidth is constrained.
    • SolarWinds SAM monitors these assets just as if they were hosted on premises, featuring Orion functionality and including the data within the AppStack dashboard.
    • The agent utilizes encrypted communication and is simple to maintain with automatic agent upgrades.
  • In addition to existing out-of-the-box support for over 200 applications, SolarWinds SAM features new AppInsight for IIS to ensure optimal website performance with critical Microsoft IIS Web server monitoring. It automatically collects performance metrics and displays real-time and historical data in a single dashboard so IT pros can easily monitor IIS Web server statistics as well as website and application pool performance.
    • AppInsight for IIS lets IT pros automatically monitor SSL certificate expiration, website response time, page request server execution time, total connection attempts, current connections, network I/O, requests and more.
    • Instead of remotely accessing each Web server, IT pros can take advantage of management actions right from the Web console including restarting, stopping or un-managing application pools and websites.
  • SolarWinds SAM features the new AppStack dashboard, which lets IT pros quickly troubleshoot application problems by providing insight into the application’s dependencies among servers, virtual servers and storage infrastructure – all from a single pane of glass – as well as the ability to correlate performance across multiple domains. With this dashboard, IT pros will be able to identify the source of application issues in seconds.


  More info: SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor

SolarWinds Virtualization Manager and SolarWinds Web Performance Monitor (WPM) are now integrated into SolarWinds’ Orion technology backbone for more comprehensive insight into IT infrastructure performance. This integration also allows the insertion of critical virtualization and Web performance data within SolarWinds’ AppStack dashboard for greater visibility into the health and performance of applications.


What is Orion?

Orion is the unique platform technology that is the backbone of many SolarWinds solutions across network (performance, traffic, configuration, IP addresses, etc.), systems (servers and applications, storage) and beyond. Orion collects data on the health of these various IT infrastructure components and displays the results in a common, easy-to-understand dashboard. Monitoring functionalities include reporting and alerting and management functionalities include built-in remediation actions like starting/stopping processes, deleting snapshots, starting websites and more.


With Orion modules for virtualization and Web performance monitoring, SolarWinds empowers IT pros to share critical performance metrics and data among other modules within Orion. This information is also now visible in the AppStack dashboard, so that IT pros can see the status and relationships among website user experience, applications, servers, and virtual and storage infrastructure layers. By having complete visibility from the array to the application, users are able to pinpoint the source of application performance issues in seconds.


SolarWinds Virtualization Manager provides comprehensive VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V capacity planning, performance monitoring, VM sprawl control, configuration management, and chargeback automation. With new integration into the Orion technology backbone and AppStack dashboard-enablement, Virtualization Manager shows the datastore level of detail that bridges the critical details from Storage Resource Monitor to Server & Application Monitor.

  • IT pros can troubleshoot a virtual environment with visibility from a virtual machine all the way through the storage environment.
  • Orion functionality empowers users to take action on their virtual infrastructures (e.g., start/stop/reboot a VM), allowing them to delegate operational tasks to non-virtual admins or teams (such as helpdesk) without providing access to a hypervisor.
  • IT pros can create and delete virtual snapshots from within the Orion console.
  • The Web-based alerting engine allows users to create custom alerts that can trigger scripts and actions when thresholds are met.


SolarWinds Web Performance Monitor helps IT pros troubleshoot Web application performance issues for internal or customer-facing uses (CRM, ERP, help desk, intranet), providing powerful and easy website monitoring for applications on both sides of the firewall. With full Orion functionality and AppStack dashboard integration, customers can find the root cause of application performance issues across website and infrastructure resources all in a single pane of glass. With SolarWinds WPM, IT pros can:

  • Map transactions or webpage user experience to underlying infrastructure, including servers, databases, virtual machines or storage infrastructure (monitored via SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, SolarWinds Virtualization Manager and SolarWinds Storage Resource Monitor).
  • Quickly identify whether the issue is in the front-end or back-end infrastructure.
  • Prioritize infrastructure performance issues by providing context of the user experience.


More info on SolarWinds Virtualization Manager and SolarWinds Web Performance Monitor

SolarWinds’ new AppStack dashboard integrates the monitoring of applications, servers, storage resources and virtualization into single pane of glass to show the status of all IT infrastructure components that ultimately impact an application and its user, anticipating the common question, “what’s causing the application problem?” Now IT pros can see the application dependencies among applications, servers, virtual servers and storage infrastructure to locate the problem and can correlate events and performance across multiple domains.


