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Community Manager
Community Manager

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has companies worldwide encouraging employees to restrict travel and work remote. This has put a strain on the IT professional, but THWACK and the technology industry are responding with help. [Updated: 28APR2020 13:00 CST]


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Community Manager
Community Manager

What's a SWUG?  The short answer is it's an extension of this online community, delivering over 14 hours  of technical, hands-on education for free.  We started this program in 2015 and in 2020, we're back and—literally—bigger  than ever with two full days in cities across the globe. SWUG connects you with  SolarWinds executives, product managers, user experience researchers, technical  advisors, engineers, Head Geeks,  and other end users like you. It's a great place to get the answers to the hard  questions perplexing you, get details from behind the curtain at SolarWinds,  take a pulse to see what other industry professionals are doing, and where  they're going. Our goal is to help you be the best IT pro you can be. But don't  take our word for it. Here's what attendees at recent SWUGs have to say:

As a first-time attendee, I have to say this was my favorite work event I was able to attend this year. As mentioned, it was an event actually dedicated to us, for us.

— Paige Barnes (medleyp812), Chicago SWUG 2019 Attendee

I've been to events like this before only to be bombarded with what I can purchase from either the host or their partners. I got the feeling that the employees representing SolarWinds genuinely care about their customers.

— Ashley Warren (abby.warren), Chicago SWUG 2019 attendee

This was my first SWUG. I found value in the information provided as well as the personal contacts made during the conference. I will definitely plan on attending next year and I also look forward to THWACKcamp.

— Jim Yocum (jpyocum), New York SWUG 2019 attendee

Fantastic conference. Instead of sitting there listening to a marketing presentation like many conferences, the attendees were able to engage SolarWinds employees and address concerns and speak to their own environments.

— Steven Dean (chezbrgrs), Atlanta SWUG 2019 attendee

As my first SWUG, this was an excellent event. I felt overall it was very informative, and really highlighted the amazing user community around the SolarWinds products.

— Benjamin White (bwhite23) Seattle SWUG 2019 attendee

Join us and more than a hundred other IT pros ranging from monitoring engineers, help desk techs, MSPs, DevOps to the "I do it all"-folks in building bridges and tearing down silos. Remember, the goal is to get the information you need so when your workweek’s done, you can enjoy your weekends.  If you would like to be notified as soon as registration is available, please complete the pre-registration form for the SWUG(s) of your choice below. Be sure to watch the SolarWinds User Group space for the most up-to-date information.


All locations and dates are subject to change. We would advise to not book any travel until formal registration is available.

Phoenix, Arizona February 5 - 6, 2020 COMPLETED
Munich, Germany April 21, 2020 CANCELLED
Berlin, Germany April 23, 2020 CANCELLED
London, United Kingdom April 29-30, 2020 CANCELLED
Sydney, Australia July 2020 PRE-REGISTER
Singapore July 2020 PRE-REGISTER
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota August 2020 PRE-REGISTER
Atlanta, Georgia October 2020 PRE-REGISTER


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Community Manager
Community Manager

It's no exaggeration to say it's been a whirlwind year for the SolarWinds User Group (SWUG) program. Like I said when announcing the 2019 SWUG list, we completely rethought the program and made drastic changes between last year and this year. The biggest (and IMHO best) change was moving to a multi-day schedule.

It all boiled down to one concept: time. Until we get backwards time travel working, time is our only 100% non-renewable resource. When it's gone, it's gone, so making the most of it should be your top priority. For me, that means leaving on time and enjoying my evenings and weekends, getting the most out of my business day by decreasing "unplanned work," and having stimulating conversations that enrich me as a human being. The SWUG program has provided the latter for me all year long. And the conversations we've had this year? Just amazing. It doesn't matter if, like me, you're a long-timer with SolarWinds solutions, or a relative newcomer. The conversations drive me.

We asked on day one how everyone would gauge their personal level of knowledge. In a room of over 140 people, 11% said they were SolarWinds Certified Professionals, 15% said they were experts, 55% called themselves intermediate, and only 20% were beginners. I felt like this was a great mix for a user group, but we'd like to provide everyone with the tools they need to level up their careers. As part of leveling up, we made sure we spoke about SolarWinds Smart Start, the open office hours, and our certification prep guides. All of these are great ways to unlock further professional achievements.

