48 Replies Latest reply on Aug 15, 2011 3:01 PM by Donald_Francis

    Too Many Modules

    dfairles

      SolarWinds,

      You are now starting to look and act like the big guys, CA, Tivoli, etc.

      One of the things that makes SolarWinds more attractive over these guys was price and licensing/module complexity.

      I am afraid SolarWinds is going down this path now with all the add on modules.

      For Example, User Device Tracking was touted (MAC address tracking), when we purchased NPM,NCM.  You finally got it working, and now want to charge us additional for it.

      I feel ripped off now, and no better off than with the other guys.

        • Re: Too Many Modules
          lateforwork2

          I agree, becoming a complicated CA/Compuware/HP Openview solution. Seems to be the same with APM also.  You can do simple web transaction monitoring with APM, but it appears that they will now charge for their new "web transaction monitor".  It will not be included in APM.

           

          Not happy.

            • Re: Too Many Modules
              dfairles

              Yes, I was led to believe that these were features that would be added or updated in NPM and APM.

              It will be nearly impossible for me to justify spending more on modules, when there will be so much pushback from management after I talked them into the less expensive solution, that will be now just as expensive by the time you compare apples to apples.  They will be very angry that we did not purchase the product that had better third party support and a larger user base.

              SolarWinds Marketing just took a very wrong turn. 

            • Re: Too Many Modules
              byrona

              I agree with both of you.  I wish the mac address tracking was included with NCM and NPM as I already own those two products.  I also wish the Synthetic Transaction monitoring was included with APM as I already own that and that functionality was one of the reasons that I purchased the product in the first place.  I also wish more storage system functionality was included with NPM IVIM so that I don't have to consider purchasing Storage Profiler for that functionality.  I have noted my feelings on this in another thread as well.

              On the flip side of the argument, if SolarWinds keeps including more and more functionality in fewer but larger products or "modules" it drives up the cost of development and support for those products which is then passed on to us and then we will be upset because the products are more expensive to purchase and have maintenance for; this also creates a higher cost of entry to start using these products in the first place. 

              Alternatively, if SolarWinds breaks up functionality into more smaller products or "modules" it keeps the cost of development and support down for each of the different products resulting in less expensive products but may require us to purchase several of them to accomplish our required solution.  It's a difficult balance to maintain and certainly a challenge SolarWinds is up against as they spread their wings to include more and more functionality.

              I don't claim to know the answer here, I just wanted make sure both sides of the argument were properly represented. 

              Keep these kind of comments coming as I think it's important feedback for SolarWinds so they can continuously improve and try and maintain that balance.

                • Re: Too Many Modules
                  dfairles

                  However, they almost included all that functionality already in NCM,NPM, APM.  They could have chosen just to make what was there better.

                  One of SolarWinds big selling points used to be that you didn't need to purchase a lot of modules to flesh out functionality.

                  Now what are they going to say that will set them apart from the others?

                    • Re: Too Many Modules
                      lateforwork2

                      I agree with dfairles....

                       

                      They were so close to the functionality that they will now 'sell'.  It could have been easily added to current products.

                       

                      Funny....I never saw any of this happening until they went public.  Who are they trying to please now?  Because it sure isn't the customers.

                      • Re: Too Many Modules
                        byrona


                        However, they almost included all that functionality already in NCM,NPM, APM.  They could have chosen just to make what was there better.

                        One of SolarWinds big selling points used to be that you didn't need to purchase a lot of modules to flesh out functionality.

                        Now what are they going to say that will set them apart from the others?

                         



                         

                        In my opinion the things that set SolarWinds apart from the "big guys" (OpenView, Tivoli, Unicenter, BMC, etc) are as follows...

                        • SolarWinds has more responsive support
                          • Learning to work with their support does have a learning curve but once you overcome that, it works well
                        • More agile development
                          • Support for the always changing industry is much faster with at least two major functionality releases a year
                        • They listen to their customers
                          • Just about all of the more recently added features were based on customer feedback
                        • Supportive community
                          • When I was running HP OpenView the community was nowhere near as supportive as the Thwack community

                        Like I had previously stated, I do agree with your comments and have stated the same thing myself on other threads, I just wanted to point out the balance difficulties that something like this present to a company like SolarWinds.

                          • Re: Too Many Modules
                            lateforwork2


                            In my opinion the things that set SolarWinds apart from the "big guys" (OpenView, Tivoli, Unicenter, BMC, etc) are as follows...

                            • SolarWinds has more responsive support
                              • Learning to work with their support does have a learning curve but once you overcome that, it works well
                            • More agile development
                              • Support for the always changing industry is much faster with at least two major functionality releases a year
                            • They listen to their customers
                              • Just about all of the more recently added features were based on customer feedback
                            • Supportive community
                              • When I was running HP OpenView the community was nowhere near as supportive as the Thwack community

                            Like I had previously stated, I do agree with your comments and have stated the same thing myself on other threads, I just wanted to point out the balance difficulties that something like this present to a company like SolarWinds.