SolarWinds’ AppStack is not a standalone product, but rather a capability built into SolarWinds’ systems management products to provide a complete view of the interconnected components of an IT infrastructure. Born from SolarWinds’ Orion technology backbone, AppStack provides a strategic IT performance management platform with which an IT pro can customize and launch an IT infrastructure monitoring and management solution for the specific needs of any organization and can grow and change that solution as the organization grows and changes.


  • Components include SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM) for full insight from array to application, SolarWinds Virtualization Manager for performance of virtual infrastructures, and SolarWinds Storage Resource Monitor (SRM) for critical storage array data, as well as SolarWinds Web Performance Monitor (WPM) for insight into the performance of web-based applications. Each unique product includes the AppStack dashboard for the components it manages, allowing users to start with a single focus and/or add more functionality and visibility as needed.
  • Functionality: IT pros can simply click on a particular application and the AppStack dashboard will automatically highlight all of its underlying infrastructure components to help IT pros pinpoint the potential problem areas of application failure (while also reducing extraneous noise common in large environments). With distinct status indicators, they can then localize the malfunctioning asset – be it the storage array, pool, data store, host, server, application, etc. – and take immediate action to fix the problem.
  • Customization: IT organizations can build custom AppStack dashboards for specific teams to prioritize their monitoring and can filter by application, group, node, and more while also able to gain visibility into other parts of the infrastructure that might ultimately impact or be impacted by their domain. This also helps the overall collaboration among IT teams/silos.


More info: SolarWinds AppStack Dashboard

If you’ve paid attention to the news at all throughout the past year, you’ve likely been made aware of a new major security breach on an alarmingly frequent basis. (Or if you’re out of touch with current events, perhaps your bank or movie theater alerted you to a major corporate hack.) As we see more and more security breaches, we learn that many of their causes point to hackers, foreign governments or other antagonists. But when we looked at the federal government and explored its primary sources of IT security threats, we discovered an interesting (and potentially concerning) discrepancy between the causes and impact of federal security breaches and the level of attention being paid them.

In a sequel to last year’s federal cybersecurity survey, we again partnered with government research firm Market Connections to survey 200 IT and IT security leaders in the federal government and military on their top cybersecurity threat sources, obstacles to threat prevention, necessary tools for threat prevention, and their concerns, investment and policies regarding cybersecurity. We specifically broke out data to explore these areas for threats caused by malicious external sources, malicious internal sources, and accidental or careless insiders.

First, we found that federal IT Pros identified careless and untrained insiders as their greatest source of cybersecurity threats – over malicious external sources such as hackers and terrorists.

Fed-Sources Security Threats 2015.jpg

However, when we asked about investment and concern regarding threats, malicious external threats got the lion’s share. Perhaps federal IT Pros think malicious external threats are more damaging so they deserve more investment and attention? We asked about that, too. And we found that plenty of respondents think insider threats are as damaging as or even more damaging than external threats.

So what is being done about the most common – and perhaps most damaging – accidental insider threat? Respondents weighed in on where their data is most at risk, their security policies and the necessary tools for threat prevention.

Fed-Tools to Prevent Threats 2015.jpg

By monitoring connections and devices on the network, and by maintaining logs and data of user activity, IT Pros can assess WHERE on the network certain activity took place, WHEN it occurred, WHAT assets were on the network and WHO was logged into those assets.

With the right solutions, federal IT Pros can get the visibility they need into their IT infrastructure’s security posture to prevent threats before they become breaches.


Full survey results:



As you may recall, we’re working on a number of initiatives to better serve our customers and potential customers. In an effort to keep you up to date on our progress, we are pleased to announce two new programs designed to better meet your needs.


A few weeks ago, we changed the way that we interact with customers who download products from our Customer Portal. We believe that this will greatly improve your overall experience.


What is the change that customers will experience?

  • When you download a free product trial from the Customer Portal, you will now have the option to choose whether you want or do not want a follow-up contact from a customer specialist.
  • If you are interested in follow-up contact, you will receive a call from a member of our customer sales team within two days.
  • If you do not want a follow-up contact, you will not hear from customer sales until you are ready and reach out.