Like the other events this year, it was my pleasure to act as the Master of Ceremonies for the Chicago SWUG. I got to give a few presentations, provide the introductions, hand out the raffle prizes, and hang out with over 140 of my fellow THWACK members. I had the privilege of opening day one with a keynote and closing the event with some warnings and recommendations about alerts. Leon Adato was again in rare form talking about the discipline of monitoring, how to be empathetic to your users, and how to use some of the lesser-known tools to do some critical monitoring. Craig McDonald gave an excellent overview of how SolarWinds has been providing visual representations of data as our environments become more complex. Ashelena did a recap of what we learned over the year and how to leverage SolarWinds resources for the career growth and monitoring glory. Mike Driskell provided his expert opinion on when it's time to upgrade, migrate, scale up, or scale out. We heard from Kellie Mecham about how SolarWinds relies on our users at every stage of the SolarWinds Development Lifecycle. Jim Hansen took to time to explain why it's important to quantify data from the outside and the inside when troubleshooting system or user issues. Kathleen Walker reminded us all that security was part of our job with tips and tricks on having the necessary conversations as well as scaring us a little straight with some of current trends in ransomware.

This trip, we brought three THWACK® MVPs to the stage. New MVP Dave Lando talked about his story of inheriting the Orion® Platform, what he did to claim control, and how he got the organization behind monitoring. Nick Zourdos couldn't let it go and had to tell you all why your dashboards are still bad. Thankfully, he provided tips and tricks on how they could be made better, including some examples and what he's done for his organization. And finally, Zack Mutchler demystified the Orion SDK by providing clear examples of how to dip your toes into working with the SolarWinds Orion API.

Since returning to Texas, I've been trying to wrap my head around the best way to encompass what I've learned over the last year at the SWUGs. After a few hours of wracking my brain, staring at a blank screen, I was inspired by a question from a friend.

Today, my friend and colleague Leon Adato asked me the question, "If you were given a salary of $1,000,000, but you still had to have a career, what would it be?" When I stopped to think about it, my answer would be talking to IT professionals, helping them break down their challenges, guiding them in their own careers, sharing my experiences, working with them to provide solutions, and basically everything the SolarWinds User Group program has provided over the last few years. This trip to Chicago, really cemented that for me—I love my job because of the people.

Now, we've traveled to the Chicagoland area before for two previous SWUGs, but 64% of this event's attendees said they'd never joined us and that made my heart sing. Putting faces to usernames is always a pleasure and some of the best questions are the ones for which we don't have an immediate answer. Those questions make us pause and have a real conversation. At a SolarWinds User Group, you might get "I don't know" as an answer, and that's awesome! It means we get to learn as well. Those conversations are still happening today.

We tried something different in Chicago this time with a "Community Pick" session. On the first day, you could submit an idea for a half-hour topic for day two. At the beginning of day two, we tallied those requests and held the session. Yes, you read that correctly. We put together a session in approximately 2-1/2 hours to present just before lunch on day two. It was one of the most stressful, exciting, exhilarating, and exhausting sessions we've ever produced. If you were there, I hope you enjoyed it.

Another new session—but not new as a concept—was BYOQ: Bring Your Own Questions. We basically stole a conference room, grabbed a whiteboard, plugged in to a television on the wall, and were there to answer questions. That's it. I know it doesn't sound extraordinary, but it was a revelation. You had a question about Patch Manager? Great. You wanted to know what happens during Orion database maintenance? Cool. You needed help writing a port inventory report? Excellent. No question was too big or too small. Even when we weren't answering questions ourselves, we heard other attendees answering each other's questions. This is the THWACK community at its finest.

Throughout the event, we had hundreds of people ask questions in person and online. There were questions we didn't get a chance to answer while we were on the ground, so we're trying to answer them as quickly as possible. Many of them we have collapsed into a single question based around a theme, but if you don't see your question answered at the bottom, let us know by commenting below. We'll be happy to continue the conversation.

It seems every single event I find myself saying, "we tried something different for this SWUG." Personally, I think that's wonderful. As each group of attendees provides feedback we try to adjust and make sure we're providing the content in a way that's both educational and entertaining. We're doing what SolarWinds has done for years: listening to the community. SolarWinds and THWACK wouldn't be who and what they are without you, the community members who make coming to the job delightful.

To say I'm excited for what 2020 holds would be a gross understatement. There's so many (figurative) places technology is going and so many (physical) places we're planning to take the program. Keep your eyes peeled for the official announcement of dates and places sometime in the new year.

If you've gotten this far, you hear ad nauseum how much I love these events, but I'm not the only one. A few of our attendees took the time to say nice things about Chicago SWUG.

"One of the most valuable vendor events I've ever attended in nearly 20 years of IT experience."

