Kevin Thompson, CEO
"Seeing is believing in the world of network management,” says Kevin Thompson, CEO of SolarWinds [NYSE: SWI]. As a veteran in the networking domain, Thompson understands the criticality of monitoring all the network devices—switches, routers, and other core devices—in order to maintain the operational efficiency of the network. These network management abilities fall into different use cases, such as network configuration, deployment, monitoring, and troubleshooting. “Without robust visibility, outages end up costing an organization way more money than they are already investing in their daily IT operations,” Thompson adds. Gartner estimates that the cost of downtime can be as high as $42,000 per hour. Understandably, a network engineer’s top concern is to have a robust and unified network management solution that can help avoid such costly downtime and brand embarrassment. With almost two decades of thriving presence and a matchless ‘try and buy’ model, SolarWinds has become the prime choice for most network professionals to respond to these needs. “If there is a piece of network, anywhere in the world where performance monitoring matters, it’s entirely doable for SolarWinds to provide an outstanding technology to manage it,” states Thompson.
SolarWinds was incepted by a sharp mind, Donald Yonce, who was then working as a network engineer for Walmart. Yonce believed that the network monitoring tools handed over to him were not good enough and hence set out to build better ones. The Walmart engineer wrote a tool at home and uploaded it online, making it freely available to download and try for 30 days. To his amazement, the application took off and started to sell, and not just that, it eventually brought in enough revenue that he could build his own IT management software company—SolarWinds. Since the very inception of the company, SolarWinds’ mission has been to provide purpose-built products that are designed to make jobs easier for IT professionals.
SolarWinds’ Network Performance Monitor (NPM) is a comprehensive network monitoring product, delivering real-time information and analysis for routers, servers, and switches to reduce network outages.
We developed NPM v12.3 to sweep aside the uncertainties of the cloud and let firms monitor every node, path, and network
NPM is designed to be a one-stop solution for both performance monitoring and fault analysis. It has a reporting feature that enables the creation and scheduling of custom automated reports. NPM’s intelligent alerts feature allows users to create a myriad of network alerts, testing for multiple conditions if desired. Alerts can be configured with different combinations of events and times, and sent to recipients through multiple channels. Alongside customizable alerts, NPM is composed of ‘hundreds’ of preloaded alerts in its system. NPM imbibes the capability to accelerate network performance troubleshooting of on-premise, hybrid, and cloud applications and services with critical path hop-by-hop analysis. It is a brave new networking world out there with a mishmash of public and private connections. Most engineers opine that adoption of cloud technologies is vital for organizations’ long-term success but at the same time, it is implausible for organizations to completely migrate their infrastructure to the cloud. This creates a hybrid IT environment and managing it completely is a hard row to hoe. “That’s why we developed NPM v12.3 to sweep aside the uncertainties of the cloud and let firms monitor every node, path, and network,” states Thompson. The updated SolarWinds network management portfolio features three breakthroughs: bolstering monitoring capacity, enabling faster and clearer visualization of network performance, and introducing Network Insight for Cisco Nexus. All these additions are designed to further improve visualization and speed troubleshooting across the complex and distributed networks at the foundation of today’s hybrid IT environments. Other new features include innovations such as NetPath, which provides a “hop-by-hop” analysis of network performance across hybrid IT landscapes and into the public cloud.
Taming Enterprise Networks
“What I enjoy is, putting the pieces of the puzzle together and creating a picture,” says Thompson. “And running a business is nothing less than solving a puzzle.” A large U.S.-based healthcare organization with more than 6,000 servers and approximately 10,000 network devices spread across two data centers, 60 warehouses, and over 500 locations within the U.S., China, Pacific Rim, Canada, and Mexico had invested millions of dollars on IBM Tivoli to meet their monitoring and coverage needs.
“But it still did not,” expresses the manager of enterprise monitoring, of the healthcare organization. Tivoli was very difficult to manage due to its architecture and limited capabilities. All hopes dashed with the existing solutions; the healthcare organization started looking for a foolproof solution that could reduce their overall IT management costs while, improving coverage. To bring in a new monitoring solution and replace the entire suite, the team approached SolarWinds. Piloted by a full-throttled captain, Thompson, the SolarWinds’ team successfully replaced the Tivoli implementation with a single instance each of Network Performance Monitor and Server and Application Monitor along with six polling engines. The healthcare organization also expanded the scope of SolarWinds’ monitoring to include international locations and increased the device coverage. In less than 20 percent of the annual maintenance cost of Tivoli, SolarWinds significantly expanded the organization’s coverage to devices and monitoring capabilities.
Driving Businesses Forward
Organizations of all sizes seeking an efficient network monitoring solution ride on SolarWinds’ coattails to eliminate the complexity that they have been forced to accept from traditional enterprise software vendors. “We compete with a bunch of very small vendors and the world’s largest vendors. We believe we have an advantage over all of them. Against the bigger vendors, we think our products are just better and much less expensive; typically 70-80 percent less. With the smaller vendors, we’re typically on par with their pricing, but we have much more technology, we scale much more effectively,” states Thompson. The company’s commitment to addressing the network analysis needs are met through products that are easy to buy, use, and maintain, while providing the power to tackle any IT management problem on any scale.
By developing powerful solutions that address real-world problems out of the box with no professional services required, SolarWinds provides accessible and immediate value to help IT professionals reach their most-pressing network infrastructure health and performance goals that drive the business forward. “It’s a very different strategy than most software companies have because we are not trying to sell firms a solution. We’re trying to sell an individual set of tools that solve very specific problems that have IT professionals’ hair on fire right now, and at the same time, make it very easy for them to connect those individual products and solve larger connected problems when and if needed,” concludes Thompson.