47 Replies Latest reply on Jun 21, 2017 4:55 PM by dfairles

    new features vs. old problems

    ken_cohen

      I don't know about anybody else, but once again I find myself very frustrated.  My concern is that you, that is SolarWinds, is continuing to concentrate its resources on bringing out new features at the expense of resolving existing issues.

       

      Just as one example, I've been asking for years for business hour support in reporting.  I've received nothing but platitudes that "it is being looked at" but version after version, nothing.  If you guys can figure out how to make NetPath and now PerfStack work, surely you can invest a few dev hours and get business hours to work.

       

      That is hardly the only example.  There are many other issues that have apparently been put on ignore, and as a long time user I'm tired of waiting.

       

      I cannot recommend that we continue to use SolarWinds until there is some movement on these older issues.  I would hate to drop you, but I need this stuff fixed much more than I need a shiny new toy.

        • Re: new features vs. old problems
          orioncrack

          I agree 1000%.

           

          I have recently deployed a brand new environment and I have 10+ issues that older customers think are a result of having old code. Nope, same old issues - app crashes, windows agent crashes, instability, slowness.

           

          SolarWinds is a gigantic massive unrelenting chunk of spaghetti code these days but its all we have for a total package. As I have said before, if only someone could marry SCOM and SolarWinds we would have a winner.

           

          AppStack? Don't need it. Its a joke. Takes up an entire page of big green and red dots. Don't need it.

           

          AppInsight? Can't copy templates, can't customize it.

           

          Automated disk discovery? Nope. Creating a custom discovery for 1000 nodes just to find new disks is atrocious for a huge shop with 50 different clients and 50 different credentials.

           

          PerfStack? Looks like another bell and whistle.

           

          You are so correct to bring this up. Many people see me as a hater here, but if that was true I would not have brought them $200,000 in revenue in 2016.

           

          So many bugs still exist. Same old, same old.


          My new client is flabbergasted that they cannot send alerts on an SNMP trap.

           

          I am with you brother.

            • Re: new features vs. old problems
              ryan.davis26

              THIS, "My new client is flabbergasted that they cannot send alerts on an SNMP trap." One Thousand times THIS!!!

               

              Also totally agree on your other points... I have yet to find a use for AppStack, especially since NPM nodes don't even show up...What gives!?

               

              Automated discovery is a joke...

               

              Regarding AppInsight.... totally with you there.  Lots of trouble to get it setup with minimal return on the time invested.  Application owner teams are very hesitant to even think about AppInsight especially for exchange due to the powershell 2.0 requirement which also needs an older .net dependency!  Oh and the fact that appinsight for exchange only does the mailbox role? Come on guys...  And its ridiculous you can't delete components from there but it's like the old days where you bought an entire album just because you liked ONE song - I know why they do it.  We have a client where all we're doing for them is 14 exchange servers.  They needed SAM AL2500 JUST for 14 Exchange servers, no other devices are being monitored!

               

              Totally looking forward to PerfStack!  NOT...

                • Re: new features vs. old problems
                  orioncrack

                  Yeah. There is a lot to love and hate with Solar.

                   

                  I just now had a meeting with our Director and entire team and he skewered me on several of these limitations.

                   

                  With all of the great things Solar gives us there is a lot of missing basic features which is troubling.

                   

                  I think the greatest indication of how Solar is an unwieldy beast for large shops is to go to the SolarWinds demo site and look at all of the bleeding red. I don't know a single company that has a totally clean SolarWinds SAM or NPM status page. The Demo link below TRULY illustrates my frustration. SolarWinds morphs into these horrible red status pages with grays and yellows and reds that you can barely control. AppInsight is a mess. IIS and SQL monitoring lacketh much control. I challenge someone to get the Demo pages green.

