Editor's Note: Corrections have been made to this article.
SolarWinds, headquartered in Austin, Texas with a European regional headquarters in Cork, Ireland, is a publicly traded software company that has developed a line of Windows-based network management products. The firm was recognized in 2008 by Inc. Magazine as one of the Fastest Growing Companies in the U.S., ranked 1,979th, up 381 spots from 2007. SolarWinds products are geared to customers who need a scalable, easy-to-use network management solution for 250 to 10,000 managed elements, and at an affordable price point. The company claims to have more than 88,000 customers spanning the Fortune 500, mid-market businesses, military, government agencies, and education institutions. SolarWinds was founded in 1998, presently has over 300 employees worldwide, and recorded over $93M in revenue in 2008.
Behind SolarWinds' products is an innovative development model that combines user input with the company's decade-long network management product development experience. This model is defined by two elements: downloadable software that is immediately ready to use, even in the evaluation stage; and a product development strategy that is influenced by a strong and active user community. Users can find information including tips from SolarWinds company experts as well as peer support and perspectives on all of SolarWinds' products at thwack, SolarWinds' online community of more than 30,000 members. By providing a community forum where users are heard, SolarWinds has democratized the process for frontline network managers to be deeply involved in shaping products, as well as having a voice in industry issues.
The SolarWind product line is all Windows-based, and includes: Orion which delivers comprehensive fault and network performance management, providing visibility into the health of network devices, servers, and applications; Orion Modules that extend Orion's monitoring capabilities to VoIP infrastructure, servers, wireless devices, and applications, and include NetFlow Traffic Analyzer, Wireless Network Monitor, Application Monitor, and IP SLA Manager, Orion Network Configuration Manager a network change and configuration management solution that automates device configuration management across multi-vendor network infrastructures; ipMonitor that delivers out-of-the-box, turnkey network monitoring for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB); LANsurveyor and LANsurveyor Express, which automatically discovers the LAN or WAN topology, and produces comprehensive, easy-to-view network diagrams; the Engineer's Toolset, a collection of 49 powerful desktop applications that provide network management, monitoring, and troubleshooting tools, and the Free Kiwi Tools, including the popular Kiwi Syslog Server and Kiwi CatTools, obtained through Solar Wind's acquisition of Kiwi Enterprises based in New Zealand. The Kiwi Tools are also offered as a paid version with more functionality.
The Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) delivers easy-to-use fault and network performance management. The product is built to manage networks of all sizes, yet can scale to support the rapid growth of an enterprise network and expand as network monitoring needs also increase. The product offers a number of network performance management capabilities: monitoring the real-time, in-depth network performance metrics for routers, switches, servers, and other SNMP-enabled devices; providing a highly intuitive, customizable Web interface with point-and-click simplicity that delivers "Top 10" views of a global network; enabling advanced alerting for correlated events, sustained conditions, and complex combinations of device states; and extending management capabilities to NetFlow traffic analysis and monitoring of VoIP performance, wireless devices, and applications (see Figure 1).
A complementary product, the Orion Enterprise Operations Console (EOC) provides a consolidated command center from which users can monitor the entire enterprise network. Through a single dashboard, engineers can track as few as a hundred to more than several hundred thousand network interfaces, consolidating information from remote Orion servers running Orion NPM and any of its modules. Orion Enterprise Operations Console's WAN-optimized architecture enables large scale network monitoring without impacting WAN performance.
The Orion Network Configuration Manager (NCM) provides network configuration and change management. Orion NCM can be used standalone or can be integrated with the Orion Network Performance Monitor to provide a unified, intuitive view into enterprise-wide network health that displays configuration health indicators alongside performance statistics. This solution provides for a number of configuration management functions that include: the ability to manage and centrally control network configuration changes across multi-vendor networks via a highly intuitive Web console; get a comprehensive view into network health that presents enterprise-wide configuration health indicators side-by-side with network performance data from Orion NPM; quickly troubleshoot network issues with immediate visibility into the cause-and-effect relationship between configuration management errors and network availability; receive real-time alerts when network configuration changes occur to protect against and quickly respond to unauthorized, unscheduled, or erroneous changes; detect configuration policy violations to ensure compliance with federal regulations and corporate standards; and schedule automated backups of all device configurations in complex network environments (see Figure 2).
All Solar Winds products are available via download and users have the opportunity to take advantage of free trials before they make a purchase. Further details on the Solar Winds network management solutions can be found at www.solarwinds.com.
The following corrections have been made to this article:
- SolarWinds is a publicly traded company as of its May, 2009 IPO.
- As of the company's latest earnings statement in October, 2009, it has more than 88,000 customers and its community site, thwack, has more than 30,000 members.
- The company replaced its VoIP Monitor module with the IP SLA Manager in September of 2009.
- The company's Kiwi Tools are also offered in a paid version that provides greater functionality.
We regret the errors.
Copyright Acknowledgement: Copyright 2009 DigiNet Corporation, All Rights Reserved
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.