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Charting SolarWinds

As many of you who’ve met me can attest- at tradeshows, user groups, or on SolarWinds Lab- I talk a lot.  I talk about technology, flying, astronomy and anything else geeky, but I don’t talk about myself much. Ok, I do annoy millennials with stories about my kids, but that’s parental prerogative.  And maybe that’s why I don’t talk much about SolarWinds.  Of course I talk about our products, advanced SolarWinds techniques and how our customers succeed, but not about SolarWinds, the business.  With the release of the recent 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics (NPMD) however, I’m a bit excited and want to humble brag just a little.


Not My First Rodeo

Once upon a time I was the product manager for Sun Java System Identity Manager, formerly Waveset Lighthouse.  (Say that five times fast).  One of my jobs was engaging analysts with the cool geekiness of automated identity management and secure systems provisioning.  It was hardcore integration and code, with plenty of jargon and lots to talk about.  And a highlight in my career remains the month we hit the top corner of the “Leaders” quadrant on the Garner Magic Quadrant for Identity Management.  The whole company was understandably proud and ordered a 10 foot Fathead to stick on the office entryway wall.  And it’s from that perspective that I’m really pleased with Gartner’s analysis and where SolarWinds is positioned at the top of the “Challengers” NPMD quadrant.  Perhaps you’re even surprised to see us included.

Very large corporations rely on analyst evaluations for technology because CIOs and other senior IT executives may have budgets that run into the billions, with complexity unimaginable to most of us.  They simply don’t have time to dive in and learn the details of thousands of potential vendor solutions in hundreds of technology categories.  For them analyst research is extremely helpful, in many ways a trusted advisor.  And what many are looking for is something that can transform their IT operations, even if it’s expensive or requires rip-and-replace, because the benefits at that scale can outweigh the concerns of budget, company politics or risk.

And just like an iPhone, shiny and new is just sexy.  How many vendors do you know that start a conversation with long lists of features, or talk about the ZOMG most amazing release that’s just around the corner? But SolarWinds isn’t that kind of a company.  In fact it’s intentionally not like any other company.

We don't create new widgets in a lab and then try to figure out how to sell them.  For fifteen years you, our customers, have been telling us what your problems are, what a product should do, how it should work and how much it should cost.  Only then do we create technology you can use every day.  We also proudly don’t offer professional services. If we say a product is easy to use but have to install it for you, it’s not.  We also don’t offer hardware and admittedly miss out on what would be a really cool, dark-gray bezel with the orange SolarWinds particles logo in the center.  (Did you know our mark is particles not a flame? Solar wind = charged particles from the sun’s atmosphere.  Geeks.)

Highest in Ability to Execute

So when I look at where SolarWinds appears in the Magic Quadrant, I see exactly what I would expect, SolarWinds’ positioned highest along the “Ability to Execute” axis among all vendors in the quadrant. Would we lean a bit more toward the Leaders quadrant if we teased a few more features and products in the “What Are We Working on” section of thwack?  Perhaps, but that’s not our way. I’m in my 10th year at SolarWinds for one simple reason.  During my time this company has grown 25x because it stays true to an IT Pro philosophy to be helpful.  We don’t do everything, but we do just about everything you ask for, always striving to do it well.  SolarWinds isn’t about transforming IT. SolarWinds is about transforming the lives of IT professionals.

But enough about that, I‘m late for a meeting.

Feedback: Are you surprised to see SolarWinds on a Gartner Magic Quadrant? Does this report matter to you and your company?  Let us know in the comments below!

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.


Excellent patrick.hubbard​ !

I am also surprised to see Automic in that quadrant since it is a workload automation tool and not really Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics tool.

Thanks patrick.hubbard​ ! 

I agree with the "Ability to Execute" rating because I have used many of the other products on this list.  I like Solarwinds because I can generate a view for each individual from Layer 1 to Layer 7 (OSI Model) to give them the State of the Network view.  I especially like giving the Layer 8 and 9 (Financial and Management) a report and status that fits their needs.

I also appreciate Solarwinds being on the front lines with customer in developing things we want, not the thing you want to give us.