                             



                             

                            More agile development, however they still seem to have large issues with each release, sometimes I really have to sit back and wonder if they actually tested it on different systems.  I install an RC or GA and find issues almost instantly.  SO, agile, yes.....comprehensive, debatable.

                            They listen to their customers - Yes they do, however when you have an issue or feature request that is vital to you, but nobody else brings it up....you might has well not even wasted your breath, because it wont be in any release, ever.

                              • Re: Too Many Modules
                                dfairles

                                Also agree that new releases have more bugs as of late.

                                • Re: Too Many Modules
                                  ctopaloglu


                                  I do see the balance issue, however I think that they have swung too far the other way on the module issue. 

                                  I wouldn't even mind the module issue that much if the modules were well integrated, but they are not.  It seems like totally seperate development teams that do not develop to the common framework.  How long has it been promised that NCM and NPM would be integrated?  Why must I run seperate scans on the network when the two are running on the same box?

                                  If I purchased a module, heck, why are we calling them modules, when they are really stand alone products?  Anyway, I would expect them to be more like an extension to Orion.  I may as well buy a different stand alone product if it is not really a part of Orion and I will have to pay for it.

                                   



                                  +1

                                   



                                   



                                  In my opinion the things that set SolarWinds apart from the "big guys" (OpenView, Tivoli, Unicenter, BMC, etc) are as follows...

                                  • SolarWinds has more responsive support
                                    • Learning to work with their support does have a learning curve but once you overcome that, it works well
                                  • More agile development
                                    • Support for the always changing industry is much faster with at least two major functionality releases a year
                                  • They listen to their customers
                                    • Just about all of the more recently added features were based on customer feedback
                                  • Supportive community
                                    • When I was running HP OpenView the community was nowhere near as supportive as the Thwack community

                                  Like I had previously stated, I do agree with your comments and have stated the same thing myself on other threads, I just wanted to point out the balance difficulties that something like this present to a company like SolarWinds.

                                   



                                  More agile development, however they still seem to have large issues with each release, sometimes I really have to sit back and wonder if they actually tested it on different systems.  I install an RC or GA and find issues almost instantly.  SO, agile, yes.....comprehensive, debatable. +1 +1 +1

                                  They listen to their customers - Yes they do, however when you have an issue or feature request that is vital to you, but nobody else brings it up....you might has well not even wasted your breath, because it wont be in any release, ever. +1 +1 +1

                                   



                                  Couldn't agree more. I am starting to think get rid off SolarWinds. Or maybe start my own company since network management is still crawling!!! at least in Austin Texas!

                                    • Re: Too Many Modules
                                      Donald_Francis

                                      I think there are 2 issues here.

                                      But before I mention what I think they are I believe we need to all keep in mind how unique SolarWinds is.  Good product, good price, lots of functionality and we all basically have direct access via thwack to product managers.  No one has anything like this and I think it is of great benefit to the customer.

                                      Now the issues.  For one I think there is an issue with to many modules like you guys are saying but I do not mean that from a cash standpoint I am talking technically.  I think some functionality should be combined like wireless was or 5 years from now we will have 20+ modules.  As it is right now there are 3 new ones on the horizon I know of and that being the new user tracker, hyper9 and profiler.

                                      Next is somewhat related to the first, the amount of money it takes to get the full product is starting to become very large especially if you are a big shop.  True you get to have the product A La Carte but its starting to be an issue.

                                       

                                      I honestly feel IPAM and IPSLA should be added to the base NPM product.  They are indeed great apps to have and they apply to just about everyone but their function is low compared to some of the more beefy modules like NPM, APM and Netflow.

                                       

                                      Just my 2 cents....

                                      • Re: Too Many Modules
                                        savell

                                        I'm another one who tends to think that Solarwinds have moved away somewhat from the single integrated toolset approach that first attracted me to the Orion product.

                                        Don't get me wrong, I understand why this occurs - the company must sell product to fund development, and maintenance alone doesn't provide the required means for what Orion wishes to accomplish.

                                        I do wonder however if the multitude of modules won't mean putting off customers in the first instance - detracting from the simple to install/simple to run/simple to understand model of the past.

                                        For the likes of us with NPM, NTA, IPSLA, APM, FoE, Additional Pollers, Additional Webservers and NCM - it's certainly not simple anymore. 

                                        It's also not simple for me to to justify another module for user tracking when this belongs as an integrated NPM/NCM function (especially when it's been a road-map item for so long).

                                        Dave. 

                                          • Re: Too Many Modules
                                            Donald_Francis

                                            I am with everyone on this but I think we need to keep something in mind.  SolarWinds for the price point is an excellent tool set allowing you to do things that only very expensive tool sets normally allow.  Without the price point in mind it is still excellent but with the price point its an absolute home run especially if you keep in mind that via thwack we all have access to developers and product managers.

