SolarWinds© NPM© & NCM© vs indeni: Simple management vs actionable, automated root cause analysis

SolarWinds Network Performance Manager (NPM) and Network Configuration Manager (NCM) used to be two powerful tools when they were invented in 1998. Many times we find ourselves looking towards SolarWinds and thinking “Wow, they’ve built something amazing. But, is it still meeting engineers’ needs today?”.

With a big portion of our customers being SolarWinds customers as well (present or past), we get asked a lot “How do you compare to SolarWinds?”. The short answer is: SolarWinds is simple and wide, gives you a 30,000 foot view of your entire environment and simplifies it. indeni, in contrast, dives deep into the devices in your environment to understand where issues lurk and what can become an unpleasant surprise.

indeni provides the true proactivity you are lacking.

Now, for the longer answer. Before we jump in, it’s important you know that in the process of preparing this document, we’ve used SolarWinds’ demo environment (http://oriondemo.solarwinds.com/) and indeni’s demo environment (https://demo.indeni.com). To make life easier, screenshots are included, too.

Let’s start with SolarWinds. It’s attractive and highly customizable, relies mostly on SNMP GET+traps. You can view your devices by vendor, across a map, by groups of devices and any other way you could imagine. Issues are made visible and evident mostly by using the red and orange colors, as well as sending emails to NOC mailboxes.

In the screenshot to the right note that we’ve highlighted the F5© devices. In this document we wanted to use specific examples for certain devices. Usually people pick Cisco, but we believe that the networking world is more than just Cisco. So F5 it is.

If we zoom into the F5 devices, we get a nice view that lists everything that can possibly be pulled out of an F5© BIG-IP© device via SNMP. Connection and traffic stats, device model, uptime, etc. etc. Very informative.

The amount of data SolarWinds NPM provides you with is pretty significant. In addition, it lays it out in a way that makes it accessible when needed, and that’s a very strong element of SolarWinds NPM. Compared to its predecessors – IBM Tivoli, HP OpenView and CA Spectrum – it was a refreshing approach.

What SolarWinds NPM is lacking, and we’ll soon show indeni has, is an ability to tell you what your problems really are. Better yet, what problems you’re about to have. Will your upgrade fail because of deprecated configurations? Will your HA setup operate correctly during a fail over? What is the cause for health monitor failures for certain pool members? All this isn’t shown by SolarWinds NPM as it’s not easily accessible via SNMP and requires a lot of expertise to gather and interpret.

Expertise is what indeni is all about.

indeni’s main job is to provide clear, actionable information and instructions.  Below are a few examples of alerts for F5. Go ahead, click on the screenshots.

See the level of information you’re given? Try getting that out of NPM.

So, to summarize, NPM was nothing short of amazing for its time. Now, you can go ahead and take the next step – set up indeni within 45 minutes.