Accurately comparing network management platforms is no easy task.
Enterprise-class network management solutions often take completely different technical approaches to monitoring the network. The network admin’s requirements are also broadening year over year as more and varied infrastructure is dropped on their plate, including virtualized infrastructure, storage, line-of-business application performance and uptime.
Many environments have multiple monitoring platforms running simultaneously that have grown out organically as a result of new infrastructure being added on a rolling basis. Keeping on top of reporting, alert response, blind spots and the like can be an all-consuming effort. Obviously, a ‘single window view’ of the entire monitored infrastructure, network (physical and software-defined), virtual, storage, and application, would go a long way to reducing complexity and increasing service levels across the environment.
In response to these challenges, network management vendors have been rapidly expanding their offerings to fill in the blanks in their platforms to ensure they’re covering the full breadth of customer requirements. Some vendors, like Solarwinds, have done this via acquisition and integration (buying companies that have the pieces they’re missing and blending the acquired systems into in-house platforms), while others, like SevOne, have tried to build as much as they can in-house and then partnered with or white-labeled other companies’ products to meet demands for an expanded feature set.
Additionally, some vendors have elected for an ‘all-in’ approach, endeavouring to manage all virtual, storage, application and network aspects of the environment via a single solution (even including a hardware appliance as in the case of SevOne) while others, like Solarwinds, have a more modular approach where they try to go deeper into each individual aspect of the environment with dedicated software-based products and then tie the modules back together for a single window view.
In this comparison, we try as best we can to compare two popular platforms (SevOne and Solarwinds Network Performance Monitor) to help you discern their strengths and weaknesses and determine which would be the best fit for your particular environment and budget. To begin with however, here’s an overview of some of each product’s strengths and differentiators…
Solarwinds Network Performance Monitor: Overview
Solarwinds Network Performance Monitor (hereafter referred to as NPM) 10.5, which was formerly branded “Orion”, is software-based running in a VM or a dedicated (customer-provided) Windows-based server. NPM covers the full gamut of common advanced network monitoring requirements with particular strengths in network mapping and topology reporting (due to integration of mapping tech from their Network Topology Mapper product (formerly LANsurveyor)), Microsoft System Center integration, wireless infrastructure monitoring support, and predefined report templates and reporting variables.
Its’ network-centric monitoring strengths notwithstanding, NPM 10.5 also includes basic virtual interface and device monitoring, and monitors application servers themselves via WMI and hardware monitoring. NPM 10.5 provides the ‘umbrella’ interface (or as Solarwinds puts it their “Single Pane of Glass”) for reporting pulled in from their other, more specialized monitoring and management products like Server & Application Monitor, Netflow Traffic Analyzer and Virtualization Manager.
Each of these additional, complimentary products offer advantages in their own right, specifically the depth of support for application KPIs monitored (in the case of Server & Application Monitor) and direct-talk capability their Virtualization Manager has with VMware vCenter, to mention just a couple of examples. Of course, with additional products to round out the feature set, you also have higher total licensing costs, so it becomes a bit of a depth of functionality vs. cost equation. (Starting cost estimates for the additional complimentary products to NPM are listed in the feature comparison below.)
SevOne 5.3: Overview
SevOne is a somewhat different animal. Their hardware appliance-based approach involves dropping in a single all-inclusive appliance into the datacenter to start, with additional scalability achieved by adding additional appliances as demand dictates (for instance customers can also deploy a virtual appliance that monitors up to 20,000 objects). Network-wide reporting is accomplished from any of the appliances in the group – or “Cluster,” as SevOne refers to it.
Rather than provide specialized standalone products for each of the major non-network specific monitoring aspects (virtualization, application, NetFlow, storage) SevOne monitors these aspects in the core platform. This has obvious cost advantages and reduces the amount of overall licensing and patching to stay on top of. Costs are further reduced without the need for server hardware (unless you’re running it in a VM) and a Windows Server license.