"We didn’t create a new widget in the lab and then try to figure out how to sell it.  For fifteen years you, our customers, have been telling us what your problems are, what a product should do, how it should work and how much it should cost.  Only then do we create technology you can use every day."

Keep up the great work and thanks for listening.

Level 14

I am not surprised at all about being the best in Ability to Execute.  Those of us who have used other products, What's Up Gold, Cisco Works, HP openview, can attest that SolarWinds NPM is a far better product.  Kudos to the whole SolarWinds team and the users that provide their input, scripts, and such!

Level 21

I always love reading the Gartner Magic Quadrants.  I am always curious how it's decided what products make it on to the MQ as there are often products missing that I would expect to appear there.  I also see that it says one of the "cautions" for SolarWinds is the ability to handle large environments when then makes me wonder what they are considering a large environment?

If anybody reading this has answers to some of these questions I have I would love for you to share!

About a year ago now, I decided to start my own IT consultancy (10th March 2015). It's still going strong, I'm happy to report! I can do Microsoft up to 3rd line level, I have experience in multiple other fields, and I'm learning networking. I'm one of those IT Generalists, I suppose. What do advertise that my business specialises in, though? SolarWinds. Here's why:

  • Mature Orion suite.
  • Fantastic support and community.
  • Otion scales well, up to Enterprise size environments.
  • It just works (most of the time, NPM 11 at launch I'm looking at you!).
  • Options for MSP's (with the acquisition of N-Able a good few years ago now)
  • Did I mention the community?

I'm not surprised that SolarWinds are where they are in the Gartner list. It reinforces my decision to specialise in the tools they provide, and long may they be first in the Ability to Execute, because if SolarWinds can, so can my business.

Level 16

Simple ...

Solarwinds sales software to IT people

Garner sales  reports to CEO/CTO


Who run the show ?

Remember the Boss OK lab ?

Level 11

Having used other products I agree SolarWinds is far easier to execute.  Having been acquired do you think they will change their philosophy and approach?

Let's hope not! The new owners aren't another tech company, so they'll likely leave everything as it is, considering it's a successful business already.

If anything, they will promote further investment in developing the products, so we may see more awesomeness in the future

(I'm an optimist, I can't help being sunny about EVERYTHING)

I first read the title as "Chanting Solarwinds"

Second, our company takes Garner seriously.  When looking for a HelpDesk Solution two years ago, I was unable to get Web help Desk in the running because of this focus.

Level 11

While I don't put stock in Gartner usually this one I do agree with but to be honest out of the companies listed besides fluke as far as NPM is concerned is should be farther to the right in comparison to the other product listed. I would be interesting to see where they rank Solarwinds as a whole from a infrastructure perspective cause I would think you would be up the upper right quadrant. Thanks for having features that matter and an API/SDK that is pretty easy to use which is becoming exceedingly more important these days.


Gartner is a tool...  I know some companies that live by it, if it is not in the quadrant you can't buy it. 

If you don't do your research to see the viability of whatever product for your situation, then tough noogies. 

For me it is a starting point to see some of who is in that playing field. 

The google searches of those companies can also lead to other options that may or maynot be a better solution. 

In that quadrant, I see at least one company that should not be there which shows that it is not the "magic" is claims to be.

Level 13

I've only been working with network monitoring for almost a year now since I graduated last may, and i have to say the more I think i have been using most of the features on our NPM/NCM deployment the more I realize there is still more to utilize them and become either more proficient or more flexible with the things i've been able to do, so I'm not totally surprised to see SolarWinds at the top of the ability to execute I am looking forward to seeing new features and updates on them, so i can also kind of see how there may be a little more on the challengers side verses the leaders side. With my very limited knowledge i've only used SolarWinds and Paessler, and with this chart i feel like I have even more of bragging rights over our PRTG admins which out number me by 2 to 1 Proud to be a SolarWinds user and looking forward to seeing where it develops from here!

Level 14

It would be nice to see through the veil.  I have often wondered how Gartner does their evaluations.

Level 11

Gartner is new to me. network defender where did you first learn of Gartner?