                   

                  http://oriondemo.solarwinds.com/Orion/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2f

                   

                  How can we REALLY cut down on noise if even SolarWinds' own demo site is filled with noise. See the challenge folks? Anyhoo, I'm with you too. Love & Hate all the way. Someday a tool will come along that gives us pure monitoring perfection. Right now, Solar is closest but still so far from perfect. But it's really all we have at this point for covering all types of devices.

                   

                  https://thwack.solarwinds.com/community/solarwinds-community/product-blog/blog/2015/03/12/cutting-down-on-alerting-noise-guest-post-from-support

                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                    • Re: new features vs. old problems
                      HerrDoktor

                      It was hard work, but this is our SAM status, and the AppInsight for SQL is correctly alerting high memory usage, because I did not properly limit the SQL Server...so this error is more to remind me to set up SQL correctly or give the SQL box more RAM.

                       

                      There are a total of 60 Templates deployed and it took me about 5 Days of dedicated of work to get all the "false alerts" sorted out. I am also taking into account the times spent to investigate what the error actually meant.

                       

                      Yes, in SAM there are a lot of things to make better, and I am not saying everything is all good, but with effort you can make the system work and be correctly alerted when something is going wrong.

                  • Re: new features vs. old problems
                    ioan_bucsa

                    You can easily create alerts based on SNMP traps using Trap Viewer:

                      • Re: new features vs. old problems
                        ryan.davis26

                        ioan_bucsa, what we're referring to here are the inability of traps to raise Advanced Alerts.  You can't even write to the netperfmon log...  There is a clear distinction between traps and Advanced Alerts, something that is supposedly being worked on to bring the two under one umbrella.  There are numerous workarounds available here on thwack to do just that but the fact is that Solarwinds continues to ignore areas of basic and fundamental functionality for all kinds of things.  Stuff you say to yourself, "that should have been there from the beginning" takes Solarwinds YEARS to address, all the while they're releasing new "features" that do little to enhance the functionality of the product and don't mitigate these fundamental functions that should, in a lot of people's opinions, already be there.  (I'm looking at you granular node management, among a long list of others)  Traps is an area that is really starting to show its age, and Solarwinds has made zero effort in this area.  It's like they don't realize SNMP traps are still an essential part to monitoring and WIDELY used by a lot of it's customers.  Oh wait, I know why... you don't need a node license for traps...

                    • Re: new features vs. old problems
                      rschroeder

                      Last year I happened across a cool "How-to" thread that detailed how to create a Business Hours network uptime report.  Check it out here:

                       

                      How to create custom SLA reports

                       

                      I read it, stepped through the example carefully, and built a sweet report in less than twenty minutes that my boss loves.  Now I have it scheduled to create a new version every month and e-mail it to him automatically.  He looks great to his boss, plus they both now know the state of the network uptime during business hours.  If you're keeping up with the blogs & examples and missed this one, it's a winner.

                       

                      I love that I can customize it to whatever hours I want.  8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Bankers hours (9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.).  Night shift hours (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.).  Easy as pie.

                       

                      5 of 5 people found this helpful
                      • Re: new features vs. old problems
                        sja

                        I agree 100%

                         

                         

                        "Bread and butter" like snmp trap and syslog run parallel to the main alert engine

                         

                        Shame...to call that SNMP TRAP /SYSLOG support when it's run as it does...

                         

                        Bugs that are not getting fix in "timely fashion"  FR for bugs fix?

                        Display link utilization on Network Atlas maps when a single end is monitored

                         

                        /SJA

                        • Re: new features vs. old problems
                          dfairles

                          Why can we still not do things like, delete an interface or add an application when on a node?  Why must we go back to manage all nodes, find that node again and delete that old interface from a server?  Why can't we just add an app monitor to a node when we are on it?  You can with AppStack, but as others have pointed out, AppStack is not really that useful since there are no customizations.  I don't want to monitor all the bindings on a web server, but it does anyway and if one of them is SSL offloaded, then the whole app turns red.  Totally useless in our environment and I know we are the norm.

                           

                          We need better usability instead of features we didn't ask for.