SevOne has also focused on adding some interesting features that differentiate their platform. Here’s a few notable examples:
One-click Metric-to-Flow: Because NetFlow is not a separate module in SevOne, the product features one click metric-to-flow reporting. For example, SNMP or IP SLA metrics that tell you when and where something occurred may be linked to NetFlow records to reveal the who and what in the troubleshooting process — all from the same dashboard, without having to tab to a different screen.
Synthetic Indicators and Custom Calculations: Synthetic Indicators perform simple math on multiple metrics collected from a single monitored object. For example, when polling interfaces, you may view in bytes and out bytes, but polling total bytes is not an option. To address this visibility gap, SevOne provides Synthetic Indicators that allow you to combine, report, and alert on the sum of those data sources to provide a real-time view of total bytes consumed for a particular link even though this value does not exist in the MIB of the target device.
You can also use Synthetic Indicators to monitor and compare ratios of items such as connections succeeded vs. connections failed or packets sent vs. errors received. For example, you can compare how many packets were transmitted in the past minute and how many errors were generated. If 5% of all packets pushed are resulting in error, you know there is an issue to address. In essence, Synthetic Indicators allow you to create new KPIs that do not currently exist on the device. In situations where you need to view summarized data across multiple objects or multiple synthetic indicators, SevOne provides a GUI interface that allows you to create Custom Calculations. Custom Calculations can also combine metrics from different data sources, such as WMI and SNMP. Custom Calculations help compare site response times, understand total application bandwidth, support usage-based billing, and assess the effectiveness of load balanced environments, among other things.
Data Retention: Likely due to the dedicated hardware appliance, SevOne is able to maintain a year of as-polled data, without the need to average or aggregate performance metrics over time (for example, some products only maintain detailed statistics for 7 days before they roll-up into less accurate hourly or daily averages). This offers a fairly high level of granularity in the available reporting.
So, overviews aside, how do each of the platforms compare based on our NetworkManagementSoftware.com evaluation criteria? Have a look…
Solarwinds Network Performance Monitor 10.5
|Software or Appliance Based?||Hardware Appliance-Based. The SevOne appliance acts as the poller, collector, database, and alerting/reporting engine. A virtual appliance that monitors up to 20,000 objects is also available.||Software-Based. Requires customer-provided, dedicated server hardware or virtual machine. Windows Server OS required.|
|Network Monitoring Capabilities|
|Initial Network Discovery||Yes. A quick start wizard guides the admin through initial setup and discovery. Admins can specify subnets to scan in addition to configuring SNMP community strings, e-mail servers, and users. Alerting starts immediately after discovery.||Yes. Automatic discovery all SNMP enabled devices on the network with via Solarwinds' 'Network Sonar Wizard' on first run, devices then continuously monitored unless otherwise configured.|
|Monitoring Abilities||SNMP, NetFlow, VM Monitoring, WMI, HTTP, JMX, IP Telephony (VoIP), Cisco CallManager, Medianet, DNS, Proxy Ping and ICMP, IP SLA, NBAR, IPFIX, Port Shaker, MySQL, NAM and others.|
See this for more detail on supported protocols and 3rd party integrations and compatibility.
In addition to the supported protocols and technologies listed above, SevOne can bring in any time-based third party data for baselining, alerting, and reporting eg., temperature data from inside and outside the data center or transactional data.
SevOne also has partnerships with organizations such as ExtraHop, Accedian, and Emulex (Endace) to support integrations with their platforms.