Level 14

While pursuing my Cyber Security degree, I had one professor who would bring it up in the classes he taught.  Whether is was a firewall class, Intrusion Analysis, Digital Forensics, etc...he would start old school with open source products and manual procedures. After we had mastered the fundamentals, we would be introduced to some current commercial products and he would show us the current Gartner Magic Quadrant for that genre of tools we were learning to use.  He did this with the understanding that it was something upper management would potentially use and we needed to be able to speak intelligently about it.

Level 11

Oh that makes sense.  Although I finished my Network Security degree recently as well and my professors never talked about Gartner.  Sounds like you professor is a good instructor.  I will have to do some more investigating into Gartner to see how my organization can benefit from it.  Thanks network defender


not surprised to see Solarwinds so high up the ability to execute, but am very surprised by your location on the completeness of vision, I was expecting the dot to be much further to the right given the number of choices we have to connect everything.

I would love to see NPM & SAM to get much much closer together, almost to a single product.


From what I have seen in past lifetimes, They don't do an in depth install, put it through it paces sort of thing.....

There is usually no mention of scalability pain points or some of the show stopper gotchas that prevent some companies from implementing certain solutions.

Level 14

Agreed.  No mention of licensing costs either. 

Level 12

It's great news considering SW was not on there last year.  I agree with mcam that I would have expected SW to be much more to the right for 'completeness of vision'.   Maybe next year with advances in agent based monitoring, AppStack, and tighter integration between the modules (especially VMAN and STM)


However, SW has been in the magic quadrant in other categories, such as SIEM since 2012.


Amit Shah

Loop1 Systems

Level 17

Awesome to see SW on the map.  A continued ability to execute will only get SW closer to the Completeness of Vision.... i think the vision is so big, grandiose almost that other companies would shudder at the idea of taking on so much. Smaller visionaries obtain their goals but at what expense, being a front runner or true innovator/trendsetter?  Keep it Solarwinds!

Level 21

Here is the more recent SIEM MQ:

GartnerMQ SIEM 2015.png

I stared at this graph for a while. I then clicked the URL and perused that for a while. It doesn't make sense to me. On this chart I see Solarwinds NPM as a fish out of water. Second, I believe that Solarwinds should be more to the right within their quadrant, but that observation is subjective. Regardless... kudos to all of Solarwinds for this accomplishment. And I don't think you'd need to ask Gartner as to solid your product is. Thwack highlights that fact for you...

Level 20

Some of these guys really don't see the whole picture that well and still are thinking too much historically about Orion I think.  It wasn't that long ago that it didn't scale as well as it does today.  You could read that not being able to do 10G was part of what kept it off supposedly before, although I'm not sure I get that really.  Improvements to the polling engine and new features and just general better integrated modules is really what has pushed Orion forward.  A lot of that is thanks to improved architecture and API and all the work people like Tim Danner have been doing.  With the polling engines scaling better (and stacking), all the enhancements to SAM (thanks Alterego) a lot has changed.  The Gartner argument that "End users cite weakness in SolarWinds' ability to handle large environments, and report limited data analytics for tackling complex problems" is really mostly not even true anymore.

Level 21

ecklerwr1​ I have a tendency to want to agree with you on this; however, I am still left with the question of "compared to what?".  I am completely comfortable to say that something doesn't scale well but I want to understand what the scale or comparison being made is?  I am pretty familiar with many of the solutions in the MQ and from what I know most if not all of them don't scale any better than Orion.  Most of them (at least toward the top right Leaders quadrant) have a way to scale but I wouldn't go as far as calling it "better".  This is the part I keep getting stuck on.

Level 20

I totally agree about the other solutions too byrona... these Garter people don't do tests like Network World or Network Labs would... I totally agree many of the others seem to get some pass just because they are huge and have fortune 100 customers and cost a million to implement.  Well I've done that before too... geesh HP was the worst for many years and the price omg!  HP network node manager was a nightmare to maintain.  How that means they have higher completeness of vision I don't get at all?

