SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is a product that many consider being the best network monitoring product on the market. However, this doesn’t mean that it is the best at everything. Each tool has its specialty and there are many tools that challenge SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor in a number of key areas. In this article, we’re going to compare SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, SevOne, NetBrain, Splunk, Auvik and Extrahop to see which is best.
SolarWinds vs Atera
Feature Comparison Table:
Technician activity logging
Starts at $2,892 (£2,245)
Starts at $79 per month (£61.24)
Atera is a little different from the other SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor alternatives on this list because it is a support package for managed service providers (MSPs). The platform is a cloud-based service and it includes remote monitoring and management (RMM) functions and professional services automation (PSA) modules. RMM is the software that a technician needs in order to service the client’s network and PSA features assist in the monitoring of the MSP’s own team of technicians.
As a complete remote system monitoring package, Atera is able to monitor servers and applications as well as networks. It includes system management functions, such as patch management and software license management. As such, Atera has much more functionality than the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor. For the sake of this comparison, we will focus just on the network monitoring functions of the Atera RMM service.
The underlying technology that drives the network monitoring functions of both the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor and Atera is exactly the same. Both use Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) processes. The SNMP method provides network discovery, live network equipment statuses, and performance alerts.
The main configuration difference between SolarWinds NPM and Atera is that SolarWinds installs on-site but Atera is an online service. There is no need to maintain servers to host the Atera software. As such, Atera is more suitable for small MSPs because the full functionality of a network monitoring suite is available to those companies with small budgets. The Atera service is charged for by subscription on a per technician basis, so companies that use Atera don’t have to pay the full cost of acquiring the software upfront. Customers of Atera can choose to pay monthly or annually. Paying by the year gets a lower rate. However, the service is charged for in advance, so there are budgeting advantages to opting for the monthly payment plan.
Feature Comparison: Alerts
System alerts are vitally important in any network monitor and both SolarWinds NPM and Atera employ the same methodology for highlighting status problems: the SNMP trap. In both systems, the central monitor software makes periodic requests to device agents for reports on the various statuses of the monitored equipment.
The SNMP trap enables the device agent to send a status report without waiting for a request. Both SolarWinds and Atera recognize the importance of these trap messages and display them prominently as interpreted alerts in the dashboard. In both cases, the alert can be forwarded on to a nominated technician via email. This feature means that you don’t need to allocate a member of staff to sit and watch the network monitoring dashboard in order to catch an alert as soon as it arises. Alerts are categorized by severity and shown in the system dashboard as color-coded events.
The alert events also feed through to system monitoring visualizations, which include graphs and color-coded charts. Both of these systems simplify network administration by logging all statuses and making performance data available for later analysis as well as grabbing the attention of administrators as soon as things start to go wrong.
You can get a free 30-day trial of Atera software.
SolarWinds vs SevOne
Feature Comparison Table:
|Feature||SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor||SevOne|
|Network Discovery||Yes (autodiscovery)||Yes (specify subnets to scan)|
|Network Monitoring||SNMP, ICMP, WMI. You can purchase SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer to use NetFlow, jFlow, sFlow, IPFIX and NetStream||SNMP, NetFlow, virtual machine monitoring,|
WMI, HTTP, JMX, IP Telephony, Cisco CallManager, Medianet, DNS, Proxy Ping, ICMP, IP SLA, NBAR, IPFIX, Port Shaker, MySQL, NAM and others
|Syslog||Yes||Yes (requires SevOne Performance Log Appliance)|
|Virtual Interface and device monitoring report||Yes||Yes|
|Pricing||Starts at $2,892 (£2,245)||Contact the sales team|
SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor and SevOne are two of the most well-known network monitoring tools in circulation right now. As the needs of network administrators have evolved at an exponential rate, these two products have been adapting as well. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is a Windows-based network monitoring solution that can also be run as a virtual machine and offers a monitoring environment that is structured through the dashboard.
Devices are mapped through the use of network autodiscovery tool and can then be viewed in a variety of visual displays. Visual displays available in SolarWinds Network Monitor include network topology maps to charts and graphs. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor provides you with an intensely-visual experience with which to monitor. This allows the user to easily see what is going on from a top-down perspective.
SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor’s monitoring ability is underpinned by the use of SNMP, ICMP, and WMI. However, if you want to make use of flow monitoring, you will need to purchase a copy of SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer. SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer which costs $1,795 (£1,400) and will allow you to conduct NetFlow, jFlow, sFlow, IPFIX and NetStream.
In comparison, SevOne offers a different approach towards network monitoring to SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor. SevOne is deployed as hardware directly to the datacenter which helps to support the potential for upscaling further down the line. The features of SevOne aren’t segregated by modules like they are in SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor either. For instance, if you want to access NetFlow monitoring you’ll find it’s part of the dashboard and you won’t have to click to another tab.