In addition, specialized adaptors (referred to as xStats) have been developed to pull metrics from vendor EMS’s such as Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Bridgewater and more when traditional SNMP polling is not an option.
|SNMP, ICMP, WMI polling. Purchase of Solarwinds Netflow Traffic Analyzer (Starting at $1795), enables monitoring of NetFlow, JFlow, sFlow, IPFIX, and NetStream.|
|Network Mapping + Graphical Maps?||Yes. SevOne provides status maps for viewing a snapshot of infrastructure health. Maps may represent a device, data center, geography, etc. with indicators on the map that reveal alerts and allow for drill-down into performance detail.||Yes. Geographic network topology mapping. Logical network views by floor, building, department, or geographic location and drill into more granular views. Multiple network maps can also be nested to provide drill-down capabilities. |
Solarwinds' 'Network Atlas' enables you to create your network map locally on a desktop PC and then export the map to Network Performance Monitor where it is immediately updated with the current status of the added nodes.
|Route Monitoring||Yes. SevOne gathers stats on major routing protocols, including route counts. Flow reporting can be enhanced with BGP AS names and MPLS VRF information.||Yes. Monitoring for large, complex network routes with support for major routing protocols (RIP v2, OSPF v2, BGP). View routing tables, changes in default routes, BGP transitions and flapping routes. View router topology via a web interface.|
|Wireless Polling||Yes. SevOne polls thick and thin wireless Access Points and reveals availability, number of connections, peak connections, average load, client names, signal strength, etc.||Yes. Monitoring for thick or autonomous access points that support the standard 802.11 MIB including Aruba®, Cisco®, and Meru Networks® wireless controllers and devices. |
Monitoring for thin access points and their corresponding client details including client names, signal strengths, IP addresses, MAC addresses, and an Rx/Tx summary.
|Auto Discovery of New Devices||Yes. For example, SevOne is able to auto-detect new VMs as they are spun up on a host.||Yes. Regular scans can be scheduled to automatically discover new devices that are added to the network.|
|Multicast Monitoring||Yes. Multicast traffic including active subscribers and groups can be observed through flow reporting. Summary stats can be gathered via SNMP.||Yes. Combines views of real-time multicast information alongside device information allowing for drill down to view route details of multicast nodes and monitor routers, switches and end-points that receive and forward multicast packets. |
Available views include multicast data only and allow for the creation of groups specifically for multicast nodes. SolarWinds NPM also provides a visual representation in the form of a network multicast topology map.
|Virtual Interface & Device Monitoring Support||Yes||Yes|
|Trend Prediction||Yes. Predictive determination of the next resource to reach max utilization and how much time may remain until upgrades will be required. In addition to general purpose reporting options -- such as TopN tables and alerts based on deviation from "normal" baseline performance of any KPI -- SevOne uses the following trend projection techniques:|
• Linear regression
• Polynomial regression
• Exponential regression
• Logarithmic regression
|Cisco UCS Support||Yes. SevOne also monitors the health of the primary and secondary fabric switches, the performance of the Fibre Channel ports and port channel interconnects, and per server CPU.||Yes. Monitoring for virtual interface cards, fabric interconnects, chassis and blade servers, and rack-mount servers.|
|Microsoft System Center Operations Manager Integration||No. Though SevOne does not have a specific SCOM integration, it can pull in any third party time-based data through our SOAP API for baselining, alerting, and reporting.||Yes. Free management pack enables integration with Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 and Microsoft System Center Essentials 2007. |
Pulled data includes network top talkers, comprehensive network traffic summaries and NetFlow analysis, and multi-vendor network device details, such as specific router throughput.
|Active Directory Integration||Yes||Yes|
|Additional Monitoring Support|
|Hardware Health Monitoring||Yes. SevOne hardware monitoring is vendor agnostic, providing metrics for CPU, memory, disk, interfaces, power supply, fans, temperature, and all other components.|
All metrics are automatically baselined on a rolling 10 week period, allowing for intelligent thresholds and alerting when performance deviates from expected behavior.
|Yes. Monitoring for device sensors including temperature, fan speed, and power supply with alerting if user-defined thresholds are crossed.|
|Application Monitoring||Yes. Synthetic IP SLA tests (which can be configured within the SevOne GUI) measure application response times, whether that application is on premise or hosted in the cloud. SevOne can collect additional application metrics from JMX and WMI (both supported out of the box) and monitors various databases, such as mySQL, Oracle, and DB2. |
For VoIP applications, SevOne includes out-of-the-box support for Cisco, Avaya, Asterix, and SIP compatible systems like Aastra, Polycom, Linksys, and others, and provides metrics for MOS, R-Value, jitter, latency, and packet loss with best and worst call reports.