Also I agree what do they mean by large??  We both know a bunch of people with 10's of thousands of nodes in NPM.


Magical by design .. not by accident.

Level 16

like comparing apples and pears....

The true at there 3-4 that you can compare to the Orion family the rest are NOT.

What I will consider NOT:

Tools that work only with flow protocols is not NMS its just a part of it...

Tools that work with proprietary only (cisco bla bla Alcatel bla bla...)

Tools that are solution to a segment like Telecom ,utility's ....

I have been using many SW modules since 2011.  One that we added last year that gets a lot of use is User Device Tracker.  UDT is great and works with IPAM and NPM to make my life easy.

The one thing that I feel holds back NPM from being a complete tool is that you have to buy SAM as a separate item.  I cannot think of two more useful modules that should be integrated into one license/price. 


Level 21

Radioteacher​ I couldn't agree with you more.  When I do any type of consulting for Orion I always tell people that NPM and SAM are the bread and butter of Orion.

Level 10

I like to check Gartner to make sure that I'm evaluating all the players in the same space but I don't know how many times a vendor has told me they are the leader in the Magic Quadrant. It seems like everyone was at some point (this quarter, last quarter, last year) and they always send me the specific report that shows them in the lead. So I take it with a grain of salt

Level 13

I think being on the top left is a good thing. Having installed/administered several other products sitting high in the top right of a Gartner quadrant at one point or another, I always felt that the product did have a "completeness of vision" but the companies I worked for **didn't want to implement the complete vision after purchase**, which resulted in letting licenses and maintenance go and uninstalling products.  Once those pieces were gone, the vision that was left was pretty basic/standard.  Also: "the complete vision" always seems to be an old working core product and then a bunch of poorly bolted on acquisition products to complete the total package/vision, which makes implementing "the vision" more difficult as under the hood there's all sorts of different technologies and integrations built by different vendors.

Level 8

Frankly I think you guys deserve it and appreciate this company for its very unique approach to program solutions and the community that you've built around it. Normally you don't see this kind of ability to work so closely with your customers unless its in a gaming situation where the fan base has created mods, additional content etc and the company embraces it. An example being Valve.

Anyway, I think it's pretty awesome and plan to share the news with those at my own company. Keep up the great work.

Level 14

For me any solution has to have a "good" ability to execute.... Solarwinds deserves it's high rating.

I question Gartner's "Magic Qaudrant" these days.... I think it is an overused check box when trying to sell a solution. Just because it is in the "MQ" doesn't mean that it is right for me.

I would rather seek out the opinions of others that actually familiar with the product and ask some questions. The questions I ask when seeking references on any product are:

1. Would you buy it again if you were at another organization?

2. Does it perform better than the marketing material?

3. Why are you comfortable recommending this product?

Level 11

I would agree.  If the new owners are not techie chances are they will not do drastic changes to the products and let the teams continue to pursue their development.  I am also sure the company would not be sold with just the intent to make a lot of money, when you are an entrepreneur you tend to treat your product as your baby and protect it at all costs.

Level 20

I definitely know this too... because I went for years without SAM while reading from you both oh you do this or that with SAM... well it was APM then but you get where I'm coming from.  It took years before we finally went beyond NPM and NTA... I was limited for years and found little work arounds for things I couldn't do without APM.  I suppose I have you guys to thank for working all the bugs and features out so I could come along and pickup SAM with everything meshed together so much better.  alterego has also put a lot of time into helping make it much better as well.


I have always used the Gartner report to assist with purchasing.  It has only been in the last year that I have been cautioned about the statistics being presented in the reporting.  It is definitely a good mechanism for feedback, but the weigh given this particular report should always be taken with a grain of salt.  All flash storage is a good example... PURE ran with the big boys...  it was a push ... when they went public.. it took a nose dive... then after further research, other big boyz had all flash storage that performed to the same standard and better, and turned out to be much more financially sound of a decision.  I do love the reports for management, but don't use it as the primary push to implement technology. 

I am so please to see SolarWinds as the leader.. for a small enterprise,  I don't think that you could find a more intuitive monitoring tool.  Any tool is only as good as the user makes it!

