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Customer Interview: Large Insurance Company Monitors Applications with SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor in Place of HP Openview

Level 14

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sean Ackerman on why he decided to go with Server & Application Monitor.  Sean is an Infrastructure Engineer who works in the insurance industry.

JK: Tell me a little about your IT environment.

SA: Our infrastructure is 70% virtualized.  We have about 3,000 VMs, excluding our VDI environment.  WE have a wide variety of hardware vendors to include HP, Cisco, pSeries, Storage Wise, NetApp and EMC DataDomain.  From an application standpoint, we are a big Microsoft shop with the normal Microsoft applications like Exchange, Sharepoint, Active Directory, and Lync – but we also have some IBM applications like Cognos and WebSphere.

JK: What prompted you to search for a new server monitoring tool?

SA: Our company used HP Openview for monitoring our application infrastructure, but there was a lot of complexity in using HP because it often breaks and from a maintenance stand point it is not simple.   We even used System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) in the past, and though it provided agentless monitoring, SCOM required agents to monitor most applications with unique metrics.

With HP, we spent a lot of time managing agents and had little clarity on what was being monitored.  When alerts would fire, the question would come up – Why did we get the alert?  What is the problem?  When it came time to monitor a new application, it was difficult to figure out what should be monitored and what the thresholds should be since the HP product did not provide out-of-the-box best practices for monitoring applications.

JK: Why did you choose Server & Application Monitor?

SA: I was familiar with the SolarWinds brand as our network team had used Network Performance Monitor and the product was easy to use and get going.  SAM provided relatively good value for what we got, it works out-of-the-box and pretty straight forward.  It didn’t require 3 full time engineers just to support the product (SAM), it can be setup relatively easy and the support from the thwack forum was great.

The fact that Server & Application Monitor did not require a whole lot of admin overhead was a huge selling point for us. With the simplicity involved in using SAM, the workload of five roles has been reduced to one.

In evaluating a server monitoring solution we also looked at System Center Operations Manager but felt it was complex.  My team preferred SAM as the product was broad in its application coverage with new applications being supported with frequent releases.  We also chose SAM because it could be customized and used to monitor anything that needed to be monitored.

JK: What kind of value are you seeing from Server & Application Monitor now?

We use SAM to run an application scan every 4 days to automatically discover and monitor new applications. The unlimited license of SAM is worth the money since it allows us to add monitoring for any application when a new scan is run.  With SAM, I feel it’s now easy to get any application monitored.   With the out-of-the-box templates with pre-defined thresholds, it’s like 90% of the legwork and it is very easy to pinpoint issues very quickly.

With SAM in place, my team now only spends 20% of our time setting up application and server performance monitoring company-wide and we now have time to work on projects to improve IT services.  We use the dynamic grouping feature of SAM to look at performance issues by application and location.  The Real-Time Process Monitor feature of SAM is also effectively used to identify causes of spiking performance.

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About the Author
Like SolarWinds, I have roots in Oklahoma and have been fond of land grant schools as I went from Oklahoma State University, moving South to Texas A&M University.  Like my college career (accounting, political science, Russian language and then MBA), I have suffered ADD in my professional career moving from finance to strategy to product management and marketing.  I have, however, settled on the broad niche of systems management and have acquired knowledge in this space over the last 11 years. I was very happy to join the SolarWinds team in January 2012 and have been very impressed with the technology.  I look forward to engaging with this community.