With SevOne you can monitor SNMP, NetFlow, ICMP, IPFIX, and more. The biggest advantage that SevOne enjoys over SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is that it offers support for NetFlow. NetFlow is essential for conducting bandwidth analysis and while you can purchase SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer, the lack of this feature makes it a missed opportunity for SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor.
Key Feature Comparison: Alerts
One of the most important areas to look at when considering a new network monitoring tool is alerts. Having the right alerts system helps to keep you in the loop even when you’re not glued to your device. Alerts are an area where both SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor and SevOne perform very well. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor has an alerts system that lets you know when devices are close to failure (or when they have failed).
This ensures that you are only notified when devices are in serious jeopardy and cuts down the amount of irrelevant notification messages that are a problem with some other network monitoring platforms. You can also customize your experience by configuring network alerts to be triggered by specific criteria. Likewise, there is also the potential to set trigger conditions so that an alert is activated once something specific happens.
Alerts are then sent by email and SMS so that can be acted on. The ability to customize your alerts in this way is extremely handy, and this is something that SevOne does very well. SevOne operates a threshold-based alerts system that notifies the user when pre-configured alerts thresholds are violated. You can view alerts via an email, the dashboard or through the SevOne mobile app.
Having custom alert triggers ensures you keep in touch with what is going on and don’t overlook anything that could cause you unexpected downtime. Based on the usability and simplicity it has to be said that SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor has the better alerts system. It is easier to use and provides a monitoring experience that allows you to take a step back thus preventing endless notifications.
SolarWinds vs NetBrain
|Feature||SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor||NetBrain|
|Network Discovery||Yes (SNMP autodiscovery)||Yes (CLI data autodiscovery)|
|NetFlow||No (needs SolarWinds NetFlow Analyzer)||Yes|
|Network Topology Map||Yes||Yes|
|Mobile App||No||Yes (Qapp)|
|Pricing||Starts at $2,892 (£2,245)||Contact the sales team|
While NetBrain isn’t as well-known as SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, it is still one of the most highly-functioning network monitoring products on the market. One of the features that makes NetBrain stand out is its network discovery. NetBrain has its own autodiscovery feature but instead of doing the SNMP polling that SolarWinds is well-known for, NetBrain builds a mathematical model from live data and collects CLI data from connected devices.
The main advantage this method of autodiscovery has over SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor’s SNMP polling is that it can collect data from all devices. In contrast, SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor can only poll SNMP-enabled devices. In this sense, NetBrain provides you with more visibility because it allows you to view all of those devices.
NetBrain also has compelling visualization. You can use NetBrain to create on-demand network topology maps to see how your network is working from a topological perspective. These are built from live data to ensure that everything you view is completely correct. In the event that your network changes, the NetBrain platform will update your network topology map so that you do not need to update it manually.
SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor has a similar setup in that you can also create network topology maps with the NetPath critical visualization. This feature allows you to view your network from a hop-to-hop perspective. While this is similar to NetBrain’s it has a much higher production value that makes the monitoring experience more satisfying on the whole.
Feature Comparison: Alerts
NetBrain also offers an alerting experience in line with SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor’s. With NetBrain you can not only receive alerts, but also configure a ticketing system that automatically triggers NetBrain analysis once an alert has been raised. This helps the user to run informed troubleshooting and helps to pinpoint the cause of the problem. On NetBrain the user is provided with a Dynamic Network Map displaying the area in question
You can also configure escalation through the use of APIs. This ensures that you don’t need to email log files in order to receive a prompt response. In threat response this is instrumental in helping you to respond before any damage takes hold. In terms of automation, NetBrain has a distinct edge over SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor.
SolarWinds vs Splunk
|Feature||SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor||Splunk|
|Real time Network Monitoring||Yes||Yes|
|Add-Ons||No||Yes (over 1000)|
|Automation||No||Yes (automate log search and analysis)|
|Pricing||Starts at $2,892 (£2,245)||Starts at $75 per month for Splunk light (up to five users) and $150 per month for Splunk Enterprise|
Splunk is one of the biggest SolarWinds alternatives on this list. Splunk is a highly-regarded provider of network monitoring solutions. With Splunk, you can monitor your network in real time. Splunk uses machine data from your connected devices to measure how well your environment is performing. You can even use Splunk’s Search Processing Language (SPL) to search through this data in real time.
However, what makes Splunk a particularly interesting network monitoring tool is its automatic detection capabilities. For instance, it can detect abnormal data patterns across your network. You can even recognize the patterns of common cyber attacks that could damage your network. Splunk’s automatic detection abilities help to identify security and performance concerns that could cause you significant problems further down the line.
In terms of visual design, Splunk is very similar to SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor. There are graphs and charts to help you see what is going on, as well as a clear dashboard design. Though these two bear a resemblance, SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor’s simple layout and the rapid flow from dashboard to individual views makes for a much smoother user experience.