I would not trade my SolarWinds for anything... I have made it a critical component in our infrastructure, and we would be lost without this tool!

The top right quarter supposedly represents the best place to be.

What do other products/companies offer that makes their "completeness of vision" so much better than SW?

What is SW doing to make strides further to the right?

Level 20

Considering this was the first time they made the NMS/Netflow chart I'd say they already are further to the right but I'm sure Garter is wide but not very deep on the actual testing so it's not surprising the first time on this chart they are way up there as a first strike on the other vendors... it says a lot actually.

Level 14

I am not surprised at all to see this.  I think the Thwack community is the best support community that I have EVER seen in the IT world.  And that is saying a lot because I have been all around in IT.  SolarWinds does something that I have never ran across form another IT company (especially of their size)...listen to the users!  SolarWinds has been successful by letting the users sell their products.  They have realized that happy users will "sell" to other users, that "sell" to the purchasing decision makers.  Keep it up!

Level 13

Well, Looks like our PRTG Admin left. Which means i'm now our Paessler PRTG and Solarwinds admin I feel torn because i have so much tie to Solarwinds, that it feels odd being in a different environment with similar tools.

Well, the answer to your problems is simply to migrate everything over to SolarWInds! If you speak with your regional sales team, you may even get a discount on any modules you need to replicate what you have in PRTG, considering you're actually making a choice to come from a competitor


I've not used any of those three NMS products in the magic quadrant but I am also curious what makes them so much more complete.  As an NMS Solarwinds out of the box definitely hits a lot of what I expect, maybe having more variety of built in pollers instead of having to build UnDP or snag them from Thwack?

Level 14

SolarWinds is by far the best I have used.  It out performs even the expensive, clunky NMS.


Well said!


This is great to read. Ever since I started using Solarwinds, I have found it so simple to use and that it can do loads of things. I'm glad Solarwinds is not like other companies. As mentioned, it's what makes Solarwinds.

Well done.


I used HP Openview and Ciscoworks prior to Solarwinds. HP Openview was just an expensive waste of time. No one could understand it! Ciscoworks was better but you had to do a course on it to get useful stuff out of it. It was not at all intuitive. Solarwinds on the other hand was a brief. Easy to configure and start getting useful information out of it. Plus pretty much anyone can find what the are looking for when it comes to network statistics.

So glad we ditched the other 2.


I don't agree. I work in a network team and am not responsible for any server so SAM is a waste of time for me. But if we all become one big happy family and monitor everything using Solarwinds, then I can see the benefit.

Level 15

I always recommend SolarWinds' cause I see it is the most complete and have the best value on the IBM for example.

Fashionably late to this party - I'm not surprised but delighted to see SW on this "report" - I'm often asked to go get information on products and this is one of the tools I try to start with to get a sampling and then I spiral out from there on which ones are lightweight user/feature focused vs. let me sell you our gigantic suite of things (that won't really work otherwise) you lovely deep-pocketed government enterprise person.

I continually love that these products, our products live in that happy middle ground because we get to be kids in the candy store and pick what we want and its arguably more effective for me.

About the Author
I'm the Head Geek and technical marketing director at SolarWinds, (which basically means I'm an mature geek in the services of the product team). When I say geek I mean Geek, with extreme prejudice. I started writing assembly on my Apple II, got a BITNET email account in 1984, ran a BBS @ 300 baud, survived X.25, abused Token Ring, got some JavaScript award love in '96, and my hack flight notification service still backs Along the way in various jobs I’ve been a developer, SE, PM, PMM, and now principal evangelist. (Let us all join hands around the server.) Over 10 years at SolarWinds I’ve hatched our online live demo systems, managed the SolarWinds Certified Professional program, launched the Head Geek program, helmed SolarWinds Lab and THWACKcamp, and these days I’m focused on the hairball that is Hybrid IT, Cloud, DevOps and helping IT admins learn new skills not just to manage increasing complexity, but accelerate their careers. I’m always looking for new and more fiendish ways to use our products- just like our customers. And when I have a few spare minutes I fly a little when the weather is good.