"This was a great User Group that focused on the product rather than trying to push third-party software and vendors for prizes. The presenters were amazing and the interaction during breaks and after hours was terrific."

"This event was way better than I expected it to be. It was recommended by the vendor we went through, and I was very happy I could attend. I am hoping that after applying what I've learned I can make a yearly SWUG attendance part of the company budget"

"I appreciate that the focus was primarily on how to utilize [the] Orion [Platform]. I've been to events like this before only to be bombarded with what I can purchase from either the host or their partners. I got the feeling that the employees representing SolarWinds genuinely care about their customers."

"I always get a lot out of these meetings, and I REALLY liked the 2-day event. It works out GREAT! I am not gone too long from work and I feel like I got A LOT more than last year."

"I have already told my boss about it and he would like to go next year too. You guys are truly amazing to care as much as you do for being a big company with areas all over the place. It shows you all love your jobs and value the community."

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Community Manager
Community Manager

Two weeks ago, it was my pleasure to take part in another SolarWinds User Group—this one in New York. For two days, we spoke about ways to get the most out of your monitoring infrastructure. We covered everything from the basics of network and systems management, to tuning your alerts so they stop keeping you up at night. Like each SWUG this year, we’ve been modifying the format as requests have come in. I spoke about the “evolution” previously, and this event was no exception.

Day 1

One thing that didn’t change was me kicking off the day speaking about how you’re more than your job titles and how supporting end users is for more than your helpdesk. More than half of the room had previously worked front-line on a helpdesk (answering the phones or working directly with customers).  I count myself among them. The helpdesk can be so much more than a mere stepping-stone in a career path; it’s also an excellent resource for enabling technicians to better themselves. The helpdesk both understands the caller’s pain and wants to work quickly toward resolution.

Then we played with the format a little bit and had Brandon Shopp give back-to-back overviews of how we’ve made advances in helping you monitor both network management and security operations. It’s been a busy year and there were so many topics to cover, we couldn’t go into advanced detail on them all.


Next up we pulled back the curtain a little bit, and showed you the SolarWinds approach to the SDLC.  Customer feedback is such an important part of the SolarWinds Development Life Cycle (SWDLC anyone?) and we wanted to take this opportunity for people to understand its relevance. Tulsi Patel and Serena Chou told everyone why customer involvement is so critical to the way we build software at SolarWinds, we wanted to give everyone an opportunity to ask the questions important to them. So, after a lunch break, we changed how we handled our breakout sessions. (I did say we’re constantly evolving the way we organize SWUG events, right?)


This time in our breakout sessions, we offered deep dives based around the products SolarWinds offers. On this first day we spoke about network management in one room and security operations in a separate room. This way, we could have everyone share their stories and dig deep into the technologies and products as needed. It was a choose-your-own-adventure format, and it was great to get the interactions from the attendees in each room. Those are two of the sessions, and we had a special guest for the third.


That session, affectionately called “What Do You Think of This Widget?”—a session based around customizing your Orion® Platform dashboards to show exactly what you need—was hosted by none other than THWACK® MVP Matt Reingold. It provided a quick dive into customizing and extending your dashboards to show exactly what’s important to you. He spoke at length on how to get started with the API and gave examples of getting your feet wet. Basically, if you joined his session, you could go from zero to SWQL in a matter of minutes. After the session, I even saw him helping someone trying to get a new resource created between sessions. That’s what SWUG is about—sharing knowledge.

Thankfully, because of the way we structured sessions, attendees didn’t have to choose one or the other. We ran each session twice so attendees could participate in multiple. This allowed people to get in front of product managers, technical experts, or THWACK MVPs to ask their questions.


For this event, it was our pleasure to bring not just Matt, but two other THWACK MVPs to the podium. Closing day one, Marc Netterfield talked about how he sets up his Orion Platform deployments for as much automation as possible. His theory is if you’ve had to do it once, you’ll probably be asked to do it again. Custom properties are the (not-so-)hidden secret sauce of the Orion Platform. He showed how he uses those same custom properties to bend the alerting engine to his whim by doing his work for him. Continuing that trend, he talked about how he used those same custom properties to automatically create groups, dashboards, and alerts using a handful of scripts, which he was kind enough to share.  With these examples, he was able to show how to turn all your "one-off" requests into something that can be identified, then building processes around those, which will ultimately save you a great deal of time and hassles as an Orion admin.

Then it was time to close day one with some social time and get ready for day two. For me, this was an opportunity to have dinner with some family who came up for the event.