Feature Comparison: Alerts
As one of the best network monitoring tools on this list, it is no surprise that Splunk also has its own alerting capabilities. You can create real time alerts to notify you of events as they happen. You can also schedule alerts if you want to keep the impact on your computer as minimal as possible. This allows you to minimize the effects on your performance as you keep up-to-date with changes on your network.
You can also create alert conditions to specify when you want to be notified. The advantage of doing this is that you can set up the behavior that you want to monitor for. The end result is a monitoring environment where you only need to step in if the system monitors you that something problematic has happened.
The one limitation of Splunk that stands out is that the alerts system feels one dimensional when compared to the approach of SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor and the other tools on this list. The simplicity offered by SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor’s alerts system is one of the things that makes it standout from the crowd.
SolarWinds vs Auvik
|Feature||SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor||Auvik|
|Real time monitoring||Yes||Yes|
|IPAM||No (needs SolarWinds IP Address Manager)||Yes|
|Operating System||Windows, web-based||Windows, Mac, Web|
|Pricing||Starts at $2,892 (£2,245)||$30-40 (£23-31) per month for unlimited users|
There are few network monitoring tools as well-designed as Auvik. Auvik has one of the most fresh-faced network monitoring experiences on the market that meshed well with its wide-ranging support for integration with other platforms. Auvik can integrate with other well-known platforms such as ConnectWise Automate and Continuum to provide complete network management.
Auvik is a high-performance network monitor in many ways, but nowhere is this more clearly displayed than in its real time network inventory and mapping features. It can register when new devices are connected to your device and add them to a topology map for further analysis. On the topology map, you can click on individual devices to view more information. For instance, you can click on a PC to view its device bandwidth.
The compelling user experience doesn’t stop there either. Auvik also offers the user automated device configuration backups and restorations. This means that you’re not at risk of losing everything in the event that a device goes down. This adds a level of security that rivals the limited approach to security that can be seen by SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor.
Extra Features: IPAM and Password Management
The features that really makes Auvik standout from SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor are its IPAM and its password management. With IPAM, Auvik enables the user to view which devices are using which subnets on your network. This is great because it allows you to see which IP’s have been defined to what. There is no equivalent function on SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, and SolarWinds users have to purchase SolarWinds IP Address Manager in order to make use of this feature.
Auvik’s password manager is another area where Auvik really stands out as well. Auvik allows you to encrypt and store passwords within your monitoring environment so they are always within reach. In effect, you only need to remember one password to monitor your entire network (your Auvik password). Again there is no such feature on SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor which helps Auvik to really stand out.
SolarWinds vs Extrahop
|Feature||SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor||ExtraHop|
|Automation||No||Yes (and integrated with Phantom, Amazon Web Services, Servicenow, Splunk)|
|Pricing||Starts at $2,892 (£2,245)||Starts at $14,500 (£11,302)|
Extrahop is a network monitoring provider which has its sights firmly fixed on threat prevention. Extrahop offers a cutting-edge network monitoring experience that aids the user to cut out the unnecessary data and see the crucial information about what is going on. The dashboard is the heart and soul of where you conduct your monitoring activity with Extrahop.
However, Extrahop’s approach to network monitoring is very different to the modus operandi of most providers. ExtraHop is much more focused on data analytics. That being said, you can still view your past usage data in a variety of time windows whether you want to check daily events or a week’s worth.
The machine learning system operated by Extrahop is called ExtraHop Addy. ExtraHop Addy is a cloud-based machine learning service for wire data. In a nutshell this product scans for patterns in your usage data to help detect abnormalities and performance issues. The biggest perk of this setup is that it reduces the amount of manual troubleshooting the user needs to do to resolve network faults.
Extrahop also has the ability to autodiscover devices throughout the network. This means that if a new device is connected it is added to your monitoring environment. Once it’s connected there is support for over 50 protocols and almost all TCP, and UDP systems. It is also high performance in the sense that it can run up to 100 Gbps of traffic.
While Extrahop offers a compelling package in terms of machine learning, its traditional network monitoring abilities are not as complete as SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor. Though SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor doesn’t have the machine learning ability of Extrahop, it makes up for this by providing a tried and tested network monitoring formula that has maintained countless organizations over the years.
King of the Hill: SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor
All in all, SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor performs well consistently across the board. While tools like Extrahop offer better features in terms of machine learning, SolarWinds Network Monitoring offers the most complete classic network monitoring experience on the market.
It is fair to say that tools like SevOne have the advantage when it comes to NetFlow analysis, and the lack of a NetFlow analysis ability on SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is a considerable limitation (particularly given that you have to pay extra for this program!). Yet SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor remains one of the most appealing network monitoring platforms based on how it puts its network monitoring experience together.
If you’re looking for a network monitoring platform that’s easy to set up, with autodiscovery, topology maps, alerts, and reports, then SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is as good as it gets. Whether you’re in an SME or a multinational organization this product has the bandwidth to be able to cope with your usage requirements.