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Review: SolarWinds Orion Network Performance Monitor

Derek Schauland took the SolarWinds Orion NPM for a spin. The price is nothing to sneeze at, but it has robust features for a comprehensive view of your network environment.

Networks continue to grow and become more complex. Keeping tabs on the network environment is more than just part of the job; it is a full-time job. Without the help of specialized tools to watch the network for you, there is no easy way to keep track of exactly what is going on.

With the demands of users needing instantaneous access to information, paying attention to performance bottlenecks can save a considerable amount of money in productivity lost as well as alert you to much bigger problems before they get out of control.

Enter Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) from SolarWinds, the focus of this post.


  • CPU: 3.0GHz
  • Hard Drive: 20GB
  • Memory: 3GB
  • OS: Windows 2003 or higher (x86 and x64) with IIS installed and running in 32-bit mode
  • Additional OS Components: .Net Framework 3.5
  • Database: SQL Server 2005 SP1 or 2008 (Express, Standard, or Enterprise)

Who's it for

Orion NPM appears to be a tool that will allow busy network administrators or second-level help desk to keep tabs on the state of the network and how it's performing for the users. Orion NPM will help you monitor your environment to see these bottlenecks before they become a problem.

What problem does it solve?

The browser-based nature of the application makes it very useful to get a look at what is going on anywhere in the environment.

Standout features

  • Web Interface: Once the application is installed, the web browser is the vehicle of choice for its use making it less likely that a steep learning curve will stand in the way of use.
  • ConnectNow Topology Mapping: Allows your environment to be mapped in real time automatically. This provides graphical visibility into your network with no additional work or tools needed.
  • VMWare monitoring: Orion NPM can monitor virtual environments running VSphere, ESX, and ESXi to provide visibility as well.
  • Integrated Wireless Poller: Monitors wireless devices for security and other issues to allow more widespread use of wireless technologies by reducing the pain to manage these items.
  • Report Writer: The reports included with an application are great, but being able to create your own custom reports detailing things within your environment is a smash hit in my opinion.

Figure A

Network discovery

Figure B

Discovered network overview

Figure C

Individual host details

What's wrong?

Depending on the size of your environment, the price may be a little off-putting, starting at $2495, but there is a 30-day free trial so you can decide for yourself if the price is right for your organization.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

If your budget can handle the initial cost of the application, the tools provided and automated operation of the application overall provide a great set of network monitoring options. The application will give you a very comprehensive view of your environment. The reporting and mapping features alone will likely be a great help in getting others within your organization to see just what the network looks like and where its limits are. This could be a big step toward proactive correction of issues that pop up.


Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

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