The latest IT Trends Report from SolarWinds says that while 87 percent of organizations have already migrated some of their infrastructure to the cloud, 60 percent do not transition all services offsite. Hybrid deployments, they reasoned, are clearly the most popular model for IT infrastructure. This served as the jumping off point for the latest version of their popular Network Performance Monitor (NPM).
Version 12 of the remote monitoring and management (RMM) software includes two new, first-to-market features that allow admins to utilize hybrid IT visual insights and analysis to gain greater visibility into performance across networks, both internal and those owned by their service providers and cloud vendor partners.
“Historically what NPM has done is create visibility on your internal infrastructure: your switches, routers, firewalls, wireless backup points – all the infrastructure needed to deliver applications and make sure that users are connected,” said Mav Turner, Director of Product Strategy at SolarWinds.
“What we’re doing with NPM 12, specifically with the Netpath feature, is moving that visibility from on-prem into the cloud. We’re providing a true hybrid IT management solution.”
SolarWinds said the addition of NetPath gives NPM 12 users the ability to visually map hybrid network paths with on-premises data, meaning users can locate the exact location of a performance issue, no matter where it lives.
Turner offered Microsoft Exchange as a practical example of the benefits of NetPath. Many SolarWinds customers use Exchange on-premises, so they own and manage the entire infrastructure required to troubleshoot any performance problems. But as more and more customers adopt Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based software suite, visibility into network issues drastically decreases.
“The reality that we have found—and what our customers have struggled with as they depend more on these services—is there’s a lot of uncertainty and lack of information,” Turner says. “It’s very opaque.” And just because Exchange is now hosted on an external cloud network doesn’t mean SolarWinds customers suddenly stop turning to corporate IT if there’s an issue. Administrators still have a responsibility to correct any problems, but they lack the visibility necessary to gain meaningful insights.”
Enter NetPath. The feature allows users to see the path across the Internet and any SaaS company’s infrastructure that customers are taking to connect to services. That means not only can NPM make network management across hybrid deployments more transparent, it also provides visibility into the data center and the infrastructure of cloud providers, giving actionable information to remediate any performance issues.
The second new feature, Network Insight, allows admins to monitor their load balancing environments so they can better understand network intelligence through visualization of load balancing environments and component details in a single console. It even provides a graphical display of relationships and component status.
“So if NetPath is about the breadth and seeing end-to-end what the network path looks like, Network Insight is about depth,” says Turner. “It really goes down into all the gory details of how the network devices function.”
Over the last several years, SolarWinds has noticed an influx of new devices that have different functions in the network and different ways they monitor network performance. “What we’ve done with Network Insight is create a framework that allows us to support these modern network devices and represent them in a way that’s true to their form and function in the network,” says Turner.
The first product SolarWinds is launching with NPM 12 is support for application delivery controllers and load balancers, with plans to add support for other types of devices like Next Gen Firewalls and WAN accelerators. The goal, says Turner, is to move beyond basic statistics to truly represent the form and function of these devices, whether they’re in a box, in a data center or virtualized devices running in Azure or AWS.
The features were a direct result of daily interviews with customers, Turner said, in which SolarWinds engineers had to dig deep to understand the root cause of customer frustrations. “They didn’t come to us and say they wanted NetPath, they just kept coming to us and saying ‘we’re having trouble with Salesforce and NetSuite.’ We have all these SaaS applications that their business depends on and they had no visibility for them.”
NPM 12 comes on the heels of SolarWinds’ announcement last week that it’s acquiring IT service management provider LOGICnow. While Turner expects future integration with LOGICnow services, there are no immediate plans. For now, SolarWinds is excited to be the ones to solve the problem of network visibility in hybrid deployments with these two new features.
“That’s something people are surprised to see from SolarWinds, but it’s the same way we’ve always functioned, which is to understand our customers really well and provide solutions for them versus trying to make up a solution and educate the market on them,” says Turner. “It’s really about solving problems customers have today and doing it in a very accessible way.”