Solarwinds Server and Application Monitor

The SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor (SAM) is a standalone system administration utility, that can be integrated with other SolarWinds admin systems. The company has created a platform, called Orion, which enables many of its system monitoring facilities to work together.

The Server and Application Monitor keeps track of the physical status of your servers and watches the network traffic generated by the applications running on them. The “applications” referred to by the title of this tool refers to critical network applications, such as DHCP, Active Directory, and DNS functions, rather than any software running on your servers.

This is a comprehensive monitoring environment suitable for enterprises of all sizes. However, the extensive WAN activity monitoring capabilities of this system make it particularly useful to large businesses with complicated, distributed IT operations.

MORE INFORMATION ON THE OFFICIAL SOLARWINDS SITE:

www.solarwinds.com/server-application-monitor/

SolarWinds Server & Application MonitorDownload FREE 30-Day Trial at SolarWinds.com

How much does it cost?

The Server and Application Monitor comes in six tiers of pricing. All versions of the package consist of all of the same functions. The prices rise in step with the capacity of the servers managed by the system.

SolarWinds calculates the different price points for the Server and Application Monitor by a factor called “monitors.” A monitor meets one of the following three criteria:

  • Component Monitor — a server measurement, such as a performance counter, a process, a URL, a service, or a script
  • Node — A device connected to the network, such as a server, a power supply, a virtual machine, an ESX host, or a printer
  • Volume — a logical disk

The available plans are:

PlanMax number of elementsSupport and maintenancePrice
SAM AL150  1501 year$2,955
SAM AL3003001 year$5,895
SAM AL7007001 year$10,915
SAM AL11001,1001 year$16,845
SAM AL15001,5001 year$22,885
SAM ALXNo limit1 year$38,620

You can get a better idea of how many monitors you need to subscribe to if you check out the online demo of the monitor. You can also get a 30-day free trial of the SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor, and you can measure the number of monitors required to implement the tool on your system.

A purchase gives you the right to use the SolarWinds SAM software forever, but you only get support and maintenance for the first year. After that, you need to pay for support annually. If you opt not to continue paying for support, community pages on the SolarWinds website offer help from other users. Often, new versions and patches are produced by software houses in order to close off recently discovered security weaknesses, so it is always important to keep all of your corporate software up to date.

What are the Server and Application Monitor Features?

1. Hardware compatibility

You can only install the Server and Application Monitor on a computer running the Windows operating system. However, the servers that system can monitor extend to many different vendors and operating systems. The hardware that the system can monitor extends to support services, such as racks, power supplies, and temperature control systems. The main supported server hardware lines include:

  • IBM eServer xSeries servers
  • Dell PowerEdge servers
  • Dell PowerEdge Blade racks
  • HP ProLiant servers
  • HP BladeSystem enclosures
  • VMware vSphere hypervisor

The physical aspects of your servers that SolarWinds SAM will keep an eye on included hard drive capacity and usage, CPU usage, and array, fan, and power supply status.

2. Operating system compatibility

The operating systems that the monitor can interact with include:

  • Microsoft Windows Server
  • Linux
  • Solaris
  • Unix
  • HP-UX
  • Linux

3. Application coverage

The SolarWinds monitoring system has the ability to track more than 1,200 different applications. These fall into the following categories:

  • Application servers
  • Authentication servers
  • Web servers
  • Web services
  • Collaboration systems
  • Customer relation management
  • Database server systems
  • DHCP servers
  • Directory servers
  • ERP systems
  • Infrastructure managers
  • Virtualization environment systems
  • Mail servers
  • Security applications

Application monitoring works through a system of templates. It is possible to create custom templates to monitor applications not on the list of default systems that the tool can track. With custom templates, you can also track the activities of applications developed in-house.

4. Scripting capabilities

The SolarWinds system allows you to write your own scripts. These can be used to set up combination alert conditions and specify actions to perform should those alert conditions be encountered. If you have previously used a Nagios-based network monitoring system, you can import Nagios scripts and adapt them to the SolarWinds environment. The Server and Application Monitor is shipped with more than 1,000 action scripts, called “templates.”

5. Cloud compatibility

The monitoring capabilities of this tool extend to cloud-based services. You can monitor activity on your Amazon AWS accounts and add your Microsoft Azure cloud services to the monitoring environment.

Monitoring can demonstrate interactions between resources including cloud services, data centers, activities at remote locations, as well as on-site network and virtual services.

6. Multi-level visualization

The Server and Application Monitor includes a facility called Appstack that enables you to see the underlying services and infrastructure supporting an application. This viewpoint enables you to quickly spot the reasons for application performance problems. The interdependence between the software you run and the resources that enable them to run is a very important feature for problem-solving and crisis avoidance.

The Appstack screens show each application as a symbol with levels of services beneath. Each element shown on the stack is color-coded, so problems are highlighted instantly.