Day 2


Day two kicked off with Head Geek Leon Adato talking about talking. Or more accurately, learning yet another language to add to your arsenal. This language has been one of the most difficult I’ve ever had to learn, and I’m still not proficient. Frequently, I find myself making syntax errors or using the wrong units, but ultimately, every IT person should learn how to speak a little bit of “business.”

Then we threw it back to Brandon who spoke about the strides we’ve been making around systems and application management. Like day one, he provided overviews of the products, specifically outlining the differentiation between systems monitoring and application monitoring. The line between infrastructure monitoring and application performance monitoring is tenuous, but both are critical to understanding how your end users and systems interact.

Following up on the application monitoring topic, we had our final customer presentation of the event. THWACK MVP Ben Keen spoke about his personal journey with SolarWinds at American Eagle (Outfitters, not the airline) and how the company has benefited from a dedicated monitoring engineer. He mentioned how he inherited the monitoring infrastructure, took control of it, and covered some of the challenges he overcame given the scope of his deployment. He spoke about his last few upgrades and how he was planning on expanding it beyond the current deployment.

After another lunch break (yes, we feed you if you attend a SWUG), it was time for the day two breakout sessions. In the first room, we hosted a SolarWinds AM(a)A [Ask Me (almost) Anything]. This was a chance for the room to ask any questions whatsoever. It could be about how SolarWinds chooses new features (asked), what our recommendations are for scaling up (asked), and if we’re dog or cat people (not asked but answered all the same). This is a very similar format to what we’re doing in preparation for THWACKcamp. We’re hosting AM(a)A sessions every few weeks leading up to the global, virtual October 16 – 17 event.  Just sign up and you’ll get the invitations to those sessions.


In another room, Serena Chou spoke about how systems monitoring is more than just monitoring the individual layers of the application stack. Understanding how various systems are interconnected is sometimes more important than knowing everything about a specific layer. Pretending that systems aren’t interconnected is an exercise in futility.  In addition to systems monitoring, she also has a passion for bouldering.  We had a more accurate picture, but I couldn't help but using this one.


In the third room, Head Geek Patrick Hubbard made his case on how important application management is when it comes to cloud-native applications. They behave very similarly to the other applications you utilize. You just need to pivot your thinking a little bit on how you monitor them. I’d say it’s a strange new world, but that would be a lie. It’s the same world; it just needs to be viewed from a different angle.


To close out the SWUG, I once again came to the stage and spoke about alerts. I’ve talked about them before, I’ll talk about them again, and I’ll continue to talk about them until they stop being a problem for monitoring professionals. There’s so much that could and has been said about alerts, we could fill a book. I gave some of my personal recommendations and a few details on the best ways to implement them.


And that was it. Another SWUG in the books. For some of us, it was time to travel back to the office for Friday. For others (like me), it was staying on and exploring NYC a little more. For everyone, it was a great time, and we can’t wait to do it again.  We even got Danielle Gaitan to participate in some fun pictures even though she's normally behind the scenes.


If you haven’t had the chance to visit us before, you still have a chance. Right on the heels of THWACKcamp, we’ll be in Chicago, IL for the final SWUG of 2019!  We’ll be bringing in more SolarWinds staff, more guest speakers, and more content that you—our community—demand.

Mark your calendars now and we look forward to seeing all of you again.

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Community Manager
Community Manager

One month ago (May 7), I got up at an ungodly hour, spent about four hours in a metal tube hurtling through the air, and landed feeling tired. Getting from the airport to the hotel is all a heavy-eyed blur. However, my lethargy didn’t last long, because I was in Seattle for a free SolarWinds User Group (SWUG).

Hosting a SWUG frequently requires late nights and, occasionally, early mornings. Those sacrifices are small, because these events are some of the things I love most about this job. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, SWUGs are a labor of love. I won’t wax philosophical again here because I’ve already done so.

Some of us SWUG veterans still get a rush meeting with everyone and putting (user)names to faces. Your experiences fuel us and our desire to make great SolarWinds products. In addition, this year we went from a single-day event to a two-day event. Even though it’s two days of technical content, it’s still 100% free. And, we’ve doubled the number of conversations. For me, this was a welcome change.

Day 1

As the emcee, I got to kick off the festivities. I spoke about how your IT problems don’t matter, only your end users do. Yes, they may feel like a plague upon your world, but, at the end of the day, they’re the reason you have your job. This is just one of the multitude of reasons you shouldn’t lose focus.


Brandon told us about everything what’s new for systems administrators and introduced everyone to a new addition to the SolarWinds portfolio. Your environments are constantly changing and expanding, and Brandon told the crowd about all the ways SolarWinds solutions help you do your job better.


