How Solarwinds aims to offer a simple perspective – VFD4

I was recently privileged to sit in a session at Solarwinds HQ during Virtualisation Field Day 4. I was particularly impressed with the organisation for the day and more importantly, the strategy that Solarwinds aims to change to bring customers both old and new into their way of thinking.

The issue right now is that Solarwinds offers a large portfolio of approximately 26 products. Each product has either been developed in house or been acquired and developed as standalone solutions. The brand itself is very network centric as this is where Solarwinds traditionally excelled but I could tell that Solarwinds wants to change this and appeal more to the virtualisation community. To coin a cliche ‘the single pain of glass’ approach is what all vendors strive to achieve and most rarely do. This is what Solarwinds wants to do and we heard from presenters Joel Dolisy – CTO and CIO at Solarwinds and also Nikki Jennings, Group VP for Product Strategy (Systems & Virtualisation), on what they are trying to do within the company to align their product set towards a more demanding customer – a customer that wants to login to one application and view their application health from the service right down to an individual database line or a storage LUN. So how can Solarwinds help ?

The platform for most products is built on the foundation layer which is known as Orion. All the products then sit above this and essentially are unique entities that are managed as standalone instances. This is not good for the end user administrator as ultimately they have to trawl through various products connecting the dots in order to troubleshoot application issues.

Now here’s where Solarwinds aims to be make a stand and show the world that they are ready to step up to the challenge of application monitoring.

 

AppStack

So what is this new term ??

Well……let me explain. AppStack is a product that Solarwinds is developing to be the master application for monitoring. It will pull together all the elements that Solarwinds does really well such as Web monitoring, DB monitoring, Virtualisation monitoring, Active Directory Monitoring etc. and present these in an easy to use dashboard. I don’t have any screenshots of this as the product is yet to be released for testing but you can preview the application on the VFD links at the bottom of this post. Here is a great post on the Thwack Community forums to show you what the product looks like – > Link

Essentially the product is a flat interface with coloured dots against various services and areas to indicate good or bad. You are then able to drill into each area to dig deeper into an issue. Essentially, you could have a slow VM so you would click it and be able to view a slow response with its datastore and then drill deeper again to the LUN and finally look at what is happening at the storage layer. The same applies to Database issues or Web issues or even your good old fashioned Network issues.

 

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As my good friend above quotes, its nice to view everything from the application down through the sub layers of software and hardware and this should be the way that all monitoring vendors should be focused. At the end of the day, application owners and end users only care if their application is working and healthy and don’t want to know about the many cogs and wheels that make up the health. This is where product like AppStack will come in useful as you could simply provide a link to a custom dashboard for a particular application and let the application owner have this as their monitoring dashboard.

Future

What do we see happening with Solarwinds next ?

Well, I have to say that I’m looking forward to seeing the product and learning more about its uses for the virtualisation shops of this world. This product could easily fit with a small business up to a large Enterprise shop and I look forward to test driving the software soon. The application should be out this quarter.

Let me know what you think and how you think this product could compete against its enemies foes in the competitive world of monitoring.

Hot off the press this post by the CTO shows you how the architecture has been built out and the foundation for its product so I’d encourage you all to have a read and comment – > Link

For further information – VFD4 Videos on AppStack can be found here

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