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Solarwinds: An NMS that you don’t need a PHD to use


Like everyone else, I am very busy at my job, and I tend to be a jack of all trades. I find myself running from fire to fire, getting things under control. I wish I had time to be more proactive and do everything according to the text book.  But, the reality of a short staffed global manufacturing company doesn’t always allow for such luxuries. 


Sometimes things are insanely busy and I don’t know how I get through the day, every once in a while there is a lull in the action and it’s during these times I try to focus on making my network management station better and catch up with a lot of proactive maintenance. I know that in the long run, every hour I spend on the NMS, will be multiplied my times over in stress savings and performance improvements


These lulls don’t happen very often and when they do, I don’t have months to learn an overly complex, high priced NMS, that requires a degree in computer programming in order to get the simplest tasks done.  I know what I need to get done.  I just need to translate that into a task in the NMS.


That’s why I really like the Solarwinds suite of network management products, they are cost effective, easy to use, easy to install, and very easy to run and maintain and if I ever have an issue , I can just go jump on over to the thwack community and find what I’m looking for quickly and efficiently.  There are so many great products from Solarwinds.


They are a company that truly gets it, they understand that I don’t have a lot of time, to spend on learning SQL programming or Oracle databases, or PERL reports.  I just want to monitor my network, with a user friendly graphical user interface.  A few clicks here and there and I am literally up and running. 


Network management is not the main part of my job, in fact it’s a rather small part. I need to run and protect the business and keep the lights on and the machines running. There is such a huge return on investment, with Orion, it has saved my bacon many times, while nothing is perfect , I have to say that I am very happy and sleep better at night knowing I got someone watching my back. I hate being woken up by the pager at 3am, but  that happens a lot less nowadays. I know now what the problem is and get to work on fixing it, instead of fumbling around wondering what happened, and having people asking me for status every 5 minutes.


How are you using your NMS, is it your full time job? I think most people are like me, they have a lot of other things to get done.  I am so thankful the product is so easy to use, it really makes my job that much better.


It’s hard to fix something if you don’t know what is broken. And my NMS is my eye in the sky. Those help desk tickets won’t stop coming in. The phone doesn’t stop ringing, but hey I got this. How bout you?

20 Comments
Level 13

Its nice to get the alerting setup in such a fashion that you can be driven to the NMS by them.  Its a fine line between too many alerts and not enough alerts.  Once an issue is identified, wrap additional monitoring and alerting around that issue and you shouldn't have to be reactive the next time.  It takes much time to get your NSM working as you need and its this type of activity that will eventually get you to a proactive stance.

Sohail Bhamani

Level 21

Using the NMS is not my full time job; however, I am the primary person responsible for managing it.  I manage all of our management and monitoring tools most of which come from SolarWinds.  While I do appreciate these tools are designed to not be overly complicated; I do wish management had a better understanding of what it does take to keep such tools up, running, on current versions and populated with accurate information.

Managing the Orion Suite is not my Full-time job, but until recently I was its full-time administrator.  Thankfully, when we moved our server monitoring to SAM, one of my buddies has become lead on it.  It was very quick for him to pick up and he has done some amazing things with it.

Level 13

Managing the NMS is not my full-time duty in this job - it has been in previous ones.  Having the previous experience of customizing NMS for previous customers gave me a great number of examples of things that could be done in the right use case.

Combining the previous NMS customization experience with the current duty of keeping things up and running allowed me to quickly remove the data and monitors I don't care about and find most of the ones I do.

I cannot emphasize how much I appreciate UnDPs.  I do not miss the days of having to track down and import a MIB along with all the dependency MIBs.  Nor do I miss being on the phone with CA devs trying to get an agent build that recombines various forks and has the combined functionality I need.

The relatively simple interface of Orion has made it very easy to get a monitoring system going with minimal effort.  However, the availability of the API and SWIS, along with the various instructional videos, makes me sometimes wish I could dedicate more time to digging in and really seeing what I can do with this thing.

Level 10

I'm not the only one that manages the NMS but I've picked up the role as the guy to go to when the others have questions. The interesting part is I'm just a network technician where the other guys are network engineers and I'm still learning. That right there says a lot, that I'm able to come in brand new to the environment and learn it that quickly. The nice part is that solarwinds products are simple to use and learn but it also have the ability to scale out in complexity to meet your needs.

Level 11

Maintaining the NMS is definitely not my full time job, but just one of the many things I do in my 'spare' time.  Being the local SCP, most of the heavy lifting falls to me, but I've been working on getting the other stakeholders on board with adding their own devices, and setting up the metrics they want to monitor. 