                          • Re: new features vs. old problems
                            ioan_bucsa

                            I agree it's not optimal but you can write a custom SQL/SWQL query to specify business hours.

                             

                            SolarWinds has its flaws but the good news is that there is a lot of room (not all modules) for customization.

                            • Re: new features vs. old problems
                              cobrien

                              Thanks for the feedback, Ken.  I will certainly take your points as they stand, as a plea for a higher ratio of improving on old content vs creating new.

                               

                              Meanwhile, I can shed some light on our thinking in this area and how things may not always be what they seem.  It really comes down to two things.

                               

                              First, new and shiny features tend to be more interesting to talk about and hear about.  Most people expect us to be progressing on old content all the time, and just want to hear about the new stuff.  Clearly that is not true about the people in this thread.  The result is that our messaging gives disproportionate attention to all the new stuff.  An example of this is the fact that we had 84 bug fixes in this release, but that's not talked about almost at all.  NPM's last release, which most of us have probably forgotten, was a Service Release and only included improvements to existing functionality.  This doesn't mean we're working on improving old functionality as much as you would like, just that we're doing it much more than our messaging suggests.

                               

                              Second, there seems to be an incorrect assumption about the difficulty of improving old functionality.  Improving old content feels, as you mentioned, like it would take "a few dev hours".  Unfortunately this is not true. The reality is that working on old functionality is substantially more time consuming than coming out with new features.  The reason is that we have to be extremely careful to preserve existing functionality that we're upgrading, migrate data from the old to the new functionality, provide a path for users to move to the new feature, and handle all of the references in the code.  We also have to be extra sure that it will not break.  The day we release a new feature like PerfStack, no businesses depend on it for their day to day.  Usage and dependence builds over time.  Virtually everyone depends on unmanage, so improving it with the Mute option has several orders of magnitude more risk.  Accordingly, we do dramatically more testing, automated, manual, and within customer environments.  Now, all of this is worth it, which is why we invest so much in it anyway.

                               

                              If you take those two into consideration and inspect the spread of content delivered in NPM 12.1, you may see it differently:

                              PerfStack - This is a brand new feature and is the one we're talking about the most by far.  It was requested right here on Thwack: White Board

                              Mute - This is really an extension/improvement on the old functionality of Unmanage.  This feature request took an amount of effort on par with PerfStack, but is not something we're talking about much.  It's based on one of our most popular feature requests: Silence Alerts While Still Monitoring

                              Meraki Wireless Monitoring - Although the backend is brand new, the intent was simply adding support for a new wireless controller in our old wireless monitoring functionality.  It came from this feature request, among others: Full support for Meraki wireless access points

                              Arista 7500E Hardware Health - Device support based on old functionality.  Based on Hardware Health Support  for Arista switches.  and FEATURE REQUEST - Arista Networks Hardware Health Monitoring.

                              84 bugs - Definitely improvements on old functionality, and took us more than little bit of time

                               

                              Again, these points do not mean to suggest you're incorrect and I hear your request to focus more on existing functionality.  I hope it does provide a view into our thinking.

                               

                              At the end of the day, I agree that you guys deserve more improvements around core use cases.  I will work to do better, and so will my teams.

                              5 of 5 people found this helpful
                                • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                  deverts

                                   

                                  Sir, many thanks for the insights. Question...is there a published bug list? Like Cisco's caveat lists? The "issue," any associated workarounds, and an anticipated fix release/date?

                                   

                                  D

                                    • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                      cobrien

                                      Most bugs apply in specific scenarios and so are published internally for Support and tracking, but not externally.  More common bugs are documented in KBs so you find solutions when you google the problem.  KBs generally include work arounds and/or the version that includes the fix.