Next up was Joe, who told us all about the new releases aimed at helping the network manager. He introduced the room to the newest Network Insight and spoke about how NetFlow can be used to isolate problems on your network. If you want to talk about network traffic flow, Joe’s your man.


After a lunch break, we threw it back to a Seattle local, Nicole, who told everyone about how SolarWinds is trying to help everyone stay on top of their security and compliance with on-premises and cloud offerings from SolarWinds. Security threats are constantly morphing and changing and it’s our job to help you be best prepared for whatever lies in your future.


After Nicole’s presentation, we were off to our separate sessions. In the main auditorium, Joe took back to the stage and Kristin joined him. The two of them spoke about how User Experience (UX) and Product Management (PM) makes the sausage software at SolarWinds. Specifically, they wanted to make sure everyone knew how critical it was to have frequent input from the community, be it through UX sessions, beta participation, or early adoption of release candidates. Our goal is to make software that’s delightful to use. We can’t do so without the involvement of the community.


In another room, Rich talked about how you can make sure your IT infrastructure is compliant based on your specific needs. Just because your organization doesn’t operate in healthcare, finance, or government, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have standards. Deviation from those standards can lead to configuration drift (both on network devices and servers) and make everyone’s life more complicated when something goes awry. With his expertise, Rich showed you how to navigate those waters and how best to wrangle these issues with SolarWinds products.


In the final room, it was my turn to tell everyone why they should feel bad because their dashboards are bad. I provided a methodology for building good dashboards and introduced everyone to the people and places to find more information. I also showed an example of how to craft the excellent, yet elusive, “executive” dashboard.


And so, we all retired for dinner and drinks. Another SWUG in the books, right? Not so fast. We still have another whole day left and there was some work to do in the interim.

Overnight, we opened a forum for people to submit questions to the SolarWinds AMA (Ask Me Anything) for the following day, but more on that later. For most of us, we grabbed some seafood, had a drink, and did some prep work and got ready for the second day.

Day 2

To kick off the second day, Head Geek Thomas LaRock told us all about how bad job postings are and are not our own fault. The logical progression of your career has ramifications on what you think of as your job description. Think about it this way: even if your title doesn’t change, the job you do today is very different from your job last year. As you take on more responsibilities, new lines appear in your job description. That bad description might be your fault, but at least you’ll enjoy the ride.


Then I came back on stage for a tried and true session about alert tuning. I spoke a little bit about how monitoring is not the same as alerting and although monitoring everything is a good thing, alerting on everything is a very, very, very bad thing. The elements of a “good” alert can be elusive. I provided some tips and tricks on moving from alerting to good alerting.


Following me to the stage, in her first ever SWUG appearance, we had Ashelena share all the resources available to SolarWinds customers. Everyone already knows about THWACK®, but how many people knew about the Customer Success Center or Orange Matter or the SolarWinds Academy? Ashelena clued everyone into the resources we, as a company, offer our customers. Growing in your knowledge shouldn’t be a solo journey, so allow us to help.


Then it was time for the SolarWinds AMA (Ask Me Anything). Taking questions posed the night before and taking questions live in the room, the SolarWinds staff spoke about anything. Why was this thing included in that feature? Why doesn’t this thing support my device? How would you recommend doing this thing my company needs? Long story short, it was a great session and we’ll be including it in future SWUGs.


When we broke for lunch the questions didn’t stop, which is just one of the things that’s great about attending a SolarWinds User Group. You get the chance to ask the questions most important to you of the decisionmakers at SolarWinds. It’s like a big red phone directly to the top.

Like day 1, the second day’s afternoon was broken up for individual sessions.

In the main auditorium, we were once again entranced as Tom spoke about the best way to cut through the noise in your monitoring data. Is this something I should be concerned by, or is this just a small blip in the status quo? Understanding and identifying the difference can help you stop chasing the red herring.


Chris is one of our most experienced Technical Advisors and spoke in multiple sessions about how to scale your monitoring solution from a proof-of-concept install to a global monitoring solution. As your environment grows and evolves, your monitoring solution needs to scale with you. In recent years, migrating to a hybrid-cloud or adopting a cloud-first methodology are just a few of the ways environments grow. Chris has been helping customers scale up and out for years, so he was a logical pick for speaking with customers about all the details on how to best scale for their needs.