In load balanced environments, SevOne also monitors the load balanced applications, including the load balancer itself, the ratio of session counts between the load balancer and the individual servers in the pool, storage access, etc.
Additionally, the SevOne APA (Application Performance Appliance) works off the span port to convert packet data into NetFlow records, which are fed into the SevOne PAS (Performance Appliance Solution) for troubleshooting and reporting.
|No. Requires separate purchase of SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor which connects into a common interface with Network Performance Monitor 10.5. Pricing starts at $2995 USD.|
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor provides more than 150 out-of-the-box application monitors including:
-Java™ application servers
-Database servers (including in-depth SQL Server® database monitoring)
-Processes, services & Windows® event logs
A complete list of what application metrics can be monitored via their Server & Application Monitor add-on is available here.
|Virtualization Monitoring||Yes. SevOne includes VMware support, allowing users to not only see VM performance metrics, but also how the VMs affect the physical host performance (for example, % of the host memory consumed by the VM).|
When a process issue is detected, the user is redirected to the NetFlow records for that VM to help identify who or what was "talking" at the time the issue occurred.
|No. Requires separate purchase of Solarwinds Virtualization Manager 6.0 which imports reporting data from Virtualization Manager into Network Performance Monitor. Pricing starts at $2995 USD|
|Storage Monitoring||Yes. SevOne monitors IOPS and queue depth, in addition to server metrics such as CPU and disk space.||No. Requires separate purchase of Solarwinds Storage Manager. Pricing starts at $2995 USD|
|VSAN Monitoring||Yes. In addition to monitoring Queue Depth and IOPS (comaprison of read/writes and how they change over time), SevOne provides health stats about the devices or anything else gathered via SNMP.||Yes. Real-time monitoring and historical VSAN health statistics including packets per second, response time, and packet loss.|
Out-of-the-box fibre channel monitoring details for connectivity units, sensor details and WWN’s for Cisco MDS, Brocade®, and McData® devices.
|Expandable Polling Engines||Yes. SevOne monitors up to 200,000 objects per appliance. Multiple appliances may be peered together in a SevOne Cluster(TM) to monitor millions of objects with no degradation to speed of the monitoring system or reporting.|
Each appliance features 300 multi-threaded pollers for fast, accurate performance with the high frequency object polling down to one second intervals, providing much more granular views for low-latency networks.
|Yes. Requires the separate purchase of Solarwinds Orion Scalability Engine to distribute polling across multiple servers. Most customers will be able to monitor about 10,000 elements per polling engine (main or additional) with standard polling intervals.|
|Available Addon Modules||All modules included out-of-the-box. There are additional appliances for specific needs, but no additional modules are required for performance management.|
Additional SevOne products include:
SevOne APA (Application Performance Appliance) - works off the span port to convert packet data into NetFlow records, which are fed into the SevOne PAS (Performance Appliance Solution) for troubleshooting and reporting.
SevOne DNC (Dedicated NetFlow Collector) - for organizations with heavy flow demands, the DNC feeds flow records into the PAS for reporting and analysis.