                                             

                                            However I still agree with everyone.  There are too many modules (there are 3 new ones on the horizon).  This makes the suite very expensive to attain, especially for larger shops.   

                                            I feel that some modules that are great but offer less functionality when compared to the beefy NPM, netflow and APM should be included like wireless was.  I am speaking mainly of IPAM and IPSLA.

                                            Just my 2 cents.

                                              • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                byrona

                                                Donald

                                                I completely agree with your following statement...

                                                I am with everyone on this but I think we need to keep something in mind.  SolarWinds for the price point is an excellent tool set allowing you to do things that only very expensive tool sets normally allow.  Without the price point in mind it is still excellent but with the price point its an absolute home run especially if you keep in mind that via thwack we all have access to developers and product managers.

                                                However, I also agree with the too many modules, though perhaps for a slightly different reason.  While the money issue is a factor, I understand paying for products so long as the value is there.  My frustrations is with two similiar scenarios...

                                                1) When there are multiple products with significant overlap in functionality.

                                                2) When I purchase a product for a specific goal but then functionality aimed at that goal is released but in a completely different product.

                                                An example of #1 is UTC, it has overlap with NPM and seems like a logical advancement to the Topology system.  I don't really see how UTC is justified as a separate product, I think it should be part of NPM.

                                                An example of #2 is APM and the new Synthetic Transaction Monitoring product.  I purchased APM with the idea that any transaction monitoring would be part of application monitoring and would be included in APM... seems I was wrong.  IMO transaction monitoring is part of application monitoring and therefore this should be an enhancement to APM, not a different product.

                                                On the other hand, Netflow is a completely different animal, it should be a different product.  IPSLA is also a completely different animal with different use cases and I think it should also be a different product.  I can also see that IPAM and managing your IP space is a completely different use case so I understand that being a different product as well.

                                                To me it all comes down to the use cases and overlap.  If the use cases are the exact same, it should be one product and if there is too much overlap in functionality then once again it should probably be one product.  If you don't follow this I think you create confusion and frustration with your customers.  Product fragmentation can be a dangerous thing and it's a fine line to walk.  How to slice, dice, package and market your products is the difference between successful companies and bankrupt companies.

                                                At least that is my humble view of things

                                                Regardless, I still find the Orion products to be very rich in feature sets and a good value for the money.

                                                  • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                    dfairles

                                                    1) When there are multiple products with significant overlap in functionality.

                                                    2) When I purchase a product for a specific goal but then functionality aimed at that goal is released but in a completely different product.

                                                    An example of #1 is UTC, it has overlap with NPM and seems like a logical advancement to the Topology system.  I don't really see how UTC is justified as a separate product, I think it should be part of NPM.



                                                    An example of #2 is APM and the new Synthetic Transaction Monitoring product. I purchased APM with the idea that any transaction monitoring would be part of application monitoring and would be included in APM... seems I was wrong. IMO transaction monitoring is part of application monitoring and therefore this should be an enhancement to APM, not a different product.

                                                     



                                                     

                                                    I think we are all coalescing around the same thoughts here.  The UTC product has a LOT of overlap in what NPM:

                                                    1. Should have. (End point mapping is very important in an NSM)
                                                    2. Almost has but doesn't quite work.
                                                    3. was promised multiple times on as "on the radar" on Thwack.

                                                    This is the most frustrating point for me, since I have opened multiple tickets for both NCM and NPM trying to get end point mapping to work.

                                                    This does NOT work.  Just fix this, or the connectivity mapping in NPM.  Take you pick.  I already have both products, but I will NOT buy another product to "fix" what is broken.

                                                    As for Item #2, I bought APM to monitor Applications too.  I think transactions are part of the application too.

                                                      • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                        denny.lecompte

                                                        Folks,

                                                        The whole PM team (and other folks in the company) are following the thread.  We’ve been intentionally staying out of it because we want to hear your feedback without driving it in any particular direction.  It’s hard to respond to negative feedback without being defensive.  With that in mind, I’ll try to make a few statements regarding our philosophy in hopes that it illuminates our thinking, even if it doesn’t necessarily change your opinion.

                                                        Our general approach to the product portfolio is to provide functionality in an “a la carte” fashion.  The advantage of that approach is that you only pay for what you really need.  It also ensures that we can fund an engineering team to advance the functionality for a given product.  For instance, because we have a separate NetFlow module, we are constantly working on NetFlow.  If it were merely a feature of NPM, we could not have as many engineers devoted to it, and we be forced to choose between a NetFlow feature and an NPM feature in every release.  The only other choice would be to stick all functionality in NPM and then raise the price (including maintenance) of NPM to pay for the engineering staff required to move it all forward.  But then we have raise prices on everyone to deliver functionality that only some customers want.  It would also price NPM out of reach for a lot of smaller IT shops who only need NPM, and we’re not willing to do that.  Finally, new products like User Device Tracker don’t require NPM.  Same for IPAM, now.  If we included everything in one bundle, we would have to charge those people for NPM functionality that they may not need.