One of the highlights of the event was a presentation by THWACK MVP Liam Luther. Although camera-shy, Liam showed attendees how he got into hacking the Orion® Platform for his own fun and profit, including examples he’s made over the years. In the two weeks since the event, he hasn’t slowed down and added ways to bring even more customizations to the Orion Platform. It was such a hit, we’ll be having other THWACK MVPs proctor their own sessions at more SWUGs this year.


If you asked me the morning I left, if SWUG is worth the long hours and lack of sleep, I might have said “no.”  If you asked me the same question after greeting the first attendee, I would have laughed in your face. For me, it’s always worth it to get in touch with our customers.

For those of you who were able to join us at the Seattle SolarWinds User Group, thank you for attending. We had a great time meeting with everyone and look forward to speaking with you again. If you missed us in Seattle, then the good news is we’ll be traveling to San Diego for a Customer Appreciation Event at Cisco Live on June 11, New York on July 10-11, and Chicago on October 23-24. Sign up now for any of these free events and encourage your colleagues to do the same. One thing I’ve heard most often in the post-SWUG days is people wish they’d brought their coworkers with them.

The SolarWinds User Group is what community is all about. Collectively we’re smarter than any of us individually.

Now it’s time for this SWUG attendee to catch up on some sleep.

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Level 17


We’re bringing deeper visibility and smarter scalability to your network with new features and solutions you need to see at Cisco Live! 2019.

Join us at booth #1621 to learn how SolarWinds continues to improve our hybrid IT management solution built on the Orion® Platform.  SolarWinds is recognized as a worldwide leader in network management software by industry analyst firm International Data Corporation (IDC).


Network Insight features:

Today’s networks are more complex, with more advanced hardware. Simply knowing if a device is up or down doesn’t tell you how your load balancer is managing application delivery or if your firewall is blocking the right traffic. Network Insight features are designed to provide the right information for each device's unique role in the network. See how Network Insight features for Cisco Nexus®, Cisco ASA®, and F5® BIG-IP® help you troubleshoot your switches, firewalls, and load balancers like an expert.

Cisco ACI support:

Figure out when a problem is occurring in your SDN environment directly from your primary monitoring tool. Monitor the logical components of your SDN environment, including APICs, tenants, application profiles, endpoint groups, and physical entities.

Intelligent Maps:

You need to understand the relationships between devices and applications on your network, but don’t have time to maintain maps. Orion Maps are for people who love beautiful maps, but hate to maintain them. Get back to managing your network, not your network monitoring.


Correlating different data types from across the IT stack can be time-consuming and difficult. Use PerfStack dashboards to drag-and-drop network, systems, virtualization, database, or storage metrics to a common timeline.

Stop by our booth to see demos of our full suite of powerful, affordable, and easy-to-use IT management software solutions.  In addition to our core IT products, you can learn more about MSP and cloud-native products as well.

Cisco Live! Think TankCisco Live! Customer Appreciation Event


Tuesday, June 11




World of Solutions (WoS), Think Tank 2


Thomas LaRock


So, You've Suffered a Data Breach


Tuesday, June 11


4:00pm - 7:00 pm


Roy's Restaurant


Chris O'Brien, Kevin M. Sparenberg

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Community Manager
Community Manager

Let’s begin with a personal invitation to each and everyone one of you to join us in 2019 for one of our SolarWinds User Groups (SWUG). This year, we’re traveling to Atlanta, Seattle, New York, and Chicago. For 2019, like years past, it’s all about building bridges, tearing down walls, expanding communications, and fostering the best community in IT. The 2019 SWUGs will feature two days of sessions, including keynotes from SolarWinds executives, Head Geeks, and others, open spaces for attendee-led meetings, community-requested sessions, multiple topic-centric tracks, interactive sessions, and much, much more.

You may ask yourself why SolarWinds has made these changes. Well, it’s largely in result to our previous attendees’ feedback. You asked for more technical deep-dive sessions, more interactive sessions, more how-to sessions, and more interaction with the attendees in the room – and we heard you. If you’re taking time out of your busy schedule to be a part of an event, then it’s our job to make this event as informative and educational as possible.

If you’ve attended a SWUG in the past, you know that we have always packed the day with content, but it just wasn’t enough. Therefore, we’ve gone to two days. We also realize that not every session resonates with every person. With that in mind, we’re relying on you, the community, to tell us more about the sessions you want. You get to direct our track-based content. Our concentration is to make the sessions and content more diverse and community-driven.

Why Attend a SWUG?

