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Level 8

Where do I start to learn?

The boss has existing SolarWinds products in place but he wants me to learn the system and report back what information can be gleaned from our network. Tall order.  I figured I set some tasks to find specific information. Have it report that information. But, where do istart?

22 Replies

Some excellent advice here to help you on your knowledge journer. You're lucky though as Solarwinds is a very easy program to get going on. The more you dive into it, the more you will learn.

Level 20

I cannot believe all of the MVP's missed the new SW resource for customers on support ie. The Success Center!

Success Center - SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. Help and Support

It's here to pull all the info together in one place to make it easier to find... It's basically an intuitive site of info similar to Eric's lists but a little fancier!

Yes - and here are direct links to the NPM Getting Started Guide and the SAM Getting Started Guide - specifically designed to start you at day 1 and get you moving. Even if your products are already set up, it will give you a great foundation for these products.

NPM Getting Started: Network Performance Monitor Getting Started Guide - SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. Help and Support

SAM Getting Started: Server & Application Monitoring Getting Started Guide - SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. Help and Support

Level 12

Don't worry about being new to SolarWinds - we've all been there and done that.

In addition to what has already been mentioned, I wouldn't add a ton of devices right off the bat.  Once you start to get a feel for the tools, I would start to look at the various views.  Part of the what detail you'll see has to do with correctly identifying the devices and matching the correct views with devices.  Then go ahead and start discovering and adding subnets and such.

Limit the monitoring of interfaces per device to only what's needed - you probably don't care about user's switchports on an edge device, but you do want to monitor the uplinks.

Put descriptions on the interfaces before you add devices so the discovery process will add the descriptions to NPM automatically.  This will save you a ton of time later.

Start small with Alerts as it is all too easy to misconfigure one and then get flooded by bogus alerts.

Anything comes up, we'll be here!

Solarwinds is incredibly intuitive. So you are in good shape. Much of the tasks to make your boss happy you can break off into small manageable efforts. This would be my strategy:

1. Since NPM is your foundation this is where you start. Make sure you are current with your licensing and then upgrade to the latest version. Assuming you know your IP ranges and subnets setup a Network Discovery to run. IMHO, collect as much as you can on the first sweep. You can always go back and remove/filter it later.

      a. Hopefully SNMP has been setup with consistent credentials across all nodes. If not, write that down as a T2D.

      b. The same applies for WMI for monitoring Windows servers, especially with SAM and its AppInsight capabilities. If not, write that down as a T2D.

2. One you've done this look at your polling usage. Do you need another poller? Do you need to separate your Solarwinds App server and DB? Solarwinds performance is essential to your success.

3. Line up the servers/network devices/nodes/etc. with their business functions and the expectations of the business. Is email a Tier 1 for your company? What about internet access? Does your company run an ERP? Standard is Tier 1 - 4. Adjust monitoring and polling thresholds to be consistent with these tiers. The same applies for PRD and non-PRD. Obviously Tier 1 gets monitored more closely than a non-PRD Tier 4. Your company's business rules and expectations determine appropriate thresholds.

      a. Setup appropriate alerts to goto groups and not individuals. Individuals get sick, go on vacation, quit, etc. Add to your T2D setting up: dependencies, special conditions, etc. for alerting.

      b. If you have multiple locations add to your T2D seting up groups by geography too. Also, identify servers/network devices/nodes/etc. their Service Owners.

4. Configure all servers/network devices/nodes/etc. to send all SNMP Traps and Syslog Messages to Solarwinds in addition to wherever else they may already be sending it.

      a. Setup alerts for KPI's important to you. Add to your T2D to have rules to only alert on Traps/Messages sent ever x seconds else your inbox will fill quickly.

5. Once all the NPM baseline is in place come back with SAM. This includes AppInsight for AD, IIS, Exchange, SQL Server. Having WMI in place is essential for success here.

     a. Add to your T2D for further SAM. Follow the process you laid out in Step 3.

          i. Port monitoring of 3rd party apps for Availability

          ii. Event Viewer monitoring of Windows servers for KPI's important to you: BSoD, initiated reboots, memory dumps, etc. This list can get quite long

          iii. Windows Services monitoring of essential Services

6. For NTA point your key network devices to send NetFlow data then wait a month to determine trends. Add to your T2D to setup regular reporting for NetFlow. Personally, I find NTA to be a better reference point for bandwidth performance than a real-time alerting tool. I am sure others will disagree.