We are also introducing a new program, our “Strategic Accounts Team.”


Currently in pilot mode, this new team will provide a select set of customers a central point of contact when working with our sales organization. We believe that this new engagement structure will allow us to develop a better understanding of your organization and your goals with respect to your SolarWinds deployment. Ultimately, our goal is to provide a better experience when it comes to working with our sales team.


Over the next several weeks, we will work with a targeted list of customers to refine our processes and ensure that we are prepared for the team’s expansion.


We look forward to providing you with updates on success of the Strategic Accounts Team initiative in the coming weeks.


Should you have any questions about these changes, please feel free to contact us directly at customersales@solarwinds.com.

When it comes to the education industry, IT support is a vital function to enable the business. A university or a school campus/district is a big distributed network with end-users (students & faculty) and IT equipment distributed over different sites and locations. The reality for education industry in most cases is that IT departments are not well endowed with budget and human resources to tackle this unique support challenge. So, it comes down to doing the best IT can with what they have and how efficiently they manage and deliver customer service.


HDI, an association for technical service and support professionals and organizations, published a research brief about customer service in the higher education industry. Here are some interesting findings.


The staffing ratios in higher education tell us about how many end-users are being supported for every IT support staff.

Size of the Organization

Staff to End-User Ratio

Small (< 2,000 end-users)


Medium (2,000-10,000) end-users


Large (> 10,000 end-users)



With increasing ticket volumes attributed to new applications and systems, new equipment and devices, and the number of customers supported, it is a definite challenge for higher education support centers to ensure they implement the right tools and techniques to help them improve time and efficacy of support delivery.



It’s a very interesting to find that there is still a lot of walk-up, phone and email channels use for logging service requests. Even though it may simpler for the end-users to do so, these channels do not make the process simpler and consistent to capture trouble tickets. IT pros will more often than not follow up to get additional information, spend time converting these into actual help desk tickets, etc. This is an extremely time-consuming job for the support staff. They should be spending more time towards resolving tickets than managing them.

Support Channel Used

Percentage of Organizations Using the Channel









Social Media



With an effective ticketing management system with centralized service request Web portals for end-users, all the time and management hassles in each of the channels above can be greatly reduced.



As reported by the support centers in higher education, incident management (#1), knowledge management (#2), and remote control (#3) are essential to providing successful end-user support. Most organizations are understanding need for the right technology, the affordable technology to ensure their support centers get the automation support as needed. This will certainly help boost the efficiency of support delivery.

  • 87% of higher education support centers are using incident management systems
  • 90% of support centers are using remote control technology
  • 65% are already using knowledge management systems, and 18% are planning to add them

Other popular IT service management systems used by higher education support centers are: IT asset management (53.4%), customer sat surveying (72%), and self-service (62%).



What support centers need, to manage a growing network of end-users and rising support tickets, is a cost-effective investment in an all-round tool for IT service management such as a help desk software that provides a wide array of support for incident management, problem management, IT asset management, change management, knowledge management and more. Instead of shifting gears each time and managing multiple systems, a single, central help desk solution will help

  • Automate support tasks
  • Eliminate the need to manually perform repetitive tasks
  • Unify and streamline ticket submission and service request creation
  • Increase time-to-resolution
  • And, above all, improve the efficiency of customer service


Read the full HDI research brief: Improving Efficiency & Customer Service in Higher Education »

According to current reports, over 1,000 US companies have been hit with the Backoff POS (point of sale) virus so far. Infections date back as far as October 2013, and the customers who have been hit include Dairy Queen, UPS, Supervalu, and Neiman Marcus. The impact is now in the millions—millions of customers who have had their credit card information stolen; millions of dollars it is costing the infected companies.


Many articles (including one posted by CourtesyIT on Aug 21: Backoff POS Alert ) encourage companies to follow industry-standard best practices to protect themselves, and give a high-level listing of those practices (“use firewalls to restrict access to remote desktop”).


At SolarWinds®, we realize that “industry standard best practices” are frequently NON-standard and UN-practiced. We also realize that not everyone has the expertise to implement ACL's and lock down ports on machines, or perform regular checksum comparisons on filesystems—all of which need to happen on production networks and sales systems without impacting actual business operations.


But you probably realize that you also can't afford to do nothing.