                                                        You may be thinking that we could add keep adding major new functionality (like NetFlow, port tracking, IPSLA) and not charge for it.   If we did that, we either start losing money or we end up with too few engineers to move the product forward.  Either way, no one wins. 

                                                        While we appreciate that there are downsides (as you all have pointed out above) to the a la carte approach, we are committed to that approach because we believe it provides the most benefit to the most customers.  

                                                         

                                                        Thanks,

                                                        Denny

                                                          • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                            dfairles

                                                            Thanks for the reply Denny, but I think you are missing the point.

                                                             

                                                            It is not the a-la-cart approach we are objecting to.  What is troubling, is being forced to buy something that is really already there in the base product, but not fully baked, or just needs tweaking.  My particular use cases are UDT.  Don't we already have the ability to find a MAC address connected to a port in NCM?  Oh yeah, that doesn't work.  Let me sell you UDT.  If NPM even connected devices devices properly that would help us out tremendously.  I keep hearing that theese issues are being addressed, but bringing out a new product, that does something very similar to what is already in the product, and was supposed to be fixed, is very dishearting.

                                                            Also this is not either/or as you suggest. There are some things that need to be built in to NPM, or we would have just bought IP monitor.

                                                            I also think that adding to "features" as stand alone products is a step backwards.  We are looking for very tight integration, not something bolted on, or we would just buy the product from the vendor with the best module and wrap them up with a website.  How long have you guys had NCM?  It is still not integrated with NPM as promised.

                                                             

                                                            I don't see smaller shops buying a stand alone product that does one function either.  There are so many free or very low cost products in this space for small shops.

                                                             

                                                            Finally, for a mid size shop as myself, (NPM, NCM, APM, 3 pollers, additional web server, etc.), I don't see the value.  If I compare functionality to any of the "Big 4" NSM players, by the time I add-on all the add-ons, I don't find that I am saving money.  I went through almost 2 years of evaluations and pricing before we bought SolarWinds.  Whether or not SolarWinds is better is arguable.

                                                              • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                mavturner

                                                                Regarding your frustration about UDT, I have written a Finding where devices are connected in your network that covers the differences between Switch Port Mapper, NCM User Tracking, and UDT (I believe you have seen this already).

                                                                The User Tracking features in NCM cover very specific use cases and are much more limited than UDT. If we were to add all of the UDT features to NCM, then we would need to increase the cost of NCM for all users. For example, an infrastructure / WAN manager who is just interested in monitoring and configuration of the routers, may not want to pay extra for user tracking.  We could have offered no user tracking in NCM, but we wanted to cover those specific use cases without requiring users to buy a separate product.   

                                                                Thanks,

                                                                Mav

                                                                  • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                    dfairles

                                                                    I am not frustrated with UDT.  All I want is for either NCM User Tracking or NPM Topology to work properly BEFORE offering a product with all the extra features of UDT.  I really don't need UDT.

                                                                     

                                                                    One of our requirements for an NSM was the ability to determine where the MAC address of a workstation was located on a switchport.  I checked that off my list during testing, now that we have it in production, it doesn't scale at all.  This has never worked for us.  When I have asked support about it, they tell me "yeah, that really doesn't work well" and to wait because that is being re-done.  Well, I guess it was, but now I have to pay for he functionality that is supposed to already be there.

                                                                    Like I said above, on NCM:

                                                                    This does not work, but this is all I need.

                                                                    Also, why even have NPM?  Why not just make everything an add-on to IP monitor if that is the direction you want to go?  I don't like paying for functionality that doesn't work more than functionality I don't need.

                                                                    If this is the direction you are going, then you are hurting larger customers.  If you only want to cater to smaller shops, that is fine, but you should be more honest about your market.

                                                                      • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                        fcaron

                                                                        Hi Dfairles

                                                                        I hope this Leveraging NCM’s “Find Connected Port for End Host” feature about the NCM feature in question, will clarify a few things.

                                                                          • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                            byrona

                                                                            I still find that I have a foot in both camps when it comes to this issue.  I completely understand the perspective of SolarWinds and respect the challenges they face as they grow and add more products to their portfolio; however, I also completely understand the side of the customers frustrated on this topic.

                                                                            I would like to let the SolarWinds folks know how much I appreciate the fact that they are not shying away from this issue but are here in the forums addressing it head on and even taking the time to create blog postings for us to try and help.  You don't see that kind of community involvement from many other companies, very nice job guys!

                                                                            The blog postings and documenting different use cases for the different products really helps explain the separation between the different products and helps when having to decide which ones to use.  I welcome much more of this type of informative documentation in the future.