Level 11

Yeah i joke with my sw rep alot, but I firmly believe once you know you solarwinds. I am glad its not a full time job and nails most of what I want out of the box and then if i want to customize I can. I would go bananas if I had to deal with the other big 3 solutions having worked with them.

It's not my full-time job, but like others here I'm the full-time admin and SCP. I do all customizations, views, and everything else. I don't mind, however. I like using the products, I like the info they produce, and I especially like how useful this data is to my company. I was a SW proponent for many years. In my current job, I sold NPM by my second week. I used a *trial* installation to discover the root cause for a bandwidth utilization issue that the team had been chasing for a year, and had it resolved inside of an hour. Obviously, it's the tool and not the workman that's the star here, but the stunned, happy silence of my colleagues when the 'new guy' produced the cause and fix didn't feel too bad!

Level 12

Not my full time job but i am the point person to make sure its running and updated and we are getting or ROI which we essentially got once I ran the trial version before purchasing like ^ we found some issues right away and boom was granted the funds to buy and install. We use M/M at our data center and also rely on there GNOC and Monitoring tools and i own that relationship as well so Orion becomes a second set of eyes , a tool for our internal teams but also a way to keep our DC partners honest.

Level 10

It is not my full time job but I am the SolarWinds Admin for my company and also for a few of our clients that use the Solarwinds suite to monitor items in their networks. Between my Solarwinds duties I manage and maintain network infrastructure, answer phone calls to the NOC from our customer base and troubleshoot customer and network issues & circuit outages. Never a dull moment and fun is had by all!

Level 10

Like most everyone else here, network monitoring is not my full time job either. Just one of the many "small tasks" I must see to in my spare time. Having SW installed has allowed me to show it is not the network. I work in an environment where there is a lot of home grown apps being developed and until I installed Orion, whenever there was an issue, the network was the fall guy. Now, the developers are on the defensive and have to figure out what is going on in the code while I am free to move on to more important things. Thanks SW!

MVP
MVP

Not my full time job...I have a team that manages it.    I spend my time in meetings and coordinating the projects/team.

Level 9

I understand and feel your pain with needing the right solution for your "NMS".  It's something that we all try to achieve even if it's only a small part of our duties or our teams duties.  But I have to say I haven't had a pager since 2001 and can't relate in that area.  I do get the calls in the middle of the night though and that seems par for nearly all 24 hour global support.  Solarwinds helps me keep things running smoothly and attempting to know there is a problem before the people who use our systems knows there is a problem.  That's the best we can hope for in our attempts at monitoring.  Or is it, we are taking monitoring to the next level at our company with solutions that boarder on automated repairs and allow us to sleep through the night.  This is the next step in the solution to issues that stop your business from making money.  I'm not going to say this is a fix all for every issue, but is sure helps to knock out the busy work and removing stress from the network and systems we monitor.

Level 10

Monitoring is my full time job and we use multiple Solarwinds products along with a few other vendors to help us out. In addition to that we have multiple programs integrated with Solarwinds to almost fully automate server builds, removals, maintenance, reporting, tickets, root cause analysis and many other things. Right now we are working on a custom view for our NOCs to use and play with that involve using Leap Motion.

Level 12

Most of my clients are, similar to the OP, not full time SW admins.  I think it is awesome to have a monitoring solution that is easy to get running and easy to learn and, yet, is so powerful and customizable.

Level 9

@craig schnarrs hit the nail on the head  when we wrote "Network management is not the main part of my job, in fact it’s a rather small part." It seems many times companies believe that the end users ONLY monitor networks. For many of us, network monitoring is a part of our job -- but not our ONLY job. As long as we have a program we can get up an running quickly, learn quickly, adjust (customize) as we need -- that product is going to win out. In this case, I agree that SolarWinds meets all those needs. Great suite of well rounded products from a company that "gets' the end user.

Level 9

Managing a NMS always requires some research because every one has its learning curve based on its functionality and feature set, once you know the foundation of monitoring protocols (snmp, ssh, telnet, icmp) then moving from one Vendor to the next start becomes easier.  During my time working with different platforms over the years Solarwinds has by far been the easiest and most feature rich platform.  I'm not a full-time SW admin so a platform that is it easier to deploy and get the alerting and information needed is essential to me.

Level 13

SolarWinds' products have really come a long way since I first started working with them 7 years ago. Product updates have become more & more stable and features are continually added to add value. I've never been part of a company who had a full-time "monitoring" admin so I've usually been the guy doing the SolarWinds maintenance & upgrades. The canned monitors are great and make deploying new SAM monitors very easy.

Level 7

I actually have a full time contractor managing our alerting system, we have too many nodes and too small a staff to manage

Level 15

Good discussion.  Thanks for sharing.