                                    • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                      designerfx

                                      I think this is very enlightening cobrien . I have an idea but not sure how you feel about it. What if you put a rating next to an FR of "amount of time it would take" from a 1 meaning "easy fix" to a 10 meaning "this will take a majority of our development resources"? Just so people can get a feel for what their votes are truly pushing things towards? It might help us all to understand why FR for (feature/old feature to be updated) are going to take so long.  Or a pie chart of (time spent towards specific FRs for the next update) for individual modules?   Like "30% whiteboard FR 30% (feature) 3% this 3% this"?

                                       

                                      Transparency is powerful.

                                      • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                        dfairles

                                        cobrien

                                        Thank you for your reply.

                                        Let's look at these new feature requests. 

                                        White Board got a mere 17 votes

                                        Hardware Health Support  for Arista switches.  got 26

                                        Full support for Meraki wireless access points  got 36

                                         

                                        These are not features users have been clamoring for.  The items that get the most votes are usability requests such as silencing alerts.  Kudos for the alert silencing.  We need more like these that will make the product more useful instead of bells and whistles.

                                        • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                          orioncrack

                                          I would rather have automated, clean discovery of newly added or renamed disks rather than PerfStack any day.

                                           

                                          I would rather have a non sluggish web console than Meraki monitoring. I don't use Meraki.

                                           

                                          I would rather have a reliable CPU monitor that takes queue length into account than Arista monitoring. I don't have Arista devices.

                                           

                                          I would rather have portable, copyable and customizable AppInsight templates.

                                           

                                          I would rather have bulletproof server certificate inventory, reporting, management and monitoring than a silence alert feature.

                                           

                                          The list goes on. Sorry to be grouchy. But I have a new client that is very frustrated as he discovers the major limitations and overall bugginess of his new system.

                                            • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                              mbird

                                              "I would rather have a non sluggish web console than Meraki monitoring. I don't use Meraki."

                                               

                                              "I would rather have bulletproof server certificate inventory, reporting, management and monitoring than a silence alert feature."

                                               

                                              These two right here are huge for me. I could not agree with you more on these points. Both have caused me plenty of stress and pain as of late.

                                                • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                  orioncrack

                                                  We keep SCOM around for bulletproof certificate monitoring and reporting. I feel for solarwinds users that do not have it. Including my customers.

                                                   

                                                  This is the kind of thing non-technical management & project manager people do not grasp. It keeps me up at night actually.

                                                    • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                      mbird

                                                      I was so relieved when we racked the ExtraHop appliance. It blows SolarWinds away when it comes to clicking a few times and getting all the certificate information you could ever need.

                                                        • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                          orioncrack

                                                          I feel like there are two camps -

                                                           

                                                          Camp 1. SolarWinds is perfect, don't say it isn't, because it is. It runs flawlessly. It must be something you're doing wrong if it doesn't work.

                                                           

                                                          Camp 2. SolarWinds is not running so smooth for us and has TONS of bugs, its frustrating, but we learn to live with it and try to ignore them as best we can.

                                                           

                                                          So, which camp are you in?

                                                           

                                                          We are losing our patience with around 5 glaring issues that are well documented and remain unfixed, but hey - look at all the great new features we have!

                                                           

                                                          I love SolarWinds, but I can't make our directors, PMs, engineers love it when I can't run reports or do things that worked perfectly fine in 11.x

                                                           

                                                          The tide is turning against SolarWinds at three of my largest clients.

                                                           

                                                          I recognize what a massive piece of spaghetti code the product is, and I appreciate the complexity and work you guys put in. But the bugs are just killing us. Killing us with a vengeance.

                                                           

                                                          <Sad Face>

                                                            • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                              dfairles

                                                              I'm in Camp 3:  Monitoring software is sort of like backup software.  Which one do you hate the least?

                                                              At the end of the day, I just want something that is reliable and works.  Bells and whistles are for attracting new customers.  They know that is is difficult to switch once you have so much time and money invested. 

                                                               

                                                              They know that it is difficult to switch once you have so much time and money invested.  I would compare it to cable companies that are only interested in attracting new customers rather than keeping their base.

                                                                • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                                  orioncrack

                                                                  I have come to the conclusion that a SolarWinds deployment with 5 in place upgrades in its footprint is trouble.