                                                                            The one thing that I think would go a really long way toward rectifying the concerns I have seen posted here would be as follows...

                                                                            SolarWinds acknowledging that the functionality in the current products such as the Find Connected Port in NCM or the Network Topology Discovery in NPM may have a need for improvement and that we can expect future support and improvements on those and that they have not been abandoned and replaced by the new products.

                                                                              • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                denny.lecompte


                                                                                he one thing that I think would go a really long way toward rectifying the concerns I have seen posted here would be as follows...

                                                                                SolarWinds acknowledging that the functionality in the current products such as the Find Connected Port in NCM or the Network Topology Discovery in NPM may have a need for improvement and that we can expect future support and improvements on those and that they have not been abandoned and replaced by the new products.

                                                                                 



                                                                                We definitely believe that our topology discovery can be improved.  We are changing the way we gather topology.  Actually UDT uses different mechanisms than NPM, and we will modify NPM to use this improved method.  We will also make it easier to update topology info more often.  

                                                                                We're not abandoning any features in NPM or NCM.  We will keep improving them for the intended scenarios.

                                                                                  • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                    byrona


                                                                                    We definitely believe that our topology discovery can be improved.  We are changing the way we gather topology.  Actually UDT uses different mechanisms than NPM, and we will modify NPM to use this improved method.  We will also make it easier to update topology info more often.  

                                                                                    We're not abandoning any features in NPM or NCM.  We will keep improving them for the intended scenarios.

                                                                                     



                                                                                    Thanks Denny

                                                                                    So long as you are not abandoning current product features and plan to improve those features going forward I will sleep much better a night with our product decisions.

                                                                                    I am also very happy to see that you are taking improvements and lessons learned from one product and building those into other products with overlapping functionality!

                                                                                    Thanks for this acknowledgement, it's much appreciated.

                                                                                    • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                      dfairles


                                                                                      We definitely believe that our topology discovery can be improved.  We are changing the way we gather topology.  Actually UDT uses different mechanisms than NPM, and we will modify NPM to use this improved method.  We will also make it easier to update topology info more often.  

                                                                                      We're not abandoning any features in NPM or NCM.  We will keep improving them for the intended scenarios.

                                                                                       



                                                                                      Good to hear.  It just seems that SolarWinds would have modified NPM to use this new method first, and then added a new product.  That may not match your funding model, but if you are concerned with keeping existing customers, and not just adding new ones, that is what I would have done.  Happy existing customers will bring you the business.  Unhappy customers will loose more in the long run.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      I also agree that it doesn't seem like new releases are fully tested in large environments.  I know SolarWinds can not purchase every device out there or build a network with thousands of hosts, so maybe expanding the beta pool is in order.

                                                                                  • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                    dfairles


                                                                                    Hi Dfairles

                                                                                    I hope this Leveraging NCM’s “Find Connected Port for End Host” feature about the NCM feature in question, will clarify a few things.

                                                                                     

                                                                                     



                                                                                     

                                                                                    Hi fcaron,

                                                                                    Thank you for the blog post.  This does really help explain how this works.

                                                                                    Unfortunately, this just makes it worse for us.

                                                                                    We currently have over 27,000 Ethernet interfaces, so If I add the more than 10,000 workstations to my already overloaded 3 pollers, extra web server, SQL cluster, that is just more pollers I will need to buy.  On top of that, I do not want the workstations added to NPM, nor should I need to just to read the switches arp tables.  If this was known up front, I doubt we would have made the purchase.  

                                                                                    I would surely need to beef up my SQL server as well.  I mean it is just 2 clustered 4 Processor Servers with 64GB of RAM and is getting hit really hard.  I am also sending Traps and Syslog here as well.

                                                                                    The amount of hardware resources I have to throw at SolarWinds is staggering compared to the other products we have tested.  That has to figure in to the TCO as well.  Why sell an unlimited license if it really is not unlimited? I mean, you charge for the unlimited license, and then charge almost as much for each additional poller as the unlimited license cost?  If you can only have about 8,000 elements per poller, then charge appropriately.  

                                                                                    Just for reference, we were using another product that could poll all 27,000 interfaces easily with everything running on a single server.  We also polled for traffic, errors, etc., with graphs for each interface.  We wanted to do more, and add application monitoring as well.  So far, this is costing more than twice what we estimated, and it looks like we are not done, or need to go in a different direction.



                                                                                      • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                        dfairles

                                                                                        I do need to try to balance my posts (a little late in know) and say that while I have been saying a lot of negative things about SolarWinds, obviously there are many good aspects of SolarWinds which is why we purchased SolarWinds in the first place.  Too many to mention.  Also Support has been much better than most.  And I do appreciate these forums that allow us to express our thoughts, feelings, frustrations freely.  I even have had phone calls with SolarWinds management to discuss this personally.  You don't find that very often.