7. Virtualization - Make sure Solarwinds can authenticate to the Host to pull all the data you need. I don't have too much experience with this product. 😞

8. As you go through this you will find oodles and oodles of opportunities for more advanced monitoring. You will bury yourself quickly. And much like myself, get frustrated that there isn't enough hours in the day to implement all of your initiatives. Also, with your baseline you will begin to find sooooo many underlying issues that exist. Keep reminding yourself, this is a good thing.

9. Once this is done then you move onto customized dashboards and reporting. And then for all your non-standard nodes like UPS'es, security devices, generators, etc. you start setting up custom pollers.

10. Buy NCM. It is a no brainer when you already have NPM and SAM. With the addition of NCM you can complete you AppStack.  🙂

I agree with option 10. If you have Solarwinds and you have network equipment you need NCM.

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Level 8

Thanks all for your suggestions!  You have given me more than I think I had expected. The community seems to live up to it's hype!

Hype ?  What is this Hype that you speak of ?

Are you telling us that someone let it slip out that we actually are an involved and helpful forum ?

I feel another list coming on.......

0 Kudos
Level 17


Yup what cahunt​ said !

Most everyone else has already hit the high points with good reference points to start with.

I'd recommend spending some time learning about thwack.  The You Don't Know Thwack - The on boarding mission is a great way to help you to

learn your way around this great community. 

Spend some time looking at the Youtube videos.

There is also a great repository of training videos here on Thwack.

Then the forums where there is a wealth of knowledge and experience to pull from.

But then this all has already been mentioned.

Be aware though...Thwack is like crack.  For others it is just a daily need.

We tend to be wise cracks, have funky humors, quick witted and not afraid to mention  Bacon since it goes with everything.

Welcome to Solarwinds...........

Follow the link to the EXCITING WORLD OF SOLARWINDS.  Become a rock star to your boss.......................

Level 16

I would watch the video playlists for your products.

solarwindsinc - YouTube

I would   like to Welcome you to Thwack.  I am sure you have  some  questions   about Solarwinds and not sure  where to start.  I would  like  to   recommend a  couple links for bookmarking to assist you  in  your     search.   If you have any questions please let  me know. 



You Don't Know thwack - The Onboarding Mission 

NPM Core Training

Solarwinds Labs - One Stop Shop

How to do various customizations with your Solarw...

Everything DISA STIGs for your Network

Wow--I envy you!  I'd love to be in your position--to relearn the cool wonderfulness that is Solarwinds Orion!

For starters, every module has its own resource page, which can be accessed by hovering over the Product Forums link and clicking on the product you want to learn more about.


For example, NPM's Forum page begins here:

Network Performance Monitor

Plus, you've come to the right place to get good advice from folks with lots of experience in using and modifying Orion modules!  Ask many questions--we're your free resource for learning!

Level 8

Just to clarify though I am a total SW Noob. I appreciate any and all feedback. Thanks much for you help.

0 Kudos

(I don't mean this to be RTFM / flippant/ rude) The forums are great, but for just getting your head around SolarWinds NPM, the admin guide will be quite helpful.  You will have questions that will arise from any answers given via this forum.  We've all been there.  There are admin guides for other modules, but this should be helpful for understanding NPM.

The forums can definitely enhance your understanding, but there is no substitute for an admin guide.


If you can run discoveries against subnets without alarming security folks, perhaps use all known credentials against each subnet to verify there aren't additional devices that could be monitored, but aren't.

For any appliances or network infrastructure you have, perhaps check to see if anyone on the forum has shared some relevant custom pollers (Network Performance Monitor ) or relevant reports (Network Performance Monitor ).

You can get traps and syslogs sent to your SolarWinds servers and report and alert on them.

Level 10


What existing SolarWinds products are in place? That will help me to help you blow your bosses mind!