                                                                   

                                                                  I have a brand new environment with all of the latest versions that runs great.

                                                                   

                                                                  My larger clients with old builds that have been upgrade over several years have the big persistent problems.

                                                                   

                                                                  It is too late though to convince the larger clients that SolarWinds is reliable. They simply don't want it anymore. New clients with new builds have zero issues. I wish old clients would let me rebuild and restore but they are demoing MaaS solutions and getting away from SW.

                                                                    • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                                      dfairles

                                                                      Does someone want to talk me off the ledge?

                                                                      I'm talking to the ManageEngine folks Monday.  Anyone have any experience with them?

                                                                        • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                                          orioncrack

                                                                          AD Audit is awesome. Their free Password Reminder tool is awesome.

                                                                           

                                                                          Stay away from their OPS Mgr product.

                                                                            • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                                              dfairles

                                                                              Yeah, A little weak on OPS Manager, but the Exchange reporting is the best I have seen.  Tons of stuff out of the box.

                                                                               

                                                                              Solarwinds has fallen in the Gartner rankings, Interestingly they say for not implementing cutting edge features.

                                                                              "The vendor has a limited focus on introducing cutting-edge new features, specifically in the area of network forensics."

                                                                              "While the vendor offers basic packet monitoring through its QoE agents, this feature is not used or known by much of its customer base, nor has it seen significant investment from SolarWinds."

                                                                               

                                                                              We need more packet-based analysis, integration with Netflow, better out of the box reporting, easier discovery and mapping and less perfstack.

                                                                               

                                                                              BTW, I can buy all the equivalent ManageEngine products that I have with SolarWinds (NPM, NCM, APM, UDT, VIM, SRM, WPM, NTA) for about the same as I am paying just for maintenance with SolarWinds.  The extra cost for stacked pollers is ridiculous when you already bought unlimited and may cause me and Solarwinds to part.

                                                                                • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                                                  orioncrack

                                                                                  SolarWinds has become so fragmented and buggy.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  But monitoring is a dirty business.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  If only we could have a more streamlined approach and product.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  SolarWinds is so damn heavy. And by heavy I mean thousands of pieces and parts and thousands of disparate log files and so many possible points of error. It's like SCCM. A product gets so huge you can't undo all of the heaviness still tied in to code written 10 years ago.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  But I appreciate the magnitude of how much it takes to build such a complex beast - but those that complain and hold the budget dollars don't care. They want a lightweight cloud based solution. SolarWinds is 5-10 years away from that fruition.

                                                                                  • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                                                    sum_giais

                                                                                    My director looked at me funny when I explained the licensing models and how it pertains to our monitoring and polling engines. Just silly if you ask me. I'm going to stop here.. I've whined enough about this to my sales rep and a SolarWinds SE.

                                                                  • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                                    Kellie Mecham

                                                                    You are not being grouchy. You are telling us what you need. That is the most we can ask from our users, is that you tell us.  So, thank you so much.

                                                                    • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                                      serena

                                                                      Would you perhaps be interested in sitting down with meech and I about some of the problems your clients are encountering?

                                                                    • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                                      RichardLetts

                                                                      cobrien wrote:

                                                                       

                                                                      First, new and shiny features tend to be more interesting to talk about and hear about.  Most people expect us to be progressing on old content all the time, and just want to hear about the new stuff. 

                                                                      But you are not delivering on the 'progressing on old content' and that is what is bother your users -- UDT has not had a product update in 2 years, so it's hard to see what progressing on old content, or new features you have added in that time.

                                                                       

                                                                      From my perspective, as I've gained more organizational responsibilities what I am hearing from my staff is how frustrating it is to use basic features, and so they are looking at products that make their life easier. As I have advanced I'm trying to spend less time doing basic alert configuration in solarwinds, and more time on the strategy for network infrastructure.