                                                                                  • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                    Donald_Francis

                                                                                    I guess if I think about it the idea of A la Carte is a good one.  I can see where that is beneficial and a way to value add without increasing the base price of your product.

                                                                                    But if you are going to do that I think the pricing needs to follow.  The modules may be a la carte but the pricing is like paying for a full mean for each item.

                                                                                    Modules that are 1 trick ponies (not a bad thing mind you) should not cost near as much as they do.  For example UDT.

                                                                      • Re: Too Many Modules

                                                                        Hi All--

                                                                        Rest assured, product management knows about your feedback and this thread.

                                                                        M

                                                                    • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                      dfairles

                                                                      I do see the balance issue, however I think that they have swung too far the other way on the module issue. 

                                                                      I wouldn't even mind the module issue that much if the modules were well integrated, but they are not.  It seems like totally seperate development teams that do not develop to the common framework.  How long has it been promised that NCM and NPM would be integrated?  Why must I run seperate scans on the network when the two are running on the same box?

                                                                      If I purchased a module, heck, why are we calling them modules, when they are really stand alone products?  Anyway, I would expect them to be more like an extension to Orion.  I may as well buy a different stand alone product if it is not really a part of Orion and I will have to pay for it.

                                                                      • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                        Ciag

                                                                        This is a great thread. We've been a customer of Solarwinds for just over 4 years now and have experienced many of the gripes that have been mentioned in this thread. I'm glad we have the ability to discuss these kinds of topics openly on the forum, which I feel is testament to Solarwinds ongoing customer focus effort.

                                                                        Having said that I would like to contribute to this thread as I feel it important to stand up and be counted on these crucial issues, even if it is to reiterate some of the previously mentioned topics.

                                                                        UDT was the catalyst for this thread and I feel rightly so. This is functionality that should be included in NCM there's no doubt in my mind about that. It is in essence something I have asked for previously see Interface last state change monitoring accuracy

                                                                        byrona wrote about responsive support and a supportive community and I couldn't agree more it is something we are very please with as SW customers. 

                                                                        With regards to development agility and listening to customers?  There's no doubt that this is true however it's the capacity in which the information is used by SW that appears to be in question here I feel. 

                                                                        It's my opinion that development robustness has sufferred with the number of bugs and upgrade issues we have expereienced being higher than ever in the past year. The release notes need work as well. They have improved but still have a way to go. We've spent time troubleshooting upgrade errors to find out from support that the errors can be ignored but weren't mentioned in the notes. Upgrades in general are not as smooth as they use to be.

                                                                        With regards to features not working there have been many instances where expected features were somewhat lacking in their delivery. Take for instance NCM and its web console; based off our own experience and from others I contacted with similar sized environments there was at least a 6 month period where the NCM web console was unusable and for a long time after that it was not a convenience to use. Infact when we purchased NCM 3 years ago I wouldn't have considered it an enterprise tool at all seeing how much it struggled to accomplish most tasks. I would mention the single threaded poller in NPM but that is on the way out finally which is great. IPSLA I feel is too light in functionality to warrant it's own license and should be either beefed up or included as part of NPM license.

                                                                        One pattern I seem to recognise with new products or new functionality is that upon initial release they rarely work or have any useful reports, graphs or displays for our enterprise sized environment, this almost seems intentional. It appears that they are initially geared towards smaller scale environments. NCM, NCM webconsole and UDT are all textbook examples of this. Yet they are sold as scalable enterprise tools. Makes me question if they are taking any suggestions from customers in enterprise size environments at all when developing the new tools or new features other than Thwack feature requests. I can go into more detail on this but I think my post is long enough as it is lol.

                                                                        I would like to take this opportunity to point out, we are not unhappy customers, far from it. These are some observations we've made during our time as customers. I still feel SW is a leading light in many ways for their support community.

                                                                        And of course there are always 2 sides of the coin.

                                                                        Regards

                                                                        Ciaran

                                                                          • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                            denny.lecompte

                                                                            Ciaran,

                                                                            Good constructive points.  On NCM's web console in particular, I think you'll be pleased with the next release.  If you're interested in beta testing, please let us know, and we'll hook you up.

                                                                            You ask whether we intentionally ignore enterprise customers with new products.  No.  We listen to a broad array of customers.  We have more mid-sized customers than large customers, so that may be what you are seeing.  I take your point, however, and I will work with the PM team to make sure we are paying attention to the enterprise-sized folks.

                                                                            Regards,

                                                                            Denny

                                                                              • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                dfairles

                                                                                Hint,

                                                                                Add a departmental switch with over 200 ports and then mark them as unplugable except the uplink ports. 

                                                                                • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                  Ciag

                                                                                  Cheers for the Reply Denny. I neglected to mention that although I wouldn't have deemed NCM an enterprise tool 3 years ago I would now, it has come a long way since then and has made some major strides in the right direction. There is still more to do but it has become an invaluable and reliable tool for us. I look forward to the next release. Just for the record I wasn't accusing SW of intentionally ignoring enterprise customers. What I meant was more along the lines that when some new tools and features were released it seemed that the initial release was designed for the smaller network with adjustments and functionality coming later for the larger networks.  