WE realized that we would couldn't sit by and do nothing either. While combating viruses may not exactly be in the SolarWinds mission statement, our decades of experience in systems monitoring, management, and automation makes us uniquely suited to help. So we are.


While we intend (over the course of the next few days) to provide concrete solutions to specific aspects of this threat, for the moment we're opening the floor up to discussion.


For a more specific list of things you can do now, jump to “Actions you Can Take Right Now”, below.


Detailed Background

The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has assembled comprehensive information about the virus. A detailed explanation of how the virus works on systems can be found here http://www.us-cert.gov/sites/default/files/publications/BackoffPointOfSaleMalware.pdf.


The following link provides an overview of the virus elements (files, functions, etc.) as well as industry-standard best practices you can follow to detect whether you are infected and to block further damage:  https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/TA14-212A.


For the rest of this post we're going to break down the CERT notice into logical groups and offer general information on high-level actions you can start taking.


While the exact attack or infection vector is still not known (see here for more: http://www.securityweek.com/root-cause-analysis-stop-playing-whack-mole), the indicators that a system has been compromised are extremely easy to spot (in some cases, a simple “dir /s” would do the trick). These indicators include files created/written, registry keys created/written, URIs accessed, and POST requests.


As stated earlier, it's not known exactly how the infection occurs. At this time, the mechanism of compromise seems to target remote authentication mechanisms like RDP, LogMeIn, and others.


Actions You Can Take Right Now


First, let's just run through a few items that you should be able to easily lock down:


  • Remote Desktop
    Limit the use of remote desktop on your point of sale systems. Disable it if you can or limit access to specific users or computers (using GPO or routing rules) if you must permit it.

    If nothing else, you should block RDP traffic going to/from any external source.

    Along with that, you should be monitoring the network devices that control ingress/egress to the POS network for changes. You will want an alert if the firewall rules or ACLs are updated without an approved change.

  • Admin privileges
    Limit users with admin privileges to the POS systems. This can be done in a variety of ways from having your POS systems in a separate domain and thus having a separate domain admin group to simply having a separate “POS domain Admins” group and assigning that group to the POS systems instead of the regular one.

    You'll also want to monitor the systems themselves for admin logins.

  • Users and passwords
    Most of the preventative options are common sense—require complex passwords that change regularly. Limit usage/access of admin accounts. Disable/delete unused accounts, etc.



Assuming you've battened down the hatches, here are high-level descriptions of some actions you can take right now to determine if you have been affected.

  • Authentication data
    Similar to the prevention tip for locking down RDP, monitoring for RDP authentication attempts (any to start, and then filter out permitted computers/users as you get a sense of what normal usage is) will help identify unauthorized access.

    Separately, monitor for usage of service/admin accounts to watch for unexpected activity.

  • Changes on the targeted system
    It's clear from this and other viruses that you need to be much more sensitive to changes (e.g. new files or registry entries) on your POS systems than other devices. Whether you use a scan-and-checksum technique or a full inventory option, being alerted to new (and unexpected) files on your POS devices is a must.

  • Command and control access
    The whole point of this virus is that it connects to an external system and uploads keystrokes, user details, etc. Watching for those connections will give you a heads up that something is amiss. Ways you can do that include:
    • Use a proxy server to filter out record access to the unknown URI's.
    • Check firewall logs for connections to external systems (and attempts to bypass the proxy).
    • Monitor for connections to anything OTHER than the things they SHOULD be accessing. These systems shouldn’t be accessing a whole lot of network sources—especially on the Internet. So if you see activity on them that’s out of the norm, that's a big red flag.


If you find you need more, just sit tight. As mentioned earlier, we'll be posting detailed information, files you can import into your existing environment to get a leg up, and more over the next few



Please contribute your observations, opinions, or questions either in the comments below or by direct-messaging me on Thwack.com.

Without quick – nay, immediate – problem resolution, IT Pros are very often the first to be blamed for slow application performance. In the latest survey from SolarWinds, 176 IT Pros from the federal government disclosed how they manage applications in their environments, and the results indicate that government IT Pros lack the valuable, cross-IT domain visibility required to fix app-related problems fast. And when apps perform slowly for military, intelligence or other government initiatives, national security may in fact be at risk. 


We asked respondents which apps they’re using, where certain types of apps are stored, how they identify application problems, how they address app performance issues, and about SLA requirements, among other things.