                                                                        • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                                          cobrien

                                                                          Richard Letts wrote:

                                                                           

                                                                          But you are not delivering on the 'progressing on old content' and that is what is bother your users

                                                                          I'd like to understand your view specifically better.  Do you believe this is true of NPM, or UDT, or all Orion tools?

                                                                            • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                                              dfairles

                                                                              Basic features such as discovery are so outdated and cumbersome to use.  I can install any of the competing products and discover an entire class B network's devices in not much more time than it takes to go through that darn Wizard anytime you need to make a change

                                                                              I can install any of the competing products and discover an entire class B network's devices in not much more time than it takes to go through that darn Wizard anytime you need to make a change.  And then you have to break up multiple discoveries because SW can't handle a large range.

                                                                              I can't just add an application monitor to a node when I am looking at it.  I have to go back to the menu/applications assign it, etc.

                                                                              Try to delete a ghosted drive or NIC.  Can't do it by editing the node.

                                                                               

                                                                              As was stated, UDT hasn't had an update in years.  Same with NTD.  I started with LANsurveyor, now on NTD which is less usable than LANsurveyor was.   Try to export an updated map from UDT into Network Atlas.  It duplicates it!  Go through a wizard rediscover a range just to add a single node.  And again, discovery times are excruciatingly slow.  Pick any other discovery and mapping product out there and get a trial and try it out.  It is magnitudes faster.  Solarwinds just doesn't know how to do discoveries.

                                                                               

                                                                              Reporting, while very flexible, has hardly any out of the box reports compared to others.

                                                                               

                                                                              Solarwinds shines in flexibility, but apparently, no one at Solarwinds looks at their competitors, else they would see that they are falling behind in usability and out of the box experience.

                                                                                • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                                                  serena

                                                                                  dfairles I'm happy you're throwing down the gauntlet on the usability and out of box experience of the SW suite. You know why? Because we're definitely picking that gauntlet up. I think if you look at what's been happening with the releases starting with NPM 12 and continuing through to the latest release this year with PerfStack, you'll see that we're tackling those problems in each release. Consider this, less than one year ago we were still asking users to use a Win32 app to activate and manage licenses. Today, you can do all of these things through the web console. That's one of many projects that we've been working on behind the scenes to improve the usability of the product. These are not sexy features that we advertise, we're just making them happen, because we do care.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  I would love to invite you to some of our UX research sessions. I'd also love to know if you're thinking of participating in any of the many betas that we are running at this time. As meech  would say, THANK you for your feedback. I'm one of many Product Managers here that are listening.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Challenge accepted. I fully expect that you'll be happy with what we've got planned. 

                                                                                • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                                                  RichardLetts

                                                                                  Migration of the server-based tools appears to have stopped. Some of them like the Trap Viewer, Syslog viewer, and Universal Device Poller are fairly significant because I have to give Server Admin roles to staff to run those tools. Note: I'm not even talking about changing the functionality of these parts significantly, I'm talking about giving a webUI with the existing functionality. UnDP and Atlas are slow to load and die unexpectedly with .NET errors. I avoid using them when I can and so we can't leverage as much functionality out of the product as we might.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  It's somewhat ridiculous you can't set the Vendor and MachineType from an OID from the admin UI, I mean, looking at a thwack forum for you to add the name<>OID mapping to the base product. How does that make sense?

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Aruba Wireless support is broken; it's been broken for years. I've given up trying to get it fixed.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  VRF polling for UDT has been outstanding for 2 years. At one point you used to be able to set the L3 device and ROCID to get the ARP data for a subnet, but that functionality got stripped out (because it was hard for some people to use?).

                                                                                    • Re: new features vs. old problems
                                                                                      orioncrack

                                                                                      Yep. One egregious situation I have developing today is having to give users Full Admin just to create pollers.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      They are acting like I'm a jerk because I said no to full blown Admin access.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      It's little stuff like this that makes my life painful.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      How do I get around this?

                                                                                      1 of 1 people found this helpful