                                                                                  Thanks dfairles for the suggestion. I've used this previously if I've been fore-warned of upcoming work, it is useful. I've never permanently rolled it out as the departmental switches and the number of buildings are a significant chunk of the total ports I mentioned. I've assumed that when in ‘unplugged’ mode the interface is only monitor for status when it is down, but isn't interface status polling done via SNMP? We run our pollers pretty hot so there's little or no room for anything more SNMP polling. It would be something I would love to roll out permanently in a couple of buildings if the SNMP polling over head wasn’t too high.

                                                                                  Regards

                                                                                  Ciaran

                                                                                   

                                                                                    • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                      smartd

                                                                                      On IPAM as a separate product.

                                                                                      I agree this would be a standaone product IF it did the DNS/DHCP control that "real" IPAM does.  In its present form, it should be fully integrated into NPM, and  manage the IP addresses associated with nodes.  Layer 3 switches may have a dozen or more IP addresses associated with them.  I'd like the IPAM function to manage AS numbers, OSPF areas, and vlan IDs.

                                                                                      -=Dan=-

                                                                          • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                            amngibson

                                                                            I agree but I would like to calirfy and point a couple things out.

                                                                             

                                                                            1. I understand that SW must continue to aquire and develop new products in order to enter new markets. This is a given and is to be expected. This ensures SW continues to be a solid company. Its customers, shareholders, employees, etc. needs these efforts.

                                                                            2. The company should also equally continue to expand and add to features to the existing product to enable its existing customer base.

                                                                            What I am feeling righ now is solarwinds is concentrating on aquireing new products and require new and existing customers to purchase these new modules to beable to use them. In some circumstance the new products offer *working features* that are similar or overlap very closely with features that are either broke or were promised in the existing applications. This is exstremley fustrating to me as a customer. I have been waiting for tweeks/enhancments/bugfixes to the current product to get what I need, only to here that a "new product" was aquired to fix exactly what I have been waiting for.....oh and by the way, I have to purchase a license for that new product.

                                                                            Lets balance this a little bit SW. Lets get the Prodcut Mangment team at the same table as the strategic direction team. Lets make sure we are on the same page. Lets get some sprint cycles reserved for the strategic direction team so they can get enahncements and bug fixes prioritized. This way they wont have to go looking for an aquisition to get that "new customer" and enter a different market.

                                                                            This was existing customers can benefit without haveing to shell out tons of money every time we want to expand the use of SW.

                                                                              • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                smartd

                                                                                I've been much less involved with Thwack as I currently believe that Solarwind's focus is solely on selling more seats.  Functions are added to discover more nodes and interfaces (sell more elements) but NOTHING to filter unneeded devices.  I have 5400 nodes in the ignore list (which is unmanageable in itself). 

                                                                                I've asked repeatedly for a page for seeing enhancement requests for the product and the ability to vote on these.  This still hasn't been implemented.  I can only believe that is because Solarwinds does not want us to see the list and see items that are ignored since they don't sell more seats.

                                                                                It is so incredibly frustrating that the discovery engine is so limited.  No default custom attributes, no device type filtering, etc.

                                                                                Something simple like rediscovering an existing node that was replaced with a different device is so painful.  Unknown interfaces...  Can't sync node name with snmp system name when this data gets updated.

                                                                                No duplicate IP mangement in the product.  No resource listing all the IPs on a device.  No integration to IPAM (in NPM).  No Trap/Syslog integration with NPM events.

                                                                                I quit using NCM...  A cisco only product.  Don't get me started there.

                                                                                Very frustrated.

                                                                                  • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                    denny.lecompte

                                                                                    I've asked repeatedly for a page for seeing enhancement requests for the product and the ability to vote on these.  This still hasn't been implemented.  I can only believe that is because Solarwinds does not want us to see the list and see items that are ignored since they don't sell more seats.

                                                                                    Filtering interfaces by type is on the roadmap.  We haven't done it yet, but it's certainly not for any nefarious reasons.  We simply haven't gotten to it.  We keep our prices down relative to the Big 4 management companies by reducing our expenses, which forces us to choose which features we build and which we defer.  That ones been deferred a few times in favor of other features that gave customers more "bang for the buck", but we'll get to it.

                                                                                     

                                                                                      • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                        smartd


                                                                                        Filtering interfaces by type is on the roadmap.  We haven't done it yet, but it's certainly not for any nefarious reasons.  

                                                                                         



                                                                                        No, not nefarious.  Just a focus on new features and a lesser focus existing functionality.  I used to hope existing functions would get fixed, but not knowing the roadmap (the whole public company deal, I know..) I've given up on fixes.  I'm using the product as best I can, working around the limitations as best I can. 