The short answer is that it’s over 16 hours of educational content provided by SolarWinds professionals for free. That’s what you see on paper, but what you get by attending this in-person event is so much more. What we’re offering in a SWUG is opportunity: opportunity to speak with SolarWinds staff about the software, opportunity to interact with other IT professionals in your area of expertise, opportunity to influence the future direction of solutions in your environment, and opportunity to customize your experience and the content to your needs.

The thing that I’ve enjoyed the most about being part of the SWUG journey over the last few years is meeting the community. Although I’ve been with SolarWinds for a few years now, I haven’t forgotten my roots—as part of the community of users who utilized SolarWinds solutions to do my job better. My favorite interaction was always someone who brought up their manager or their co-worker and, together, we helped show them how we could help fix that one problem that’s been a pain point for some time. The power of SWUG is in a room full of other professionals to answer your questions. Although each environment is different, many of the problems we encounter have some level of commonality. At a SWUG, you are surrounded by hundreds of people whose role is like yours—in essence, a community.

The Evolution of SWUG

The super power of the THWACK® community is – and always has been – the diversity of its members. That diversity, coupled with everyone’s different IT specialties, makes for an engaging and, frequently, entertaining place to spend your time. In 2015, we began with an experiment: what would happen if we brought some THWACK members and some SolarWinds staff into a room and got them to interact with each other in real life? It seemed like a success. Like all scientists, we expanded on our hypothesis and tested it again.

This little experiment became the SolarWinds User Group, or SWUG. In 2016, we traveled to nine locations around these United States doing the same experiment. For a period of a half a day, we got everyone together and spoke with them about monitoring things better with SolarWinds. And what’s the purpose of having excellent monitoring? Finding the root cause quickly, helping you diagnose issues rapidly, which is key to giving you your weekends back.


Taking our cue from the scientific method, we took our results, analyzed what we found, and determined the next steps for our experimentation. In 2017, we moved from half-days to full days and extended the reach—both in scope and in locations. We traveled all over the world, meeting people who ranged in title from monitoring professionals, to network engineers, to systems administrators, to security professionals, and more. Building relationships among the community has been my favorite part of being with SolarWinds. Meeting more people and hearing your stories has been a highlight of my career.

In 2018, we scaled up once again and visited eleven cities around the world, hosting SWUGs to get to know the community better. One thing that we realized in our whirlwind tour over the last four years was that high technology people actually like talking to other high technology people. The THWACK community is more than just an online community, it is a community in the truest sense—made up of individuals, each with their own experiences, skills, and knowledge.


In previous years, we’ve heard that we weren’t talking enough about this or we skipped that other thing entirely. Much of that was because we didn’t have the time. The next logical step was to get more of the community together and tailor the content to your requests.

It’s now 2019, and it’s time to take the results of the last four years, refine our hypothesis, and test it again. This year, we will be moving to two days of content with more people, more sessions, more interaction, and more—basically—everything.

SWUG 2019 by the numbers:

  • 0 conference badges required
  • 4 cities
  • 2 days
  • 3 tracks per day
  • 16+ hours of community-driven, educational content
  • 100+ IT professionals
  • and you

Register now to join me and other SolarWinds professionals in a city near you for a great 2019.

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Community Manager
Community Manager

Attention everyone who lives in the U.K. or Germany - SolarWinds is bringing a SolarWinds User Group (SWUG) your way soon! We had an amazing time with those of you who attended the London SWUG last year and we're coming back in full-force later this year. SWUG is also looking to make a stop in Germany for our first time.

Registration for London is now open: November 14, 2017 - London, U.K. SWUG

Registration for Berlin is now open: November 10, 2017 - Berlin, DE SWUG

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Community Manager
Community Manager

We are pulling together the agendas, venues, and confirmed dates but below you will find where SolarWinds User Groups (SWUG)​ are going next!

January - Austin, Texas (SolarWinds Headquarters)

  • If you don't live in the region, you could win an all expenses paid trip to Austin to attend this meetup and meet all 5 of the Head Geeks! Learn more: Template Hunter

February - Denver, Colorado

March - Melbourne, Australia

Please look for the events to start popping up on the Community Events, Webcasts & Training​ calendar soon, start your planning!

We will also be reaching out to the many of you who have offered to host and be a SWUG Leader.  If you haven't applied yet, check out the SolarWinds User Groups (SWUG)​ page.

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Community Manager

SolarWinds will be there! Booth 535, be sure to come see us! 

Also, since we're in town, we will be hosting a SolarWinds User Groups (SWUG)​ on Wednesday evening, September 28th from 6:30 - 10:30pm EDT.  Make sure to RSVP and save your seat!