For example, which apps are hosted where in government IT environments?

Hosting of apps.png

For full survey results, click here



Government IT Pros weighed in on where they host their applications for: email, video and web conferencing, office use, file sharing, social media, collaboration, analytics, enterprise resource planning, CRM, and proprietary and custom business uses. Most respondents said that unique types of applications are hosted in different locations – both on premise and in various cloud environments including public, community and private clouds at government agencies. Ultimately, IT Pros are responsible for application performance – for anything from Microsoft Exchange to Google Docs to Tweetdeck – regardless of whether the application resides on premise or in the cloud, so they must be able to identify where a problem lies and address it quickly.


When asked how they identify causes of their application problems, the majority of government IT Pros depend on their own siloed IT solution to identify root causes of application issues:

  • 54 percent use monitoring tools specific to their primary application or infrastructure area
  • 42 percent use interface data from the individual applications or infrastructure they use
  • Only 5.7 percent use integrated monitoring across application and infrastructure silos


Because the majority of government IT Pros use siloed tools or approaches that don’t provide cross-domain visibility or application-centric correlation between layers, it is not surprising that most government IT pros take up to a day just to determine where an application problem is located within their environments, find its cause and resolve the problem. Within seven to 24 hours:

  • 82 percent of respondents can determine where an application problem is located within their environments
  • 85 percent can uncover the root cause of a problem in an application
  • 88 percent can fix the problem


We want to know: “How slow is too slow?”

  • While most respondents said they have less than an hour of downtime per month (86%), they are still likely experiencing significant delays and problems because it takes up to a day for IT Pros to fix the issues. So while the application may not be down, it is assuredly slow. 
  • Nearly 80 percent of respondents said their response time SLA metrics for key applications have reduced more than 50 percent in the past two years as organizations call for shorter response times and thus put higher performance requirements in place for IT Pros to attain.


It’s clear that performance expectations for government IT Pros are high. Even the shortest delays from unresponsive web pages, online apps that don’t work, and crawling download speeds, etc. can impact customers or prevent employees from working as quickly and efficiently as they expect to, especially given today’s demands for speed and the “always on” mindset. And when applications used in military operations or critical government communications experience problems, government IT Pros must have the solutions and strategies in place to ensure they can find and resolve problems quickly.


Visibility into converged infrastructures and comprehensive management of the application stack (AppStack), or the application delivery chain comprised of the application and all the backend IT that supports it – software, middleware and extended infrastructure required for performance – is critical for efficient monitoring and management of government IT infrastructures.


Various products within the SolarWinds IT management portfolio are designed to help answer, “Why is the app running slow?,” enabling IT Pros to go from the application down, or from the hardware infrastructure up, to quickly identify and troubleshoot “fires” in an app environment. This top-to-bottom visibility helps IT organizations to better predict, prioritize and resolve issues before the end user and the business are affected.

One, one thousand; two, one thousand; three, one thousand; four, one thousand; five, one thousand.


Five seconds may not sound like a long time, but imagine if it took your browser as long as it did to read that first sentence to load this webpage. You may very well have moved on. Our on-demand, always-connected world has driven our expectations for fast response times and flawless performance through the roof. In essence, slow is the new broke. This concept, while almost ubiquitous, is especially apparent when it comes to applications.


Apps dominate our lives at work, at home and at play. So, when an app we rely on—whether for a business critical function or otherwise—doesn’t perform as needed, productivity, revenue and overall end user satisfaction suffers, often greatly. This was the focus of a recent SolarWinds global survey of more than 1,800 business end users. The key findings of which were:


  • The app is the heart of business and its performance is the lifeblood of success
  • Reliance on apps is high, end user expectations are even higher
  • IT continues to struggle to ensure application performance and availability


Consider these top supporting statistics:


  • 91 percent of global business end users said app performance and availability affects their ability to do their job, with 65 percent saying it has become more important over the past five years
  • 66 percent said they expect app performance and availability problems to be resolved within an hour of reporting them, with 34 percent expecting a resolution in a half hour or less
  • 83 percent contacted their IT department in the past year due to an app performance or availability issue, with more than one-third having done so six times or more


As an IT Pro, this should be a concern. Why? Because ultimately, you will be held responsible for app performance, regardless of whether the app resides within your infrastructure or in the cloud. Given the anytime, anywhere demand for consumption of IT resources, poor visibility into converged infrastructures and outdated management of the application stack (AppStack), or the application delivery chain comprised of the application and all the backend IT that supports it—software, middleware and extended infrastructure required for performance—can break a business.