                                                                                        NPM has got enough functionality to be useful, and discovery works as long as I ignore alternative interface IPs and devices I'm not interested in.  I ONLY look at the found devices, ignore the dups and ones I don't manage, and import the rest.  It works.  Every now and then I break down and spend a day updating all the custom fields that discovery has no way to add.  I do it using the "Custom Attribute" tool on the server since it allows cutting and pasting, or use a SQL query to update stuff.  A pain but it works.

                                                                                        Since I'm not a Cisco shop, I've had to depend on UnDP in a big way.  Thank God for this tool.  And yes, thanks for the UnDP graphing modules you recently added.  Very helpful.

                                                                                        Again, I understand the need to add features that customers want.  It just pains me when the product is so difficult to maintain on a day-to-day basis.  I like your the intent of your products and price.  I appreciate your (and Brandon's) candid discussions on Thwack.    I just wish NPM supplied more than 2/3rds of my needs.

                                                                                        • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                          dfairles

                                                                                           We keep our prices down relative to the Big 4 management companies

                                                                                           

                                                                                          This is just simply not true anymore for some of us at least.  By the time you add all the hardware, OS, pollers, and Modules for SolarWinds, in our case it is about the same or even in some cases, SolarWinds has a higher TCO.

                                                                                            • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                              byrona


                                                                                               

                                                                                               We keep our prices down relative to the Big 4 management companies


                                                                                               

                                                                                              This is just simply not true anymore for some of us at least.  By the time you add all the hardware, OS, pollers, and Modules for SolarWinds, in our case it is about the same or even in some cases, SolarWinds has a higher TCO.

                                                                                               



                                                                                              Without data I can't really argue either way on this.  What I think would be really interesting is to take a large environment (real or fake) and do a case study comparing Orion against one or several of the Big 4.

                                                                                              We have a relatively good size environment and we did compare Orion to other solutions just two years ago when we ultimately choose Orion.  We ultimately found that Orion came in at a very competitive price point for it's feature set.  Granted, we didn't compare it against the Big 4; our price comparisons were against EM7, one of the Manage Engine solutions, and a Nimsoft solution.

                                                                                                • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                                  dfairles

                                                                                                  We ultimately found that Orion came in at a very competitive price point for it's feature set.  Granted, we didn't compare it against the Big 4; our price comparisons were against EM7, one of the Manage Engine solutions, and a Nimsoft solution

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  In our case, being a University, the Big 4 give us a huge (40-60%) discount.  Nimsoft went to a subscription model and for us, priced themselves out of anything.  Numsoft is now the Most expensive solution for us :)   Manage Engine is so fragmented, and there are so many modules, you never know if you are getting what you need, which is what I hope SolarWinds does not become.  EM7 looked good, but we didn't like the black box appliance (limited customization), but price wise, was about the same as SolarWinds.

                                                                                                    • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                                      byrona

                                                                                                      In our case, being a University, the Big 4 give us a huge (40-60%) discount.  Nimsoft went to a subscription model and for us, priced themselves out of anything.  Numsoft is now the Most expensive solution for us :)   Manage Engine is so fragmented, and there are so many modules, you never know if you are getting what you need, which is what I hope SolarWinds does not become.  EM7 looked good, but we didn't like the black box appliance (limited customization), but price wise, was about the same as SolarWinds.

                                                                                                      We also found Nimsoft to be the most expensive solution. 

                                                                                                      I also agree with the fragmentation problem with Manage Engine, when I spoke with Brandon@SolarWinds on the phone regarding this thread I used them as an example of what not to do.  Not to mention the over-seas India based support for Manage Engine was absolutely terrible.

                                                                                                      EM7's appliance approach is what ultimately made us not choose them.  We inquired about the option to purchase just the software but they don't offer that as an option.

                                                                                                      I don't find a problem with SolarWinds having a lot of modules, so long as the different use cases are clear and well documented.  Also the plausibility of different "bundles" that include several modules (with price incentives "bundle and save") is intriguing.

                                                                                                      In comparison with others I think SolarWinds is doing a lot of things very well; I just want to see them to continue to do so in support of their current customers as well as new.

                                                                                              • Re: Too Many Modules
                                                                                                dfairles

                                                                                                I've been much less involved with Thwack as I currently believe that Solarwind's focus is solely on selling more seats.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                Agree.  Every time a new feature, module, app comes out, We all get spammed by sales.  The sales team is starting to be like dealing with a car salesman, with promotions, end of month, end of quarter, deal of the day, etc.  We just don't ever make purchases that way, and I don't know of any IT shops that do.  That approach is really back fireing with us.  I have had to call and ask that certain salespersons never call us again becuase they were so annoying.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                All our vendors usually treat us as a partner.  They work with us, find out what we need, and work to help us solve problems together, not hound us into buying something.