SevOne HSA (Hot Standby Appliance) - maintains a secure backup of performance history in the event of system disruption or failure.
|Additional polling engines, web server engine, failover engine, enterprise operations console for large, geographically diverse Solarwinds deployments.|
|User Customizable Dashboards||Yes. With SevOne, dashboards and reports are essentially the same (reports are PDF exports). User-customizable configuration of data sources, settings, time frames, visualizations, and summary information.||Yes. Users can build their own custom dashboards via drag-and-drop placement charts and reports.|
|User-Customizable reporting scenarios||Yes. SevOne allows for flexibility in building dashboards and reports, in addition to numerous pre-built TopN and flow reports. Up to 200 objects may be included in a single dashboard/report, with report compilation time typically a few seconds. |
Reports can include:
• Performance metrics such as SNMP, IP SLA, and JMX
• Third party data from network probes, proprietary business applications, and element management systems (EMS)
• Flow data, such as NetFlow, sFlow, jFlow, and IPFIX
• Status maps with physical and geographic layouts of your network
• Device configuration information
• Fault data from traps and threshold alarms
• TopN statistics used for capacity planning and monthly overviews
• Synthetic Indicators and Custom Calculations created by your business
There is no distinction drawn between aggregated statistical report visualization and fine-grained graphs – users can “zoom” in to see individual polled values or flow records with the Web UI. Reports access up to a year of as-polled data, vs. just averaged or aggregated data.
|Yes. Network Performance Monitor ships with numerous built-in reports, allowing for reporting on performance data over specific time periods or by network segment.|
Report variables include:
-Current Interface Status
-Current Node Status
-Current Volume Status
-Daily Node Availability
-Historical Cisco® Buffer Miss Reports
-Historical CPU and Memory Reports
-Historical Response Time Reports
-Historical Traffic Reports
-Historical VMware® Reports
-Historical Volume Usage Reports
|Notification Options||Notifications/alerts that display within the SevOne dashboard are also delivered via e-mail, SNMP traps, and via the SevOne mobile app, where they can be assigned for follow-up.||Email, Pages, Text-to-Speech, SNMP traps, SMS, External application launching, Scripts, Syslog messages.|
|Alerting Options||SevOne triggers alerts based on threshold violations, whether threshold levels are static or deviations from "normal" baseline performance. SevOne automatically baselines every metric it collects on a rolling 10 week cycle for every 15 minute period. If performance of an object deviates from historical norms at that given time and day (based on a # of standard deviations), SevOne triggers an alert.|
Both above and below thresholds are allowed. Allows intelligent thresholds/alerts on any time-based third party data that is brought into the system, not just the SevOne polled metrics.
|Topology and dependency-based alert suppression escalates alerts for issues that are truly critical. Define device dependencies to reduce unnecessary alerts and prevent floods of useless messages. |
Configure network alerts for correlated events (alert if X and Y are true) and sustained conditions (alert if Y is true for more than 5 minutes). Escalate network alerts automatically through a variety of alert delivery methods.
|Iphone/Smartphone Access||Yes. The SevOne mobile app runs on both the Apple iOS and Android platforms. It allows users to view real time status of the health of their network, drill down into the details behind alerts, and acknowledge, ignore, or assign alerts to others for resolution.||Mobile web view only.|
|Licensing & Pricing|
|Live Demo Environment Available for Eval?||SevOne makes an appliance available on a Proof of Concept basis for prospects. The free download is also available, though it may not be running the most recent version of SevOne, and it does not include NetFlow capability.||Yes. Demo environment available here.|
|Licensing Model||Price per object monitored. SevOne is priced based on the number of objects/elements monitored (includes hardware appliance).||SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is licensed by the largest number of the three following element types: |
-Interfaces: interfaces include switch ports, physical/virtual interfaces, VLANs
-Nodes: nodes include entire devices (routers, switches, servers, APs)
-Volumes: volumes are equal to the logical disks you monitor
The SolarWinds NPM SLX license entitles you to monitor an unlimited number of elements, but the throughput is rate-limited. (Pricing for unlimited SLX license is $25,775 USD)
|Free Version Available?||Yes. The free, self-hosted version of SevOne can monitor up to 1,000 objects at no cost, with no expiration date. NetFlow capability is not included in the free download version.||No. Full 30-day trial download available here.|
|Pricing (Per 1000 Nodes/Elements)||$5,000 USD||$7837 USD|