Various products within the SolarWinds IT management portfolio are designed to help answer, “Why is the app running slow?,” enabling IT Pros to go from the application down, or from the hardware infrastructure up, to quickly identify and troubleshoot “fires” in an app environment. This top to bottom visibility helps IT organizations to better predict, prioritize and resolve issues before the end user and the business are affected.


Full Survey Results by Geography

I recently read a TechTarget article by Stephen Bigelow – “Look beyond APM to unified performance monitoring.”  In this article, Mr. Bigelow explains that traditional performance monitoring tools miss the market because tools often serve one or two silos in the organization.  As a result, businesses rely on multiple tools to monitor for performance issues across multiple silos (application, storage, virtualization, server, etc.). 



Often it is more the failure of the IT organization that creates tool sprawl than the tool vendors not providing unified performance monitoring.  If there is not a dedicated monitoring team across the organization, defining monitoring objectives (and tools) falls to individual admins.  This is evidenced by the fact that you will see multiple implementations of a single tool in one company.  Without a dedicated monitoring team, there is a lack of knowledge to understand what tools are already owned by the company and how they can be used. 



A dedicated monitoring team also provides the big picture view into how a service should be monitored to mitigate gaps in visibility – from the hardware to the app to the storage and database and everything in between.  Often, dedicated monitoring teams will decide to standardize on a suite of monitoring tools because the suite shares a common UI, alerting mechanism, database, naming conventions, etc..  When there is a gap in functionality, then the team will look for another tool to fill that gap. 



There are suites of tools that offer performance monitoring for multiple silos on the market today.  However, many of these traditional suites don’t provide the contextual visibility into how the entire app stack is performing because these tools are generally written by different development teams who are focused on a particular silo (storage, virt, etc.). 



Today, there are many new vendors that develop performance monitoring tools that provide capabilities for the SME they are serving, but also consider the application’s perspective.  Some examples of this approach include application aware network performance monitoring (for the network admin), transaction tracing  (for developers or application admins), application aware database performance analysis (for DBAs and devs), and app aware infrastructure performance monitoring (for IT Operations or system administrators). For instance, app aware database performance analysis allows you to filter response time for a particular application, and then see the top queries and waits (wait types / wait events) for that specific program. App aware infrastructure performance monitoring helped one customer diagnose a perceived application performance issue to find that it was actually a storage I/O spike caused by a daily backup procedure. 



Monitoring vendors are getting better at bridging the gap between monitoring silos with contextual linkages, but it is still up to the IT organization to make a conscious decision to minimize tool sprawl.



Join the conversation on tool sprawl here, or learn more about how SolarWinds’ approach to application aware unified performance monitoring.

Input from our users and the community will always be important to our business. When you design and build IT management products for IT pros, that feedback is essential and so we listen.


Lately, we’ve heard the growing concern and frustration with overly aggressive sales reps and tactics.


When an organization grows as rapidly as we have, there can be challenges in making sure that all members of our global team understand how we want to work with our customers and prospects. We’re committed to providing you with a quality experience and recognize that we may not be succeeding for a number of folks. We can do better.


In order to help us improve our interaction and conversations, you now have direct access to our Senior Sales Management team to share feedback and frustrations in real-time. Think of it as our “How’s our Selling?” hotline.


  • Contact us via phone (+1 512.498.6510) and email (salesexecs@solarwinds.com). These messages will route directly to all SolarWinds sales VPs, SVPs and EVPs.


  • Within 48 hours of sending feedback, you will get a personal response from a VP and we will take immediate action to correct the situation.


We have on-boarding and ongoing training programs for our sales representatives and we will use any feedback we get to work on improving our engagements with customers. While we may not always get it right, we are committed to working hard to make it right.

Good, bad or ugly... we want to hear what you have to say. 

David Gardiner

SVP, SolarWinds Sales

It has almost become a phobia in the IT department – network downtime or outage. Regardless of how much ever IT strives to keep the network up and running, there are many reasons due to which unscheduled network downtime keeps happening from time to time. So, what could network admins do to keep this menace under control? You might as well know the answer to this one: proactively monitor the network availability and performance problems. But for those of you that do not think network monitoring could help you reduce network outages, this blog will help put the impact of downtime into perspective so that you understand the larger picture of what all losses you may potentially face if you are not properly paying heed to the performance of your network infrastructure.