Session Time (EDT)

Session Overview


6:30pm – 7:15pmRuth's Chris Dinner Served (see below for menu)
7:15pm – 7:30pmWelcome / Introductions / Ice Breaker & PRIZES

patrick.hubbard, Head Geek

7:30pm – 8:00pmOn The Horizon for Systems Management

stevenwhunt, Principal, Product Strategy (Systems)

8:00pm 8:30pm
What's New with NPMmavturner, Sr. Director, Product Strategy (Networks)
8:45pm – 9:30pmSolarWinds Best Practices & Thinking Outside of the Box

Dez, Head Geek

KMSigma, Product Manager

9:30pm – 10:30pmHappy Hour



RSVP now!

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Community Manager
Community Manager

Folks - we are vigorously pulling together our Q2 SWUG stops and we're coming for YOU Seattle, Washington and Atlanta, Georgia!

We have a very limited set of dates to work with so I wanted to get the announcement out and gauge how many of you would be able to attend in each location.  Reminder, we need AT LEAST 25 attendees at each user group in order for us (SolarWinds staff) to travel.




Living Computer Museum




njoylif, SolarWinds MVP


1564 NE Expressway

Atlanta, GA 30329

HURRY and register to attend! The sooner we have your feedback for the Atlanta date, the better chances we have to adjust and make this happen!

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Community Manager
Community Manager

Fresh off of the Columbus, OH SolarWinds User Group, we are kicking things into gear for our next meetup! As mentioned in my previous blog, we will be in Dallas, Texas on March 9th!  Our UG leaders for this area are Jfrazier‌ and zackm‌ who are helping us to coordinate the agenda and getting the word out to folks in the area.

However, if anyone else is interested in being a UG Leader for the Dallas area and is willing/has space to host up to 40 user group attendees, I need to speak with you! Please comment below or email me at and I will be in touch with you ASAP.  This is the last component we need to solidify in order to make this meetup happen so your help is greatly appreciated!  Also, if you are interested in joining us in Dallas, join the Texas SWUG‌ group to get more information as it becomes available.

Thanks in advance!

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Community Manager

Folks - we are vigorously pulling together our Q1 SWUG stops and we're coming for YOU Columbus, OH and Dallas/Fort Worth, TX!

We have a very limited set of dates to work with so I wanted to get the announcement out and gauge how many of you would be able to attend in each location.  Reminder, we need AT LEAST 20 attendees at each user group in order for us (SolarWinds staff) to travel.

Columbus, Ohio - January 20, 2016

Click here to RSVP or suggest a different date

Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas - March 9, 2016

Click here to RSVP or suggest a different date

HURRY and let us know if you can make either of these times! The sooner we have your feedback the better chances we have to adjust and make this happen!

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Community Manager
Community Manager

Attention folks in the San Francisco area! Myself, adatole‌, Dez‌, and patrick.hubbard‌ are coming to your region for the next SWUG!

You can RSVP to this meetup by joining the California SWUG group (your request will be quickly approved).

We are currently building out the agenda and definitely looking for feedback on the types of questions you have, which products you want to talk/learn more about, etc. so please submit your suggestions in the California SWUG group.  Looking forward to seeing you all in a few weeks!

California SWUG - San Francisco

December 9, 2015


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Community Manager
Community Manager

Working as the Community Manager for thwack for 4+ years now, I can say that one of the most requested "features" of the community has been to bring you and SolarWinds together, face-to-face, to meet, greet, share, and discuss IT trends, hot topics, and all things Orion.  I am pleased to announce that we officially kicked off a pilot program (or "beta" for those who know SolarWinds language all too well) for SolarWinds User Groups and now, we're moving full steam ahead with SWUG in 2016!

Where is SWUG going in 2016 and how can I organize a user group for my area?

You, the community, are absolutely crucial to our ability to keep these user groups going.  We need to see demand in various regions, we need people willing to host a space for 20-30 people, and we need user group leaders. Our first user group leader achievement goes to jbiggley‌ and Jfrazier who have offered to host and organize a meeting for the Columbus, OH region and the DFW, Texas region in early 2016.  We'll be seeing you soon Josh and John!

I've created a poll to capture where people want to meetup in 2016 - VOTE NOW!  The bigger the demand, the better chance I have of getting SolarWinds experts and staff to your region.

If you are interested in being a user group leader, please reach out to me directly on thwack (DanielleH) or send an email to  We will give you all the tools (and budget) needed to get this going in your area, plus a few perks for yourself as a user group leader.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.  We hope to see you at a future SWUG meeting!!



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