Austin, Texas-based network management and managed services vendor SolarWinds Worldwide LLC has released version 12 of its Network Performance Monitor (NPM) solution, a major update equipped with new functionality for administering hybrid cloud environments and an expanded range of network devices.
The hybrid cloud management feature, named NetPath, visually maps complete network delivery paths for both cloud-based and on-premises systems, enabling technicians to identify the exact source of either onsite or offsite performance problems for the first time.
Recent SolarWinds market research suggests that’s a capability an overwhelming majority of managed service providers and IT professionals urgently require. While fully 87 percent of the organizations SolarWinds surveyed for its 2016 North American IT trend report have moved a portion of their on-premises infrastructure online, 60 percent say that at least some of their resources will never go into the cloud. That means technicians are likely to face hybrid cloud management challenges, including incomplete control over cloud-based solutions, for the foreseeable future.
“All of the sudden there’s a big part of the infrastructure and the services that they’re required to deliver that that they don’t own or that they don’t have any visibility into,” says Mav Turner, director of product strategy for SolarWinds.
The inevitable result, he adds, is finger-pointing and blame-dodging by external service providers when performance issues or outages occur. NetPath, however, graphically shows administrators exactly what’s causing a problem and who’s responsible for it.
“Now I can go ahead, call my service provider, [and] give them something actionable and specific versus just saying, kind of, ‘the internet is slow,'” Turner observes.
Integration with other SolarWinds network management systems enables NetPath to help administrators diagnose technical issues even more precisely. Drawing on input from SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager, for example, NetPath can highlight recent device configuration changes likely to have a part in performance bottlenecks.
“The idea is to leverage all of the other SolarWinds products that we have to give you more depth for the devices and infrastructure that you manage,” Turner says.
The other major new NPM feature is a network device monitoring system called Network Insight. While earlier NPM releases provided limited information about what Turner refers to as “modern network devices” like WAN accelerators and next-generation firewalls, Network Insight provides deeper, more complete data about them.
“The concept is to represent these modern network devices in ways that truly represent their function and their form in the network in a more natural way,” Turner says.
At present, that capability is limited to load balancing devices from Seattle, Wash.-based F5 Networks Inc., but SolarWinds plans to add support for more devices from more manufacturers at an unspecified point in the future.
“We wanted to start and do a really good job focused on one particular device that we knew was a problem for most of the market,” says Turner, who points to Citrix NetScaler as an example of the kind of product that forthcoming editions of Network Insight will monitor as well.
Both NetPath and Network Insight are standard features of NPM 12 available to all users at no extra charge. Other functionality enhancements in the new release include bi-directional integration with operations management tools from ServiceNow Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., and increased support for Cisco switches.
This is the second time SolarWinds has made IT headlines in as many weeks. Last Wednesday, the company revealed its acquisition of Dundee, Scotland-based managed service software vendor LOGICnow. Without providing specifics, Turner says SolarWinds plans to integrate future editions of NPM with RMM software from both LOGICnow and the company’s SolarWinds N-able platform.
“We’re actively looking at how we can leverage some of that technology and other existing SolarWinds technology to improve the product offerings and solve some of those pain points that the MSPs have,” he reports.