As much as you would wish to keep your network up 24/7, 365 days of the year, it is only theoretically possible as there are bound to be network outages some time, somewhere for some reason. It turns out, 99% availability, as good as it sounds, means 3.65 days of downtime per year, or 7.2 hours a month, or 1.68 hours a week. It doesn’t seem so good now, does it?


Look at this chart (source: Wikipedia) to understand how much of availability your network meets and how much you think is enough. And 99% is just not!



Consider five key factors to calculate the cost of downtime on your business.


#1 Productivity Lost

This is calculated in value worth of employee expenditure lost due to non-productivity.

  • Direct productivity – This amounts to the direct expenditure loss per person due to non-productivity during the outage period times the number of workers impacted

        Direct productivity ($$$) = Number of people * Number of hours of lost productivity * Estimated productivity loss/person/hour


  • Indirect productivity – There may be some teams and resources dependent on the directly affected lot, and their productivity will go down as a result of the former case. For, e.g., a 5 member team is not able complete their job in time, or are over-burdened with the work of the directly impacted team.

        Indirect Productivity ($$$) = Number of people * Number of hours of work * Percentage of lost productivity * Estimated productivity loss/person/hour


Count in the employees working in shift if you are running a 24/7 production business. If it’s a 24-hour outage and you run 3 employee shifts of 8 hours per day, then there will be 3 times the loss of productivity


#2 Profit Loss

This is the actual profit your business would have made during the outage period, if the network and systems had been up and running. If you are running a website or e-commerce business, every hour of website downtime means loss in profits. This can be categorized as lost sales or deferred sales. Both can happen during service downtime.


This is calculated as follows:

        Profit Loss due to Lost Sales ($$$) = Number of sales deals lost/hour * Average value of the sales deal * Number of hours of downtime


If it is a deferred sale, then it impacts your cash flow and in-quarter profitability and the loss of interest number the deferred amount by the number of days deferred.


#3 Cost of Penalty

If you are a service-based business, then your hours of downtime may impose a financial penalty for the non-productive hours. And if there’s going to be a compliance mandate tied to critical system availability dependent on the network, then factor in the penalty for non-compliance.


#4 Cost of Repair

This totally depends on your business continuity plans and disaster recovery strategy. If you have implemented the infrastructure for backup network lines, failover routers, etc., you should factor in the cost of procurement and usage during the outage period. If there is no recovery strategy, then you will incur the cost of repair from third-party including technical personnel expenditure, cost of hardware repair and replacement if required.


#5 Cost of Reputation & Loyalty

Though this may not be an immediate impact, your prospective customers may tend to lose trust in your organization and brand and may switchover to other competitors. This creates a huge reputational impact on your company and you have to invest money into rebuilding your brand, reinstating trust, and winning back your loyal customers.



  • Downtime Cost Per Year: Companies experience an average of 501 hours of network downtime every year, and the overall downtime costs an average of 3.6% of annual revenue [Source: The Costs of Enterprise Downtime, Infonetics Research]
  • Downtime Per Week: According to Dunn & Bradstreet, 59% of Fortune 500 companies experience a minimum of 1.6 hours of downtime per week. Assuming that an average Fortune 500 company has 10,000 employees who are paid an average of $56 per hour, including benefits ($40 per hour salary + $16 per hour in benefits). Just the labor component of downtime costs for such a company would be $896,000 weekly, which translates into more than $46 million per year.
  • Downtime Per Hour: Gartner estimated the hourly cost of network downtime for large corporations was $42,000, with a typical business experiencing an average of 87 hours of downtime a year, resulting in total losses exceeding $3.6 million.
  • Downtime Cost Per Minute: According to a Ponemon Institute study, the average cost of data center downtime across industries is approximately $7,900 per minute



Overall, the cost of network downtime is certainly colossal and can be avoided if network teams follow the adage ‘prevention is better than cure.’ Continuous and proactive network monitoring can help you easily detect performance problems leading to network outages. When you have identified network issues at early stages, you can take informed decisions and fix them before they build up into the detrimental downtime.

