TL; DR: For nearly two decades, SolarWinds has operated with a mission to deliver purpose-built solutions to answer an array of real-world IT challenges. The company’s management platform offers a toolbox chock-full of components, such as performance monitors, security products, and configs, that all work together holistically to break down silos and grant full visibility into IT infrastructure from on-premises to the cloud. SolarWinds aims to make the jobs of IT professionals easier, and, with deep connections to the IT community and powerful solutions to ensure the health of digital environments, that’s exactly what it’s doing.
United Family Healthcare (UFH) is a large international organization providing cutting-edge care to patients throughout China. UFH houses its main datacenter in Beijing where it centrally manages the networks and data of its satellite offices in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuxi, Tianjin, and Mongolia.
While each of UFH’s branches had their own backup systems, the company’s growth was making it clear a more effective method to monitor its nodes needed to be implemented. Worries over potentially devastating network outages motivated UFH to seek a more stable infrastructure.
Kevin Liu, Manager of Networking and Networking Security at UFH, found the lack of visibility into the company’s networking products’ status troubling. According to Kevin, some problems, such as link overloads, could only be detected once it was too late to solve them. Enter SolarWinds.
“With the SolarWinds networking module, we are able to identify a problem and solve it immediately,” Kevin said. “The biggest benefit we’ve seen with SolarWinds is that the network that used to seem dark and invisible to us has become transparent.”
Using three modules from SolarWinds — Network Performance Monitor (NPM), Network Configuration Manager (NCM), and NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA) — UFH can now monitor network traffic and the status of ports.
“You want to be able to sit there and know exactly where a problem is,” said Destiny Bertucci, Head Geek at SolarWinds. “We allow you to be able to do something about it instead of finding out you have a problem later on.”
It’s this sort of holistic approach that has attracted more than 250,000 customers around the world to the solutions SolarWinds has built. The company’s IT management platform was developed with the singular aim of making the jobs of IT professionals easier. And, by removing obstacles into complete network visibility, SolarWinds is realizing that goal.
GeekBuilt™ Products Made With Deep Connections to the IT Community
Destiny told us SolarWinds was born from Founder Dave Yonce’s own networking frustrations, which is why the company’s solutions are being embraced across the IT community. Dave understood their plight.
“SolarWinds was founded on an actual infrastructure by a strategic architect,” Destiny said. “So users are definitely not an afterthought.”
After addressing his own infrastructure’s pain points, Dave focused his business efforts on helping others overcome their own.
Today, the SolarWinds team actively works together with users to build and improve existing IT solutions. Because of the nature of the company’s business model and mission, the team has grown to include a community of sympathetic users with a deep understanding of just how to solve common pain points. Some have helped by simply testing products, and others have even become Product Managers at SolarWinds.
“We’ve always had users who were willing and waiting to get involved,” Destiny said.
With such high enthusiasm for teamwork, the IT community feels right at home with SolarWinds — so much so that SolarWinds declares itself to be “GeekBuilt.”
“In IT, you get talked at or told to buy things,” Destiny said. “But, when they see the product and know how it’s used, they feel like they’re part of the project.”
Breaking Down Silos for a Holistic Approach to Network Management
With its wide range of products, SolarWinds gives IT managers a holistic view of system management and security. The company’s packaged tools, when used together, provide the greatest possible insight into network health.
“We wanted a package that’s actually going to be useful throughout the whole company, not just for one network guy,” Destiny said. “We want to be able to break down those silos of servers, networks, VMs, clouds, and databases and integrate them together so they can get the full environment package.”
Armed with comprehensive insight into the network’s status, managers and admins can make the best possible decisions for maintaining security and meeting compliance policies. SolarWinds tools make insight possible across multiple tiers within the enterprise.
“With NetFlow, information can be presented easily,“ Destiny said, “all the way from high-level management down to the IT guys in the trenches.”
As with UFH, companies are able to solve transparency issues with the help of the 3 Ns — Network Performance Monitor, Network Configuration Manager, and NetFlow Traffic Analyzer. NPM monitors network performance issues such as switch and router ports going down and provides metrics on device dependencies and hardware health, sending SMS alerts when problems are detected.
NCM works together with NPM to identify causes of performance loss and integrate corrective configuration changes. Devices can be configured and audited to comply with network policy regardless of vendor. NTA monitors and analyzes traffic patterns and bandwidth according to user, protocol, and IP address. NTA also seamlessly integrates with NCM and NPM — providing cohesion and a logical progression between configuration and fault and performance analysis.
Instant Visualization Into Resources & Security Maximizes Performance
Visualization is also important in quickly assessing problems and understanding data-driven risk assessment. One of the most crucial pain points experienced by today’s businesses is security.
“With Network Configuration Manager, it actually checks the national CDE databases for common vulnerabilities and allows you to instantly project that onto your infrastructure,” Destiny said.
In conjunction with NCM, Network Performance Monitor has the ability to visualize stack switches for an entire building, rendering load imbalances obvious, without the need to test the switches and gather numerical data manually.
Enterprises also rely on SolarWinds for smart resource management and application monitoring.
“On NetPath, for the cloud, you’re able to monitor those applications to make sure they’re up and ready to go,” Destiny said.
Sitting inside the Network Performance Monitor, NetPath uses visual traceroutes to reveal whether a problem, such as a spike in latency, has originated on the server side or the client side. Critical network paths can be seen in their entirety, including devices, applications, and vendors.
PerfStack allows admins to see how the setup affects resource distribution. By visualizing resources, traceroutes, network paths, and infrastructure, SolarWinds helps take the guesswork out of network management — data can be seen without the need to take the time to personally examine equipment and read the data first. And SolarWinds is currently pushing for an even greater visualization approach.
“I would say that the major thing with SolarWinds right now is that we are looking ahead to that quicker identification and insight,” Destiny said.
The Soul of SolarWinds — Making Jobs Easier for IT Pros
Using NPM and other SolarWind tools has greatly benefitted thousands of organizations, like UFH, by pointing out previously unforeseen vulnerabilities, therefore making the jobs of IT professionals easier.
“If you don’t have a baseline like Network Performance Monitor, you don’t know all the anomalies. You can’t tell what your ‘normal’ is,” Destiny said.
For those who find themselves stuck in a pain point but aren’t in a position to purchase a complete solution, Destiny told us SolarWinds provides free tools as well. Once those users are ready to make a purchase, they can source paid products from SolarWinds with expanded and enhanced features.
“We’re putting these things out there to solve problems,” Destiny said. “We want to be able to provide you with a solution, even if we’re not directly profiting from it.”
SolarWinds, at its heart, is an IT management company built by and for IT professionals. From its beginnings as an IT solution created by Dave Yonce for his own networking issues, SolarWinds has always been deeply involved in the IT community. It was created to address the myriad of frustrations experienced by IT managers stuck with subpar tools with steep learning curves, steep prices, and sometimes ultimately insufficient means to address their real-world IT challenges.
SolarWinds tools are built from the ground up and born from user need. The company provides IT solutions crafted by IT engineers that are made for and tested by IT pros. They’re solutions that are truly GeekBuilt.
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