Solarwinds Appstack

7. Virtual environment monitoring

If you include a virtual environment configuration in your network, this implementation can be supervised from the Server and Application Monitor. SolarWinds SAM can examine the performance of:

  • Hyper-V
  • VMware ESX

The virtual environment monitoring functions integrated into the Server and Application Monitor offer an overview of your VM systems.

Solarwinds Virtualization Summary

This feature of the monitor doesn’t enable deep inspection of virtual environment activities. If you have an extensive VM implementation, you might need to add on the SolarWinds Virtualization Manager, which integrates directly with the Server and Application Monitor.

8. Automatic discovery

When you first install the system, it contacts your servers over the network and builds up an inventory of the applications running on them. This facility is an ongoing service and a key element of the monitoring service.

The discovery process doesn’t just list servers and applications, but examines dependencies to assemble a picture of the causes of poor performance or failure in the dashboard.

Solarwinds Application Summary

9. Application focus

The AppInsight function of the Server and Application Monitor gives you the ability to get a deeper insight into certain applications. This facility can only monitor Microsoft Exchange servers, Microsoft Internet Information Services, and Microsoft SQL servers.

Solarwinds AppInsight

The PerfStack feature of the monitoring package assembles a page of metrics by dragging and dropping factors from other pages of the dashboard. This utility is a great option for identifying key performance issues that impact your most important applications.

What are the system requirements?

The SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor is only available for the Windows operating system. You need to be running Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2016 set to the English, Japanese, German, or Simplified Chinese language versions. You also need Microsoft Internet Information Services 8.0 or later and .NET 4.6.2 running on your server.

The software for the Server and Application Monitor consists of two parts: the system software and a supporting database. These two parts have to be installed on two separate servers, so you need a minimum of two Windows servers in order to install SolarWinds SAM. However, if you have a WAN, don’t put the two elements on servers at different sites — they both need to be in the same physical location. Be aware that neither part of the SolarWinds system can be installed on a server that runs Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange, or Research in Motion. So, if you have any of those applications, you will need a separate server for them.

The software needed for the database is SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, or SQL Server 2017.

For all versions of the Server and Application Monitor, you need to have computers that have quad-core processors or better. You also need two 146 GB 15K hard drives.

The physical capacity requirements for your system increase with the larger plans offered by SolarWinds. The company divides its six service points into three categories: small networks are catered to by the AL150 and AL300 plans. The AL700 and AL1100 plans are suitable for middle-sized networks. Large networks need the AL1500 or ALX plans.

Here are the requirements for the server that hosts the main monitoring software:

  • Small networks need a server that has 6 GB to 8 GB of spare RAM and the application should take up 10 GB to 20 GB on the disk.
  • Medium networks will get a monitor that requires 8 GB to 16 GB of RAM and 15 GB to 40 GB of disk space.
  • Large networks will be served by a monitor that uses 16 GB to 32 GB of memory and occupies 30 GB to 100 GB of disk space.

The server that hosts the database element of the monitoring system must meet the following physical requirements:

  • Small networks need a database server that has 4 GB to 8 GB of memory available for the AL150 system and 8GB to 16 GB for AL300. You will need 20 GB to 40 GB of disk space.
  • Medium networks need space of 16 GB to 64 GB of RAM and 50 GB to 100 GB of disk space on the database server.
  • Large networks have a monitor database that needs 64 GB to 128 GB of memory and occupies 100 GB to 400 GB of disk space.

The Orion platform

As mentioned earlier in this review, the SAM is built on the SolarWinds Orion application platform. This means that the server application software easily integrates with other SolarWinds infrastructure management systems. These performance monitoring tools particularly focus on the statuses of network devices. The other Orion-based SolarWinds tools are:

The Server and Application Monitor is particularly effective when combined with other SolarWinds tools, including the Network Performance Monitor. Although it works well as a stand-alone package, a number of SolarWinds packages include the Server and Application Monitor and offer more comprehensive monitoring capabilities.

The System Management Bundle from Solarwinds includes the Server and Application Monitor together with the company’s Virtualization Manager, which will give you more detailed controls over your virtual environments. The bundle also includes the Storage Resource Monitor and the Web Performance Monitor. These last two tools in the System Management Bundle offer deeper views of storage and web servers than the equivalent sections of the Server and Application Monitor.

The Application Performance Optimization Pack includes the Server and Application Monitor together with the SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer. As the name suggests, the Network Performance Analyzer gives you greater monitoring power for the databases in your system.

The Server and Application Monitor can be added in as an optional extra to the SolarWinds Network Operations Manager, another tool bundle. This package includes the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, the NetFlow Traffic Analyzer, and the User Device Tracker tools.

SolarWinds SAM review

The SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor is a systems administration tool particularly suited to larger companies, but smaller networks can also run the software. The Server and Application Monitor and all of the bundles in which it is included can be download and used for 30 days, free of charge. This gives you a great opportunity to try out the package risk-free.