Of the organizations surveyed (in the SolarWinds Email Management Survey, March 2014), over 80% are using Microsoft Exchange for their corporate email.  17% of the companies using Exchange have started moving to the cloud and are also using Office 365.  For organizations that have not or have no plans to move to the cloud, there are significant resources devoted to managing this application.  SolarWinds listened to our customers and built a solution to help admins improve Exchange uptime while reducing time to manage Exchange performance.  The latest release of Server & Application Monitor, v6.1, provides the following capabilities for Exchange 2010 & 2013 environments.


  • Consolidated visibility to historical mailbox database usage (all copies), regardless of multiple DAG transitions
  • Replication status checks
  • Quick views of dormant mailboxes and top mailbox offenders and drill into individual Exchange user mailbox details for troubleshooting
  • Real-time view of logs, processes, services
  • Monitor the end-user experience to discover patterns that might lead to poor service with round trip tests (MAPI, etc.).
  • Proactive alerting for related applications to include Lync®, ActiveSync® connectivity, and Active Directory® performance.
  • Server hardware health & virtual server performance for multiple vendors
  • Agentless – quick time to deploy and maintain


The benefits of having a single view of Exchange performance include:

  1. Better customer satisfaction.  When the help desk is informed of problems in the application, they can better respond to end users and say, “yes, the problem is in XYZ component and we are working to resolve the problem now.”  Help desk admins can also more quickly assist end users because they have all the relevant information at their fingertips to assist end users in reducing their mailbox size (# of attachments, size of attachments, synced devices, sent/received mail).
  2. Faster time to resolve messaging issues.  I spoke to a lot of Exchange admins last week at MEC.  Many were not only responsible for Exchange, but for related applications like Active Directory, Lync, and Active Sync.  About one-third of admins we spoke to said their Exchange environment was virtualized, so it was important to understand VM performance too.  Most of these admins were using PowerShell scripts to identify and troubleshoot performance issues.  This feedback was in line with our Email Management Survey which revealed admins commonly use multiple tools to manage email to include logs, Windows task manager, WMI and EMC/EMS with PowerShell.


In speaking with some of our customers, they expect to reduce time managing Exchange by 50% with these new features of Server & Application Monitor.  I encourage you to try it out for yourself!

Email is an application that is vital to business operations.  It’s been around a while and it’s not going away.  Despite email being one of the most important applications in the enterprise, there has been little innovation (with the exceptions of DAGs and SaaS/hosted solutions) to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of email availability—even as factors contributing to email management complexity have increased.



Is email really that hard to manage?

SolarWinds conducted an Email Management Survey (ending in March 2014) of 162 US and Canadian IT professionals with email management responsibilities.  The survey found that on average, 46% of companies have more than 2 FTEs (full time equivalents) dedicated to managing email.  In organizations with greater than 5,000 mailboxes, 49% employ 6 or more FTEs to manage email.  In addition, the survey found that 53% of time spent managing email is related to monitoring the email application.  For large organizations, that is a lot of people devoted to identifying and responding to problems related to a single process.  Financially speaking, 3 or more FTEs translates from a few to several hundred thousand dollars a year that could be spent on other IT projects that focus on the company’s competitive advantage.


Why is email so hard to manage?

Managing email is complex for several reasons. For example,  according to the survey, the prevalence of smart devices has increased the load on email services.  Respondents also believe that BYOx and mobility initiatives (like telecommuters) contribute to the complexity of email management.


In addition, administrators are more often using multiple tools to manage email applications. The survey revealed that 53% of respondents use 3 or more tools to manage email.  Many of these tools require scripting and assimilation of outputs into meaningful views using spreadsheets or PowerPoint charts. 


What are companies doing to reduce email management complexity?

SaaS providers and application hosting providers are attractive alternatives to on-premise application environments because cloud providers take on and hide much of the complexity. Today, the majority of organizations surveyed (74%) have not transitioned to cloud technology. However, 37% of respondents believe that within 3 years, their organization will transition to a SaaS-based application, and another 22% believe their company will make the move in the next 5 years.


1404_SWI_Email_Survey Infographic.jpg

Click here to download a PDF of this infographic.


What can organizations do in the meantime to reduce the amount of time and money spent managing email?


Check out the SolarWinds Email Management Survey presentation on slideshare.

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